"Wow. That was a deep dig! Respect!"
Phoenix Arizona based rapper RoQy TyRaiD connected with Hyperblinks for an exclusive interview where he discusses the release of his latest project with DJ Green Lantern, OUTBREAK, his past work, and his outlook for the rest of 2020.
1) In prior interviews, you discussed how, after coming back from living in the U.K. in 2019 for a few months, your priority was creating a higher level of visibility, growing your team, and investing in how you approach the music business. What things have you implemented in the last year to get you closer to reaching this goal?
Really, the most important part, at least for me, has been finding people you are comfortable working with. Building a team, as essential as it is, really takes either stroke of luck or trial-and-error. It's really a continual process. You have individuals you contract out or consign work to, but that's entirely different than finding individuals trustworthy and ambitious enough to ride in the car with. It's crazy because it's highly difficult to trust people in a business where "the social ladder" is a religion for most. In terms of "visibility," I think I'm finally wrestling control from my perfectionist nature and just letting records go. This, in turn, has led to more individuals spreading the word, and an increase in organic momentum. It's been beautiful. Really seeing my listenership go from fringe to cult [laughs].
"LAX to Germany" music video:
2) How has life changed for you since that fateful day at the food court of Chandler Mall in Phoenix, Arizona, where you first met with DJ Green Lantern?
Man! I pushed that project for damn near a year, that's how it went! It's insane, growing up listening to your favorite mixtapes, infamous moments, and legendary production, to working with that very same person who helped inspire you. Importantly, it showed me it's never too late to find momentum. Truth be told, I was starting to feel a bit burnt out after returning back to the states. Same fringe indie status; same limited momentum; same sh-thead, social stratifying, opportunistic hypebeasts ad nauseum. But Green was super chill and was with linking up to talk music, after being put on game by the homie Mattlocks. From there, we started working on a few records, which ultimately turned into Outbreak. It was well-received, despite it being slept on, of course. The slow burn helped in the long run, though. It reinvigorated belief in the mission and showed others who may have been watching from the distance that I'm deadlier than ever -- and just getting started.
RoQy TyRaiD on Wake Up Show Unplugged:
3) You've previously stated that some of the benefits from working with GL consist of furthered patience, seeing his hustle first-hand, and refining your professional conduct. Could you elaborate on the first two, and if possible, could you provide an example of the last item?
Well, dude is a workaholic. I'd say, during the entire process of constructing the project, we were in the lab like twice? He went from spot dates to a tour with Nas, to a tour with Nas and Mary, to a tour with Snoop. Just nonstop. While working in the indie realm, you get this misconception that you're allowed space to be a perfectionist and get things out "when it's time." Perfectionism isn't contingent on how much time you spend in one place. Even during the release of the project, he was taking breaks between soundchecks for his tour stops with Nas and Mary J to do interviews. No excuses, just performance. So, I added that to my duffle bag of tricks. Dude's a consummate professional. The patience part ties into this as well, because while free time isn't a perquisite of perfectionism, "quantity over quality" isn't the hallmark of success, either.
"TIKKA MASALA" (produced by DJ Green Lantern) music video:
4) You've compared GL to a 'curator' in that he assembles pieces of music in a way that befit that term and how he tells a story through DJing. This example reminds me of great mixes like DJ Jazzy Jeff's "Hip Hop Forever II" and Mark Farina's "Mushroom Jazz" Collection (especially vol. 3, 4, and 5, just sayin'). What mixes would you say stands out to you in this way?
I'm an emcee, so asking me my favorite instrumentals or producers is difficult, man. And for so many reasons. Kaytranada's music saved my life during my first trip overseas. But yeah, I'm a fan of instrumentalists like Mndsgn, Elaquent, Knxledge, Mono/Poly, Trox, Nabeyin, Nameless. Also, Sndtrk, Zenan, Spec Slopfunkdust, etc. Matter fact, super shout out to those last four, particularly Slopfunkdust, for the Sessionin Battle Ave online producer functions. I join them every Friday and just vibe to super ill production from resident producers and various legends. Had to plug that because that's the new wave for beat lovers and producers, alike. This has nothing to do with me, but it's important to the culture — such a fan.
