Local tattoo artists seeking national exposure should consider attending an upcoming open casting call in Nashville for Spike TV's tattoo competition series "Ink Master."
The casting call will take place at Aloft Nashville West End (1719 West End Avenue) on January 31st. It will last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"Essentially, we are in search of those who have artistic and creative tattoo skills with an outgoing, dynamic personality," said Ashley Rose Folino, casting assistant for "Ink Master." "In this exciting series, highly skilled tattoo artists from around the country will compete in a high stakes competition for the chance to win $100,000 and the coveted title of Ink Master."
Before attending the casting call, people are encouraged to submit a completed Tattoo Artist participant application along with two recent photographs of their self, a minimum of 20 digital photos of their work, and a photocopy of either their passport, driver’s license, or state ID to CastingInkMaster5@gmail.com. On the day of the casting, participating individuals should bring two photos of their self and 10 photos of their best tattoo work.
Those who are unable to attend the open casting can submit a three-minute home video along with the aforementioned documents to the highlighted email. More information on how to do so can be found here.
The casting call will be for the fifth season of the reality tattoo competition series. "Ink Master” entails sixteen tattoo artists from around the country competing for a $100,000 cash prize, an editorial feature in Inked Magazine and being labeled an official "Ink Master." The show is hosted by legendary rock artist Dave Navarro. Along with reputable tattoo artists Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck, Navarro also judges the show.
For more information on the show or upcoming open casting calls, visit inkmastercasting.com
I recently became aware of S.O.U.L., an indie hip-hop group that puts you in the mind of early Outkast blended with a little Big K.R.I.T., and a couple other dope lyricists.
S.O.U.L. recently dropped their debut EP, The Itis. For it to be their first official release, the project is pretty impressive. The Memphis-bred rhymers fuse honest, insightful, and, at times, entertaining rhymes with organic beats on The Itis.
The EP's title derives from an episode of The Boondocks, an animated television series, also titled "The Itis." The episode, which the group uses an excerpt of on the EP's intro, focuses on the fatigue a person experiences from eating unhealthy food.
The Itis is definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of hip-hop. Stream and download the EP below. Some tracks I'm feeling off the project are "The Real," "Throwed Off," "Ghetto Girl," and "Light Up."
Eclectic hip-hop group The Sidewayz have vowed to never release another album. Instead, the duo plans to deliver EPs on a monthly basis for fans to enjoy.
The decision is a result of the group embracing their independence as well as their eagerness to refrain from conforming to the typical guidelines followed by artists.
“We decided that dropping a whole LP is not something that independent artists really should be doing these days,” Havi said. “We live in a time where everybody and their mama has ADD [attention-deficit disorder]. Nobody has the time for a large album. [And] unless you’re like Jay-Z or something, you don’t have the time or the money to be putting out a big ass album once a year and hoping that everybody pays attention to it. They’re going to digest three or four songs on it, and then something else is going to come out and your shit is going to be old news.”
The idea appears to be unprecedented in the Bluff City hip-hop community, so the group may be viewed as trendsetters in the near future. If nothing else, delivering new music on a consistent basis will help The Sidewayz develop a larger fan base.
The latest installment of the group’s monthly EP series is Life Or Death, a five-track project composed of raw lyricism over solid production. On the The Dark Knight-influenced song “Dead City,” the duo drops verses about an imaginary town and the economical dilemmas and moral challenges faced by its residents. "Dead City" is a metaphor for Memphis.
“This city has got so much history, but at the moment, it’s a lot of dead history that you’ve got to go brush off in books and actually go read it in a museum or something, because we don’t keep it alive here,” Havi said. “From the pyramid, which is about to turn into a fucking Bass Pro Shop or something, to Elvis. Who talks about Elvis unless it’s like Elvis week? Stax Museum. Man, it’s got a lot of history here, especially for the arts, but we can’t talk about it, because it’s not a living, breathing city.”
