Next up on the spotlight circuit comes to us via Georgia, Tha UFO. This cat has been around the blog scene for the past year or so, after dropping his “Take Me To Your Leader” LP that made some noise. On that album was “Death Note”, a track that got a lot of play on my iPod. It follows Tha UFO on his trip to hell, where he runs into Biggie, Tupac, and Big L and the tell him what they think of the current state of hip hop and questions that no doubt a lot of us would like to ask them if we could do an interview from the afterlife. Not necessarily a new idea, but Tha UFO’s execution is nearly flawless.
It’s safe to say that Tha UFO isn’t your typical run of the mill emcee. Some of that has to do with his creativity, as he doesn’t attempt to be something he is not. Your not going to get gangbang tracks, songs about shooting muthafuckas, or stuff that he isn’t living. You will hear plenty of drug references, skateboarding and his turbulent past. He embraces the “emo” tag, although I’m not sure if you would put his music in the same category as other so called emo hip hop.
We sit down and talk to him about his past, the latest LP, Queen of the Damned, and his “imaginary” label Mushroom Kingdom Entertainment.
QUEEN OF THE DAMNED
Bloggerhouse: What’s the deal man, how about a quick introduction for those cats that have been sippin’ Nyquil and poppin’ Nodoze….
Tha UFO: Well if they have been doing those drugs they should know who I am. I am the emo ex druggie by the name of Tha Ufo. I am just your average college dropout because school to me only tried to contain my artistry.
BH: You have an interesting history, one which you aren’t afraid to tell. Why do you think it’s important for people to know your story and how has your history shaped you into the artist you are today?
UFO: I know what you are referring to as far as my mental illness dealing with schizophrenia and my mother being super abusive mentally, sexually, and physically. Those things affected me greatly but they do not make or break me. I tell it because women never really get accused of sexually or physically abusing their kids. Especially black women. My mom was manipulative and insane, man. I made it through that and want to let anyone that is dealing with it that it is okay to talk about. You should talk about it. I regret not doing it earlier. The point is this; many would consider growing up mentally ill and dealing with abuse from the only one that is capable of helping as horrible, but some people have it way worse. I am glad I can speak against it though not many other artist speak on it and I am not sure if I am the first schizophrenic rapper but i heard Eminem say something cool about schizophrenia before. It made me comfortable. Then Edgar Allan Poe was schizophrenic he is like my idol. I figure I want people to look at me the way I relate to them. My music may not be meant for all, but the people who I do speak to with my music I am sure it helps them.
BH: Your work ethic is notable as you have put out a lot of music over the last few years. How do you sit down and write a song, record, or create music in general?
UFO: My writing process is nothing special. I usually start with an exceptional punchline and build around it. I also find the joy in crafting hooks. I used to be horrible at that. My homeboys had to do a lot of the hooks on my earlier albums. When I went to jail for my first and only prison stint, I decided to take joy in creating hooks that hip heads can enjoy. I more recently decided to sing a lot of my hooks and I am never disappointed. To whom it may concern, I recorded all of my albums except Take Me To Your Leader and Yuck. That isn’t saying much for the ten that I recorded on modded stolen laptops from Augusta State University. They had wipes on them which was cool but not if you wanted to install firefox every time just to run a decent scam. The last two albums I recorded, I studied how to use the studio equipment. I can’t even listen to my old shit anymore. “Poet Hop” was probably my shit because lyrically it is a depressing ass story man. A couple joints I can still hear but not listen to. I have evolved as of late as far as music goes. Nothing against my old albums…..Take Me To Your Leader was my introduction but I am better now.
BH: On that album, last year’s Take Me To Your Leader, featured one of the more creative tracks I’ve heard in a long while, “Death Note”. How did that track come about and what lead you to writing it?
UFO: Like I said most of my songs come from a punchline, an ill bar. Something simple can spark an idea with me. I wrote: “I fell asleep in a bathtub and woke up in hell// like oh my fucking god what’s up Big L?” I spit it in a cipher and my man gave me a great reaction. So I built upon it. People always wonder what the game would be like if Pac and Big were here. I just gave my perception of how I think things would be.
BH: The series of albums that you have been working on are the Celebrity Experiment Series. Explain what that is all about and how it came to be….
UFO: It’s a theory I came up with deep in thought one day off some marijuana. I wondered if I could create a experiment but with people instead of regular lab tools. I came up with a formula that could be used to apply in the average algebraic formula but just replaced certain variables and used a lot of symbolism basically trying to see if I could create fame. Sounds like alchemy but what does that mean coming from a guy thinking he lives in an anime? I don’t even know how I come up with this shit anymore man. Subconsciously I do a lot of shit and hide shit from myself because I don’t even trust me. I always planned on doing the Celebrity Experiment Series but didn’t realize until today I was two albums deep into it.
BH: Queen of the Damned is the latest LP you have dropping. It’s an interesting concept in that it’s dedicated to a woman, a female blogger actually, that has a story behind it. How did that come about and how does it tie into the album’s theme and music?
