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March 15, 2022

Interview with Don Lifted

We had the pleasure of interviewing Don Lifted over Zoom video!

Memphis-based genre-defying multihyphenate Don Lifted unveils latest single and music video “The Rope” via Fat Possum Records.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Don Lifted over Zoom video!

Memphis-based genre-defying multihyphenate Don Lifted unveils latest single and music video “The Rope” via Fat Possum Records.

Of the release, Don Lifted shared, “The Rope represents planting a flag for me. It's written from a sense of sureness in the fact of my reality and my abilities. I view it as a rare moment of hyperconfidence and aggression while recording my album 325i. The record highlights my fortitude as an artist, and as a person who has drastically innovated and greatly contributed to the environment that I came up in.”

Working in tandem as brothers, “The Rope” was directed by Martin Matthews and edited by Don Lifted (aka Lawrence Matthews). The accompanying visual perfectly complements the single’s eerie nature and ethereal vulnerability. Viewers join Don Lifted on a dark journey, as he attempts to navigate his path to success amid outside forces trying to bring him down.

The single follows on the heels of his album 325i released in October 2021. Recorded in 2020, the album encapsulates reckoning with movement versus stagnancy, questioning of direction, and embrace of detours. Through hauntingly atmospheric R&B beats, stinging guitar, and dexterous flow, Don Lifted bridges indie and hip-hop creating an unprecedented sound.

The multi-disciplinary maverick is also set to take stage at SXSW this Thursday, March 17th. The show will take place at SXSW’s Hotel Vegas stage at 7:50pm ET. Other appearances include the SXSW Aces High x Minor Figures on March 18th, The Treefort Music Fest on March 26th, and Schubas on April 16th.

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0 (57s): hello it is Adam. Welcome back to bringing it backwards. A podcast where both legendary and rising artists tell their own personal stories of how they achieve stardom. On this episode, we had a chance to hang out with Lawrence, AKA Don lifted over zoom video. Lawrence is born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and he talks about how he got into music was always into art and poetry, but didn't start putting the two together until later in high school, he talked about going to university of Maryland to go to college for, I think he was only there for about a year. And then he head back to Memphis where Lawrence really started to pursue a career in music. Lawrence always did well with his art, selling their art, and then using that money to fund their music career. 2 (1m 41s): We talked about a horrible show that he ended up playing in Memphis, how he was able to pick himself up and continue have the courage to keep doing this. Keep pursuing a career in music. He talks about self releasing. I think three records within the same year, throwing shows at different art galleries around the Memphis area, slowly building each show into a bigger and bigger and bigger space. He talks about getting signed to fat possum records and how that really changed everything. We talked to Don lifted about the new record, 3 25 I and the brand new single that just came out, not a part of the album, but it's called the rope. 2 (2m 21s): You can watch our interview with Don lifted on our Facebook page and YouTube channel at bringing it backwards. It would be amazing if you subscribed to our channel like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and TechTalk at bringing back pod. And if you're listening to this on Spotify, apple music, Amazon music, Google podcasts, it'd be awesome. If you follow us there as well and hook us up with a five-star review, 3 (2m 46s): We'd appreciate your support. If you follow and subscribe to our podcasts, wherever you listen to podcasts, 2 (2m 52s): We're bringing it backwards with Don lifted. Awesome. Lawyer said you so much again for doing this, and again, it's about you, your journey and music and how you got to where you are now. So I did read, are you originally from originally from Tennessee? Memphis? 4 (3m 7s): Yes. 2 (3m 8s): Okay. 4 (3m 9s): She'll be county outside of Memphis. 2 (3m 11s): Yeah. Tell me about that. What was it like growing up in Memphis? Big music town. 4 (3m 15s): It's interesting. Cause like the music of it. I only, like I was so far away from it. Like I grew up outside of the city a little bit. I don't know. It's just like, you get caught up in your light little world, like your little silo, like your few little blocks that you're hanging out in with your friends or your family and stuff and you go into the city. But I was really like, I don't know. I imagine it to child. Like, I don't know. I just, when I think about my childhood, I just think about like being outside and like playing and like being in grass and like run around in the woods and like shooting basketball and like riding skateboards and riding bikes. 4 (3m 55s): And we were just like, in our own little world, I don't think we had much context for like where we were even terms of like musical history either. I mean, like we knew about Elvis and we knew about like project pay and we knew that Martin Luther king died here, but like, everything was so outward facing like everything that we were into was always somewhere else because it was that's where all the quote, unquote exciting things were happening there. Wasn't a lot of like, look at where you are right now that didn't really start to come into my life until like, I was a lot older or whatever. 2 (4m 32s): Okay. Like in school, I'm just curious. Would you, would you, were they teaching anything like that? I mean, were they letting us know like, Hey, Elvis was here, you know, this is where Martin Luther king was assassinated. Like, was that anything that, I mean, I'm sure they talked about Martin Luther king. I would imagine. 4 (4m 46s): Yeah. Yeah. It was always like, that was like the big dark cloud that kind of hung over the city was like, you know, anytime anybody talk about like the negativity that might permeate from certain aspects of being here, they always would like, kind of talk about that being the reason why Mike almost like a folklore kind of sense, like we're cursed or something like that. Like it was like, you know, and then we have the pyramid here and like pyramid, like we're named after Memphis in Egypt. And that was like the day. And so like, there was always this kind of dark cloud about 2 (5m 22s): That. That's interesting. 4 (5m 24s): It was always like this dark cloud of like who we are and where we are. And then, I mean, Elvis was always a thing, but like, it feels like when you're raised in Memphis, like you almost are raised to hate Elvis. Like my family loves You. Don't like, we, I like Elvis now as a child, hated Elvis. My dad loves Elvis to death. My uncles love Elvis to death, but they grew up in the sixties and seventies. Right. It's a different relationship to them. And then like, you know, other half of my family is from white Haven and white Haven is where Elvis used to live. He used to live off Elvis Presley. 4 (6m 7s): That like whole area was always like, I passed it maybe every weekend of my life, but I just in steal, pass it all the time. I still pass. I still pass Graceland all the time. But like I've never been 2 (6m 20s): Really. 