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interview // elias

Elias is the multitalented artist with a fresh singing voice and sharp rap verses, which are spit with such intensity that it sends shivers to the spine. Elias had a made a name for himself from several hard hitting collaborations with notable artists. Eliass highly anticipated debut Scraps of Paper goes on sale August 2004.

How many songs have you been featured on?

I have been featured on a ton of songs because it was my policy to never say no to anyone who asked me to emcee.  I believe hip hop as a culture is all about building and so I want to be about building positivity, cooperation, and the advancement of the art.  So, most of the songs I've been on are songs from emcees that have never been heard of by a larger audience.  Of the albums that people might be familiar with I've been featured on at least 8.  I also have many more collaborations in the future lined up.  I can't be as open to working with "anyone" as I was before because the requests and my time commitments cancel each other out, but I do my best to stay in the same spirit of building. 


What inspired you to make a solo album?

Luke Geraty and I were doing a song together on a beat a made by a cat named Fat Chicano.  The song was called "Success" and it was about the capitalistic and materialistic view of 'success' that so many in our country have and it's incredible shortsightedness.  He got excited about the song and decided to put it on his EP.  He then heard a song of mine called, "Breath of My Life" and he encouraged me to submit it to the Syntax Records "Night Owls II" compilation.   That was the first time that I thought, I really should share my music with a larger audience.  I am a prolific writer and I have hundreds of songs but I was content to share them on a very small local scale.  Night Owls II helped me realize that perhaps their existed an audience willing to listen to what I had to say


What is your favorite song off Scraps of Paper?

All my songs are my children and I love them equally. However, if I was to give my inheritance to one it would probably be "Sunday Morning Comin Home" because it is a song that I wrote about and for my daughter.  She was born on a Sunday Morning and so many things I never quite clearly understood made sense to me that day spiritually.  The other song that I love is "Color Outside the Lines" about non conformity and the rejection of group think.  The beat on that song is made by Know1 and is one of the most complete beats I have on the album.  I love how the beat evolves as the song goes along. 


What was the first song you were featured on?

Signed or Unsigned?  The one that most people will probably know of was "success" on Luke Geraty's "Before I sold out" EP.  However, before that I did a song with Id Obelus, Noah23 (Plague Language--Canada), and noitall a signed rapper in the UK.


Any there projects in the works right now?

 I'm in a crew called Scribbling Idiots that features, JustMe, Ruffian, Cas Metah, Mouf Warren, and Kaboose as emcees.  We are doing a crew album together.  I'm also planning to do projects with Cheap Cologne, Cas Metah, Absent, TomFoolery, Understudy, and JawnyQuest among many others.  Often I do just one song but with TomFoolery I plan to do an entire album that will be political in message. 


What gives you inspiration for your songs?

Honestly, the beats speak to me.  What I mean by that is, that music evokes an emotional response from the listener. I listen and as the beat evokes a feeling, I write.  I write to fit the 'mood' of the beat.  I write  to weave my words with the pull of the song.  Music moves me so I simply articulate that feeling. 


What do you enjoy better rapping or singing?

I love them both.  However, before this album, I generally did not sing in songs.  This album and its precursor, the unreleased album "In the Midst of the Melody" were simply forays into melody.  It was an experiment so to speak.  What I found before was that underground rap fans who listened to lyrics, felt me when i didn't sing.  What I found after I  sang and used melody, is that many folks who didn't hear the lyrics felt the singing and later came back to ponder the meaning of the lyrics and the underground cats still liked me. I do not consider myself to be a singer.  However, I have a 1 year old daughter that sings all the time---I think that shows that singing is just a human thing.  All of us innately want to do it.  It's just the people around us that discourage us from it when we do it badly. 


What artists have you not worked with but would like to?

There are a ton of talented artists in the game right now.  Production:Pete Rock, Madlib, J rawls and a few others.  Emcees: J-Live, Common, Kanye, MfDoom, Gift of Gab, MarsILL, Pharoahe, Talib, Slug, and I'd like to go back in time and record with Tribe Called Quest on Low End Theory, and with NWA on their first jawn because i was growing up in LA at the same time and what they spoke on was relevant and true. 


What do you see for yourself in the next five years?

Incredible Success.  Of course, I define that as seeking God and serving the poor community that I decided to move to.  I would love to see the programs and services I have started for kids and teens really blossom and grow.  I would love for my music to catch on but I do a lot to assist and coach other young emcees so if I can help some of them develop into good young men that experience success in life I will feel that I have succeeded. 


What do you feel is the toughest part of the music industry?

The toughest part of the music industry is that it is an industry.  If it was free to make music and get it to as many people I wouldn't care about making money.  However, to continue to 'make' music you have to 'make' enough money off of it to fund continued distribution and manufacturing costs, among other things.   But let's face it, if you want people to hear you, you have to pay for it. 


What would the ultimate reward for you be?

Musically? I sometimes think it would be great to have a fan base that always bought enough records from me each year to fund an LP per year from me and fifty solid shows. I would love to have the respect of my emcee peers so that I could get some of them to come and help me with the mentoring I do with pre teens and teens teaching hip hop.  I run a program that teaches kids to emcee, dj, make beats, and b-boy.  Kids make their own beats, write their own songs, record, and perform.  It would be a great reward for me to be able to bring them even more people that care about them as kids.


Who do you feel is your biggest influence and why? 

My biggest influence as an emcee would probably have to be the fact that I grew up in the hood in LA during the killa Cali 80's when crack was king and the heat walked the street looking for someone to beat.  More than anything growing up in poverty helped give me a sense of Justice and Injustice and passion for the poor.  This affects everything I have done ever since...especially hip-hop.


 If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?

I used to want to change poverty.  Growing up lacking many basic services, I developed a strong sense of justice/injustice.  I saw people "with plenty" and people "without" and the gap was egregious and uncrossable.  That sense of justice is still with me today.  It has affected my profession, where I chose to live, and it has caused me, in Christ to dedicate my life to serving the poor and standing for justice.  My music reflects that.


 If you could have one superhuman power, what would it be?

I would be able to slow time down. I could use this to become the fastest dude on the planet.


What is the worst job you have ever had?

Data entry at a Accounting firm.  The work was mind-numbing without the satisfaction of a completed project, as in construction.


What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm a prolific writer and I can't stop making music, even if I wanted to.  You can expect many more albums and continued elevation.  I'm already working on my second album, Scribbling Idiot's cd, Mark1's solo, Absent, JawnyQuest, there are talks concerning Kaboose and Elias LP, TomFoolery and Elias LP, and an EP with a European band.. . You can always expect soul and a heartfelt message.  I love what I do and I do what I love. 


For more information on Elias check out http://www.eliashiphop.com


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