Other songs on the EP include the Reggae-inspired “Rude Boys,” the heartfelt “Hood Paradiso,” and “The Key,” which the group uses to reflect on their musical journey up to the present. Each song on Live Or Die boasts its own message and sound, but all tracks exhibit a sense of passion and hope shared by two up-and-coming artists pursuing their calling.
Despite being a hip-hop group hailing from South Memphis, The Sidewayz sites artists like Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Kings of Leon, and The Killers as being musical inspirations when creating their projects. The duo use their unique influences to help distinguish themselves from other artists within the local hip-hop community. And they hope that their music motivates listeners to become more comfortable with embracing who they truly are.
“I just want people to do their own thing,” Sal said. “And with society, I feel like, people look down on you, if you don’t want to follow the path that’s been written for you. Nobody can do it the same no matter what it is. I just want to prove to people that you can be something, you can do something that’s different and make it with that, versus playing the safe route.”
The Sidewayz are prepping the release of their forthcoming EP Planet Kill Time, which will drop in February. They're currently on an anti-venue “Face The Music” house party tour, and are preparing to launch their “Riding In Carz With Psychos” concert series.
“We’ve got enough friends with cool ass houses, so we’re going to rock some house parties and do some special guests DJing,” Havi said. “We just made this Facebook page called “Riding In Carz With Psychos” where we want to actually do concerts in people’s cars. We want people to sign up and try to organize where somebody picks us up and we rap in their cars, costumed-out on video, and we talk about music. They can take us somewhere if they want. If they don’t know where to take us, we know some cool fuckin’ places to go. And with Facebooking and Tweeting, we tell somebody else where we’re at and they come pick us up and we get in the car with them and do it again, all day leading up to this big ass house party where everybody will be [and we throw down].”
The Sidewayz desire to not only express themselves through music, but all forms of art. The group wants to collaborate with different producers, clothing designers, videographers and visual artists.
"We can’t get out all our ideas by just rapping and they can’t get out all their ideas with what they do," Havi said. "This is not just hip-hop. This is social pop art."
Check out The Sidewayz's Life Or Death EP below.
Memphis youth will have the chance to gain leadership skills and enjoy a hip-hop concert for free this weekend.
“Let’s Organize The Hood: Black Youth/Hip Hop Conference” will offer a variety of workshops, trainings, and panel discussions on how youth and young adults can help combat the dilemmas plaguing their communities. Participants will also have the chance to enjoy performances from aspiring hip-hop artists.
The two-day event will take place Saturday, January 18th and Sunday, January 19th at the Java Complex (1423 Elvis Presley). It's being sponsored by the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation, an organization that seeks to provide resources and outlets that help uplift and encourage the black community.
“A lot of times, in the black community, we have too often relied on politicians, giving our control over to them thinking they’ll handle everything,” said JoNina Ervin of the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation. “But they’re not necessarily the people who are the most affected by the problems in our community. We’re trying to get it back to the grassroots, to the people who actually live in the neighborhoods in the community. [We're] teaching people what they can do to take charge when there’s a problem in their community."
On Saturday, January 18th, free workshops and trainings on leadership and community organizing against community dilemmas, such as poverty, unemployment, and police brutality will be provided. The event will also feature panel discussions on those topics. It will last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
On Sunday, January 19th, there will be a free hip-hop concert featuring "socially conscious" lyricists and cultural artists as well. The event will last from 3 to 7 p.m.
To find out more information on the conference, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (901)674-8430.
Check out the conference's theme song, ”Organize The Hood,” by Steve B.I.K.O. below.
The annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy is just around the corner. And some local artists are taking inspiration from King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech to spearhead a series of events over the weekend leading up to his monumental day.
"I Have A DreamFest Weekend" is a three-day event that will feature some of the area's most talented artists. DreamFest will begin Friday, January 17th and culminate Sunday, January 19th. City-based event company CLE Events in collaboration with hip-hop artist Tyke T's Driven By Music imprint and Memphis Queens Hustle and Flow are presenting the weekend's events.
