Def Soul: Peace king. Tell me what happened in the time frame between the ending success of Between Heaven and Hell into the beginnings of creating Prey for the Poor?
Add-2: A lot of life happened. Actually we had immediately started working on Prey for the Poor as soon as Between Heaven & Hell was done. Between Heaven and Hell had came together so quickly that we figured that we could have something out here for the time being and it kinda took on a life of its own. We were surprised like oh wow ok I was kinda caught off guard. After that as it kept on growing and kept growing we had a little bit more time to create for Prey for the Poor. While doing that I was able to be as ambitious as wanted to be musically. There was certain things I wanted to have. I wanted to have a different level of live instrumentation that BH&H didn’t have. I wanted the features to compliment in a different way. But also inbetween that a lot of life happened. I went through a lot of different phases. I gained a different level of spirituality that I didnt have before hand.
Def Soul: How so? What information were you blessed with? What light did you see?
Add-2: I had to realize that music was my priority at first. God needed to take music away for a minute so that I could learn to appreciate him and life. There was a lot things I wouldn’t have seen if was still focusing a hundred percent on music. So he was like yo take this off to the side for a second. The project was pretty much done since February and they pushed it back a couple of times. During that time I was going through this depression because music is my way of coping with everything. Take away my music you take away me being able to be out there. Then it’s like I’m going through the worst. At the same time I needed to go through that because God started being able to show me, yo man focus on me, I need you to have faith, I need you to get a different level of a insight and see how important where you are right is now versus music being the crutch, music being the superhero, music being the one who saves me from everything. You can’t depend on that. That’s a small piece of you. I had to learn that and I wouldn’t have if music would have still been prevalent.
Def Soul: Sometimes things get taken away form us so we can appreciate them more when we do have them.
Add-2: Exactly now I don’t want to be away from it for a second. Anytime anybody gives me a any opportunity I’m like YES!!! I haven’t been this excited about music in a while. I truly do appreciate it. I remember sitting back not being able to do it. That was torture it was a slow death to me. Not being able to do what you love to do is a form of suicide.
Def Soul: Word I feel artists have to be thankful for a certain amount of pain because that’s what fuels the music and what enables us to emote through it. Can you Describe the creative process behind Prey for the Poor?
Add-2: The basis always starts with writing the record. I’ll sit with the producer and we’ll go through beats. When I go through beats I search for a feeling first. Something could be dope and I still won’t rap over it if I don’t get a feeling. I need to be in tune with it in a different way like what story can I bring to it. If I can’t enhance it in some way I’m not gonna hurt it. I go through beats and wait for something to jump at me because once I get excited about it I think somebody else will and I can write from a more natural place. After I write it well record it instantly. I was writing everything on the spot everything was in the moment. After we get the basis down I’ll immediately say, “What’s missing?, It’s good but how can it be better? Who’s voice sounds better on this hook? I wrote the hook for When Your Ready and asked Heather Victoria can you come in here and sing it over and Heather knocked it out the park . Kool Aid same way I wrote it, after that I had the main vocal on it but I needed Sam Trump to supplement. Sam’s voice harmonizing underneath it took it from a level 7 to a 10. The little things. I became like a mad scientist. There’s actually song I had with a choir that didn’t make the cut. I was that ambitious because you don’t want to make the same record over.
Def Soul: When I listen to the album the thing that stuck me is that it sounds like urban hymns. From the moment you press play form the prayer to the end it felt like a well articulated gospel from the street. Was that underlying theme planned or was it something that came together after the fact?
Add-2: Yes I’m very spiritually aware. I get that from my grandma. She used to always teach me about the the spirit of the sermon. With this album I think it’s important to show that balance. You want to give people life, you want to give people a sense of being, you want to give them an appreciation of life. With these songs I know how meaningful they can be. This could be the sound track to someone’s life if you do it right. I thinks there’s so many great lessons in the bible and right now for kid music these albums are their forms of the bible. I feel G0d is using me through this way to speak to them. This is there form of Sunday school If people are going to listen to you, give them something worth listening to. So we mixed the medicine with the applesauce and gave them a balance of what’s going on; the harsh realities but at the same time I’m gonna give you some hope.