4 (6m 21s): Yeah. I've never been. And that you're 2 (6m 23s): Still you're you're still living in Memphis now. 4 (6m 25s): Yeah. Yeah. I'm still in Memphis and that's like, yo, like if you are real quote unquote Nicky, and you've never been to Graceland, 2 (6m 31s): That's funny. That's oh, that's similar to like, I mean, I grew up in San Diego in California and like all the touristy stuff I'd never really did. Or like when I moved to San Francisco, like I never went to Alcatraz or do anything like, like you've never been there and I'm like, well, no, I mean, it's there. But I just, like, I feel like it's so attainable that I'm like, I'll just do it another time. And I just never did. 4 (6m 55s): It's like, I've never been there. I've been to bill street. Of course. Like I've seen all the other stuff I never had been to Graceland, but I want to go, especially since it's Elvis movies come coming. 2 (7m 6s): Oh yeah. I know that looks awesome. I just saw the trailer for it. Actually, when I saw the new Batman movie with my son and they played the trailer. Whoa. I didn't even notice it's happening. Look super good. 4 (7m 16s): None of it here. They didn't shoot any of it. 2 (7m 19s): Really. They failed. Wow. That's interesting. Okay. Yeah. I, I moved to Tennessee recently about a year ago. I'm in a Nash south Nashville area and we drove through like Arkansas and then through, we stayed in Memphis, but it was interesting cause you are in Memphis, Arkansas, and then you go over the bridge and you're still in Memphis. But then all of a sudden you're now in Tennessee, 4 (7m 44s): This is like west Memphis. And I don't know why they call it west Memphis, Arkansas, but 2 (7m 51s): It's 4 (7m 53s): Interesting. Where did you stay when you, when you were in Memphis, where you downtown? 2 (7m 57s): No, we stayed, it was a suburb. It was kind of like this. I don't know. I forgot what it was. It was really nice. It was a really nice area. It's what was it called? Not sugar land. It was something I can't remember. It wasn't very far off of that bridge in towards west. When you climb, you go over what the Mississippi here. 4 (8m 22s): Damn name of. I don't want to waste time trying to think of something. 2 (8m 25s): Yeah. I w I'll figure it out later, but yeah, it was like a nice, it was actually the nicest area, nicest place we stayed there. We drove from San Diego to those five days. It was the nicest place we stayed there. The whole trip. I mean, we stopped in multiple locations that we took awhile. We have two kids and a dog. And when we got there, I was like, whoa, like, this is amazing. And there was snow on the ground still. And it was just, it was rad. But anyway, well, how did, how did you get into music or your family? Anyone in your family? Musical siblings? My 4 (8m 56s): Mom's side. So my mom's side, my uncle does music and that side of the family, like really musical or like just big music fans. Like my aunt Shirley, she like has an insane, insane, insane vinyl collection. It's just like walls work. And so when I stay with them in white Haven, I would, you know, of course be like looking into all of those books and looking into those documents. She had like all these music, documentaries that was like the first time that I like saw Jimmy Hendrix and like all that types of stuff prints like a lot of that stuff. But I think for me, I mean like the earliest memories, that kind of averages music-based memories. Like my dad always played music out loud in the house. 4 (9m 36s): So like whether it was like nineties kind of R and B stuff, or like really old hip hop or like comedy records or like, I mean, like I heard Funkadelic, like for the first time as a child, like laying on my floor, my dad was playing it through these big speakers. And then my mom, you know, a lot of my memories are connected to music. I remember my mom playing like John Mayer all the time when I was like in the mood. And so, yeah, it was just a lot of music, like revolving around me all the time. Like my dad really, really was in the Tupac and like a lot of west coast bay area music. He was stationed outside of Oakland when he was in the military. 4 (10m 19s): And yeah, my mom went to Stanford too. And so I got like a lot of California energy and then like a bunch of Southern energy kinda wrapped in together. So when my parents moved back, you know, they were playing stuff and, and it's funny cause I got my dad, I always wondered like, wow, my dad never played like a lot of like Southern hip hop stuff, all stuff that I ended up getting into, like in the early two thousands, it's just cause he was too old, like by that time. But like certain stuff kinda got popping in terms of hip hop. He was like already a grown grown man in his thirties. And so he wasn't, he was still listening to soul music and stuff, I guess. Like we tend to like link onto the things that we heard in our teens and early twenties. 4 (11m 2s): Okay. 2 (11m 2s): Right. He's not going to like, just start discovering these new art. Maybe like not as much maybe 4 (11m 9s): Oz and biggie and stuff, but like he was listening to Tupac, religiously and like what's my guidance past Humpty hump and like all that Run DMC, outcasts. He did listen to a lot of outcasts. 2 (11m 23s): Oh that's cool. 4 (11m 24s): Some of my earliest memories were like hearing outcasts on road trips and just like him playing the albums on loop and then me sneaking and trying to look at the CDs. Cause they had like all types of stuff on there. Like Yeah, that, those are some of my earliest memories of like life is like just this modular podge mix of various genres and music. And then in terms of me getting into it, I mean, I didn't, I started writing poetry stuff when I was like in middle school and sometimes I would write raps to like samples in my head. So like I remember hearing like the bill Withers. Ain't no sunshine when she's gone or whatever. 4 (12m 5s): I remember like chopping it in my head, like as a key ass and then writing raps to the loop that I had shopped in my head. And I will always remember that. And then I just never did that again. Right. And then high school comes in, like I meet guys who are rapping my cousins rapping and I had still been writing poetry. I was writing the girls and stuff like that, like thinking out loud. And then I just was really like, I didn't want people to know that I was interested in that kind of stuff. Cause you gotta think in this time now I graduated high school and your 1,009 Kanye and 50 cent had just had that. Phew. 4 (12m 45s): And, and I felt like at that point it kind of opened the door for guys who are not street guys to maybe think about rapping. Right. And it's almost like after oh seven, you get like the cool kids, kid Cuddy, more Kanye stuff, drapes. Like all of this stuff starts to happen. Right. As I'm leaving high school. And then that's when I was like, alright, can you cut? He's out here talking about things. I'm feeling Drake is out here talking about girl problems and all these things that I'm also happy. Kanye is a super creative person at the time. Like, like he's like showing up twisted fantasy. Hasn't come out yet. It's still like in this little, like post-graduation eight kind of vibe. 4 (13m 29s): And eight OAS was a big thing for us too. And so you get that and you get the cool kids, you get pat div, you get like Wallay coming out of Nike boots. And like all this types of stuff. This is like pre Kendrick pre J call all that stuff. And so like, 5 (13m 44s): Hey, it's Johnny wine. Look and feel your very best visit the team at cool contours. They are the number one, the CoolSculpting provider in Virginia, their award-winning team of certified CoolSculpt Dean Leete and Colton specialist work with you to create a fully customized treatment plan to achieve your dream body. Learn That's as ready by algebra and June, 2021. CoolSculpting leads FDA cleared, three visible fat bulges, nine areas of the body. Some common side effects include temporary numbness, discomfort and swelling. 