“What we aim to do with the weekend is emphasize community, diversity, and unity,” said Shay Johnson of CLE Events. “Aside from the more obvious tie-ins to MLK weekend and Martin Luther King’s dream in respect to unity and diversity, the "Dream" aspect also refers to [the fact] that we are all pursuing our dreams. And hopefully, DreamFest weekend helps us all get that much closer to realizing them.”
On Friday, January 17th, the DreamFest concert will take place at 1524 Madison. The event will feature artists from various genres including rock, hip-hop, reggae, and R&B. Yung D, Keia Johnson, S.O.U.L., Omega Forte, Sleepy J, and the Nick Black Band are among the artists scheduled to perform.
Friday's event will also feature a live rap battle between Young Herb and J.R. Juz Real, which is being presented by the Iron Mouth Battle League.
Memphis Hip-Hop Unplugged will take place on Saturday, January 18th at 1524 Madison as well. Over tunes provided by a live band, local hip-hop artists, such as Tyke T, Virghost, Da Ladie, Marco Pave, will lace the crowd with tracks from their archives.
The weekend will culminate with a finale party on Sunday, January 19th at the Rumba Room (303 S. Main). There will be a live performance by female collective Memphis Queens Hustle and Flow, along with drink and food specials for people to enjoy.
“People should expect phenomenal music presented in an upscale environment,” Johnson said. “ We hope that when people look back at the DreamFest concert each year that it's a snapshot of what is/was developing on the local music scene for that year."
Each event is $10 at the door. Weekend passes are available for $20. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.
Check out a promotional video for DreamFest Weekend below.
Juicy J is known by many as a co-founder of Memphis' most successful rap group to date: Three 6 Mafia.
But lately, he's received attention for his emergence as a solo artist, crafting such hits as "Bandz A Make Her Dance," and bringing more attention to twerking, a dance popularized in the South a couple decades ago.
Twerking involves a person moving their body in a sensual manner while shaking their butt and hips to music, typically hip-hop, R&B, or pop. In collaboration with WorldStarHipHop, Juicy J announced a twerking contest with a $50,000 college scholarship for the best dancer. However, the contest requirements were later changed so that participants simply had to create a video of themselves telling or showing Juicy why they deserved the cash.
Juicy recently revealed the winner of the $50,000 scholarship: 19-year-old Zaire Holmes. Check out Juicy awarding Holmes, a biology major and aspiring artist, with the scholarship in the video below. And find out if she had to actually twerk to win the contest.
Popular film publication MovieMaker Magazine has started revealing winning locations for its annual “Top 10 Best Places To Live and Work as a Moviemaker” listing. And the Bluff City made the cut for its 2014 edition.
Ranked No. 9 on the list, Memphis was selected as a great location for filmmakers due to boasting valuable but reasonably-priced services and a powerful film culture. Free office space on Beale Street, discounted police rates, various locations to film at for free, and the city's annual Indie Memphis Film Festival were among the resources highlighted by the publication.
Some notable movies that have been filmed in Memphis include Hustle & Flow, Walk The Line, Oscar-snagging documentary Undefeated, and The Client. Memphis has been ranked on MovieMaker's annual list three times so far.
There’s a burgeoning underground hip-hop community in Memphis that sounds nothing like the Bluff City-bred artists currently enjoying national exposure.
Durand “Virghost” Somerville is one of those artists, who categorize their music as "Memphop," a local version of the beloved genre. The 26-year-old emcee is currently prepping the release of his forthcoming album, Ghosts. He assures the project will not only satisfy the ear buds of listeners but also give them a look into one of the most challenging periods of his life.
“I named it Ghosts, because I feel like every song on that album represents something that happened in my past that I’ve been too afraid to actually face and tell people about,” Virghost said. “Every song represents something that’s haunted me. But if none of that stuff had happened, I wouldn’t have become an artist. I wouldn’t have become a poet. I wouldn’t have gotten married."
