A Minute With Mainstream: Blackout The Rebel
"I rather take my time with how I wanna give the world content" - Blackout The Rebel
The world will put certain folks in your path to teach you how to become better as a person. But for me, I was lucky to have a rebel at my side over the past 4 years. See, the legendary fashion icon, (and Queens, New York native) Iris Apfel once said: "I'm not going to be a rebel and offend anybody, but I'm not going to live in somebody else image". A man whose looking to bring a reimagination of who he is an artist is fellow Queens native... Blackout The Rebel.
Mainstream: My longtime friend and the man whose better than me at interviews, Blackout the Rebel, what’s going on man?
Blackout The Rebel: (Laughs) what’s good man how you
I’m good I’m good. So new project is out entitled “Far From Home”. For those who weren’t listening in on the highly popular dark side radio episode which I spoke on the project, why did you give the album that title?
The reason I gave the album that title was from a dream I had where I was walking around in my neighborhood and the words "Far From Home" kept flashing in my mind. I wouldn't say someone who is in their neighborhood is far from home so when I got up I started to explore what else it could mean. I then referred back to a few previous conversations with one of my friends "Gritty Panda" who always told me to change my music content up so it could appeal to the youth who are into drippy and wavey records. From there I thought of what would happen if I were to give into what the music biz wants me to do and the dark road that could entail by compromising my morals and integrity.
And that’s a rare feat: maintaining integrity in the music business. And based on my early listening’s last year, this was one of the most well thought out concept albums. Where did that inspiration come from, especially in a world full random album drops?
I've always been a fan of great storytelling. I remember how blown away I was when I heard Nas' "Rewind" off of his Stillmatic album or Slick Ricks classic "A Children's Story". Being able to lay in my bed with my eyes closed, my headphones blaring and just being able to visualize every single scene was so beautiful. I wanted to be able to do the same with my music. I don't want you to just listen to music I want you to feel an experience. I want you to empathize with the characters, see things from different perspectives, see yourself in the story, to become one with the project. Random album drops is cool but I rather take my time with how I wanna give the world content which is why I haven't dropped anything in a while. I wanna make sure that everything sounds right and is 100% the way I envisioned it in my head.
It’s amazing because I always admire artists who take that extra step and use the past to represent them in their present. Especially when it comes to Hip Hop. I admire that your turn to the greats. But even greats use the experience for personal achievements. What’s one thing during this release that you’ve learned about yourself?
I learned to take my time. Listening back to my previous work I am so angry with myself because I was so adamant about getting the project out that I didn't make sure that my flow, delivery, mix, mastering was correct which it wasn't and you can tell very easily. It’s not just about the lyrics. I wanted to make sure there's not one thing negative that can be said this time around. I learned how to infuse the Hip-Hop I grew up on and love with today's trends and climate without compromising my sound and content. I learned how to convey my thoughts better when executive producing my records. Every sound effect, transition, feature, adlib is there for a reason. I learned more with this project than any other project and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was really in the moment and having fun with it. I wasn't putting unnecessary pressure on myself to get it out. I naturally went with the flow of the music and concepts and it just came out better in my opinion.
So in a sense you’re a rapper's rapper: a person knowledgeable on the genre, it’s cadence, it’s history and it’s talent needed for it but you understand how it has to reflect for yourself. This has to come with years of learning so an ol' head like me appreciates that. But of course, your storytelling may go unnoticed in today’s market because the focus is different. How do you feel about today’s rap genre and it’s artists?
Rap overall is still going strong since the 70's when they thought it was just a passing phase so I am happy and proud of that. Today the spectrum of Hip-Hop/Rap is so vast that everything is in subgenres. You have Trap, Trill, Drill, Backpack, Gangsta, Mumble so on and so forth. Depending on the song, artist, (the) beat will determine if I like it or not but I won’t lie there isn't that much new music that truly inspires me on a commercial level. Thankfully there's people like Live Johnson, Hookz Murdock, Juanito Jones, Bizzy Bee, Kwoat and many others on the underground scene who give fresh air to this genre.
That’s a fact which makes Voiceless Music a constant hub for all those talented people you’ve mentioned. But speaking of all that talent, I realized you have no features on Far From Home. We’re you trying to J. Cole this project or did you not see a use for a feature?
(Laughs) I had voice features like my guy Gritty Panda, Live Johnson and Meko Sky but as far as people rapping on my songs I didn’t see that being part of my vision. Maybe with the next one, we'll see but sometimes you have to deal with people's schedules and their writing/recording process it just complicates things. Much easier to just do it by yourself.
Especially with scheduling studio time, their time, etc so I get it. But in our interview on Darkside Radio, I asked would this be your last project. And you just said, “we will see on the next one”. Are you or have you been contemplating retirement from music?
At that moment in time, I was feeling and dealing with a lot. Personal life as well as trivial nonsense in the indiestry so I felt like backing away was the best option before people got hurt but with a clearer head I can say that's not the case. You WILL be hearing more music from The Rebel in the future. In the meantime, I will be focusing on more visuals for the album. I really want it to be a big theatric piece of art.
Listen we both we through a lot because of insignificant situations and people we had in our lives. But I am glad to hear you are back in the game officially. Now the project itself based on my listening, it’s an industry story of a rise and subsequent fall of an artist in the business. This is such a story that’s seen on a constant basis. Have you ever had any real-life experience of what you discussed on this album?
Not to the degree that the character has, no. This character was the hottest rapper in the world because the people in the shadows pulling the strings allowed it to be thanks to the compromises he so willingly made in the beginning. These experiences I doubt would happen to me because I know what to look out for and have people around me to help keep me grounded.
Amen to that. Not many of us in the business are privy to the world around us especially when it comes to the music business. But speaking on experiences, you had one of the highest rated shows on air. Are you ever planning to come back to radio?
I plan on coming back to the media. I don't want to be pigeonholed to just radio that's why I had to rebrand myself. Darkside Radio is gone... say hello to Forever Black Media! An outlet that promotes and uplifts people of color in all fields.
Now that’s inspiring. And I am glad we Segway to that because when we discussed you being a part of an upcoming showcase I’m planning to told me to remove the Darkside Radio logo and I wondered why. Tell me something about Forever Black Media that people out there should know will do?
As I said it will promote people of color. Too many tabloids, media and people themselves show us in a negative light so I want to counteract that with professional and positive content. Interviews will still be conducted, We will show/preview videos/songs, Have taste tests for all the chefs out there, red carpet events. I'll be back to hosting and possibly running events again so there's a lot to be expected from FBM
Wow. It sounds exciting and can’t wait to see more. And I’m sure others can’t wait either. As we wrap up, the last question... what’s one goal you’ve set for yourself for the near future?
Well, I do want to have these videos released but more importantly, my goal is to enjoy life and the process of creating content. When I was running DSR and releasing those past albums it wasn't always fun. Some of it felt forced because this is who I am and this is what's expected of me and my brand but now I'm just more focused on taking my time to make sure everything comes out right and being able to live in those moments comfortably.
Enjoy all those moments man. Thanks for the interview.
I shall, Thank you for having me.
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