Rick Hnter on “Wait 4 Me” and Musical Artistry

Active since 2012, Rick Hnter has been forging his way through the music scene as a vocal talent and producer over the past few years. Based out of Houston, he’s been making his mark in its underground scene as well as collaborating with some of Maryland’s artists. Over the past few weeks he’s released a couple of singles for his upcoming EP “Wait 4 Me”, and plans to get the ball rolling with other releases.

You’ve been busy with a lot of different projects over the years, but at the same time quiet. Why is that?

Rick Hnter: I was skeptical of what route I actually wanted to take… like, “should I go the R&B way, or rap/hip-hop way… Or should I just ride these waves until I get on, then find my own lane. So I just kept working, and now I feel like I know which route I want to go musically.

Oh I see… You’ve got talent in both singing and rapping, so you was trying to figure out how to leverage both?

Rick: Basically, or just find a balance between the two. ‘Cause I never liked being called a rapper or singer. It limits me to just one category you know? And I didn’t want to take the Drake or Kendrick way ’cause I don’t like being compared either (laughs). So it’s like I had to blend the rapper and singer in me with a touch of my own style so I can be my own artist, not someone else I’ve been influenced by.

Hey I respect that because a lot of emerging artists get caught up in their influences.

Exactly! And I peeped that. It’s so hard for artists to be themselves when they take the same route as other artists, you know? And that happens a lot out her in Houston. I don’t want to name drop, but it’s a lot of cats out here trying to sound like a better version of the next guy; but it’s all the same thing, and people gravitate to it temporarily until the next artist sounds like them (laughs). It’s a repeating cycle that I hope to break when these projects release this year.

Yeah I feel like the culture needs to be shaken up. So how does being yourself and balancing your talents influence your creative process?

Being yourself is where the originality comes from. And that plays a key part into creativity. Without originality, it’ll just be a recycle or an imitation. And the balance between talents gives audiences the diversity and shows how much of an impact you can make musically. Plus, most of the artists that sing and rap have longevity in their music career. That’s how I plan on getting and staying in the music game.

You definitely see that with a lot of artists with longer careers. Speaking of that, your first single “Clit” is a good example [of you using both]. Appealing to the ladies I see.

Yeah man, and “Clit” was meant to be a banger, but I didn’t make it for that reason. Like the whole point of me dropping the four singles I dropped was to show my diversity in music. I can write hits. I can freestyle a song, I can sing, AND I can make beats and rap over them. I’m the whole package, and “Wait 4 Me” will show the singing side of that. Prey 4 Blacc will show the rapping side, and Nu Testament will break A LOT of genres. I also have a project called “Dualisms” I’m dropping this year too, it’s gonna be a beat tape of 4 tracks.

My man. Lots of stuff on the way from you. What is Blacc, by the way?

Yes sir! Blacc is an acronym for Belive Learn Achieve Create Conquer. I plan on investing in it to become my brand, and hopefully, my label in the future. Prey 4 Blacc is also the movie title to one of my films I plan on working on this year. I’m dabbling in a lot of things this year. I just hope everyone can keep up with the moves I’m making.

They should definitely be tuned in after you start with “Wait 4 Me”. What’s the release date for that?

Yeah man, “Wait 4 Me” is dropping February 14th, and has a lot of hits on it. But I’ll let the fans decide what they gravitate to the most, and ride that until Prey 4 Blacc is ready to drop. None of the singles I dropped are going to be on the tape [Wait 4 Me]. I’m thinking of putting Untitled 4 on there, but of course it’ll be different than what I already released.

Any closing statement for the people?

Yeah.

F** every rapper out right now, f*** the singers too. It’s Rick Hnter’s year… that is all.

Analysis | Soule – Dark Memories

“Dark Memories” by Soule is one example of an excellent hip-hop song that embodies a mood, tells a story, has clever and/or deep lines, and flows smoothly with back-to-back transitions. On top of that, it’s produced by the amazing Suede Moccasins who hooks it up once again. It possesses many of the things I love about hip-hop music, and one of the few songs I got excited about last year.

