Lowlands is een van die festivals waar grote namen qua hiphop op komen dagen. Wij houden ook van de kleinere namen en daarom besloten we om Afu-ra wat vragen te stellen. Hij deed dit via een vet telefonisch gesprek...check wat hij te zeggen had.
Thanks for taking your time, how did your concert go? Did you like it??
The concert was great, really cool. There were a lot of heads out there and they were really into the show. I was happy they were happy. I look forward to comin’ back out here to Holland, to Amsterdam and to any place in the Netherlands and doing a more intimate show. It’s cool to do the festivals but I like the intimate shows better, but it was great though.
Why is Holland attracting you, because we see you coming around more than the average MC?
First of all, people like my music over here. I have a record company that’s out here to work for me. There’s support out here as far as the hiphop community, so I have to support my support. That’s why people have been seeing me around, hanging out in Amsterdam and doing shows.
So it’s not only the weed?
No, it’s not only the weed.
Do you visit all the countries overseas that many times?
Well, yeah..actually, I have travelled around in Germany a lot, the Netherlands, Switzerland. That’s pretty much where I’ve been out the most. And of course I’ve also been travelling the States, doing some touring. In a couple of months I look to come back in Europe and doing a small tour in Germany, possibly the Netherlands, France, Japan, Australia..the whole world you know. And when I go home tomorrow, I will be doing the west coast tour with the High Times record, ‘cause I’m on that one, doing a tour with the Pharcyde, High & Mighty on the West Coast. We got a lot of work to do.
So the High Times is going to start..?
It will start September 12th.
When is such a tour coming to Holland?
Some time in middle or late October or possibly November.
That would be cool. Because over here we never have such big tours. So we are really looking forward to it.
Oh, thank you.
Lowlands is the festival where you’ve just performed, a couple of years ago you came on stage during Gang Starr’s performance. Did that thing impress you?
While I came with Gang Starr?
Yes, to do a show with one of the greatest hiphop acts.
Yes of course. Shout out to them. Without them I wouldn’t be here. That’s what’s up, people know that.
And how did you like it to be here with your own set now?
I feel like extremely blessed to see myself growing as an artist and the venues I play. You know, my first album I wasn’t able to play at Lowlands so I’m happy to see that some of my hard work is paying off (now) in good ways. One of those ways would be matter to the shows, here at the Lowlands festival as well as other festivals I did in Europe which were pretty big too so I’m feeling really blessed and I am really excited to continue to put out good music.
So how do you like the other hiphop acts performing on the Lowlands festival, like Def Jux and DJ Shadow?
Yeah, it’s all good, they are all cool. I don’t really know their music like that but you know, they here. I’m a person that deals with respect, I respect all artists you know, for doing what they wanna do and putting out themselves in the sense of artistly doing music. That’s how I am. But I don’t really know everybody but I know the Saian Supa crew that’s the group, the one who performs here. But again, I don’t know what they saying so I don’t know how much I really like them.
But the beats are always cool from France, don’t you think so?
Nowadays lot of new kids in the hiphop scene pay attention to the beats first b4 they dig something, especially over here in the non-speaking English countries. How do you think about people judging your work only on the production level?
Well, I mean, they have to like the music so I feel that that’s important. The people who wants to support the mean, they need to like everything you know. And we are driven by the music first and if that wasn’t the case people would just put a accapella album. You know what I mean. So there definitely needs to be a balance: great music with the great lyrics. And I think it’s important for the audience that people know what they want. That’s one of those ways that they support certain music because of certain reasons. It’s like people go buying cars, does it have a hot look, but not so much how good the car is. Music can sometimes go like this. I try to have great beats, a chorus and write great lyrics.
So the right combination?
You, as an MC, do you listen to lyrics or the production first?
I listen to both at the same time. I have the ear, so I can hear great lyrics over a beat that is not so great as the lyrics. But I can hear the other way, great music but the lyrics isn’t that great as the music. I can hear the difference you know. But for me, a great album or a great song has the right beats and also the right lyrics, never one side.
Many people are asking why you have changed your dressing style. First it was all kung fu steez, and now you wear the more trendy suits. Why?
Saw me where?
Maybe in your videos.
A video is a video man”¦people gotta know that. I do not wear a kung fu suit everywhere I go. Come on man, it’s just like you hear my records, is every record all about kung fu or martial laws at all? I mean, it’s just like my songs..I know martial laws and I’m practicing but come on man.
You don’t want a fixed image or something?
Yeah. I want my image to be Afu-Ra, I can dress however I wanna dress and people still know what’s up you know. Like I have a new video with Teena Marie (red: “Open”), it’s a whole different vibe, than wearing suits. TV, that’s entertainment, if I don’t do a video so that people is gonna be entertained by it, what good is doing a video? You know, people are trying to watch me so they are entertained on a visual level, that’s what videos are about. I try to have a good song where I can do a video where it’s something that’s me but yet still entertaining. And martial laws for me, being a part of me and something that I do, and one of the first things that I wanted to introduce to the world as far as who I am as a person that was doing martial law, it was also through hiphop, also through the type of artists doing songs with, like reggae artists people kinda know me for a lot of different qualities. But of course we got to mix it up you know. You never want to let them see you coming all the time. Yes, I’m willing to risk people being a little confused…
What’s the meaning behind the title of your new album, Life Force Radio?
Life Force Radio is like my own sense of radio. The concept of my album, commercial radio is all commercial..there’s little room for a song to be unradio just because it’s a great song. You see my album as many different classifications of hiphop with different genres of musical influences, all existing at the same time, I think it’s a great album. The album represents that differences as far as music, putting this togehter and it be entertaining and it be quality music involved with that. That’s why I chose to call my album Life Force Radio.
