Haastattelussa Fairfield-räppäri No Face Phantom

Haastattelussa Kalifornian Fairfieldissa kasvanut räppäri No Face Phantom. Hän julkaisi debyyttialbuminsa ‘When Did Cash Mean Nothing…’ vuonna 1998. No Face Phantom on tehnyt urallaan yhteistyötä muun muassa Mac Dren (RIP), Pizzon, Lunasiccin, Killa Tayn, San Quinnin ja Dubeen kanssa.

  1. What’s up, No Face Phantom! Let’s start at the beginning! Can you share with us the story behind your stage name?

I got the name No Face Phantom from a song I wrote years ago when I was about 19 years old. I had said it in a couple of bars in my song, so I thought it would sound good as a song title. I made some flyers to promote the single, and it read Young E “The No Face Phantom.” After people saw the flyer, they all thought that was my rap name, so ever since then, it just stuck and became my name.

  1. As a rapper from Fairfield, California, how has your upbringing and the local music scene influenced your musical style and lyrical content?

Ever since I was a little kid, around 4 or 5 years old, I always loved music, and my dream was to become a star like Michael Jackson from the Jackson 5. I used to make up songs with my older sisters, and we would sing them around the house and sometimes whenever there was a party or something at a cousin’s house or somewhere. We all used to make up songs together, make up dances, and perform our routines in front of the grown-ups. We didn’t have a singing group or anything like that; we would just be playing around and singing about anything.

I was born in Denver, Colorado, and didn’t move to Fairfield until I was about 7. But my love for music came from growing up listening to Motown and a whole bunch of other music that my aunts, uncles, and grandmothers would play all the time. That was way before any rap music, until the Sugarhill Gang came out with their record, and that started a whole new ballgame for me. I used to just sing, but now I had another avenue to explore, and it was easier for me because with rap, you don’t have to be able to sound good like a singer does; you can just rap over a beat. So, I started to incorporate raps into my songs that I was singing, and to me, I sounded dope!

After we moved to California and grew up out here, things were a lot different for me. I always thought that California was where the stars were born, so I just knew one day I would be rapping or acting, anything to become a star. But as time was going by, I saw that it wasn’t all palm trees and sunshine. As a youngster, we were out here hustling, selling drugs, and a whole bunch of other stuff I won’t say, but you get the picture. So, even though my dream hadn’t changed, my content did because now I wasn’t a 7-year-old kid from Denver anymore; I was a teenager growing up in the Bay, just trying to survive these streets, get money at the same time, and also trying to pursue my dream of becoming a star. But living out here turned my R&B singing into underground rap music.

  1. You released your debut album “When Did Cash Mean Nothing” in 1998. Can you take us back to that time and share the creative process behind the album?

When I recorded “When Did Cash Mean Nothing?” I really didn’t have a particular sound I was shooting for while I was recording that album. I had hooked up with 1 of my friends from Jr high school named B.C that had done some tracks for EZ from EZSD, and another 1 of my folks named Rude Boy, and they both hooked me up with some tracks. We recorded the whole album at Rude Boy’s studio at his house in FF. Prior to recording that album, me and Pizzo aka The Heatetman had been doing a lot of records for his albums and for other artists on AWOL records and other artists and up-and-coming labels at the time. So when I recorded my album, I kinda just got whatever beat I thought was hot and gassed it and went on to the next because I had so many raps that had never been recorded. It was easy to knock songs down quick, and I was eager to get my first solo album out also so I didn’t want to take too long doing it. Even though I thought the album was dope, it wasn’t until I recorded my 2nd project “History of the Game Pt. 1” when I really put together a masterpiece of work and featured numerous artists that were hot at the time, and we all did the damn thing on that album, and I also did most of the production on that project too. When it dropped, it was ranked #2 on Music People’s chart top sellers list.

  1. How do you feel your music has evolved since your debut album? Are there any specific changes or growth that you have experienced as an artist?

I love recording and producing music for myself and other artists; it’s always been a passion of mine. I’m also a huge fan of music itself. I’m a fan of almost all the artists I’ve worked with, performed with, or just met prior to even meeting some of them. After every song I do, I always want the next one to be better and/or different than the last one I did. Since I started off singing, being my first love, I think that gave me a different approach to how I made my songs and how I produced records.

It was easy to do mobb music, and even easier to do an R&B rap song for me. Every album I did always was a major elevation from the last album. I always listen to what’s hot that’s currently out and make sure I add my own new sound contribution to the world. No two projects sound the same if you’re elevating in your craft. They can be similar if that’s what you’re trying to do, but they should never be the same because your audience will become bored with you and be attracted to whatever’s new, and they may think you’re old and washed up. So, you gotta keep switching things up.

  1. Are there any particular themes or messages that you consistently explore in your music? What drives you to address these topics in your lyrics?

When you’re listening to my music, I rap about all types of things. I don’t really focus on any particular themes or political topics to try to push a specific narrative to the public or try to address any issues going on in the world outside of my region or my own community. My music is just my own stories, and the stories I like to put into a melodic form that I hope the listeners will enjoy and can identify with.

  1. Can you tell us about some of the artists or producers you have collaborated with throughout your career? How have these collaborations influenced your artistic journey?