“Pray your clock shows hands in just one direction, cuz it’s hard for you to follow”

This bar directly references back to the hook where the character in the story (addressed in second person) has a lost concept of time, immortally unchanged like a ghost.

What’s also interesting about this bar is that it transitions perfectly into the verse in multiple ways.

It brings to attention the stagnant and lost mindset that the character has, which is the setting for this verse in the song. The actual mind of the character is drawn out like a tangible place. A place that is very rejecting, and deleterious of past memories. A very blank, lonely, and mundane state of mind that prefers being void from human interaction. This is described in the next line (among others):

“That’s what it’s like being a NEET,

then you get all neat”

A NEET(Not in Education, Employment, or Training) being a layabout who stays at home and doesn’t do much of anything, and rhyming with the homophone “neat” showing that they live unfulfilled and must occupy with idle cleaning. This also begins a very aggressive rhyme pattern:

“cleaning the house, the defeat,

makes you plow.

Don’t have the passion right now to”

The contrast of this bar from the non-rhyming of opening bar breaks listeners into the second verse and sets the pace for it. This bar is so aggressive for several reasons. First, that the rhyme scheme and cadence are very intricate, following an AA-BA-B-B pattern where house is used as an internal rhyme that is later pushed out as an end rhyme which sets the simpler pattern for the rest of the verse after a transition using another faster paced rhyme:

“talk with you, walk with you”

That point brings me to this: the sudden aggressiveness is the frustration of the narrator of dealing with this character. The first two lines are a very vague and somewhat glazed-over description that the narrator uses to describe the character’s mindset, but when digging deeper it becomes a source of frustration. Then the simplifying of the cadence/rhyme scheme is the calming down and acceptance of this setting. “Don’t have the passion right now” is a verbal sigh of exasperation and ceasing to struggle to hold onto the relationship. “talk with you, walk with you, do the same things like Geminis, how the stars move” is a very repetitive (yet not redundant) overstatement used as a device to show how close knit this relationship was. They talked together, they walked together, they were like twins. They revolved in the same pattern like the stars seem to do in the night sky.

Cleverly, this ties into an onslaught of astrology themed metaphors and references:

“I was a Leo in the sky, now I’m sagging like a Sag

reminiscing real hard on the year we have shared

that goes out to every astrological being that is there”

Pretty apparent, but this is saying this took a bit out pep out the speaker’s step. The wording, repetition and delivery makes the feeling come out of the words. “Leo in the sky” gives the image of a proud king of the jungle standing high over creation with utmost pride; whereas “sagging like a Sag” defines a lowly, rock-kicking persona (even further defined by the pet name for Sagittarius, which pronounces the ‘g’ differently). And “shared” was also spoken in a lower somber tone. yadayada

“you caught the arrow that cupid was trying to aim at your head

not your heart, that’s why you think too much instead.

‘Stead of staying in touch, you try to grow apart”

Adding to the setting of the character’s mindset, the speaker uses cupid’s aim as a metaphor for their approach to the situation. Their approach is loveless and riddled in overthink, making staying in touch needlessly difficult and frustrating.

“What does that say about us?

For real, you keep that state of mind I can’t trust

instead of making memories, you want memorials

everything I paved, you want to bury those”

That says the character wants nothing to do with this situation. As stated before, this person is “rejecting and deleterious”. The expression is that there is no good to be had from this situation, they are denying any chance of a positive relationship or hindsight. “Memories” could be a good remembrance of the experience, but instead the person desires “memorials”, as in dead. Buried. Everything built in the relationship, buried. This mindset drenched in overthink that destroys any “light” or positivity is like a betrayal to the speaker. Considering that once they were peas-in-the-pod or “like Geminis”, the fact that things are the polar opposite just makes the person impossible to trust (considering the diction “can’t”).

I feel like these lines are the key relation of the song to the title.

Be on the lookout for Soule’s Connection project.

