Bay area rapper Iamsu! is setting the new wave for independent artists. Some could say that he is on his "revamped Souls of Mischief flow," by staying independent with a mainstream distribution. Some can say he is just original, while others can say he is just staying true to himself. Either way, the formula works.
HYPEFRESH's Erin Simon, (@erinasimon), has decided to catch up with Iamsu! in an exclusive interview.
Erin: I looked at your social media… I have to say, you're very active, engaging with your fans and those who follow you. Do you feel that social media has revolutionized the independent side of the music industry?
Iamsu!: Yes, it's everything. Before, there was a big wall between fans and the artist. But now because of social media, it cuts out the middle man and allows us to stay connected to those who follow.
Erin: In what ways has it helped you in terms of your career?
Iamsu!: The biggest help are the social platforms where I promote links to where my new music can be found. As well as other things relative to my work.
Erin: What have you been able to utilize (outside of social media) to find different ways to market yourself, as well as the H.B.K. gang?
Iamsu!: Consistent branding. Wearing the team gear to events. Doing weed tastings for the people with our team… All those things played a big part in it, you know.
Erin: I listened to your N.P.R. interview.. Ali Shaheed Muhammad said that in terms of social media, there's no time off between the time on/off. Do you think that separation can make artists feel stuck?
Iamsu!: I totally agree. I don’t think there is. As a human being, we cant just turn ourselves off. So, I feel as long as I'm being consistent and being myself, I'll be alright.
Erin: Do you feel that social media can impact an artist positively in terms of getting new fans and listeners?
Iamsu!: I'm not a fan of spamming, in general. I feel begging people to go your links forcefully is not a good idea. However, if you do your marketing and promotion the right way, it can be very effective for the artist.
Erin: Is the mainstream level of the music industry really all that it's cracked up to be?
Iamsu!: I'm gonna come clean.. I'm the only one in my group that doesn't have a proper artist deal.
Erin: Why? Is there a reason behind this decision?
Iamsu!: I just don't want to put my career in someone else's hands, you know? I don’t trust it. I'm a unique artist. I've been connected with my fans, and doing well with my marketing strategies… I'd just rather stay indie and embrace the independent culture. To me it's completely worth it.
Erin: What are the important aspects of being independent? E.g. Understanding contracts, the business end etc
Iamsu!: To be successfully independent, YOU MUST KNOW HOW TO READ, or have someone around you trust that comprehend on a very high level. The problem with upcoming artists is the fact that there green. If your not careful, people will try to finesse you.
Erin: You made a comment in that NPR interview where you stated "Artists don't have to be activists", but they should rap about things people can walk away with.. Do you feel that now is a good time to do this? Taking in the fact that lots of political issues are occurring in our times?
Iamsu!: Absolutely. I feel as though it's our responsibility as artists to describe our surroundings. I feel as though our environments can be wild and violent. So people have to understand that if you're not apart of that lifestyle, we have to communicate that.
Erin; Do you feel the younger generation can appreciate that and embrace it?
Iamsu!: Yeah, I think so. Kendrick Lamar has a platinum album right now. I feel like people definitely embraced his work, which touched on a lot of modern day issues and problems. I can see more people going down this route as times change.
Erin: Family is very important to you. Your mom even travels with you when you work. Do you ever feel conflicted when your involved in a song that may be deemed derogatory towards women?
Iamsu!: Ultimately, no. Honestly, it's the women who fit that category. There are women and men who are b*tches, and that's just the way it is. I don't feel as though my Mom is offended by this because she's not one of these types of individuals.
Erin: What are some tips you would give to the aspiring artists that want to achieve certain levels of success in their career?
Iamsu!: I would say make a website, with all of your content on it. Drink tons of water. And also document all who are involved on your music and songs. Helps down the line in terms of publishing and accreditation between the artist and producers.
Erin; So essentially, just make sure everything is well documented?
Iamsu!: Yeah, most definitely.
Erin: Lastly, what are 5 things that fans may not know about you?
Hmmmm….. I feel as though I'm an open book… Most people always tell me that my eating habits are really weird. Lol. I'm a Lakers fan, Lil Wayne fan, I can't swim, I've been to Disneyland at least 9 times, and lastly…. I would love to see a real life version of Jurassic Park.
Erin: Oh my gosh, that would be awesome.
Iamsu!: Yeah, it would be. Even when I go to Universal Studios and visit the Jurassic Park, It's just not enough for me. I need a bit more to be completely satisfied, you know. I think it would be really cool to see that happen in real life.