Ghosts will be based around a three-year time period: 2005 to 2008. On the album, Virghost opens up about hardships he experienced during those years, such as being arrested for a crime he allegedly didn’t commit and his expulsion from the University of Memphis. He credits the trials he encountered as the driving force for him becoming a spoken word artist and deciding to pursue a career in rap.
“I look it at it like those are the worst things to happen in my life,” he said. “If they didn’t happen, I would not be doing any of the good things I’m doing now. This Ghosts album is a really deeply personal album. It’s very detailed. I’m going to be talking about a lot of stuff that I just never really wanted to put out there to people, but it is what it is. People are just gonna have to take it how they hear it."
Since joining the local hip-hop community in 2008, Virghost has released several mixtapes, EPs, and albums. In 2013 alone, he released two projects: Live From The Other Side and Summer In September, a collaborative EP with KingPin Da' Composer. He said he's managed to collectively distribute several thousand units of his projects so far.
Virghost's undeniable talent earned him a slot among the city’s best lyricist for K97’s fifth annual "Next Big Thing" competition in 2013. To his surprise, he ended up winning.
“To be perfectly honest with you, man, I heard [about] it on the radio one day while I was at work and I figured that I wasn’t going to do it,” Virghost said. “I felt like every year they have it, they don’t choose people like a Virghost or a Knowledge Nick or Royal'T. I felt like, ‘what’s the point of me getting in it?’ And then a friend of mine, [Soulman] Snipes, posted on Facebook that me and a couple other guys should get in it. I was like, ‘Well, it won’t hurt me. If I don’t make it, oh well. If I do make it, a couple more people will listen to my music.’ I decided to go ahead and do it. It was crazy that I actually won. I had no idea I was going to win.”
Although Virghost achieved something unprecedented within the local hip-hop realm, he said some people downplayed his accomplishment. In the song “Best Rapper On The Planet,” he sarcastically echoed the naysayers' comments after dropping a solemn verse about the struggles he continues to face months after winning the competition.
“A lot of people were telling me, ‘You won the contest, but K97 ain’t get you signed,’ basically dismissing what happened,” he said. “That was an accomplishment for me. Even if didn’t that much come out of it, it was an accomplishment for an actual lyricist to win a contest in Memphis, Tennessee with a major radio station.”
Virghost possesses a flow that's aggressive at times, laid-back and melodic at others, but is consistently lyrical. Growing up, he listened to local legends like Three 6 Mafia, Project Pat, Playa Fly, and Gangsta Pat. However, he credits East Coast artist Nas — along with Mos Def — as the rapper who truly influenced his style and delivery and gave him the confidence to create music from the soul.
“I wanted to rap, but I was scared,” Virghost reveals. “I wasn’t that typical thug, gangster, or [doing] the music that was popping at the time. I didn’t feel comfortable or confident in vocalizing the things that I wanted to vocalize, so I wrote them down in notebooks. Nas is the artist that really pushed me out there and influenced me to get deeper with what I was talking about.”
From being a teen reluctant to publicly display his lyrical talent to becoming one of the most respected spitters within the city's underground hip-hop movement, Virghost is clearly on the road to success. His unique subject matter and raw lyrical delivery combined with solid production has placed him among the elite hip-hop artists representing Memphis. And it’s safe to presume that continuing to embrace that formula will do nothing but continue to catapult his career while simultaneously influencing other artists to stay true to themselves in their music.
Aside from being a promising hip-hop artist, Virghost is also a father and husband. He uses his music to both reflect the love he has for his family and the inspiration they provide to continue chasing his dreams. In addition to being one of the area's most respected rhymers, Virghost said he's determined to be a voice for minority fathers who take care of their obligations, eradicating stereotypes in the process.
"I feel like there’s not really an artist out there who’s representing for the fathers," Virghost said. "People try to paint a picture out of black men as not taking care of their kids and not caring about their kids and their wives or the women that they have children by. But there are a lot of black men out here who care about their family. I care about my family, and I want to represent that African-American man out there who takes care of his kids, wife, and his responsibilities.”
