What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Not making it to the NBA. After 2 years of Juco, I returned to Brooklyn without a plan B. I stared at my ceiling for a year & figured I’d shoot my shot at something new.
Introduce us to your musical history.
Around age 14, my brother Bo got me into One Tree Hill which lead me to buying Infinity on High by Fall Out Boy & my first guitar. A year later, I met legendary guitarist/songwriter Yohimbe Sampson of Meridian Lights & Game Rebellion, the rest is history.
Name your three favorite albums.
Only 3? Tough, let’s say The Water(s) by Mick Jenkins, So Much Fun & Good Kid m.A.A.d City
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
Dance, Dance by Fall Out Boy. I bought my first guitar because me & my friend Denny thought the guitar flips Pete Wentz did were really cool.
The music industry is the hardest in the world to progress in. How do you feel you are doing?
I’m doing amazing! At the beginning of my career, I placed heavy emphasis on the wrong things so I didn’t understand the value or impact of my work. I still have a long way to go in some areas but I know the work that I’m putting in now is extending the runway for a long, prosperous & healthy career.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs. Any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Easy, hire a moshpit manager. Venues hire security to protect performers but don’t consider protecting the audience from themselves. In 2017, I went to Rolling Loud Miami & during a performance, I saw a girl fall during a moshpit in the middle of hundreds of people. I pushed my way through the crowd to help her up so she wasn’t trampled, an elder did the same for me at my first Afro-Punk in 2010.
As you develop as an artist and use social media, how do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
I utilize social media but for me, it’s all about creating opportunities to connect with people in person. My tip would be to not place a strong emphasis on it. Posting 3 times a week or day doesn’t guarantee anything. Play to your strengths, study the content you like, create, post, close the app then enjoy your life.
Tell us two truths and a lie about you.
When Hustle Mode drops I’m cutting off my locs
When I heard Post Malone for the first time I thought he was African-American
Dragon Ball Z is my favorite anime
What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
That’s tough but here’s how I feel, dear artists, especially if you want to have a long career that feels good, educate yourself as much as possible & create a plan based on the goals that work for you. 1,500 streams on Spotify makes you around 3-6 dollars & personally, I don’t come from a silver spoon so I’ve had to adjust my whole model. That being said, Spotify can be a great tool but if you don’t learn how to use it, it will use you.
Do you subscribe to any conspiracy theories?
Plenty that I won’t discuss. I try not to stress over anything I can’t control.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Not really but I’ll say the food was my greatest luxury. The majority of my money went into funding my career and moving into a new place.
What was your worst experience on stage?
This is the top 2 for sure. A friend at the time setup a birthday event for me but didn’t check the venue’s sound system. After my set was over the DJ said “Are y’all ready for some real music?” Moral of the story, don’t invite your fanbase to a performance if you’re not sure about the sound.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I’m not sure if anyone would be surprised about this but I recently found out that I’m half-Nigerian.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
The ability to curate experiences. I possess the unique gift to unify, energize, entertain & even inspire beautiful people of different ages, occupations, and nationalities. Some like to call it “The Pook Hustle Experience” so if you haven’t been to one of my live shows or community events, you truly have no idea that my power level is over 9000.
Talk me through the thought process behind the new tune.
When I was a kid, my dream was to save the world & I was 100 percent sure I could. The plan was to go to the NBA, make millions, take care of my family then save the world. Slowly over the years, I realized that I was in over my head. I didn’t make it. I was left devastated & after putting my everything into basketball, I was back to square one. I had no idea who I was & was far from well-equipped for the road ahead.
What was the recording process like?
Ethereal. I had about an hour and a half left in a session at Mansion Studios NYC when my engineer pulled up the beat. Prior to recording, I had the first four lines but I pushed myself & came up with the rest on the spot. During the recording process, we were all aware that it was a special moment yet I kept my composure until the job was finished. Luckily, I have a mini-documentary on the process.
What was the biggest challenge in writing it?
Allowing myself to be vulnerable. It’s scary to let people in & even though I have supernatural gifts, I have a human side as well.
Would you change anything now that it’s finished?
Nope, like Mariah said “Ima do the best I can with what I got.”
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Yes. I’m curating an exclusive subscription-based experience called HustleGang VIP. HustleGang VIP serves as a community that gives its members behind-the-scenes access to my creative process, back catalogue & physical goods such as CD & merchandise. Need I say more?