LADE Sheds Light on His New ‘YORK’ Brand and Talks Hip-Hop Revolution

LADE is a rapper and producer that has put forth some impressive works over the past few years (he used to go by other aliases: Dgh, Doughmars, Je$us). He’s had a few songs of his own and produced a few great tracks for other artists. Namely those on Lord Byron’s Frozen 10 awarded Dark Arts Vol. 2 album, and on Shinobi’s (formerly known as Sir Milo) Corner Stores and Iron Horses.
Lately, he’s been working on building his new YORK imprint, and in talks of collaboration with Blu. After several months of inaction, he’s ready to unveil what he’s been working on.

Over the past year or so you’ve been showing a lot of sneak peeks of your York brand, but the details of it is shrouded in mystery. Can you define to us what ‘York’ is?
LADE: It’s basically a brand that’s starting out music based for now. Music, Videos, Artwork, and eventually stylized tours/concerts. I’m basically behind every facet of it and I’m properly working my way into investing into artists of all kinds to bring the brand to a multi-dimensional reality.

Have you ever heard of the Blue Ocean Strategy? It seems like that’s the type of mindset you’re bringing into this brand.
LADE: Yes, the art of creating what they call “blue oceans” of uncontested market space. Bits and pieces of that book I’ve been using as inspiration to minimize competition. I believe in the music industry today there’s lots of demand that’s not currently being paid attention to. Me, being a strong fan of both the business and artistic sides of the music industry, I feel a unique kind of enthusiasm to bring them to the forefront.

I know you have a really strong passion for hip-hop, but you also seem to be very critical of the current landscape. What do you feel hip-hop needs right now?
LADE: Hip Hop needs an entire reinvention that will take years to accomplish. African Americans critical of the culture need to get in business schools, study the practices behind the scenes, and take back their own culture that they claim Caucasians have “stolen”.
What I plan to do for hip hop is something I can’t do alone, which is why I plan on investing into hopefully a lot of aspiring artists and giving lots of people a chance to make something of themselves by not only benefiting this brand, but by benefiting themselves.

I remember you had a sort of call to arms for people who want to improve hip-hop culture and rap music a good while ago. Are any of those people part of the current movement you’ve got cooking up?
LADE: Yeah. That’s the most difficult part. Getting people who mutually support your vision is stressful, as most people think your plan won’t work, or they just flat out don’t take it seriously. Most people don’t take an idea seriously until it blows up and it’s making millions.As of right now I only have two childhood friends as silent partners. Besides that, I’m basically carrying this myself. For the moment. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to jump on your ship ASAP. You have to work and show why you deserve that support. Not only is it unrealistic it’s also a little narcissist. To think people are supposed to immediately invest all this hope in you even though you haven’t shown as much promise as all these other geniuses out here who’ve done their work already.

You must have some radical moves in mind, at least by common perception.
LADE: Radical is probably the most accurate term.

You’ve been quiet for a long time. Have you been working on a lot of different content, or on one big piece?
LADE: A lot of different content, but devoted about two months to one piece. Just trying to make the product as effective as possible without being over complicated. I’m a firm believer in simplicity. But it’s not simple to create simplicity, contrary to popular belief.
At least I don’t think it is.

I guess we’ll have to see. So you’ve made music in the past from rapping, to beats, to remixes. What kind of sound can we expect next from you?
LADE: Basically a combination of everything that I’ve been influenced by. And that hybrid of styles will be my initial platform musically, but as years go on, it will grow step by step into new territories. Even through other artists that I plan to be the engine for.

You’ve expressed an interest in doing R&B, is that something in the works or a longterm goal/project?
LADE: I plan to make a separate R&B/soul based division of York. For starters I will eventually have a R&B artist to headline it before that division actually becomes a thing.

In a lot of your production, particularly the most recent, it’s really abysmal (in a deep way) and cavernous. I’m not much of an R&B person, but it seems like a unique sound to the genre. Is that kind of production style slated for the York R&B music?
LADE: Absolutely. I intend to bring a different dimension to R&B music. Not to dismiss R&B of the past or present, because there will be a heavy inspiration of past R&B into what I tend to create. I’m basically just twisting the standard a bit.