The world renown Harlem Globetrotters are stopping through Memphis to promote their anti-bullying campaign Wednesday, January 8th.
The event was originally scheduled to take place Tuesday, January 7th at the Ed Rice Community Center in Frayser. However, due to severe weather conditions and airline flight cancellations the event was postponed. The new location will be at Hickory Ridge Elementary (3980 Hickory Hill Road).
In collaboration with Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, Globetrotter player Buckets Blakes is scheduled to present the “ABCs of Bullying Prevention: Action, Bravery and Compassion" to youth at the school. The event will begin at 1:30 p.m.
The gathering will be catered to kids ages six-12 years old; lessons on the importance of maintaining school attendance, avoiding gang involvement and making wise decisions in life overall will be provided.
In late 2013, the Tennessee Department of Education released its first-ever “Bullying and Harassment Compliance Report.” According to the report, 7,555 cases of bullying were reported during the 2012-13 school year in the state. Approximately 73 percent of those cases, or 5,478, were confirmed as bullying cases after investigation.
Memphis and Shelby County school districts (before the merger) accounted for more than 2,000 of the state’s reported cases, according to Dr. Randy McPherson of Shelby County Schools (SCS). Manager of behavior and student leadership for SCS, McPherson said 2,247 of the state's reported incidents took place in the Bluff City. Memphis City Schools (MCS) reported 1,982 bullying incidents. However, SCS only reported 265 bullying incidents over the 2012-13 school year.
Weirich and the Globetrotters are partners in the "National Campaign to Stop Violence" and the "Do The Write Thing Challenge."
As part of their 2014 "Fans Rule" World Tour, the Globetrotters will stop by the FedExForum on Saturday, January 11th to entertain the entire family. The show will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $22 and are available for purchase at harlemglobetrotters.com.
Millington-based lyricist Virghost's aggressive delivery and clever wordplay, which he occasionally meshes with spoken word poetry, has placed him among the artists in the forefront of Memphis' hip-hop scene.
The dope emcee's most recent release was Summer In September. One of my favorite songs off the EP is "Stereotypes." Over a smooth beat crafted by KingPin Da Composer, Virghost uses the track to share his thoughts on common stereotypes surrounding race, personal religious beliefs, and sexual preferences.
"All of us have done wrong. All of us have sinned," Virghost said in regard to the song. "Nobody is perfect. We shouldn't judge people. We should worry about ourselves. You don't know what people are going through. You don't know what people have been through. Why they are the way they are."
Check out the track below and be on the lookout for my upcoming interview with Virghost.
South Memphis-bred hip-hop collective The Sidewayz has laced fans with some new music to vibe to.
The duo, composed of Havier “Havi” Green and Salazar “Sal” Diego, recently dropped their Life Or Death EP. The five-track project is definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of ill lyrics and dope production. Stream and download the EP below.
Also, check out an article I did on the group here.
Enter the world of Chris Travis: a 20-year old up-and-coming rap artist who refuses to follow the same guidelines being used by his lyrical peers.
Instead of emulating the styles of other rap artists dominating the radio, he stays true to his heart with his music. The Memphis native’s confident but slow-paced delivery, nonchalant lyrical content, and distinct West Tennessee accent has grabbed the attention of thousands who thirst for something outside the norm.
Boasting an international following, Travis is among the pool of artists who have successfully used the emergence of social media to build their fan base and establish a fruitful career. Making noise within the underground circuit for the last few years, he developed a solid following from his Codeine and Pizza mixtape; he released the project while a member of the hip-hop collective Raider Klan.
After leaving the group in late 2012, Travis dropped several mixtapes independently, began performing at venues across the country, and received numerous requests from other aspiring artists to collaborate on songs.
In early December, Travis dropped his latest project, Born In The Winter. Over the course of 16 tracks, he uses the installment to bring listeners into his life: a world of self-motivation, marijuana appreciation, and strong desire for success.