Def Soul: My personal favorites off the album are Kool aid, the Joint with Raheem Devaughn, the joint with Amp and Sam Trump. I gotta ask who is Sam Trump and how did that relationship come to be built?
Add-2: I meet Sam Trump through my homie meek in Chicago. He was telling me about this guy who could play horns over my stuff. Then I heard him and dude could sing his face off. Then when we meet he was real soft spoken humble, said he was a fan as well. We started working, sending records back and forth and we were blending very well. We got like maybe 6 records at this point tossing things back and forth. He really brought some of these songs together. He did his thing on Kool Aid he plays the horns on Stop Play Rewind and he’s on Good Morning Black America. He’s one of the most crucial people to me. Vocally, sonically, he does it all. I think if more people hear him he’ll take off. He’s a Genuis.
Def Soul: What was the atmosphere in the studio when Kool Aid came on? It’s such a feel good jam it touches the soul. I know you took your relation ship to the next level. Is that something that influenced the song?
Add-2: Yea the first verse is about my wife. I wrote Say Good Bye which is the total opposite, the horrible love song and I wanted something to balance it out. I remember this one girl had posted something on Facebook that said, “Dear male rappers I miss when yall used to make song that made us feel appreciated, it would be nice if we get those thanks. And I thought about it like yo…
Def Soul: Cut you deep.
Add-2: Yea I really thought about what songs are there that make you happy to be around somebody. What are the good love songs in rap anymore, thats not even borderline disrespectful? So I was like I want to write something girls want to hear. When I heard the beat I thought this was perfect. We did the hook then I wrote the verses. When Rapsody jumped on it I was like this joint sounds amazing because she was able to give a perspective that was needed. You don’t hear rap duets to much anymore. On some really appreciating each other. I love it for that reason.
Def Soul: Rap is such a cool person very down to earth. I feel a lot of your words didn’t fall on deaf ears because the subject matter wasn’t overtly critiquing pop culture but merely a product of it. What was the frame of reference for songs like Set it Off and Good Mourning Black America? Was there a purpose behind them or was it more ventilation?
Add-2: I think it was combination of both. Nina Simone said you can’t be an artist and not reflect the times. There was so much going on in 2014- 2015 that’s still going on now. Tensions are very high. There is a mixture of anger, frustration ,hopelessness helplessness, and fear. Sometime you need those songs like f*#k the system, no f#*k the judicial system, no f**k the police. Sometimes it has to be all of that s#!t. Sometimes it’s not going to be aye lets come together. Sometimes it’s going to be I matter to, not even cause it’s hashtag. Naw you ain’t going makin me another one of your victims tearing down my image for public perception just to protect the police. That’s how I feel. Black America the same way. Gather round black men that’s if your still living is one of the hardest opening lines I think I ever wrote in my life. It’s a very hectic time to be black in America. People don’t understand, but you have to have the foresight to try to tell people wants going on. Sometimes you gotta be Fred Hampton sometime you gotta be Bobby Seale sometimes you gotta be brother Malcom, sometimes you can’t be Martin.
Def Soul: I feel as though its a sign of the times, where we’re at. I think it’s also a symbol of where we need to go. I definitely appreciate those records because you bodied them. I hear records like Niggalude and brings out the politics then I hear records like green light and that’s that jam. How did Green Light come to be ?
Add-2: With Green Light party we were recording and they were flipping a lot of 90s 2000s samples. When I heard it I ran in the room and was like yo you have to let me have that because it was was supposed to be Rapsody. I trade her that beat for this one by Eric G that she wanted and I was like thank God because I had it all in my mind. Green Light party sounded like Chicago circa 2004-2005. It sounded like the resurgence of hip hop soul, like Work Out Plan Kanye. When I heard that I was like yo this is gonna remind people of what Chicago party record was immediately. There’s even a homage to Do or Die in there. I was lining it up.
