A lot of people forget that hip hop isn’t just a form of music, for many, it’s a way of life. They put their heart and soul into the music. It’s their life, they eat, breathe and live the culture. I have always admired cats in that category. They take the art so seriously. They are literally fighters for the cause.
One such artist that I’ve had the privilege of speaking to lately is Final Outlaw. Coming straight out of NYC, you can tell he wears the hip hop badge firmly on his shoulder. He takes his craft seriously and is adamant about furthering the cause of the art and further his music. In one of the more in depth and interesting spotlights that I’ve done, I talked to Outlaw about the role of Latino’s in hip hop, political hip hop and his own music.
Final Outlaw – Hip Hop 4ever
What’s good man, can you give the readers the low down on who you are for those that aren’t familiar with you?
Chillin’ yo. I hope all is well with you and your family. My name is Final Outlaw, I am a Hip Hop artist from New York City . I’ve been raised in this city for the larger half of my time alive so far. I’m skilled at many things, and I know allot about this world and my life but not nearly as much as I want to. I have much to learn still.
Can you shine some light on your background as far as the music? (I.e. how long you been rhyming, how you got your start etc.)
I started lyricism late, around the age of 17 or so. It took many experiences and several interest changes till Hip Hop became something I loved. I scribbled a few wack ass rhymes in high school when I was like 14 but I never actually began reciting words before friends until later on as mentioned earlier. I really became interested in the mathematics, physics, and spirituality of Hip Hop during the end of my high school years. My younger brother would often introduce me to newly released songs and some of my friends at the time traveled uptown to Harlem , Washington Heights and Dyckman to freestyle and battle each other. My friends and I had a small rap group that didn’t last long because of “growing up”. The group was called Zero Tolerance. It was among these individuals where I began to record very low quality songs on a 12 gig PC they owned. During Friday afternoons we would cut the TV off and battle each other instead of watching Freestyle Fridays on 106th & Park. Eventually everyone else moved on in life, but a very close friend of mine and I continued our love for Hip Hop. Occasionally I touched a stage every now and then during late 04 early 05, but I never really came full force until about late 2007. I had done allot of studying about the industry and networking and making contacts before I actually began to campaign 3 to 4 shows a week or more. Since around 07 I have been pretty much doing just that, performing often finally exposing my music.
As I tell everyone else, it’s eclectic. My music cannot be categorized, it will always change and shift like a chameleon. Ignorant people have tried to tell me that I have to focus on a target market, but I argue that my music is for everyone. My market is every human of every color of every race. When a song makes you smile and look forward to tomorrow with excitement, or when a song taps into a very dark place in your soul and nearly brings out a tear in anger or inspiration – this is what I aim for when making a song.
What were some of your influences coming up?
I’ve always thought it was unfair to only mention my influences and inspirations musically. Nature is a big influence to me. The power of nature is far stronger than we give it credit for. The powerful mass of water, the whip of the wind, fire, etc. That in itself is music, is it not? As far as life is concerned, you can learn allot from watching animals, allot about yourself. And of course human beings have always directly influenced me as they have you and everyone else on earth. I gravitate towards any person or thing in search of his or herself, God, or the source. I believe it is genuine when a person seeks these things not because of curiosity but for peace and closure instead.
Reading your bio, you come from a Latin background, what is your perception of the Latin involvement in Hip Hop and do you feel that they get the proper credit they deserve in the written history of Hip Hop?
Latino’s have already played a major role in Hip Hop even before I was born I think. Even contemporarily we see Latino artists on the underground evolving lyrically and proving they had the ability all along. Recently there has been a boom in Latino artists and I suppose I’m part of that if people would prefer to ignore the rest of my ethnicity. Ultimately though I don’t give a shit about any one race getting all the shine for Hip Hop, whether that be black, white, Latino or any other background for that matter. The media will always try to bring up petty issues like those to start a discussion we should have been done with generations ago. I believe one day Hip Hop will be a leading example in the world of unity and international acceptance for multi-cultural individuals such as my self. Appearance is very tricky, all of us are really the same thing anyway. I can only hope that Latinos will take responsibility for their newly found spot light and shine some of it on the races of people who opened the doors for them. It’s called appreciation and responsibility and I plan on taking that message far.
Some of your music is politically charged, something that Hip Hop sorely lacks these days, what is your take on the state of politically themed Hip Hop these days?
This is a great question. Honestly, for the most part I don’t enjoy political Hip Hop. Now listen very closely because this might be a little confusing to understand. In mainstream Hollywood it is very rare to see political music, which is very sad and you are correct about that. However, independently it’s a different story, at least from what I’ve seen in New York and the surrounding states not to mention California . I can only speak for the places I’ve been to. The underground is saturated with many so called “revolutionaries” and such. My main problem with this is that many of these self proclaimed soldiers walk around with a guerilla demeanor, as if they are ready to revolt against the corrupt government at any moment. For th
e most part I believe this is a big hoax. Unfortunately some think they can become a freedom fighter overnight just because they read a little literature. You can never take any piece of literature from any source completely literal. History has proven to us that history isn’t always accurate. Many messages are badly translated into other languages, and corrupted through time by war, government and religion. With no military training, and barely truthful historical documents how are we supposed to know who is the enemy or not – what is truth and what isn’t?
