Friday, July 15, 2011

On the Rise: Phantom

By The Rap Scout
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Very rarely do you find a rapper not afraid to talk about Jesus. Seven years ago, Kanye West did on "Jesus Walks." However, since then, rappers have tended to avoid such topics. It is almost taboo to mention anything controversial in hip hop. Lupe Fiasco had to change 90% of his latest album, Lasers, before his label released it.

Phantom, of New York City, prefers to call himself a recording artist and he has run into some of the same issues. He is not afraid to talk about any topic. Because of this, the labels interested in signing him are trying to change them. Even if he does not become a big-time rapper, Phantom will be satisifed because he is getting his message out.

Despite not being signed, Phantom has quite a big buzz built and he is continuing to put together underground hits. Currently, Phantom is promoting his single, "Freedom," featuring Kenya. Having a solid buzz going for six years, Phantom is currently bubbling under and prepared to emerge. Hip Hop Vibe reached out to his management team and lined up an interview with Phantom.

Read the entire interview below:

How do you feel about the current state of New York hip hop?
HOW DO I FEEL?? How I FEEL is DISGUSTED! To be honest there is a huge distortion of definition of TRUE HIP HOP and Rap. What’s happening in New York and across the country is Rap, commercial Rap. Plain as that. Hip-Hop now lives on the internet, that’s the only place you’re going find it, not on the mainstream radio.

Having been in the game for some time, do you feel as if you should have already made it?
I’d love to say HELL YEAH! But that is not the mind one should have given the opportunities that I’ve had and whom I have behind me. Everyone wants to hit the “Big Time”, but there are so many ways you can make it other than being that “Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Drake, J-Cole” types. Most people don’t truly understand this business. Since that is really what it is, it’s not about how talented you are, it’s about whom you know and who you’re willing to bend to. Along with already being a self-made artist in the process. Check it this is how I see it and I’m not alone, the “Big Time” right now is pretty dark with no substance of reality, I’m heading towards the light, so it’s not about the money, girls or clubbing for me. So however God has my future played out on what level of people I will reach is up to him. I’m just going to continue to speak TRUTH until he tells me otherwise.

What feeling do you have when you see the people enjoying your music?
I LOVE IT! I mean who wouldn’t right?? It’s that feeling of knowing that my lyrics are dancing inside new minds. Inspiring them and feeding their soul. Hopefully, enlightening them to the realities of life like original Hip Hop used to do. One thing that always gets me going is when I come across people who have never ever listened to hip hop whatsoever or completely despise it. Then listen to my work and BOOM a new fan that never was of the genre at all, solely because I opened as side of Hip Hop that they never heard before, positive, meaningful. Amazing, I’m telling you that’s God man.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Jesus now, when I first started back in 2006, I had no perspective like I do now. I had an idea but I was a leader being a follower. Like most artists are doing today, I talked about the same o same old thing. Money, girls, how tough I am (I was a U.S. Soldier at the time), partying. The same MO everyone is in the game for. It wasn’t until my son was born, being in the service for some time and life to just drop bombs on me for me to view everything totally differently. Now you can hear in the music, better yet feel it in my music now that I derive my inspiration from above.

How long have you been putting together music?
Six years strong. Good things in store for the seventh God willing.

What made you decide to become a rapper?
I saw lucrative business opportunities; 2005 I was attending college first studying in Electronic Engineering Technology. Switched my major to Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I was learning on my own and didn’t like the whole debt idea, and so I dropped out and decided to pursue this. I was living with some guys that were attending the same college; they were messing around with acid and fruity loops. Now, I had already come from a background of musically inclined family members, but I never had the drive to pursue rap at all. I always sung growing up in talent shows and chorus. Can I sing now NO yet the drive to pursue I say came from my poetic abilities. Always loved writing poems in my teenie bopper years, so I started there. In a small ass clothes closet in an Orlando dorm apartment, recording on a headphone mic and laptop.

Ha Ha.. those were the days. Now after doing this for so long being on TV, the news and various shows under my belt, I say I’ve earned the title of Recording Artist not your ordinary rapper.

Are you currently searching for a record deal?
Yeah, I am, but you know how that is now a days. It's better off staying independent if you can get money behind you. Plus it’s definitely harder to pick up a guy like me, since I’m not spitting the same messages everyone else is. I’m more in a Lupe Fiasco category.

How important has your management team been to your current success?
ABSOLUTELY THE CORNERSTONE OF MY SUCCESS! Michelle “Chella” Magee formerly Michelle Alene is an experienced veteran. Bringing her knowledge and expertise from her time with the major labels (Warner Bros., Atlantic Records and Elektra Records), Chella has helped me reach milestones I never thought I could. Michelle has been the best manager that I’ve had in my career. She has believed in me since the beginning and has put her heart into my campaign. I know with her I will excel to the highest point of achievement.

Do you believe you believe you will soon emerge into superstardom?
If that is what God has in store for me it will happen. However I most definitely do.

Who has helped you the most, from an emotional standpoint, in your career?
Faith in God and my wife, along with my good friend in Canada Don Tanner. Like many people I have had bumps in the road, ups and downs. Been completely discouraged and ready to quit, when all of my supposed friends and family were never there. They were, I’m humbled and grateful for them. As well as being a way better person.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome in your career?
SCAM/CON ARTISTS!!!!! This industry is swarming with them. Like sharks lurking in the open water or vultures waiting to pounce on the oblivious prey. It’s a lesson everyone learns starting out. Lots of money gets tossed into this, you’ll end up spending a mill before you make a mill. Besides that I’d have to say winning over a decent loyal fan base.

With the future full of bright opportunities, will you extend outside of rap?
I already am! I’m also a motivational speaker as well. I see that if you have the opportunity to grab the attention of just even one person, make a difference in their life as a recording artist, make it a positive one. I am also an activist for truth and freedom. Our country is in a rough, rough place right now. A place our generation has never been before, I feel that it is my duty as a citizen of this country and as an artist to enlighten and inspire the people. I vow to put the people before myself and aid communities from my profits that those same communities placed in my pocket. No selfishness here that is what separates me from your everyday artist.

So if you like what you’ve read please join me in my endeavors!


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