UFO: Well what can I say about Kela and this album and how she inspired it? She is mad chill. I will not lie, I like her a lot. We have argued a lot but I think because of distance and other people’s influence. We are constantly under scrutiny for whatever reason. We are totally underground too so it’s wild. I don’t really know where to start but I asked her one night if I could make a song for her. She was so giddy like, “OMG!!!” I am a show off though so I was like, “I can make a whole album!” Due to the fact my music is getting a lot more less comedic than my old shit and I was gaining my street cred back as an emcee I didn’t want to make another album for the girls. I did the one for Raven and Carmen but I was sick of the Charles Hamilton beef and the comparisons. I didn’t know how to really say that to her. I picked a lot of other reason’s to argue and went overboard a bunch of times. On blogs and videos. I apologize because when it’s all said and done me and that young lady had an understanding and regardless how many chicks hate on her and wish they could be her she has me mentally and that is why I persuade her. Her blog is intelligent, she’s classy, she’s patient and enjoys learning, she’s not fast, she’s beautiful and such an alternative to the stereotypical black woman in society.
It started with one song and then due to the fact I tell a lot of truth in my rhymes, the songs were an actual story tying together. It reminded me of a romance novel. It was truthful in every aspect as well. It is a grand love story that I think many will see as tragic and others will see as passionate yet forbidden. If you are a fan of my music you will almost see how this ties in with the last two albums immediately. It’s almost like….the beginning of the beginning. This is an album you can put on and smoke with your girl too and just listen. Then talk about it when you are done like, “what do you think happened? I think this happened”. The story can end however you want it to. My ending is not necessarily the right one. I am not even sure if I will have a conclusion until I finally release it.
BH: Having “emo” tied to your music is sometimes looked upon as a negative thing in hip hop. How do you respond to that label and how would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it before?
UFO: Emo music has come a long way since it’s emocore foundation. Yet you hear some songs before they were using the pharse “emo” and you would say, “Is that emo?” Jimmy Hendrix “Hey Joe” would be considered emo these days. When Eminem was talking about suicide and having a depressed life and bled emotion they never called it “emo.” I think people just needed a way to brand shit and most people don’t know what the hell they are talking about. I read in a magazine one time they were interviewing a famous emo rock band lead singer, name slips the mind, but he said “Lil Wayne was emo.” Since then I have listened intently on what I consider emo hip hop, taking under the consideration the bands that detested the pharse in the 80′s I now hold dear it to describe me musically. Sunny Day Real Estate and those bands haven’t really influenced my music as much as say Cage has, but I respect all those that came before me. I am not a woman basher in my music. I don’t think it ill to be wise in dating whomever but I don’t sound like what the stereotype emo is. My old shit sounds horrible to me so I won’t speak on it…..take that as someone playing with the talent good gave them instead of working hard to achieve success. My new music can be describe this way….
“Imagine going to heaven, you got weed in the space ship and can only listen to one artist on the way there, tha ufo.”
I am the responsible choice. Also for every drug anthem I do, I bet I can find a powerful anti drug song or message sometimes on the same song and for sure on that album.
BH: Mushroom Kingdom Ent is something you are involved with, explain what it is and how it came to be?
UFO: That is my dream of a corporation we are working on getting a distribution deal with a pretty powerful company to get our films, ebooks, and music out to the masses and make a profit. I thought of it years ago when I was going to start a label with just me doing different voices of every artist and drawing a cartoon of them. They would all be on a label called Mushroom Kingdom because the main artist was into video games and psychedelic drugs like me. Then I started to just relate more to him. The other artists I did voices for were gang bangers and coke dealers. These people had become my only friends in the hospital, their adventures kept me entertained. I soon realized though I didn’t want people looking up to cartoon gangsters and just decided to rap as the drug addict. He was later named Tha Ufo and I just merged my life with his. Still have dreams of Mushroom Kingdom Entertainment though.
BH: Recently, you’ve taken shots at Kid Cudi and Charles Hamilton. Why are they drawing your ire and what’s the story behind it? What makes an emcee “wack” in your opinion.
UFO: Well the statement to Cudi I retracted on my Yuck album. He was mad about kids vlogging about him and putting the camera on themselves and he said it was lame. I have a lot of homegirls that take camera phone pics and I didn’t like that shit. I know I am not no protector of every girl that does that, but don’t shit on people’s dreams dog. I later retracted it because I don’t think Cudi meant it that way. I was kind of reaching. Charles of course the whole Sonic and Mario Rivalry I was on a year ago. I am over it though. The whole beefing in hip hop thing is played out. Let’s make good music and make money. I am not a gangster or a dope dealer. I am just me man. I don’t want people to want to harm me over something I say on a song. I am all about battling though because making an emcee wack to me is not always about them lyrically. Take for instance Charles, musically he’s pretty cool but personally he’s a prick. He says slick shit, has a huge ego, and disrespects a lot of people. I talked to Briana on twitter and she isn’t too fond of him. I had dudes in New York DMing asking me if I wanted him dead. They told me he was as good as gone in New York. I don’t want to hear that shit man. I will battle but all that violent shit makes emcee’s wack too. Don’t get on the mic talking about you a stone cold killer and what you will do to a guy. Just do it and go to jail for it. Also doing that monkey shit to get airplay…acting like a sambo on a song so people will play it and laugh at you is wack to me as well. Also rapping about shit you don’t live is wack.
BH: What does the future hold for Tha UFO?
UFO: Well I got a court case coming up evaluating my mental health and to see how I am doing in society. I got my own crib, working on a record deal, work full time, and I am doing an interview with WYDU/Bloggerhouse, I am feeling pretty sane.
BH: Any last words for the masses?
UFO: Yeah follow me on twitter @thaufo follow my love @hellokela and check out her blog www.hellokela.blogspot.com Be on the lookout for Queen Of The Damned LP coming real soon. Also check out my blog www.herdadhatesme.blogspot.com