Travis visited the Memphis Flyer headquarters to talk about Born In The Winter along with how he got into music, having a cross-country fan base, his upcoming joint-project with fellow Memphis artist Xavier Wulf, and much more.
Are you originally from Memphis?
I’m from Memphis. I moved everywhere in Memphis: Orange Mound, Bartlett, East Memphis. Fuckin’ everywhere. I’ve been all around, going to different schools. I went to Germantown then Southwind and all them schools in the east.
How did you get into making music? Did you always think it was something you would like to pursue as a career?
I probably started rapping in like the fifth, sixth grade. I was on the Windows recorder rapping off old instrumentals. But I didn’t really take it serious until I got in like the ninth or tenth grade. And that’s when the Internet [took off]. You can build your fan base off the Internet; that’s when social media got cool. It was just the right time. I started to take it serious.
Who were you listening to early on that put you in the frame of mind that, ‘okay, I’m going to try rapping out?’
I used to listen to Tommy Wright III. 3 Memphis Kniccas. I messed with Three 6 [Mafia]. Playa Fly. Skinny Pimp. Gangsta Blac. Tommy Wright was my favorite though.
I got familiar with you around your Codeine and Pizza mixtape, but were you releasing projects before then?
Codeine and Pizza was actually like my first official mixtape. All that other shit that’s on the Internet, like Hell On Earth, Underground Series, that was shit I did back in like 9th and 10th grade but I just combined them and made something of it. But Codeine and Pizza was my first well-put together mixtape. Hosted by Gianni Lee.
That project came out during your days as a member of Raider Klan. How’d you link up with them?
I fucked with my homie Key Nyata. He reached out. He was fuckin’ with me. And Amber London, she’s been fuckin’ with me since day one. They had told [SpaceGhost]Purrp or whatever about me. He was like, ‘wassup, I fuck with your music. You can join Raider Klan.’ It was really an Internet thing. It was off the Internet, and then we met up. I met up with all of them; we just got cool and went from there.
You along with fellow Memphis artist Xavier Wulf (formerly Ethel Wulf) left Raider Klan. What brought forth your departure?
I left around last year in December. I was just trying to build my own shit from the ground up, not by getting a buzz off another nigga name and shit like that. I had tweeted one day, ‘I fuck with Raider Klan but I’m just doing my own shit,’ and I got my own shit popping. Even after that, I was still affiliated with them. We were still doing shows and all that, because I was still under contract. We were cool, but I was just on my own shit. But it was straight while it lasted.
Was it difficult for you to make the transition from being in Raider Klan to generating your own fans?
Yeah, but what I did was, I just kept on dropping music, dropping videos, and I built myself up off the Internet. It’s easy now, because you’ve got Twitter, Tumblr and all that shit, so you can just build yourself up off that. That’s what I did.
I've noticed from looking online as well as listening to your last few projects, you’ve been talking about the Water Boyz movement. Can you explain that?
Aw yeah, Water Boyz. It’s my shit I made on some stay pure shit. It’s really a positive movement just to get folks to drink water and not sodas. Just being healthy. Actually, what I was doing was trying to get niggas to stop drinking codeine, because after niggas heard Codeine & Pizza they was like, ‘aw, I’ma try that. What’s codeine?’ I was actually trying to get niggas to convert…just to stay pure and drink water.
On the other hand, a portion of your content focuses on smoking weed and sipping codeine. What's the balance between the two?
It’s a balance. I barely drink syrup [codeine] anymore. I do, but I don’t do it as much as I used to. I got water all day. I be drinking water and smoking, but I think you can still stay pure and smoke weed. I'm just letting folks know, 'drink water and you'll be good.'
On Born In The Winter, you state that Water Boyz is actually a label.
Yeah, Water Boyz Ent. I’m trying to make it into a label. That’s what I’m trying to do now.
Will the label consist of you and other artists?