6 (14m 14s): Join planet fitness. Now through March 16th and get the PF black card for zero enrollment in 2299 a month. You'll enjoy an upgraded experience with tons of perks, 7 (14m 24s): Like access to more than 2000 locations worldwide. Yup. Super soothing. Hydro massage chairs. Yes. Can I bring a friend every time? Sure. Can my friend be a horse? 6 (14m 35s): Nah, sorry. Get the PF black card and feel fit tacular. Zero enrollment 2299 a month. Deal ends March 16. See club for details. 4 (14m 44s): Oh, maybe I can like rat and it not be like a problem. Right? Cause like at the time it was very much like steel street center. Like Every person living the street, life, dealing drugs, whatever, whatever you should not touch a microphone like that was the vibe. And I didn't have any of those stories to tell. And sorry, 2 (15m 3s): If you were telling those stories and you weren't living that life, it was pretty odd or obvious or you could call that. 4 (15m 11s): Let's see. And so for me, I started doing that and I mean, in the college that's when I started like making my first mix tapes and like kind of doing that little thing, trying to get a little buzz and like trying to get things going on campus. It was not productive at all. And then I moved, came back to Memphis. I moved to Maryland for a bit, came back to Memphis. And then at that point I was like, okay, it's time to kind of like, maybe do this. It was like maybe 2012 that I may be like, had maybe experienced enough. I think my grandmother had passed. 4 (15m 51s): I got kicked out of school in Maryland. 2 (15m 54s): Oh, you went to college then in Maryland. I think I saw that you university of Maryland or something. 4 (15m 58s): Yeah. Yeah. That was like at the time I was like on the J Cole express path, like, oh, J Cole used his college degree to go to New York and got on. It was like, oh, I'm going to go to college and go somewhere close so I can get on. And so, 2 (16m 15s): So you had the PR the dream of doing this. I mean, it sounds like that was what you wanted to do anyway. And new kind of, did you have that as kind of like a back over your, your mom went to Stanford? So obviously very academic household, I would imagine, like, is that why you kind of were like, oh, I'll just go try the college thing or 4 (16m 32s): It was definitely half and half. So my dad did not go to college. My dad went to the military, like 17, he lied or whatever. I don't know if that's the thing. The military People were trying to do the thing. So he like military. He did not, he wasn't maybe the best student in high school. He was spending too much time doing other stuff. I am very much that. And then also like wanting to achieve in certain levels of like at least academia. But like I hated school. I hated, hated, hated school. I'm out of school now. I cheated off my way through it. I was there for art. Like I was in school for my degree is in painting, Concentration and painting and then studio arts. 4 (17m 14s): So I was doing photography, sculpture, photography, painting. I was doing everything right. Anything I could get my hands on. And I was also using that stuff for my music at the time too. So I was like getting skills and like the wood shop and like welding and stuff. Then I would take it in and make objects and make things and props and stuff for last shows. And so these two worlds while I was in college. 2 (17m 39s): So you're performing in college as well. You already, okay. 4 (17m 43s): Oh, phew. I started like really performing late 2013 then all the 2014 and on that's when I first got on a getting gone, but I was able to like buy a live music equipment because I was selling paintings like, cause I was doing well and 2 (18m 1s): Amazing. That's another industry or another facet. That's so subjective in the fact that people were like, oh, you're sick. I want to like pay for it. Like that must have been a big moment. Even selling like your first piece of art. Like this is something I love to do. And now somebody is actually paying me to do it. 4 (18m 20s): I always say it's like, the art is like a little easier. Like I've been drawing since I was a kid. Like that was the one thing I have been doing since I was a kid was like working in the arts, like drawing and painting and stuff. And then so once you know, I went to school for that. I tried to go for music and it just, I, I don't know how to read music. I, they, they, in that time period, it was very much like some little racism sprinkles on it. Like the Thing get up outta here. Like if you play an instrument, if you can't play piano, classical, whatever, whatever you can't read music, get out of here. We're not gonna teach you get out. And so I went back to the art department and for a little while, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. 4 (19m 4s): Like I think in the back of my mind, I was always like, oh, I want to do music more than anything. But like the ceiling, like how far it seemed away at the time, it was like, we were half delusional and didn't like just half really like disillusioned or whatever. It was just like, I might end up being a teacher, oh, I might end up doing this. I might end up doing that. I might not be able to do music or I really think I'll be able to do music. It just kept hopping back and forth. And I was also like in a relationship with a person who was not really supportive of what I was doing. And they really wanted me to like, be normal. You know what I'm saying? Like they wanted me to like have a job, steady income, all this types of stuff and like to figure it out. 4 (19m 49s): And so I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to either like, make it in music or art and working like it. But then also at the same time, like having some semblance of like normalcy 2 (20m 1s): Stability, 4 (20m 3s): Like trying to blend in with people like, oh, I'm in college. Like that was the thing for me. It was like, oh, you're doing all this stuff. Yeah, that's cute. Okay. Oh, oh, you're in college. Okay. You know what I'm saying? It was, 2 (20m 15s): Yeah, no, I, I completely hear exactly what you're saying 4 (20m 22s): For me. And then at one point, I mean I graduated and I was very successful in the arts and also pursuing music. Steel became like a point of contention because art money is just like music money. Well, not exactly, but our money is, you know. 2 (20m 36s): Right, right. It's still a thing. Like it's, it's always subjective. And like, it's not like you can count on this paycheck every week and you know, you're going to save your 401k and this, that, and the other thing. 