So the songs are more radio-friendly than your previous album?
I think that every song I ever had is radio-friendly. I mean a song that’s a good song is radio-friendly. So I made the new album in a way that: ok, I’m going to do all the type of tracks I wanna do, it’s still going to be quality and call that Life Force Radio. Because this was also a new way to put an album together. My first album was like “here I am, Afu-Ra, this is me, this is the type of person I am”. Now you have the new album, another idea, another philosophy of myself doing music. Life Force Radio is showing people to check the difference, something alsow fresh, they would never thought I made an album like that. It’s still about Afu-Ra and also something for the record company so they can do their job.
So you show them how diverse you can be?
Yeah, but without really saying: this is how diverse I am. I just did how I did it and that’s is how it came out. Just through what I do, it’s self-expirimentory, but again, as being an artist I also have to do my record in a way to allow the people who work my record like radios, the promotors, the ones who do the artworks, being able to do their job. That‘s also a way I have to do my album.
All top quality?
Exactly, I got to come with something they can work with. Not coming with an album with an idea they can’t fully work with.
In the past you worked a lot with Premier, is he still like kinda mentor for you?
Well Primo is someone that helps me, he works on my album, he’s the executive producer. I position my album to him to know if he thinks I’m going down the right tracks, the right avenues. I come up with all the ideas, with the beats than I do them an let him hear them. He lets me know like “what’s up, are my vocals good, is the song hot, is the beat good, did this person who mixed the track, is it good, the scratches”¦” you know, I look to Premier for that and then whatever I don’t have as far as he thinks is a quality album, that’s the tracks that I need to get from Primo.
Hip hop music has extended from the ghettos to all over the streets, from the poor to the rich peepz. All fans want to see their artist once in their life, what you think about the elevated ticket prices nowadays?
The ticket prices for show, I don’t have a problem with that, I have more a problem with the prices of cd’s, it’s too high. I think that a concert ticket, you want to see the artist, you’re going. But the cd prices, they’re way outta head, you know what I mean. Not many kids have 20 euros for a cd so the hiphop market is being affected while they seeing people less and less selling many records because the prices of a cd are too high. And, what’s a kid gonna do if he can go and buy a mature DVD versus a Jay-Z cd, that’s what’s happening. The fans, they can get the music from internet for free. So why they gonna buy an album they can get it free? A lot of people do. I think that one, the cd prices need to drop and I think that people, as far as artists and record companies, need to give”¦people have to make the album so that a fan feels like he’s getting something more than only music. You’ll start to see a lot of things, like DVDs happening not like a cd every artist is putting out and putting out. It’s gonna have DVD, the footage of the artist, it’s gonna have like stories or maybe even movies. It depends on how far the artist wanna take it. Once the fan feels like “ok, if I’m buying the cd, I’m gonna get something that I can’t get for free”. And then you drop the cd prices slightly, every cd should be out there for about 12 euro or 12 dollar. Maybe the 1st week it should be mandatory: all cd’s for sale for 10 dollar. After that you should go up as high as 12,99. And then you’ll start to see a lot more cd’s being sold and I think the fans will be a lot happier and they be getting something, they can hold on the visual images of artists forever.
Are you able to talk with record companies about such issues?
Yeah, I am.
So soon we’ll see the cd’s being less expensive?
You also gotta realise that one label doing it, it doesn’t make any sense because if a label wants to do that and you go to Germany or any other country, they don’t wanna do it. It’s bigger than the label only, it lies and is depending of the retail chain. It takes a worldwide movement of all the different parties ahead to reach that.
Do you believe in the Rastafarian philosophy, that dreads give you power as long as it grows?
To a certain extent yes.
So you won’t cut off your hair?
I won’t say that I won’t but I don’t plan on it.
What about white peepz doing that rasta style?
Growing locks? Anybody can have locks.
But it’s not really natural.
Natural is whatever you want it to be, if you wanna grow your hair locks and that’s how you feel about, aight. All men are influenced by other men, as well as women. Things are gonna fall when they may, we all know that. We all came from one place and one day we’ll all return to the same place. That’s how it is.
Lotz of hiphop figures are doing a crossover track, would you do one with for example System of a Down?
Yes, hell yeah. Hell yeah! I’m feelin’ them.
So you are open to feature in other kind of music?
Yes, actually yeah, I’m like: “music is music”, that’s how I look at it. If I could vibe with somebody or a group doing music why shouldn’t we work together?
How do you like Europe and what are the main differences you see between here and America?
The main differences? Of course the languages, that’s a primary thing and then culturally: dialogues, there are many differences you know, like laws”¦but primarly we are all the same people worldwide. The little differences we have are small things because they’re what we’ve been conditioned by. But as men and women we are all the same.
Would you like to live here?
Forever? No, I don’t think so but there are certain cities that are cool like Paris, Amsterdam, I also like Rotterdam. I don’t see myself wanting to move there but I could and I wouldn’t be miserable you know.
Talking about Paris, it’s the second hiphop country worldwide. Gang Starr already did some work in the French HipHop scene. Are you willing to do something like that? To support the French hiphop scene or other scenes?
Yeah, yeah. No doubt, why not? I mean, it’s all about the music man, if it’s gonna happen it’s going to happen. If I’m trying to make it happen right now I see something like that happening in the future but it ain’t happening right now.
Got some words for our visitors?
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