Slopfunkdust "Hello Stranger feat. Barbara Lewis":
5) You stated the "First beat I ever rapped to people over was 'Players,'" in your blog article titled, "The Significance of Jay Dee." That's a great beat, but the people want to know what was wrong with "Climax?"
Wow. That was a deep dig! Respect! "Climax" is another early Jay Dee favorite of mine. I appreciated the record, but I didn't really find a personal connection to it until college and the earthy girls came along. Oh boy. What an era. [Laughs] I know a few of you had that record on your playlist. You ain't gotta lie to me, Craig. Can we talk about how a record could vibrate so low yet feel so good? Personally, that record is perfect at night.
Seriously, Dilla did everything right. What a legend. Thank you, Jay Dee.
Slum Village "Players" Instrumental (Produced by Jay Dee aka J Dilla):
6) You also stated, "Jay Dee's influence saved me from crippling depression and self-defeat." What's your message to young people going through moments of depression and lack of self-belief?
Man. We're talking about Dilla records on the back in of my brother Dave New York's birthday. So first, I want to show some love to my bro. For the uninitiated, he's the one ranting at the end of "Baby." You know, "straight gahhbaage." [Laughs]
But yeah, depression can be temporary, or in some cases, it can persist due to myriad reasons. I've struggled with depression in the entirety of my life. I'm just now talking about it after finding discomfort in speaking on what has become a watered-down buzzword. While I can't attribute one singular artist to combating depression, I can say they at least help mitigate those trials. Not all coping mechanisms can be copy-pasted to your specific circumstances or psyche, and not all proven methods are guaranteed to have the same therapeutic effect as they once had. I would just encourage the person to listen to their body as they try new things to help lift themselves out of the depths of depression. Self-belief is a little easier. You can will your mind to do the most amazing things. You can also set limits. The moment you start constantly telling yourself "no," that seed has been watered. The longer that idea matures, the harder it is to uproot. And self-doubt provides shade for depression. Uproot that obstacle and expose your trials for the road bumps they are.
7) When listing off J Dilla tracks you mentioned one track, "Stakes Is High" on the back of the city bus, thinking about how intimidating the music biz must be, as a kid in '02." How does that classic track make you feel when you hear it now?
Either nostalgic or some sense of bleakness due to what I explained above about where I felt my place was in life at the time. But that's not to take away from the record. Some of the best actors played the characters you disdained the most because they are that good. "Stakes Is High" is this poetic concoction of gritty, almost ominous instrumentation. Everything is perfect, from the hypnotic hook to the dice game. I feel determination. Whether I know I'm going to make it, or I know I'm going to die trying. Either way, the impact will be massive.
De La Soul's "Stakes is High" music video (Produced by Jay Dee aka J Dilla):
8) At the end of your J Dilla blog post, you provided a picture of J Dilla performing in a wheelchair in the latter part of his career. You stated that you thought some people might not find it "the most flattering," but that it showed, "what a warrior is," and "what Champion Sound is." Can you describe the picture you wish someone would include in a similar blog post about you?
The "not so flattering" thing was for my close friends who knew him. Us fans just know the artist, so there's a disconnect. Where some see a "hip hop moment," a family or friend see's a loved one in pain. So, I didn't want to offend inadvertently.