4 (20m 48s): So thankfully, like I was pretty successful in the arts and have been in the arts to be able to find my own pursuit of music, to even get to where I'm at. Like everywhere that I'm at right now, every leap inbound that I've had comes from art money, essentially. Like my ability to art is, well, it's been able to fund like a kickstart, you know what I'm saying? Like a moment where you're able to like put yourself in a room for opportunity to then come to you. Right? So like when I first, you know, when I first started doing live shows, I couldn't get booked in the city. Nobody would mess with me. Like nobody liked what I was doing. They didn't, it was weird to them. 4 (21m 29s): It didn't sound like what Memphis music was supposed to sound like. So I couldn't really get any support at all. And so I was like, all right, I'm going to sell some work. I'm going to buy all my own music equipment, my own mixers and speakers and all of this stuff. And I'm going to do my first show in the garage, like a pumping, like that was like, 2 (21m 46s): Wow. 4 (21m 48s): And that was like, that was like my second shell after I got like really, really distant, like a college event. One time, like there's people walked out wholesale. 2 (21m 57s): Oh, wow. Oh, so you did a show in, in, in Maryland and it didn't do well In Memphis. Okay. 4 (22m 5s): Did a show here. It was supposed to be like, you know, people do all these events where it's like half fashion show, half our show have a music show. I did this event and basically like the guy, just, he just shafted me. Like he just screwed me completely in the sound and everything. So it was just like a bad performance with like, we just did what we could do with mikes and bass sound and all this stuff. And I was performing music at that time. That would have been very weird to everybody there. And yeah, like people just speak swaps. The people just got up and lift in front of me and like the messed up part. Now I can laugh at all of it, but like people were walking through my set. Like people were like, cause where they have me performing was like in the middle of the stuff. 4 (22m 49s): And so started walking through me, passing by. And I just remember being like, I remember we went to, I ha I hop after that and I was like, thinking I was going to quit. I was like, this is the most, 2 (23m 3s): How did you have the courage to continue on 4 (23m 7s): How so I've been trying to figure this out. Like I've been trying to, sometimes people ask me this, like how I've had a lot of moments like that, like a lot of really rock, bottom type of moments in terms of pursuing music. And people always ask me, like, how do you keep kind of having this thing? I don't know if it's a, like a mix of like, when I discovered the college dropout or something like tech, like Yeah. Like I think it's like a little bit of that. I think it's the fact that I grew up skateboarding. 2 (23m 37s): So did I, but I love that. Sorry, go ahead. 4 (23m 40s): And so with skateboarding, you never get anything on the first track. It's a mirror it's super rare. It says something about if you're able to like come out the gate though, to a spot and land his trick first, try and roll away perfectly. That rarely happens unless you're like super, super skilled. And I was good. That was great. Like I wanted to be a pro skater one point and I steal, fail a million times. Like I would jump down 10 stairs and fall a hundred times before I landed the tree. And then I might've put my hands down. So we had to do with a game more times. Right. And so when you get used to like slamming into the concrete and landing on rails and falling on stairs and spraining your ankle and splitting your pants and scarring up your back, what is it to just keep going and keep trying something? 4 (24m 35s): Because that satisfaction at the end of it is insane. Like when you land a trick in scale, like you land something crazy and you roll the way you got it on film, it's crazy. Like it's like a hot. And so, you know, for me, I think that aspect of my growing up made it, so yes, I'll hit the rock bottom at the aha and I just won't talk and I'll be sad. But then the next day I'll wake up and be like, no, I'm finna, I'm finna do this. I'm like, I feel like I'm destined to do this. I'm going to do this. I'm going to keep going. And then I'm just going to take it into my own hands this time. So I'm not going to trust that guy to handle my sound next time. I'm going to learn how to do sound. 4 (25m 15s): And I'm about all my own stuff, because I can do that. And that guy isn't that, you know what I'm saying? It's like kind of mentality that like, if nobody was going to help me or do it for me, I could do it for myself because I was so multifaceted. Right. Cause like, you know what, I'm going to invite 40 of my close friends and associates to my garage. I'm a like perform here. And this was like, this might've been like 20 12, 20 12. I was like, yo, come through. Y'all not, y'all don't know what's going to happen. I'm just going to perform some records. I performed like a, I don't know, like a 30 minute set or something like that for him. 4 (25m 56s): And I was just like, Hey, y'all this is what I'm doing. I would love for y'all to support me rap rock with me or whatever. When it mix tape, come out, share with your friends. We'll do. Now. I just started doing it very grassroots like that. And then I started booking gallery space. So like around the same time in 2013, this space in town, across town had opened up two gatherings. One of them you can rent out and it was just a white rectangle, nothing in it, nothing. However you want it to that's cool. That was perfect. Like I was like, I can create a world in here, invite people out, print my own posters and my own little, you know, things, stapled them all over the university and, you know, give them to the art galleries in town and stuff like that. 4 (26m 39s): And then have people come out. And so that's kinda how it got started. I started looking this space out every six months, like in advance and have these shows and like doing this big installation based performance. And that's kinda how I got my first, like what I always described as like my first 150 fans, like, like the first people kind of started to support in a real way and spread my music out around the city. It was because of those like three or four shows that I had there. And then I had this thing where I was like, all right, I'm gonna just keep building every time. So it was like, we did this here, let's move into this gallery, this bigger gallery, let's move over here. Now can we do some at a museum? 4 (27m 19s): And by that time, I mean that 2017, I was like performing in the museums in the city and like doing large installations and like a lot of stuff with like visuals and like props and like just expand in this universe as I was released in projects. And so, yeah, not to jump ahead, but yeah. That's 2 (27m 39s): No, no, no. That's, that's incredible. And then around what the next year or so is when you put out your full length record, your first album there. 4 (27m 46s): So I put out a Lero so I had put out three full length, like free albums 2 (27m 54s): In 4 (27m 55s): 2014. It was like, 2 (27m 57s): Wow, that's a lot of records in one here. 4 (28m 2s): It's the weekends fall because the week Cause he did a house of balloons and then he did like the other two and it was like 2011. It was around the same time installed to ultra drop. And I remember making the first one, it took me like a year and a half to make the first like December LP project. And I really, at the end of 2013 and the show that we had with them, we had a, like a listening event and stuff like that. It was packed and like went well. And I was like, okay, I can either do this every year or do this every six months. And I remember being like, well, the weekend did all those trilogy projects before it was even sure this year he did all of those. 