Yeah, it’s going to be me and other artists, but I like to get producers. It’s a lot of underground producers on the Internet making noise. It’s producers from everywhere that send me beats. I got people in France, over seas, [and other places] that send me beats and they be crazy. Like, 12-year-old boys, [they send me beats] and they be crazy.
What inspired you to name your latest project Born In The Winter?
My birthday’s in December, so I was just like, ‘I’m Born in the Winter,’ ya feel me? I was actually planning to release a mixtape on my birthday anyway. I didn’t know it was gonna be called Born In The Winter. I just thought of it during the summer, and as it went on, it got cold and shit, I was like, ‘this is me. I was born in this weather’ so I was just like, ‘Born In The Weather.’ If you see on the tape cover, it was snowing in Memphis and I got the pyramid and shit right there.
One of the most meaningful songs to me off the mixtape is “Fuck The World.” Where was your mindframe at when you created that song?
I was just on some dark ass, fuck everybody-type shit, but still trying to, like, motivate. ‘Everybody gonna talk bout you.’ It’s just how people will feel. You’ll feel like, ‘aw, these folks don’t fuck with me; they talking about me and shit,’ it’s just like that. It’s how I was feeling at the time. And then I sampled [Lil] Boosie on the beginning of that junt when he was talking before he was going to jail in that [interview]. It was on some deep shit.
Why did you choose to put that excerpt in the beginning of it?
Boosie is one of my favorite artists, and I just think that what they did to him was wrong. I was like, ‘I have to put Boosie at the beginning of this shit,’ because that was a powerful ass interview; it was true what he was saying.
On the mixtape's tracklisting, it’s a parenthesis after every song that reveals a time. What’s that for?
That’s when I was done with the actual song. Every time I got done with recording a song, I’d look at the time. ‘This is when the masterpiece was finished,’ that’s how I looked at it. Because I like to think of my music, not to sound cliché and shit, I try to make that shit classic. I’d like for [people] to be bumpin’ my shit five to ten years from now. That’s why I just try my best.
With being an artist, everyone listening to your music is not going to like your material, or they’re going to have different opinions and feel different ways. How do you handle that?
How I look at it is, I don’t care. I know what I like. Whatever I like, I’ma put out. I just don’t care about what people say. I just do what, in my mind, I fuck with. If I know this song that I did is hard, I’m gonna be like, ‘oh, okay this shit hard.’ I don’t care what nobody say about that shit; I just put my shit out. I don’t give a fuck. People be talking on the internet; I’m like, ‘okay.’ I got plenty of music; you can’t just dislike all of my shit. It don’t bother me at all.
I noticed on the majority of your projects, you don’t have any features. Why is that?
I just feel like I don’t even need features. I’ll do features but I wouldn't put them on my project. It depends. Most of the time, I don’t put nobody on my project, like, at all. It really ain’t even a reason behind it. I just feel like my projects should be me, myself, my experiences in life, everything that’s been going on. I would make like a compilation mixtape with me and my niggas on there but as far as my project’s concerned, I just never liked putting anybody on my projects.
Who are you working with as far as production wise? It doesn’t sound like the sound that’s popular right now.
I go to Eric Dingus. He’s from Austin. His shit is ridiculous. I got my homeboy Dirty Up. He produced on my latest shit, Born In The Winter.
What’s your writing process like when you're creating your music?
When I’m on my projects, I write and take my time. But it doesn’t take me long to write a song. I’ll knock a song out in one day. That’s how I make my mixtapes. I’ll do a song a day—play it, bump it and see how it sounds. I make plenty music. I make a lot of music and just put that shit out. I’ve got so used to doing it, I’ll just drop music whenever I want to. I’ve got plenty of music on the Internet; that’s how my fan base expanded, too.
You also call yourself Kenshin Travis. What made you adopt that moniker?
That’s Rurouni Kenshin. I was raised off it. I used to watch Rurouni Kenshin when I was little and shit. Last year, I think I was in New York and I had got this beat [and] in my brain, I was just like ‘bitch, I’m Kenshin Travis.’ That’s how that song came about—the “Bitch, I’m Kenshin Travis” song. I just started calling myself Kenshin Travis from then on.