So you’re going to be the face of production in your York imprint?
LADE: Yes. 100% of the production will be by me and me only.

There’s a huge standard that separates producers from beat makers. Which are you, and what do you think that standard is?
LADE: Producers are beatmakers who direct a project and have a vision. Beatmakers are just those who make beats and give them out to whoever has money. I’m a producer. Never really believed in the art of having one of my beats on a project if I’m not going to produce the whole project. There’s exceptions here and there but once in a blue moon.

Interesting. The best projects are when the vocalist and producer build together directly?
LADE: Sounds cliché, but yes. Not to say every album with different producers isn’t focused. But the producer and artist has to have a certain chemistry for the project to be more believable.

I kind of asked this already, but is that a mindset you’re bringing into your upcoming release?
LADE: Pretty much being that I’m artistically in charge of the entire thing.

Cool, what’s the timeframe for this release?
LADE: March at the latest. Before then is mini promo.

Itzme Spotlight: AWKWORD

I have tons and tons of respect for this man AWKWORD. Not only has this man been releasing a consistent stream of decent tracks, but he also works hard for a charity, Guns 4 Cameras. We in the limedark.

check it out

Dude keeps it very vintage hip-hop with positive-focused and progressive rhymes, but he still has fun with just spitting as well. Dude  goes in with tons of underground hip-hop heavyweights like T.Shirt, Joell Ortiz, Slug from Atmosphere, Sean Price, etc.

AWKWORD always keeps a message in his music and doesn’t come off as corny or too preachy. I always enjoy listening to his tracks because he puts together talented groups of people to make something great. You get tons of different underground MCs on his songs, like the huge posse joint “Before Before” which is the song I discovered him on. He works with lots of great producers like Harry Fraud and Steel Tipped Dove as well, just to name a few. He even has some dope chopped and screwed jams.

Go ahead and do yourself a favor by checking out all da AWKWORD tracks that you can, and then stay tuned for the huge album: World View. World View is the first 100% for charity Hip-hop project, and (as the name suggests) it is a WORLDWIDE thing. This is crazy. The joint will be featured in 18 countries. Mark the day February 2nd in your calendars, cause it’s going down.

World View

Itzme Spotlight: Ill Doots

Hip-hop has a lot of experimentation, and diversity to its sound. Within the genre you’ll find instrumentation that ranges from sounding like hard metal to smooth jazz. One thing that is rare is the rap music is bands. The only bands I can manage to think of are The Roots and Ill Doots, both based out of Philly. I’m gonna show ya’ll about the latter.

As stated earlier, Ill Doots is a hip-hop band with 8 members; two MCs and 6 instrumentalists. Together they create a real unique and artsy sound that was immediately noticeable on their debut, Meteor Music.

Honestly, their style is too varied to describe generally. You feel the influences of all the different members on the songs. Phantom has snide and clever lyrics and a spitter’s style while Tex contrasts with his unique and twangy delivery with a smooth flow. And later on in the group’s career they’ve included other members like Prof. Dex.

While having an incredibly impressive debut (practically a classic), Ill Doots have had a lot of growth and refined sound since 2009. The group has grown into one of the most impressive live hip-hop acts ever with their great sound and coordination. The group has many songs that are exclusively live, and even under the energy and commotion going on in a live show their songs sound better than many studio songs.

Aside from the sonic superiority of their music, they also have strong social messages in many of their songs like their “Message to WestboroBaptistChurch” more recently.

Recently, the group has been coming out with a slew of powerful singles for their 2x Tuesday which I’ve frequently picked for my single picks. The compositions of these songs are beyond excellent, from the concepts to the harmony of the sounds. A perfect example would be the song “Anti-Gravity” where the members sing together in a well-executed chorus with the instruments matching the intensity or smoothness of the vocalists’ melodies.

Ill Doots is a unique hip-hop group with great music that needs to be heard everywhere. I personally don’t have a single other act I’d rather see live instead of this group. Check out all their music for timeless entertainment. Also, if you want to see these guys live, which you should, donate to their cause. Even a dollar could help them out, you could miss out on an Arizona or sumn.