I have been in the music industry for over 20 years, working with a whole bunch of artists, producers, and being featured on many different projects with others, including Tupac, Digital Underground, Mac Dre, E40, Keak Da Sneak, 2ndIINone, Saint Charles (SMG), JT the Bigga Figga, San Quinn, Pizzo, Dubee Sugawolf Pimp, Slim 400, Beeda Weeda, LaRoo aka Hitta Slim, RBL Posse, Eboni Foster, Deltrice, Jay Synth, B.C., The Federation, The Jacka, Battle Locco, Mississippi, Marvelous, 5150, DJ King Assassin, Lee Majors, Lil Ric, Coolio da Underdogg, J Diggs, Goldtoes, EZSD, Work Dirty, Killa Tay, Itz Mainy, Ice Meez, Trill Lee, S.B. Baby Cougnut, Krypto, Danked Out, Don Priest, Bobby Ford, K Lou, AL Eaton (1 Little Indian Studios), Ant Dog, Q ball, and the list goes on and on. I couldn’t name everybody even if I tried. I have worked with almost everybody out here in Northern California, either performing with them, collaborating on songs, touring together, or having some of my associates work with some of their associates. The entertainment circle is very small, so if you’re out here really pushing a line, you’ll meet a lot of people, and many opportunities open up for you. That’s how I’ve maintained in this business for as long as I have. I always pushed a hard line, stayed solid, did good business, and stayed true to my lane, allowing me to continue moving and grooving and doing my thing out here, and people will continue to support what I’m doing if it’s good work.

  1. What challenges have you faced as an independent artist in the music industry, and how have you navigated those obstacles?

The biggest challenge you face being an independent artist is not having a big budget to push your project. So, without having that kind of money that major labels provide, it means you gotta put in more work. You gotta call radio DJs, magazine journalists, and all those outlets yourself, unless you have a good manager that is willing to get behind you and has the plug to make things happen for you. It can be hit or miss at times, but being independent allows you to stay in complete control of your projects and the direction you want to go in dealing with your career. Plus, you’re hands-on, so you also make a lot of business connections you might not have made if you weren’t the person setting things up.

  1. Are there any specific rituals or practices you follow to stay creative and maintain your passion for making music?

When I’m writing or producing songs, I don’t really have a ritual or anything I have to do before I can be creative. I’m always thinking of some new stuff to write about or a new type of beat I wanna make. The only thing I like to do sometimes before I record is grab a bottle of Hemm or some Patron or something, so I can get in my zone. Sometimes, I can write a whole song just off a topic I thought of without any music, and sometimes, I hear a beat and then it gives me an idea of a topic. So I never know when or where the inspiration will come from. It can come from anywhere at any time for me.

  1. Looking back at your discography, are there any songs or projects that hold a special place in your heart? If so, can you share the story behind them?

Every project that I’ve done has some sentimental value to me, but I think my “History of the Game Part 1” album has the most because when I was working on that project, I was more hands-on than my first album, and I had found my stride and I had gotten more seasoned in my craft. I produced almost the whole album except 1 or 2 tracks, and I had some of the hottest rappers from the Bay featured on there with me. I was hungry back then, so I woke up and went to sleep in the studio. That project also featured some of my closest friends who have since then passed away, so when I do listen to songs off of that project, I get a nostalgic feeling because it brings back a lot of memories of all of us being young and hungry and doing shit that we had only dreamed about before. Rest easy Tone, Fat Kev, Mac Den, and Mac Dre, I sure do miss my brothas too! Damn! So I keep it going for them too.

  1. As an artist, what do you hope listeners take away from your music? Is there a particular impact or emotion you aim to evoke in your audience?

I hope everybody that listens to my music can hear or feel where I’m coming from. I hope they can relate in some type of way so they can feel the same emotions that I felt and put into my music. I don’t just focus on 1 topic; I can take you through a few different vibes within 1 song. I write about what’s important to me and not what I think people want to hear.

  1. Can you give us a glimpse into any upcoming projects or collaborations you have in the works? What can your listeners look forward to in the near future?

I have a lot more to come for my listeners. Also, I got more songs with Hitta Slim, Dubee, Deltrice, Beeda Weeeda, and a few other surprise artists I’m working with right now. My true supporters will be excited to hear what’s coming up next, so stay tuned.

I also just launched a new beverage called “Chasterz.” It’s a new product that I came up with and also developed on my own. It’s used for chasing your liquor shots with just 1 drop of Chasterz, and then you get a burst of 1 of my 4 delicious flavors! It’s made with natural and artificial ingredients and doesn’t contain any drugs or alcohol, so it’s safe for the whole family. You can learn more about it at Chasterz.com or on the Instagram page @Chasterz_by_yeebonicz. I got my hands in a lot of new ventures right now, so you gotta stay tapped in wit me to see what’s next.

  1. How do you see yourself and your music contributing to the rap and hip-hop scene? What makes your style and perspective unique in the industry?

Only when I’m asked these types of questions do I realize how much time has passed since I first got into the music business. After all these years and all the music that all of us artists have put out, I learned that we’ve all left our footprint in the game. We all have a piece of us that we’ve contributed to the history of music, no matter how big or small of an artist we think we are. I know that someone out there in the world will take something that I have done and do it again, and even better, but they’ll use what I did as a starting point or some type of motivation to do what they love, just like I continue to do.

I still look up to many people that I’ve met and worked with over the years, and they continue to motivate me, even if they don’t know it. I think if you love doing what you’re doing and you share whatever it is that you do with the rest of the world, then you will definitely have an impact on someone, and they’ll take a piece of yours to make something of their own. It’s 6 degrees of separation. My style is my own creation, but I also know that there’s nothing new under the sun; only the presentation of the art is key to being unique.

  1. Any last words to our readers?

I’ve been in the game for a long time, but I feel like I’m just getting started! So keep your ears and eyes open for some new stuff coming from ya boy No Face Phantom! Let’s gooooooo!

Haaastattelu: J-P / Fileerausveitsi