Hopsin, tell us what you got going on right now? From the looks of it you’ve been very busy. What do you have coming up?
I have a festival in Switzerland coming up June 23rd. I’m also doing a European tour in October. That’s the next big tour. Overall, I’m just going to relax and chill at home. I’ve been making too much music and touring a lot. So I’m going to relax, take a break, and celebrate the money I’ve been making and the recent success.
Congrats on all your recent success! Hopsin, what musical influences did you have growing up as an artist?
My musical influences were Eminem, Method Man, RedMan, Cypress Hill, Crooked I, Missy Elliot, Ludacris; they all influenced me heavily. In 2001, I started getting into hip hop. When I first started, I started making some hip hop comedy, similar to Weird Al Yankovic, just to be funny and make people laugh. Then I started listening to rap on a deeper level. So I started learning how to do metaphors. From then, I realized I was really into it and decided that this was something I wanted to pursue.
What characteristics, within those artists that you mentioned inspired you to actually want to become a rap artist?
With Method Man, for example – he had style. The way he rode beats. Also, Eminem he was a big inspiration. When I used to listen to rap, I used to think you had to be a gangster, but Eminem put things in a different perspective. He could be funny, he could be really serious and that was the kind of MC I wanted to be. Where you have no boundaries. 50 Cent, he was like a bully and I liked it. He had smooth choruses. Missy and Timbo were really funky, and made you want to dance, so I loved that too.
Which rapper do you feel attributed the most to your rap style?
Definitely Eminem and Crooked I. I learned how to rhyme multiple syllables because of them. They would make words rhyme that didn’t even rhyme. There was never a time where they would rhyme just one syllable. Everybody raps slowly nowadays. People always compare me to Eminem, just because of the fact I rap really fast with multiple words.
It’s known that you love to skateboard. In fact, I had the chance to check you out prior to your show. You’re really good at it! As far as being an avid skateboarder, how has that helped you in regards to your cultural influence in terms of your music?
I’ve always been in the streets and I don’t mean selling drugs. I’ve always been with my homies, just running in the streets skateboarding, being chased out of schools, and running from authority. I feel like the skater world can see it through my music. They can hear it just by the tone I use and the way I come off. They can feel it. It just makes it relatable. I didn’t know that skateboarding would play a part in my music at all when I started out, but it kind of came together. So it’s cool.
One thing I noticed when you were outside prior to your show, was that you were engaging with the fans as you were doing a few skateboarding tricks. How do you feel that is important when it comes to building with your audience.
The fans love it. I can’t shake everyone’s hand and give them everything they want, but from what I can see they really love it. People spread the word about that type of stuff. Personality plays a lot when it comes to the music. There was artists where I didn’t like them at first, but after seeing an interview or getting a chance to meet them – I liked them. It just made me listen to their music in a different way. Personality is everything, and is a great marketing tool as well. Being yourself is important. People really like to see that.
There are many rappers out there, and many of them use the same cliche when it comes to image. What was the inspiration behind the contacts in your eyes to differentiate you from the rest?
I told myself that if Michael Jackson (RIP) could wear those ridiculous outfits, then anything goes. As long as you got the skills to back it up. I knew the contacts would be ridiculous, but this is my image. When people think of Hopsin, I don’t want them to think of anything else but a ‘wicked’, dope’ rapper who is here to speak his mind.
I knew if I had the skills to back it up, it would work. It would make people remember me for one, so it’s a marketing tool. I’m just a wild individual, and I don’t want to be like everyone else. I just want to do my own thing. If you’re trying to be like someone else and duplicate what has already been done you’ll leave the game so fast. I’m not as big as the commercial names, but everything for me has continued to grow. I’m still out here and there’s a lot of people out here to see me and support what I do. I find it doesn’t die down when you do it in more of an organic way when you’re yourself. People appreciate it more.
I want to congratulate you on Funk Volume being on one of the most successful labels right now. In a few words, what do you feel Funk Volume represents?
Just freedom. We don’t try to morph artists into whatever we want them to be.
It’s evident you were signed to Ruthless Records prior to starting Funk Volume. Although Ruthless was a past success, what made you actually want to start your own label after leaving Ruthless rather than finding another situation to quickly progress your career?
When I was on Ruthless, I already had the idea of Funk Volume. I always had a back up plan. When I was with Ruthless, I was about 21 years old and they were so convincing. They blew my mind, but nothing ever happened. Over time, I started seeing that. In the music industry people come and go and say they’ll do this and that. So I decided to do my own thing. I don’t like waiting, I like moving fast. Since then, I never looked back.
Tell us about your connection with Tech N9Ne. How was it touring with him? What did you learn?
I learned to be humble. Tech N9Ne is a real humble dude. It blows my mind how humble and cool is. Thank God I saw that at such a early age. He was nice to me when he really didn’t have to be. He does’t act Hollywood at all. He has a ticket to do so, but he stays cool. It blows my mind. I’ve never seen his angry side at all.
Nowadays it’s easier to be an independent artist. I see you’re doing really well with that. What online tools do you feel has helped you as far as propelling your career?
Youtube, definitely. You put the right video and it goes viral. Making a Facebook page was really helpful. I’m not really a Twitter or Instagram guy. I understand Facebook fully, so that’s usually where I do my releases. With Instagram, I usually see people posting a lot of Hollywood stuff. Me, I’m just in bed all day posting selfies. I’m extremely normal, taking pictures with my dog and my scuffed shoes. [Laughs]
What artists are you excited about?
Chance the Rapper, he’s dope. I’m really feeling Drake right now. His last album was dope. I was a Drake hater and then I turned into a Drake lover. He’s dope in his own way. Now that I’ve reached more success I’m able to relate more to what he’s saying.
Is there any aspirations you plan to embark on other than music?
One day I want to do a musical. It sounds retarded, but one day I saw a Lion King musical and it was really dope. I’d love to do a street musical with some cool beats and real singers and rappers who can harmonize. But nothing corny though [laughs]. Not corny at all.
Hopsin, you said in ‘Knock Madness’ (Album) that this was your last. Is this true?
It…was true. I changed my mind. I got re-inspired. I was hanging around different people and they gave me a different perspective on life. They gave me advice and said it wasn’t my time to throw in my towel yet. So it’s not time yet.
Since you’ve been very successful being an independent artist. Is there any tips you can offer to any aspiring independent artists looking to make it big?
Just be yourself. That’s one of the biggest things. Think of your own style. If you’re dope enough people will buy into whatever you’re doing. It’s entertainment. Everybody is doing things you wish you could do. It’s all marketing. For image purposes, there’s some things you have to keep up. Some rappers don’t even want to have an image. They can be ‘bummy’ and grow a really big beard, but at the end of the day that becomes their image. So at the end of the day you have to find different ways to appeal. Make really good music, and great visuals and be free! I make music in my house, in my own comfort zone.
Also, study everything. I study the artists I don’t like, to studying the artists I do like. You can always learn something from everybody.