check out this new interview I just did with LifeStyleEtc.com
From the city we know and love, Philadelphia based artist Voss is the kind of person you meet and within the first few moments of speaking, you can immediately tell he knows where he wants to go, and he’ll go there. Turning his life into a full commitment to his music, opening up for the likes of Cam’ron and Raekwon just to name a couple, and signing on with Black Ink ManagementGroup, is just the start for Voss’s career in hip hop as he confidently aims his sight on the top.
I recently had the chance to ask Voss a little bit about his career in music, his time on BET’s Freestyle Friday, and his plans moving forward. Catch a glimpse into the mind of a young hip hop artist working towards creating his own progressive scene in today’s music.
Click here to watch Mr. Freeze by Voss
At what point in your life did you realize that Hip Hop was going to be a huge part of your life?
I started rhyming words together when I was 14, but it was more of a hobby or even a joke for years…I didn’t really accept hip-hop into my life as a possible career till I was 18 or so. It was my first couple of shows that did it. I was always a ham, and having people applaud for what I created was all I needed. Something intangible speaks to me about the art form. It just clicked and hasn’t let up since.
Are there any artists out there who have really inspired you to pursue your music?
Of course. As far as who has inspired me to keep going on a motivational level, any of these DIY/grassroots artists who are self-made success stories continue to inspire me, hip-hop or otherwise. People who came from nothing with no major connections and got themselves to a great position over time through honest hard work and pure talent are people I can relate to.
You’ve had a pretty interesting journey to get what spot you’re at now, can you talk about what brought you to focusing on music full time and how that’s changed your career?
“Interesting”…you could say that haha. Even with going to college, I never really had any other specific goal besides living solely off of what I myself created since I was 18. I just wanted to be an artist, not an employee. So I always had that focus, going to college and getting my degree was more of a safety net in case things didn’t work out. But over time I’ve come to realize that if you really want something, you gotta chase it full on; no time for distractions or doubt. So that’s what I started doing, about time right? I’m very proud to say that I am a full time musician now, as unpredictable and unstable as my lifestyle can be at times.
You just started a relationship with Black Ink Management Group (BIMMG), how do you see that helping as you further your career?
Eh, I don’t really…
Nah just kidding. I wouldn’t have signed on with BIMMG if I didn’t believe in their principles and ideas. I’m a very picky dude. I got a few offers from management groups/PR agencies during the 5 weeks I was on BET, and it was always just numbers, numbers, numbers. I feel like BIMMG is a solid group of genuine people who actually have my best personal interests as an artist in mind, and that’s so refreshing. So there’s nowhere for us to go but up.
Watching you on BET and in other battle videos make it seem like verses come naturally to you. What’s your writing process usually like? Where do you draw your inspiration from both in battles and in the studio?
My inspiration in battles is whatever the prize is lol. Nothing more. I’m just a naturally funny dude, so jokes and clever wordplay just come to me when I’m freestyling.
More importantly, when I write songs, it’s a lot more meticulous. Usually I’ll come up with a concept or even just a line or two and build the song around that. But it’s hard to put my writing process into words, it more so just…happens. Besides, a magician never fully gives away their secrets.
Congratulations on making it in the BET Freestyle Friday Hall of Fame! Right now you’re in Freestyle Friday March Mayhem, can you talk a little bit about your journey with Freestyle Friday and when we can catch your next battle?
Why thank you. Freestyle Friday just came out of nowhere, on a whim. I accepted an offer to come to NYC and try out for the show, and the rest is grueling, drawn out, annoying history haha. I’m very thankful for the opportunities BET has given me however, as it has gotten me the most national attention of my career. The only drawback is that some folks may view me as solely a “battle rapper” when in fact that couldn’t be further from the truth. I have zero real interest in battling other rappers, I prefer/am better at writing and performing my songs. But the exposure being on that show has gotten me is undeniable and I am very grateful; now it’s time to capitalize properly on it.
As far as my next battle, I actually just lost in the semifinals of the March Mayhem tournament unfortunately to a kid named Charron from Canada. I went down swinging but he definitely deserved it. I’m honestly not very upset about it, as battle rap is far from my main focus. I don’t actually plan to ever battle again, as I feel I’ve already come dangerously close to being pigeonholed as something I’m not, a pure “battle” emcee. So that’s probably it for me as far as battles, but I’d never say never. If there’s a LOT of money offered to do a battle, I may consider it in the distant future. But music is the priority, as it always has been.