4 (28m 43s): Like maybe I can do that. And then, so I just recorded DL one, record it and did one. And then right after that, I started working on a Lero, which was my first commercial release. Yeah. That, and that came out, it made, it was done in 2016 and I just held it and like was trying to get the business of it together, trying to figure out all things, trying to get my connections and stuff together. Cause I was like, I'm not going to do what I just did last time where I just released some stuff. And then, 2 (29m 13s): And there's more of a plan or like a, yeah, 4 (29m 16s): We tried to put together a plan. I think the market has shifted too, by this time like chance the rapper had come out. And so he was speaking a lot about like independence and like working with ICD baby in tune core and all these types of spots. So I started to see like different ways. Like we're not really that, I mean the internet is internet now, but back then, like you weren't really exposed to that kind of stuff on that. Somebody was telling you like that, how to do it. Like Memphis is it's it's almost like, I mean, it's, I dunno, it's its own little world, right? It's not Atlanta. It's not, it's not Chicago even like it's its own little world and people just do things the way that they've always done things. 4 (29m 57s): And so until somebody innovates, then you really don't see innovation here. And I hate to say that, but that's just the reality. It's like, until somebody decides we can do this like this and it works, then you won't see it. Right. Like people won't even think to innovate in that way. And so 8 (30m 14s): Get 30% shorter average, wait time, when you buy and book discount tire, let's get you taken care of. 4 (30m 23s): You know, everybody's just was still selling mix-tapes at the trunk of their cars and like putting this stuff on dat Piff and whatever. And it was just like, I tried those things and they weren't working for me. So I was like, you know, what can I do? Like, can I go pardon directly with a streaming service? Can I go through band camp? I'd already got on band camp, but band camp wasn't the band camp of today. It was different. It was just where you just uploaded your stuff. And if your fans got ahold of it, they did. If they did. And so for me, I was like, how can I figure this out? How do I release music efficiently? And I felt like at the time that was what was going to separate me from all of my peers who had at the time we had all been released in music the same way I didn't use SoundCloud, but a lot of them did. 2 (31m 10s): That was a big one for a while. Around that time machine was a big thing and 4 (31m 15s): Yeah, I never did good on SoundCloud. Never, still don't feel dumb. And so, you know, for me, I was always a very visual person. So I leaned on YouTube. I also leaned on live shows and selling physical albums. I didn't really, you know, like to even put my music online at that point. Cause I was like, I'm not doing well here. I don't understand this place. Like I don't, I didn't never, I still don't really understand this place. And you know, I just, don't 2 (31m 43s): No one know. So if you could crack the algorithm, you'd be, yeah, I did bill gates or something 4 (31m 52s): I can get in front of you. I can give you a show that is special and you're going to want, and I was, I was doing the show was free. So I would do a free show and then have a bunch of merchants CDs. And they would buy all of it because I had put on such a good show and now we have the donations and now you still have this thing. It was like, Hey, you could, I could charge you $20 to be here. And then half of y'all come art to make it for free and then give you all the option to donate. And then you give me $50 a piece or a hundred dollars or 150 or whatever you want to give. And so I would always lead those shows with like a decent amount of money to be able to invest back into the shows. And I just kept doing that over the years. 4 (32m 34s): And so for me with the, with the Alero, I felt like at that point in time, I needed to be able to release music commercially for me to separate in, to be taken seriously to the people that I want it to be taken seriously too, which was the industry of the things. And so we did that and it started to kind of do some things. And then we did it again with contour, 2 (32m 58s): Which in the same year, right. 4 (33m 0s): Following me 2 (33m 3s): Online, 4 (33m 3s): It says the same year. 2 (33m 4s): Yeah. So I was gonna say, I saw that on the same year on there, 4 (33m 8s): Narrow down with some sample issues. Yeah. 2 (33m 14s): Okay. So then the, yeah, the next tracker comes out and like what would you say the next stepping stone was in your career as you kind of progressed? 4 (33m 24s): I think after we did our contour, like stuff was much different. Like it was like, oh, okay. Like people started using like the F word with me, which is weird. Like it's famous, famous, like locally, like 2 (33m 37s): The F word somewhere else. 4 (33m 41s): But people started to like, you know, tease me about like being known in the city. And like, I started to kind of realize it was like, oh, okay. And then I would have shows and it would be like a lot of people. And I was like, okay. And so after a wow, you know, I got, we opened a gallery and I like started working on that really, really hard. And so like a dang near a year was about to go back from the last time that I had released the project. And I hadn't really worked on any new music or anything like that at all. And I was like, man, you know, I think I kind of want to do something a little different, you know, I want to maybe change my name or do some stuff like that. 4 (34m 21s): I kinda thought I had got done with like what it is that the Dawn lifted project is basically. And so I started working on new music, under another name and then I was like, I don't feel right. So Mirfield is a record that's off of contour. Mirfield start to take off. 2 (34m 39s): Yeah. That's a huge song. 4 (34m 41s): It started doing well on the stream and out the blue. And I was just like, okay. And then, so I started getting all of these lights fans that were like coming to me that were not based in Memphis and people having all these experiences with the record. And then I felt like I was maybe cheating those fans by not seeing it through, like they thought I was a new artist and I was like, man, I've been doing this since I was 17 years old. I'm kind of tired. I want to do something else. And then, but I seen how many people were responding to like what it was that the contour is. And I was like, you know what, I'm gonna go on tour. I'm going to figure out the funding. I'm I'm, you know, I'm gonna figure it out. I'm going to go to these top five places in my little stream and market or whatever I'm gonna put together. 4 (35m 22s): I got some support, some sponsors, some helps go fund me is I put some stuff together, got some of my own money. And we went out on tour and I'm in the middle of the tour is that's when I got like, ended up getting courted at the time by fat possum. 