While there are some who have made their marks, there hasn’t been a Latino superstar in hip hop since the late great Christopher “Big Pun” passed away over a decade ago in 2000. Now it’s 2011 and another east coast rapper is looking to make a name for himself and possibly carry the mantle of the next hope for a true Latino superstar rapper. Does Narez have what it takes to break through the crowded hip hop scene though? (Read about women in the hip hop industry.)
How would you describe yourself to people who haven’t heard of you outside of your local region?
I would describe myself to people who didn’t know me, which is many people in the national scene, as a mixture of a couple of things that fans look for which is commercial, lyrical and deep kind of like what a regular person consist of on an everyday person. I mean you got your angry side, your cool side, your party side and then you’re deep thinking side. That’s how I would have to categorize myself.
How long have you been rapping professionally?
I would say I’ve been in the industry for five years working with people and developing myself to the point that I’m at right now.
What was one of the moments that really took your career to that next level?
When I met Nature I was on the underground scene I was trying to break away from that and have some type of help and assistance in seeing me develop myself in a professional way. When I met him that definitely took me to that next level where I knew it was possible I just needed to have more connections and outlets. But, yeah he definitely schooled me on how everything went down on the business side and it was exciting because from there it was just about developing.
How did that connection with Nature come about?
I met him through a cousin of mine who knew him enough through people and we all got together to do a track. It was actually me, a friend of mine and Nature, so we all met in the studio and I can recall it like it was yesterday. I did a really dope verse and he was impressed and asked me if I wrote that, so I told him of course because I’m not going to rap anything I didn’t write and from there I told him that hopefully we could get on a track together with juts the two of us and that’s how the relationship started. We did a couple of songs and we just kept vibing and doing collaborations.
What’s the difference between the underground scene and mainstream?
I think you still have to show talent in either direction that you go and that you’re able to entertain the people, but on the underground scene it’s more of a lyrical competition because you want to get the respect of your peers or co-workers as you might say. Commercially I would say there’s more emphasis hook wise and getting away from being so deep and more of an entertaining aspect to it instead. Either way I still think you have to come through and convince people that you can hold your own.
Do you think you can walk the fine line of being commercially successful while still holding on to your underground roots?
Absolutely, because I’m one that’s strongly believes you’re not selling out if you go a certain way because on an album you’ll have at least 12 tracks to show people your substance and what you’re about. You can show people your thoughts with the world, but you need a couple of songs where you can crossover and expand to the point where everybody can get to know who you are. Once you make people pay attention, you can give your real fans what you think they deserve. I definitely feel like I can become commercial. It’s not only music wise, its look wise as well and a total package just to be able to come across and say that you can entertain people for three minutes at a time.
Your latest project is called Successful Suicide which is a very attention grabbing title. Why did you choose to go with that?
I choose it because first it’s a little controversial and people have said that I shouldn’t have the cover like it is, which is me holding a gun to myself, but when people listen to the music they’re going to be like it’s so different than what the cover portrays it to be. I wanted to come to people at different angles. I choose it because suicide is killing yourself, but to be successful at it is kind of contradicting because no suicide is a successful thing to do. In a music sense though I wanted to kill the old me and introduce myself as a new artist with new ways of thinking.
Michael Mahon attended Clark Atlanta University, where he majored in journalism. He is a regular contributor to SoJones.com and has written for several other online and print publications, including Ballerstatus.com, Allhiphop.com, Creative Loafing Atlanta, and INsite Atlanta. Aside from writing, he is also a huge sports fan and film buff.