On the show you’re strong in your representation of the 215, how do you feel about the Philly hip hop scene right now and how do you see it moving forward?
I’m going to say something here that may piss some people off, but I never been too good at caring about that sort of thing: I love Philly. I love this disgusting beautiful grotesque amazing city. But as far as the “hip hop scene” around here? I could care less. I am focused on Voss’ scene, and on my small but super talented circle (from Philly and elsewhere). I really don’t see this city’s “scene” moving anywhere because everyone seems to be focused on being the “best in Philly”, so then let em fight over that. Go ahead and stay local, then there’s less comp for more ambitious folks like me and mine. There are a lot of dinosaurs in Philly whom are still stuck in that mid 90′s “boom bap” vibe, which is cool I guess, but far from progressive. I’m not interested in recreating a lot of what’s already been done. I don’t really care where the scene goes as long as myself and my people keep moving forward like we been doing.
How was your time at SXSW earlier this month? Did you see any other talent out there on stage that really drew you in?
It was a crazy experience, from what I remember…haha. The showcase I was a part of wound up being a bit of a mess since the headliners didn’t show due to some major miscommunications on the business end, but playing at Emo’s East was a great time regardless, awesome venue. I networked my ass off, and partied just as hard when I had time. I wish I could have stayed there longer, I was only out there for 3 days since I was told I had to film Freestyle Friday (wound up being postponed a week but that’s another story). I was actually out there before the full-fledged music portion of the festival started, so it wasn’t as packed as it is during that time, but still managed to catch some real dope local bands, whose business cards I’m sure I have somewhere haha. And of course the bill I played with at Emo’s was full of talent, shout out to Mason, Taizu, DJ Miko, Twurkaholics and everyone else I rocked with. Can’t wait for next year.
What’s your favorite memory from any performance you’ve ever had?
Would it be cliche to say there’s way too many? I don’t care, there’s way too many. But if I had to pick one right now off the top of my head, I’d say when I recently had my victory party/show in Philly after getting into the Freestyle Friday Hall of Fame…headlining my own show and having the crowd shouting my lyrics back at me for entire songs was an amazing feeling. I love opening for big names, I’ve shared stages with some of my prime influences and just really inspirational people. But nothing can equal how I felt when I saw and heard that whole front row reciting entire verses I wrote as I said them. It lets me know these kids LISTEN. Nothing feels better.
Can you tell us anything about the new music video you recently shot or the process of making it?
Yeesh…well the video is for my “Mr. Freeze” single, which seems to have really caught on amongst my fanbase. I had a blast filming it, but it was a little stressful just because it was my first music video that required a little more than “ok let’s show up here and film”. We had models and props and a LOT of people on set for different shots. But overall it was a great experience and wound up being nowhere near as stressful as I expected. My man Hiram Stelzig who directed and filmed it is so easy to work with and just generally the man, so everyone needs to hire him to shoot your videos. So many peoples’ videos suck, especially rappers. Step it up, rappers. This video was a whole lot of fun to shoot and the final product will show that. I can’t wait to release it.
What’s Voss have planned for 2013?
I think a better question would be what DON’T I have planned for 2013 haha. So much has already happened this year…but as far as what’s in store: first and foremost the ALBUM. I’ve spent the last year and change writing the best songs of my life and I can’t wait to record them and get them out to the public. I’ve just been loving my work, perfecting my craft. I’ve got so many joints written that they won’t fit on an album, so I’m probably going to release a free EP or two of songs that didn’t quite fit on the album before I release the final product. Also been getting offers from some real dope producers to work together on some side projects, which I’m definitely open to. Just expect a lot of quality material this year. Aside from that, TOURING. Definitely going on at least one major tour this year, hopefully more. I’ve played sporadically all over the place but never gone on an organized tour, so it’s way overdue. Other than that, more videos, more dope shows with bigger names, I’m talking legends (*cough* Ghostface *cough*), and just more work in general. With BIMMG behind me I feel like a new artist, like I finally earned the means to really make a widespread impact. So it’s time to do just that.
Voss is playing this Thursday, March 28th with Wax and Mason at The Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm. It’s almost sold out, so grab yourtickets while you can!
Written by Lauren Resnick