2 (35m 37s): Oh 4 (35m 38s): Yeah. And so it was like really weird how it happens too. Cause I remember like we had like two more dates left. Then we had just come back from New York or something. And I was like, man, like I'm spending a lot of money to do this. And like, it's cool. And it's a nice experience to have. And I'm being able to like get in contact with these fans and stuff that people who've known me, but I was like, I'm spending a lot of money and I was just like kind of down about it. And I was like, what if I would've kept out as money? And then like did something else? And then I remember I was driving to pick somebody up and then like my phone just started going haywire, just like getting DMS. And like my manager at the time started hitting me and I was like, what's going on? 4 (36m 19s): Like what's happening? I like opened up niggas like, yo, we want to have a meeting with you. We want to do this. And I had like some emails and stuff and I was like, I just started crying in the car dog. 2 (36m 28s): I would too. Wow. That is so wow. 4 (36m 32s): Yeah. And so it was, it was a weird thing. And then, then I remember I did the other two dates, like kind of knowing that this thing was happening and I felt like it was going to happen. Like we hadn't even had a meeting yet. And I was just like, nah, this is, this is all coming together. And so I have a blow about myself. Like we did San Francisco LA came back to Memphis and then it was weird because it became weird. Because again, we talk about like separation, like Going on tour as who I was at that point in time was like another separating factor. And I remember coming back and not feeling like I had peers anymore in my gate of scene, Definitely treated me as such. 4 (37m 17s): And so it got really isolating, but then I was like happy because of the deal things. And then we ended up signing, you know, we had some meetings, send them some music back and forth, made some stuff for them. I made, I made gold and I made the rope and a few other records and I send them to him. They were like, okay, cool, come on down. We're going to, we going to do the sign and sign. And then a week later everything's shut down because of COVID 2 (37m 44s): That's when COVID hits. Oh, wow. Okay. So how did that was that like, oh my gosh. Now, you know, we had all this momentum, we've got these good records coming out. We just signed a deal. And then how do you even like digest that? Like, okay, now everything's going to get pulled out from under you. Good luck. 4 (38m 5s): I was like scared. I was like, oh snap. They don't like cool to deal. Like they going to be like, Hey, nevermind. I was super scared about dying. That was like the biggest thing. Like I was just like horrified. Cause at that time, like we didn't understand anything. So like March, we didn't understand what was happening And I'm in the south, I'm in Memphis. So people are like, you know, Bible belt type vibes, like people that like all the stuff that you see now, like where it's like very much like clear opposition against like wearing masks and like getting backseat. 2 (38m 44s): It was weird when I moved here in February and moved to Nashville in February of last year, I was like, well, this is it from California. I'm like, this is a different approach. 4 (38m 53s): And so down here it was like, you know, it was hard to get masked at first. So you just had to stay inside. Like you couldn't get him. You really couldn't get anything. We like, everybody's trying to get hand sanitizer. So nobody knew how to protect themselves properly. And so I just was in the house and as a person who had been working in events and exhibitions and performances and stuff, all for however many years since college, then in the college grinded nonstop, it was like really jarring to be forced to be in one spot. It was very much the opposite feeling. Now I rather be one spot than be out at time. 4 (39m 36s): It was like really hard on me. It's hard on me emotionally isolating, like, dang, you had like the whole world was going crazy that year. So like every month it was like a new everything's about to end. Everything is about to end. It just kept going and going. And, and at the time I was like, I mean, my initial release, my first single was supposed to come out in September of 2020. And we were still kind of working towards that, thinking that COVID was going to go away. So it was like, okay, you know, because you remember what they were telling us. They was like, it'll be fine in Morrow. It'll be fine. 2 (40m 12s): Two weeks. Yeah. Like, and then they had like Coachella, like 90 plus thousand people like rescheduling for October. I'm like, oh, that's a good, that's an optimistic choice. 4 (40m 24s): I'm going to see Frank and in October. And this is like, no, we're going to push that back again. And it was like, oh, it'll get hot and it'll go away. And it did not. And so it just kept going. And so at a certain point, I was like, I was making music and writing songs, but then I was like, all right, this, like, I need to be able to create, I cannot just be here. I was an artist residency program when COVID dropped and it cut. Like, it just cut, everything stopped. So like I had just, I got an exhibition opening. I had like some public art I had just done. I had artist residency. I had just signed a deal and everything just ended. And so like my creative stride that I was on kinda got just murdered. 4 (41m 6s): And so it was really hard on me. And then you just have all these people down, all over the place. And I feel like I just be feeling stuff like sensitive about that kind of stuff. I just am like a seeing all this stuff. And I'm just like feeling terrible. And I'm worried about my mom worried about my brother. I didn't see my mom for months. Didn't see my dad for months really didn't see my brother for awhile until like the summer. It was like, really, it was really tough. And so I started being like, you know what, again, like rock bottom thing is like, I was like, you know what? My guitar player doesn't want to come over. They're scared of just COVID stuff. They taken a real serious, they got siblings and stuff. I'm taking a real serious too, but I got to make an album. 4 (41m 47s): So I was like, get my interface, get my Mac, get some speakers, get my headphones, my chords, put them all in a suitcase drive over they house, set up on the porch, run a cord into the, into the house, turn speakers towards them. Are we tracking 9 (42m 3s): Really? 2 (42m 8s): Oh my gosh. 4 (42m 9s): A lot of the record got done like that. Like the rope was recorded like that, like all the instrumentation for that gold. And it was like, it was a few different records to get done like that of wow. We were just, I was like, I have to, I cannot stop. Like, and I used to always tell myself this all the time. I was like, what were artists doing during world war II? What were artists doing during like Vietnam? What were artists doing? They kept making stuff. And so if it's time, it felt like the whole world was ending at that time. And the only thing that kind of was keeping me afloat was making art. I just had to keep making and keep telling and keep getting out what I was feeling. And so I was like, I'm, I'm willing to do what I need to do if I need to run a cord through somebody's window. 