I believe the strongest truth is within you. Follow your heart, and never rely on any one source of information because that is how religious fanatics and colts are formed. Take a little from every experience. Miseducation and destitute of leadership has lead to a hipster movement that falsely believes that more bloodshed will fix the problems we have on earth. Discipline I think is the most important thing a person needs. Two wrongs don’t make a right. For example many people I’ve met haven’t taken an effort to politically educate themselves. Legalizing weed and not washing your hair isn’t going to bring peace and change, besides how will you fight your revolution when you are high or intoxicated anyway? To me it all seems like there are some rough edges to fix. I have a deep respect and admiration for artists I have often crossed paths with like Immortal Technique and Dead Prez because they are dead serious about what they speak.
My responsibility is to focus on areas other wised skipped because of the demanding labor required by the music industry. Yes at times I do have politically charged music, and I am involved in community activities from time to time, but I am not a political rapper, if I was then everything I ever said about being eclectic or exempt from labeling and categorization was a contradiction. At the end nobody is perfect and that’s ok. I respect only those who talk the talk and walk the walk – just like me.
Reppin’ New York, how hard is it to come up in a city where Hip Hop was born?
I don’t think it is very difficult. Truly a person’s ambition and effort is the pending issue at question in relation to success. If you are hungry, really hungry I mean and not just pretending to be, then you will make it no matter where you are. Whether you are in New York City or in the Safari. It is harder for certain people to make it than others, but still if you believe in yourself, and have faith and confidence in what you do, nothing is impossible – impossible is not God. The city is filled with goons, and people out for a quick buck, as well as wanna be hippie hoppers and such. There is very little competition and honestly that saddens me. The only competition I have in the city makes me really happy to be a rapper and I appreciate them and their music very much so – they keep me from being bored out of my mind.
A lot of heads in the industry say that NY is strugglin’, what is your take on that?
The last time I checked KRS One was working on yet another album, Nas recently dropped another album as he has been for years. Joel Ortiz was making allot of noise and is still working very hard. Immortal Technique continues to tour and create music. NYC Hip Hop news is running just fine all over the internet. Rock the Bells in New York was a grand success. Small venues like the Pyramid and the Knitting Factory have been blessed by such acts as KRS One, Ice T, Das EFX, Q-Tip etc. Original programs like Video Music Box is still out there bringing the latest in music including my latest music video. And on the underground there is a new wave of talent making all types of headlines.
Once again, my message to the people is stop participating in useless gossip and glamor, do some research, show some love to those who are original, raw and honest. Don’t give all the credit to those cultural thieves who fund MTV and BET. If you ask me the only people strugglin’ is mainstream Hip Hop corporations and conglomerates. Pretty soon they are going to try and take our ideas of self employment and independent strategies then run with them. Naw son…..we are just fine. People simply need to pay attention.
The track “Hip Hop 4ever” made some noise around the internet circles, can you talk about that track?
“Hip Hop 4ever” is a timeless song, and my gift and contribution to Hip Hop for taking part in my maturity to adulthood. It is a song that I will never stop performing because there are billions still who have not heard it, and it can never get old or played out. I think people are showing love because they realize it’s real. The song has nothing to do with “swagger”, drugs, or money flaunting. I wrote that shit from my soul and I did it for myself and the people and I intend on bringing allot more where that came from. You see since I don’t rely on prosthetics like ghostwriters I don’t have to be worried about writing another timeless song or album. My music will always be for the past, present and future. I have deep gratitude, appreciation and respect for every blog spot, radio station, podcast, or TV network that has showed love. Thank you very much, I will continue to expose more material and I will need everybody’s help to show the world that not everything is about showing off money and having sex with everyone woman in sight.
What is your latest project and what are you working for the future?
I have a mix tape available called “We’re all gonna die SE.” It can be found online for sale and at my shows. I have a new project I’m very proud about that I plan to release before the year ends. It is a mix tape and half of it I will give for free to all my supporters, the other half will be on sale as a CD. Eventually I plan to have a very successful release during the first half of next year for my debut album but we’ll talk more about that another time.
Is there any particular goal you want to reach in five years?
I want to help provide and contribute to my family, and make a family of my own. I want to be able to live comfortably from the music I make. I want to take part in change, and make a difference. Eventually I will branch off into other careers and travel the world and do everything my imagination and heart desire. 5 years? It all depends on how hard I work.
Any last words?
Hip Hop 4ever!
No, thank you WYDU for the opportunity. Stay alive.