Def Soul: How was the response?
Add-2: Crazy. Robert Glapser invited to me to come perform with him. We did How Much a Dollar Cost. I’m rapping over it then I’m back stage hangin out with R. Kelly. This is the day Prey for the Poor comes out. After everything is done, I got outside, a dude drives up and he’s hanging out his car and yells Add-2 you dropped a classic on ’em. Then the next car pulls up right behind him full of girls and there like we love you Add-2 we love Prey for the Poor. I was like yo this s#!t don’t happen to me. It’s a little surreal for me. There’s been so much love. Far more than it’s ever been. Everyone’s proud.
Def Soul: I meant to ask you is the art work on this project handled by Zeph Farmby?
Add-2: There was another cover we had before hand and it was cool but I know it wasn’t what we wanted because they put us on a deadline. Zeph just knocked it out and was like here it is. Then he called me a couple months later and was like yo fam did they give you a date yet. I was like man we still waiting. He said check this out I’m about to flip some new s#!t listened to the records came back he sent that and he captured it perfect.
Def Soul: What record meant the most to you while creating it or after the fact?
Add-2: The one that meant the most is 2. Good Mourning Black America means the most to me along with When Your Ready. Because When Your Ready is a very personal song. Very personal.
Def Soul: How so?
Add-2: I talk about the depression, I also talk about my father when he lost his job that year, and I talk about my friend who passed. Sometimes its situations you don’t get a chance to address but that was my way of expressing all that stuff and it was a way of paying homage to my friend who had died who I met in college. It was a tough time but, it came out through the song perfectly.
Def Soul: What’s crazy is I found out my pops had cancer and when I heard that song, it hit home.
Add-2: The unfortunate part is I think rap music nowadays is doing everybody a disservice because there’s so much more to life were not talking about. There’s so much being captured within the same stuff. Like you make club music and you maybe spend 10% of your week in the club if that. Its 3 hours max if you show up on time and no one shows up on time. You get there late, you get 2-3 hours of partying and you out. Now what are you doing with the rest of those hours? There’s so much going on but nobody’s talking about that. Nobody’s talking about getting over, nobody’s talking about the reality of what we’re doing. Nobody’s talking about these others subjects that need to be talked about. What rap records talk about getting married? None but all these dudes are getting married on the low. We just stagnate. You have a bunch of grown men who don’t know anything else other than acting like a rap stereotype.
Def Soul: What’s the craziest studio story you got out of these studio sessions?
Add-2: What song was the craziest to create? Niggalude. Ok amp came through to the studio. Amp is rarely there but he’s dope as f@%k so when he comes through you better get in tune with him. He’s playing records and choppin stuff right then and there. I’m listening and it’s so dark and so grimey I’m like I need this. He sends it to me and I come back to the booth. It was originally supposed to be one quick verse. As soon as I said that whole verse 9th came in and heard it and says “What the F@*k is that???!!!!!!” and was like thats it? Just one verse, naw go in there write another, go write a second one the people gonna be mad if you only got that one as one verse. The people gonna be mad. You can’t just leave them like that.”
Def Soul: That joint was cold you put in work on this project. The reception was incredible with this project. I feel you hit that hometown hero status so where does the one man duo go from here?
Add-2: I go back to this one phrase I tell myself. I do like an inventory check and I tell myself I aint shit. In my mind I can’t believe the hype. It can good but it can be better. I have to believe it. Even though I’m a little itmidated by what happens next I got plenty of time. Everytime I get to that point in my mind like you aint gonna make nothing better than… I have to chase that. I be thinking to myself like lyrically how man dope raps do you have left? but I learn how to better myself. I feel like this is one thing I can’t master. Music is the one thing I can’t master. I can get good at it d@%n good but i can’t master it. Once I reach that, it aint a challenge no more but I love it because it challenges me.
Def Soul – (@DefSoulNJ)