4 (42m 53s): And they track vocals from they not track vocals, but like track guitar or whatever from their couch while I'm sitting on the porch. I'll do. And so I did it and then had enough to even write my songs. And then as we, as things started to get a little easier, we start to understand it a little more. How's that all right. Such and such, come over C major, come over MPC. Let's put the drums on all of this stuff, put the finishing touches on it. And so it was kind of done in these like little sections. And so that's why there was so much guitar on the album. Cause that was like one of the easiest things for me to like work. It was a thing, but it was also like, you know, I can safely get, you know, we can do that. 4 (43m 33s): And so for me, it was like, I would record my, my guitar separate a week or two weeks ago by I would get the drums put on there. We were doing FaceTime sessions for some of those songs. Like it would be me on FaceTime. He would be on his system doing the drums and I would be on my system. And like, we would just be sending stuff back and forth through email, on FaceTime and then like I would plug it in and then get the working on it. So it was just like, it was a hard technical project to make happen, but it was like, that was what was absolute necessary at the time. Cause we weren't really taking any, like we weren't, we were being very careful as careful as we could, but it was absolutely necessary that I liked finished that. 4 (44m 18s): And it, it wasn't like when like the labels stopped, asked for records either. I mean, it was like they, they wanted the things, we just kept pushing stuff back. And so, you know, it ended up working out and it's so weird. Cause I mean, right now we're dropping, you know, whatever's coming next and you know, it's like Ukrainian things, rush things happen. Like there's always, it's always seems like something's happening, but it's like, no, that's, that's the world at this point. Like, you know, all these stuff happening and what do we do as artists? You know, do we just like sit on a couch and be loud that should make nothing, shouldn't do nothing. Or do you let that stuff inform, you know, what you feel and what you make. 4 (45m 2s): And like, for me, 3 25 was definitely like that for me. Like it's so much anger, so much anxiety, so much fear, so much like self digging also in there too. And that's because, I mean, I was every day looking in the mirror, taking inventory on life that I'd done. What have people done to me? What do I want to be? How do I want to change? You know? And just trying to put that in the record and then share that with people. You know, that was the thing for me. 2 (45m 34s): I'm curious, you said that one of the first songs you sent over, it's a fat possum. What, like you said, the rope and golden and the rope is the new one that wasn't even on 3 25. Right. And you record it in that same time period. And what was the why? Why did you hold the song? 4 (45m 51s): So I remember when we first made it, I mean like golden has like a certain like for bottle to it. Right. So does the rope, it was written from that place again, it's like, I just got a deal or like, not even just got the, I hadn't signed yet. I just was like, the option of it was there. So it was like this big confidence boost and this big validating factor of like, you, you been doing what you're supposed to do. This is not all for not, you know what I'm saying? And so golden was written from like that. And like, it's just very like confident, like smooth kind of, kind of vibe. And then it's like, when you hit that point and then people smell this stuff on you, like nobody knew that I would sign, but people could feel the vibe. 4 (46m 37s): Like I was moving different. You know what I'm saying? I was out, you know, when you get the things, you start moving a little careful, your head is up high a little bit. You feel a difference and people, 2 (46m 48s): A little more confidence and your staff had a little spring. 4 (46m 51s): It's like people like, and so with the rope it came from, I think like a Facebook comment, some guy that I knew who was like a fan, you know, will come to the shows and stuff, sit front row. And everything had like posted some stuff, just talking about my music basically. And I was just like, interesting. And so of course I got like this battery in my back from, from what I know to be true from what I know to be happening in my life right 2 (47m 25s): Now, 4 (47m 26s): I I'm the rice on the get my energy out. And so I just ended up like right then and there, like writing just one long verse, which ended up being the rope, just kind of detailing. Like, yo, don't get it twisted. Like I am that dude. Like, I'm that guy still like, I'm the guy that inspired you to be who you are. And so many. And I it's a it's it's like it was written from a direct thing, but it was, it was broadly broadcast. Like it was sent out in a broadcast type of way of like, bro, I know how much I've done here in this city. I know how much I've contributed to it in terms of the arts, in terms of music and stuff, regardless of whether you want to acknowledge it. 4 (48m 11s): And not because of like my aesthetic or like the fact that I talk, how I talk or I'm from out here, whatever it is. Like, you know, there's so many different reasons to like discount or try to discount things. But for me it felt like, you know, I needed to like let people know before, you know, the energy, you know, came out like the, the announcement and all this stuff that like, I need to get that out. And so initially it was going to be on the album, but as the year progressed and as the album progressed, it became a little more like really, really vulnerable and like emotional, right? 4 (48m 51s): Like golden is kind of like the standard. That's why I said at the beginning is this is the only song that kind of sounds like this where I'm walking like this. And then the rest of it is all very deep internal, like rifling through oneself. And so I kept trying to place the song within the track list and it just felt like I was forcing it. And so I was like, you know what, I'm gonna set it to the side. We'll drop this a few months after the album comes out. Right. And there was a few other records like that too, that ended up they were going to be on the album, but they changed the tone of the album in a light that I maybe didn't want to promote it at the time. I felt like I wanted to come out and like put, I don't know. 4 (49m 35s): I just wanted a certain energy to be like, I wanted it to be very concise. 2 (49m 39s): Yeah. It just didn't feel like you said didn't sonically kind of work with what you wanted the record to say. 4 (49m 45s): Yeah. And there was like a sexual, I mean, it was supposed to be, I'm trying to remember. I think I was trying to put it somewhere towards the end. At some point before we ended up doing light figure and like left-hand path and I just couldn't figure out like, how am I going to end like this? I don't want my album to end with me yelling at somebody essentially. I don't want that. That's not where I'm at right now. Especially as the year progressed, like I started to connect with different things in my life differently and start to like try to reevaluate the energy I was putting out and the energy that was coming towards me, because I think once we did announce the deal and a lot of other things start to happen for me, like I was 2020 was terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible to most people for me, I sold a lot of work. 4 (50m 34s): I sold a ton of work because people want artwork and people wanted things and they want to put their money somewhere and I do photography. So it was like really easy for me to sale works. I may be sold, had a bunch of commissions. Like I bunch of work got sold and then like the deal happened. It was like a lot of stuff was happening for me professionally in a space where a lot of other people in there were digressing. And so I had to be very careful and I would call it a label. I'll talk to Patrick, the ANR all the time and be like, man, like I'm going through it in the scene. Like I'm going through people treating me funny people like, you know, my friends acting weird or previous associates, people not messing with me no more like focuses, you know, treat me different. 