SoJones Interview: Who Is the White Rapper?

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The White Rapper Show was a hit reality show on VH1, and while it claimed a winner in Atlanta rapper $hamrock, it has yet to produce a star. Well, he plans to change that with his sophomore release. His debut may have only whetted fans appetite, but on this latest release, $hamrock is looking to solidify himself as a true rapper and not just some guy who won a contest. Armed with a solid supporting cast that features Lil Wyte, $hamrock plans to make good on his potential.

Your debut album didn’t get the best reviews from critics. What is going to make this new album different?

Well, you know, I came out with my first retail project last year, and it did pretty good. We definitely built on it with a few solo mix tapes from me and a Lil Wyte and Wyte music mix tape series called White Christmas that we do every year, and, of course, Lil Wyte’s solo album came out this year, and I got to do a track on it with him.

We’ve just seen the movement continue to grow, and we definitely just wanted to continue to capitalize on it by putting together a project that was hot from start to finish, so hopefully it will be viewed like that.

Why did you decide to link up with a fellow white rapper in Lil Wyte?

It happened really naturally. I definitely listened to Lil Wyte’s music coming up. I think his first project came out in 2003, and I was definitely a fan. I was pretty much crazy about anything that came out of the Hypnotized Minds camp. It just so happened that he watched me on the show, and he thought that I had potential, and he liked what I brought musically and also just who I was as a person.

When we got to link up to work on one song, we wanted to see what we could put together, how we could continue to grow and build on it. It’s funny because I’ve never owned an Eminem album, but I bought every Lil Wyte album since he came out, so to be working with him is a dream come true.

Do you feel being on VH1’s White Rapper Show and then signing with a white rapper’s label may turn you into a sideshow type of act instead of being celebrated for your skills?

Not really. I think that being signed to Lil Wyte, if someone were to perceive that as a gimmick at all, I don’t understand that. For an independent rapper, he’s someone who has had a career that most people would kill for. He has five solo albums, multiple compilation albums, a complete distribution deal for his label, so I don’t see how being signed to him could be seen as a gimmick.

Now the TV show, sure. There are going to be people who say the show was crazy, and they had you all doing stupid stuff and played you all out, but for me, I always look at it like I was that hungry to get on that. I was willing to go through all that to show the entire world how hungry I was, and, at the end of the day, the exposure, the check, the experience, was worth it to me. I can’t say everybody else on the show had the same experience as me, but I’m the one who won, so that’s all that matters.

One of the critiques about you during your run on VH1 was that you weren’t the best lyricist, but your stage presence was crazy. What have you done to try to balance out those two aspects?

That’s a great point. I heard that as well, and for me that just comes from any type of nervous energy or anxiety. I just try to transform it into doing a great job, and, at the end of the day, I know when I go to a concert people want to have a good time and they want you to do well because they don’t want to sit there bored or thinking someone is wack, so I just try to feed off that energy.

As far as the lyrics, it’s just trying to get better, and I know the more that I record and go for timeless music as opposed to trying to make trendy songs or try to match what’s out there and just make music that I love making, I know that my best efforts will come from that.

It’s definitely been a learning process, but that’s the music I’m making now, and I think the stakes have been higher with my music than they’ve ever been before now that I’m turning out retail projects, and we’re getting numbers back on them.

What are the perks and hindrances of being known as the White Rapper winner?

The perks would have to be just the visibility. I think the fact that in addition to hearing some of the music, people got to watch my story and see my progress. They got to see me when I stumbled, but cheer even louder every time I picked myself back up, and that was really cool.

Being able to have the visual where people could actually see my face and attach it to my music, it sticks out because that show was like five years ago, and I still get recognized without ever having a hit song or anything, but I still get people coming up to me. It went a long way as far as the exposure.

The negatives would be like you were alluding to in some of the earlier questions in that you do get people who think things like if you were really that talented, why would you need to go on the show? That’s it, though, because my experience has been very positive from the show and after the show. You’re going to have haters in whatever you do, but I think it all goes back to the way you carry yourself, and, for me, it’s been a positive experience, so I really don’t have any complaints.

What do you want to accomplish on your sophomore effort?

I wanted to go for the timeless this time around and not just go for something that’s good enough. I want to make music that’s great and stands the test of time. I got to work with some people this time around that I came up listening to like Frasier Boy and Lil Infamous from Three 6. Really, I think just constantly recording throughout the year and staying fresh and sharp will show on this project.

SoJones readers, are you going to grab this album when it drops? Spill!

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