You’re friends with Xavier Wulf, but you guys really don’t make appearances on each other’s projects. Would you ever consider doing a project with him?
Aw yeah, we’re doing a project together.
What can people expect from that?
That shit’s gonna be big, bro. I think that’s what’s gonna do it for us. We’re both talking about going hard on that shit. Our styles are different as hell, so when we get on a song, you don’t never know what to expect. It’s just like that on all of our songs. We’re both competitive, so we both try to go hard. We ain’t never dropped no project, but once we drop this junt in 2014, we’re gonna see where this shit take us. We’re gonna try to tour off this shit.
Who are some of your favorite artists to listen to?
I bump Sade. I bump Anita Baker. I like a bunch of old, soothing music. I like Fonda Ray. I got plenty of artists I listen to—just old, classic music that I be bumpin'.
How would you describe your sound?
What I think of when I hear my music is, like, beach music or some shit. At the water. Some wavy shit but all of my music isn’t like that. I can get on a trap beat and kill that shit and then get back on my own lane and kill that shit. I try to be versatile. I just try to make as much sounds as possible. I try to start new sounds with all my projects. People tell me to make Codeine and Pizza 2 and all that shit, I won’t paint the same picture twice. Codeine and Pizza, that shit was too classic for me to just go and think I’m gonna do better.
Talking with Xavier Wulf, he told me that he really doesn't have a fan base in Memphis. He said it’s big in places like California and Texas. He also said he’s never did a show in Memphis. How is your fan base?
It’s the same. My fan base is all over. It’s in L.A., Florida, Texas; it’s heavy. I’m just starting to see my fan base in Memphis. I’m just now starting to see people bumpin’ me and asking ‘when are you going to have a show in Memphis.’ That’s why I’m like, ‘aw okay, they’re starting to wake up now.’
Why do you think people outside of your own city gravitated to your music before your local peers did?
I just think, I don’t know if it’s a lot of closed-minded people in Memphis, they don’t accept different music, or whatever the case may be, but over the Internet, [my music] reached them other places and hit they ass. Over the Internet, these folks over here ain’t never seen me but they bumpin’ my music and when I go over there to do a show, it’s a lot of people. We get a lot of people at our shows. I ain’t never had a show in Memphis. We’re trying to set up a show, right now.
How is it for you, being an independent artist and still being able to go to big markets and pack them out? And do you think you need a major label to truly prosper with your career nowadays?
I really think that I can do it independent. As far as the new era, you can do anything you want. Once you build your shit up off the internet and you have supporters in fuckin’ Cali, New York, I can go over there, do a show, a bunch of fans come, I show love to them, and they actually fuck with me—they mosh pitting and going crazy when we perform.
Outside of music, what’s something that people don’t know about Chris Travis?
I like to do art. I do my own videos, edit them and put them out on YouTube. My Youtube channel has like 10,000 subscribers…I’ve been building up off that shit.
When I was in high school, I used to draw. I used to do art. I wasn’t even rapping. My mamma wanted me to be an artist. I was like, ‘hell naw. I’ma be an artist in music. I’ma be a musician.’
Naw. I’m supposed to be making a video to “Misty.”
Does it bother you releasing your music for free? And how do you profit from this other than touring?
Not really. It doesn’t bother me. And I always ask myself this: 'should I put my music out on iTunes?’ And then at the same time, I’m like, ‘naw,’ because I don’t necessarily need to. I can make an album whenever I want to. I’ma make an album when the time’s right. That shit’s got to be perfect. That shit’s gotta be on point. If a label wants to do an album, I’ll do that shit. If I’m funded everything I need to make an album, I’ll do that shit. But as far as now, I’m just building my fan base up with putting out all my music on the Internet.
What’s next for you?
I got the mixtape with Wulf coming up in 2014. After that, I might drop an album. I’m just trying to do some big shit in 2014.
Check out an alternate version of the interview in the video below: