Greetings Carolina!!! Summer keeps rolling along with a heat wave thatâ€™s extremely oppressive, the new school year is looming ever closer, and of course the music keeps getting better.Â In this edition of The Vocal Booth, we sat down with an artist who is sincere in advancing the sound of South Carolina.Â Trublklef (pronounced Treble Clef) has been heading towards stardom since his first encounters with music.Â Performing at many of the Midlandâ€™s area venues (The House, New Brookland Tavern, Art Bar, etc.); Trublklef has not only a distinctive sound, but a style to match.Â Be sure to â€œFriend/Likeâ€ Trublklef on Facebook and catch him out and about in your town.Â Much success to you man.Â Letâ€™s get it!!!!!
Â TRUBLKLEF Interview
For those who may be unfamiliar with you & your work, who are you and how would you describe your style?
Government name, Roger Dale Hawkins Jr., as an MC/vocalist or any other artistic endeavor I'm known as Trublklef. I would describe my style as progressive Hip Hop.
Music has truly emphasized the concept of staying original and being your own light, but truly successful musicians are very limited.Â In your opinion, why is it important for people to support local artists?Â
I love the phrase â€œbeing your own light.â€ In my opinion, we support local artists for the same reasons we support any other local commerce. We put food on the tables of our neighborsâ€¦the people we stand behind in the grocery store. Beyond that, it can serve as a means to an end for our own personal projects. One hand washes the other, ya' dig?
Are there more opportunities for artists to succeed?
Â Definitely, when I started playing music to the public I was limited in my ability to record, mix, master, produce, promote, an' distribute. Now, with the advantages the web offers combined with varied technology, as artists we are able to do all of these things easily and succeed with the little funding most of us are working' with.
Describe your history as a musician?
I believe I was born to create. My musical tastes and desire to use that medium began as a child, like most. I was raised in church singing' solos in the choir and hymns in the pews. My mother and I sang two part harmonies in the car, oldies and what not. My older brother and sister had very different eclectic tastes in music and I was exposed to popular genres and the classics alike. I began writing around the age of 5, and was playing' bass in a band, recording and playing' shows by 16. My abilities and styles have been broad and all contributed to who I am as an artist.
Â Â What pushed you to become an MC?
Being an MC allows me to say a lot in a short amount of time. I'm a poet and I love putting' my poetry to music. It's that simple. To be perfectly honest, I only refer to myself as an MC when I have to describe specifically what I do to someone who has never heard what I do.
Describe some things that all aspiring artists need to know before they touch a microphone?
First it is to tell the truth. If it ain't the truth, it's simply a story. If you're telling a story, don't pretend it's yours. To not front or bite is the highest law of being an MC, I believe. Second it is delivery. Sync to the beat, develop a cadence, and speak up. Thirdly, being on time is crucial. I've worked with some MC's who had to do 15 takes on a verse because they were early or late. If that's happening to you and you don't know why, you may be using the wrong medium to express yourself. Create an inner beat with your words. Your words have to bounce just like the beat. If we take away the beat, are you still interesting? That's cadence. Fourthly, cupping the mic is a no-no in most places but you can develop a technique that allows you to be heard without blowing' speakers and deafening people. Fifth and lastly, confidence matters. Don't bother if you don't have any, It has to be natural.
Hip Hop has birthed some of the greatest musicians and writers that this world could possibly offer, if there is one DJ or MC that could be considered a direct link to your style of flava, who would it be and why?
I couldn't agree more. This art-form has really proven to stand alone. Man, I hate that question...lol. If I say only one, I'll see this later and regret it.Â First three that comes to mind?Â Rakim (post Eric B), Black Thought (The Roots), and Eligh (Living Legends). I do not have much to say 'bout DJ's. If it's funky and they utilize the tools and techniques of Hip Hop, I'm in. I'm fond of a few locals- DJ M80 (Greene Street Productions). Love his versatility and skills on the cut, DJ Peoples (Luis Skye & Cut Fresh Crew); my man has great taste and isn't afraid to play a classic or an underground favorite.
Even before the passing of Pimp C, the South has had an extreme stronghold on the direction of popular music of the day.Â Understanding this, South Carolina has been, as some say 'overlooked' in regards to the music scene. Could it be lack of industry knowledge, money, or even organization, your thoughts?Â
It was Southern Hip Hop that took the genre to a new level worldwide. From Outkastâ€™s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to Lil Wayne, artists from our region have paved the way for new and experimental sounds that break the monotony of sampling and braggadocio rhyming and they've seen Billboard success with it! I love that stuff too, but change is good. Now, if I had to guess why our state has received little attention from the mainstream ('cause I'm no expert) I'd say that many artists put the cart before the horse, plain and simple.Â Labels that fund the work, promoting and distributing mainstream Hip Hop want to see you sell 1000 copies on your own before they'll talk to you. Independent labels work a little differently, but we don't have any of those that really stand out like Rhymesayers or Def Jux. Preach is doing' his thing with Sounds Familiar an' I'm stoked about the names him and NSHHL (Non Stop Hip Hop Live) have brought to these parts. Artists and heads alike owe those dudes a debt of gratitude. So, I'd say a combination of all those things and more. We can't wait on â€œthemâ€ to come to us.
Â What are some of the projects you have on the agenda for 2011 and beyond?
I plan to record another LP's worth of music. Also, I'm looking to build with other MC's and artists across the board. I'd love to front a full band at some point before the year is out. I'm making a second appearance at a festival in the Florida Keys in November but nothing solid beyond that. I will be working' on getting' more bookings outside of Columbia for sure. There are other local artists talking' about forming a collective, so time will tell.
The songs of artists should be made up of the thoughts they have and the experiences they encounter. Explain the significance behind the bond between you, your music, and your experiences.Â
My music is inspired solely by my experiences in life. I will sometimes comment on the current state of Hip Hop (as we call it) or social stuff, but for the most part I like to reflect on my past and how I've grown as a person and an artist. As far as I'm concerned it is mostly about that bond. I'm not much of a story-teller unless I lived it.
Speak a little bit about your current projects
Currently, I have an abundance of material that was more or less written and recorded last summer with Miles Franco. It's all available for free download at soundcloud.com/trublklef . We've released three new tracks this summer and have more on the way.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the world of music; why would the average person be interested in coming out to one of your performances?
It has always been a focus of mine to entertain with more than just sounds. The combining of mediums and inspiring an atmosphere of creativity is not just standing on stage with a microphone and some beats. DJ's, visual artists, breakers, and giving an opportunity for attendees to participate in some way has always been a focus of mine. Not to alienate anyone, it's all a matter of taste. But, average isn't really my thing.Â
If there is one album or song that has greatly influenced you and your work; what would it be and why?
Again, this is incredibly hard to narrow down.Â I can say that there is one song from one album from one artist that I remember being inspired by way back when and that I could never grow tired of. It raises the hairs on my arms and neck to this day. â€œFlow Foreverâ€ on The Master by Rakim. â€œWhen I Be on the Micâ€ is a close second (also by Rakim). Those are gospels for me.
Any last words?
Sure. Much love to you Kingpin for what you do. It's unique and much needed. Respect. Also, anyone that wants to build with Trublklef, get at me. I don't pay for beats and I don't front about getting things done. I'm down to vibe and create music with whoever, whenever, however.
Before we wrap up, the number of classic Hip Hop albums is too many to list here, but if there is one album you would consider your favorite, what would it be and why?
You're killing' me fam...lol. Besides the one above, there are many throughout my life that has made an impression. There is one that sticks out. â€œDo You Want Moreâ€ by The Roots (1994), but I really feel so wrong for narrowing it down. Peace.