4 (51m 16s): Like people having money problems. And I don't, you know, I don't know what to do for them. And it's just like this weird thing. And you just see like all the stereotypical things that you hear about when like artists start to like get going in a different way. They start to separate a lot of like the, since we can't come with you, you are not of us. And we will also attack you because 2 (51m 43s): It was a jealousy thing. 4 (51m 45s): It is a jealousy envy. And like a lot of days, a lot of direct conversations with people and they would say, that's what it is. And like, you know, but for me it doesn't change what you say when you say what you say, 2 (51m 57s): Because it still hurts. 4 (51m 59s): It's still hurting. Like I might've been providing opportunity for you and never said a bad word about you. And so it's like for me to now get a platform and the, you feel like it's the time to like attack me because we're locked in the house because there's a virus outside, you know, killing us. If we breathe the wrong way, you know what I'm saying? It's just like, but when we were together, you never, you know, it was like when we were around each other, that that always bothered me so much. I'm not the best sleep betrayal or things like that. I'm not always, those are, those are hard things to me to navigate or have been, especially that year. Cause I was already going through it so bad. And so, you know, I always try to tip toe through 2020, knowing that my life was changing for the better, despite everything that was happening. 4 (52m 46s): I had to be very careful, but you can't be careful when it's like, these opportunities are so big. Like these are not things that happen for folks here often. Like I always say it's all time. Like street rap is what's popular in Memphis street rapids folks who talk about certain things. Those are the guys who were streaming out the wazoo and doing all the things and getting stuff going from our scene is not that much. There's not many of us at all. And so for one of us, two of us to cut through, you know, people choose up and people decide, you know, this is what we want to represent us. This is what we want to like stand behind. 4 (53m 27s): This is the type of artists, you know, that represents Memphis, the vis for us. And at the time I wasn't that right. And probably stilling day and that's fine, but it was a very interesting thing to navigate still being here. Cause I think I'm also like slightly committed to living here. And so because of that, it's like I'm driving around in these streets and I'm going to these stores and I'm going to these events and things like that and less and less, but I was at that time. And so no matter what success I'm receiving, I'm still, or was in the mix a little bit. And so it's interesting to like walk into an event in a party. 4 (54m 7s): And like, you just were in fader. What I'm saying, like, Nobody we know has been in fader at all. So it's like half the room is like, yo, look in dog, see you on the desk. Crazy. Putting on in the other room is like, you know, it's like, it's another vibe it's like hard to navigate. 2 (54m 32s): Like I wish I was in fader. Yes. Right? Yeah. I mean, when I, when it comes down to it, it's like, you know, they're going to, you are here. So they're going to try to tear you back down to their level. So I mean, 4 (54m 49s): You can't do anything about it like that. That's the messed up thing. It's like people you can just wreck, you can see that's all you can do. And you can just continue to elevate and not ever at any point turn around and then go back down the steps, 2 (55m 4s): Right? Like I guess you guys are right. Let me come back down here real quick. You know, 4 (55m 9s): You will, you know what I'm saying? It's like, I knew that I can't get on Twitter or something and engage with somebody or, you know, argue or Yale or I can't, I can't do any of that. It's not a good look. And it just, I know what that is. And so I just have to always make sure that I am maintaining control and, and not allowing anybody to take me off of my, take me off the path of, you know, what I got, 2 (55m 34s): I think you're doing it. I mean, to, to trans, to, to move that energy into a song like the rope, I think, you know, you're, you're, you're doing the, you're doing the perfect thing. That's all also going to separate you even more like, yeah, you guys are hating on me, but then watch me put this red record out that just going to keep, elevating me even further up. You know what I mean? Like I said, I mean, that's a great album that the 3 25 eyes and incredible record, and I love the, I had a chance to hear the rope as well. So congratulations on all the success, man. That's awesome. 4 (56m 5s): Thank you. Thank you. 2 (56m 6s): And I appreciate you hanging out with me. This has been so fun. Thank you. 4 (56m 10s): Well, it's not thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I always say anytime I'm able to like talk to anybody about anything that I'm doing. I'm very thankful to do so I'm always appreciative of the platform and folks just want to talk with me 2 (56m 22s): So it, well, I've run one more quick question. I want to know if you have any advice for aspiring artists. 4 (56m 29s): Ooh, don't stop. Just don't stop. Because I think that's one of the main things that separates us is the ability to keep going. I think, you know, I just seen it. Like people get a little strategy going and they stop and then the momentum goes and they go away. And so it's like, if you just keep working, just keep working like the universal rewards you for the energy you put in. But on the other side of that energy is like meet the universe halfway in terms of like he working on yourself while you're also working on your work, don't just become a really great artist and not a great person, right? And like, or aspire to be a great person because that stuff is going to come back around, work on union. 4 (57m 14s): Security's work on your jealousy, work on comparing yourself to other artists study, study, study, study, study, study, study, other artists, study artists for studied music, study various forms of the arts. Don't just have a narrow minded perspective, like make sure you're happy with what you see in the mirror before you ask for all of these things that come with this stuff, because we've seen so many artists get all of these things, get more success than I maybe will ever see and not be secure inside and maybe not be right and maybe not be taken care of. And they unravel in front of all our eyes. And that's always like a very sad thing to watch. 4 (57m 56s): And I'm thankful that I'm like 30, I'm thankful that I'm 30 and all of these things are happening because if they maybe would have happened when I was 21, when I wanted it to happen, I probably wouldn't be here talking to y'all right now. I probably would've missed it up. You know what I'm saying? I probably would've done something to myself with somebody else because the person that I was at that point in time was not evolved enough to navigate the stresses and the anxieties and the heaviness of what pursuing a career in music specifically can do to you. And so, yeah, I would just prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, for what this work is.