But yeah, not too long after I came back from overseas and before the Green project, I fell into a pretty serious depression which persisted for over a month. This was on top of other internal strife I'll save for another time. Not too long after returning, I accepted a headline performance at the Arizona Hip Hop Festival. The aforementioned condition plus the stresses of improving a what-seemed marginalized and near-decade-old career culminated in a feeling of incapacitation. That was the first time I've ever experienced a level of mental fatigue of such magnitude. On top of that, I had severely injured my back just a day or so before. So, by the end of the weekend, which included guest hosting, I was riding on fumes. Then my performance came. The act before had cleared the floor, and since I was near the end of the festivities, the crowd could potentially check out. But in those moments, I didn't care, completely on a crash course. I felt so low that I for a second thought this may be my last show. But once my cue hit, every bit of negative energy, frustration, jadedness, mental, emotional, and physical pain I had inside was channeled through me, into that mic, and out those speakers. Halfway into the first song, I gained the crowd back from before the previous act. By the end of the performance, I had the biggest crowd that day. This picture is of me looking at the crowd as the dust settled. (see image below) I felt triumphant at that moment, despite everything I beat my odds that evening.
9) "Over The Horizon," "Royale w Cheese," "MAD!," "Jim Kelly," "Application, Dedication, Discipline," "IWMAO," "TIKKI MASALA," and "RECTIFIED," are just some of our favorite RoQy Tyraid tracks. Which one of these is your favorite to perform and why?
Wow, thank you, seriously. I put a lot of energy into storyboarding everything and giving the best experience possible at the time. "Application, Dedication, Discipline" is super fun to perform because of the narrative I give surrounding the meaning behind my song about hitting the job market. The audience enters the song intently listening to the first verse, laughing during the middle break, vibing and clapping on the third, then engaging with me by the end of the record. "Jim Kelly" is super chill because the crowd likes to doo-wop dance while I'm barring out. There's so many, seriously. I just really, really love performing.
"Application, Dedication, Discipline" from the album The Dichotomy of ROQY TYRAID:
10) On your new video for your track "RECTIFIED," from your OUTBREAK mixtape collaboration with DJ Green Lantern, a lot of the video shows you in an empty city that looks strikingly similar to neighborhoods currently in the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine. The video was on YouTube on April 9, 2020. Was this video planned and shot with the current situation in mind, or is it just an interesting coincidence?
Man. I wish I had planned it; it would be less eerie and timely. Outbreak was originally subtitled "Global Pandemic Imminent." The skits all pull from the titular film, and the theme was supposed to be a metaphor for my art and I. But relistening feels different, almost uncomfortable. I'm not on the "quarantine rap" bus and salute to those who are, but pulling from current events would seem too on the nose. "Rectified" was originally a giant metaphor for me trying to survive and make it out a desolate, fruitless existence and find salvation, where my true work would begin. In the middle of shooting it, I started to realize the implications of the video, especially while we precariously balanced over an economic crash. By the end of principle shots, I felt the meaning more or less was a warning of a probable near future. By the time of rollout, it was uncomfortable spot on. Na, the universe sometimes grabs your bike and sends it down a path that works best for it.
"RECTIFIED" music video:
11) What's the outlook for RoQy TyRaiD in the second half of 2020 going into 2021 in this post-pandemic situation? Are you still looking forward to touring, given the current social distancing practices?
I had some significant tours planned for the first half of the year, which are on standby for rescheduling. I'm not trying to rush it though. I'd hate to encourage people to potentially place themselves at risk for a show. So, after things reopen and life finds balance, then we'll look into getting back on the road. Healing needs to happen first, though. But I have plenty of music ready to go, plus it's time for a new album. Finally, I feel like I got every last bit of juice out of Outbreak, so I'm in the lab. I can't wait to show yall this next chapter. A slight artistic change is underway, but it'll be well received. Beyond well received. Can't wait to announce that, too. It'll come with the release immediately following "Rectified."
Thank you to everyone, new, veteran, and day one, for sticking by me. Definitely increasing the output. I know it's a faux pas to do this, but if you like what I'm making, follow me on your favorite media sites — especially Youtube and Spotify. In quarantine age, that's invaluable.
Listen to RoQy TyRaiD's OUTBREAK mixtape:
Follow and Listen to RoQy TyRaiD Everywhere: