Dorchester to Phoenix, Skunkz has established himself as a bonafide emcee. He is living proof that it does not matter how many followers you have, but how much those followers truly support you. Skunkz Ft. Skunkz released at the beginning of last month, at one point it had hit top five best selling on Bandcamp. Those who take pride in their craft, stay true to themselves, those are the ones the fans will gravitate towards. Views, followers, likes, none of that matters if the music isn’t good.
The words are extremely important to Skunkz. He takes particular time in the way he crafts each line. The art of rapping is what truly has kept him in love with the game for so long. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t care for the production, it’s about what is being said and not how something sounds. That’s Hip-Hop in the finest form, when the sound can complement the lyrics without one side carrying the other too much. Balance is key.
Skunkz produced this entire project, which is his first time ever producing, but already has developed a great ear for unique loops. The sounds were made specifically for him. He didn’t have to go through somebody else’s assumptions on what he would rap over. Beginning to end this project is Skunkz.
We sat down to talk about how his move affected his music, becoming a producer, the project itself, and the importance of physical copies. Read the whole interview below:
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
You moved from Dorchester to out here in between this project, Skunkz Ft. Skunkz, and your last project. When you got out here how did you approach everything?
I had came out here on vacation and to visit a girl, Sonora. We had been on and off for a minute, she was like ‘you got to come to Arizona’. I never really flew nowhere before except for Vegas. When I first came out here it was that, it was vacation, I came for Sonora and my man Tuck was living in LA. I just so happened to get booked for a showcase, Payday LA, at the same time. It worked out perfectly, so smooth man. I just felt the energy, what really made me stay was love, I got more love out here than I did on the east coast.
Did that change how you started to look at music?
Oh yeah, everybody always says this thing like you got to make it from where you’re born or come from. My favorite rapper is Styles P, he really said if you don’t go outside and people aren’t saying you’re the best rapper for blocks then you’re doing something wrong. He never had the computer like that, so it definitely changed my outlook on things. You could do anything in this world, you and I both know there’s rappers from Japan that people know out here. In the 80s and 90s, even early 2000s, that was hard.
You started producing only a couple months ago, how did you pick up the craft so quickly?
I’ve been doing homework on how to make Skunkz beats my whole life. I feel like any rapper or artist should know what sounds they like, you know what you think is wack. When you really got that ear like that, you can literally listen to a sample and say I would rap over this. Someone else might think it’s wack, but you in your heart think you would kill this. It’s easier than a lot of people think. It would be hard to be a producer because to be a producer I’d have to think in your mind, ‘what would Nick Shew want to rap over?’ Then pick them out, send them to Nick, and maybe you choose one. Whereas if I’m making them for myself I’m constantly picking what I want to rap over.
What would you say your sound is, if you could describe it?
Loops. Straight up, I like shit that loops. I stay looking for the loops, eventually I’ll develop the instrumentation. The samples will come easier.
What is your favorite beat on the project?
“‘StarSkunkz’. That one is like two loops, it’s the sound and the break beat. Every time it comes around it just sounds nice, it sounds nuts. I love loops that you can loop and never get tired of them. That’s the best, the illest shit to me. You could find some old shit and take just four or eight seconds, four or eight beats. Make that shit continuously sound tight, all you got to do is change a little something. Sometimes you don’t even got to change anything.”
Which verse on the whole project do you like the best?
“I like one verse off every single song, there’s only five joints. My favorite, favorite, favorite joint is the one I did to my Moms’. I never did nothing like that, never in my life touched that side, I mean I wrote ‘Mama’s Couch’. ‘BMP’, my Mother’s initials, that one gave me the ability to get off what I wanted to say. I’ve never had a beat that made me want to get off what I got to say to why Mom. The sample was saying ‘I want to make it up to you’, that was the sound for it. That’s why I fuck with this tape man, all the songs are for all the sounds. It is so critical for artists to make their own beats.”
You just dropped the vinyl, we got the CD right here, what is the importance of the physical copy to you?
Some people are going to try to talk you out of your physical copy, acting like it’s dying. Shit is so important. Having stuff in the physical is more important than people even know, it’s some spiritual shit. Some shit way deeper beyond what the eye sees, most people see it for the dollar value. Nah like look, I got a picture of me painting myself on here, this came from my mind. Now it’s something I can frisbee, something I can hold. Just the ability to take something from your brain, render it, and put it into an object. It’s like Black Magic shit, you are literally creating. Making physicals adds power to everything. You could make a time capsule, throw your CD in it, a shirt in it, your vinyl. Now that’s history, it’s a way to mark time, someone might dig this shit up in a hundred years. Anybody talking about not making physicals isn’t thinking beyond the numbers.
You went through Deeply Rooted Hip-Hop for two videos, I want to talk about “NoStableLabel” particularly, how did that come about?
True story, that comes from me not getting my haircut. The homies know me, I stay with no haircut. I got my haircut once when I came out here and didn’t get a cut until that video. Sometimes I get a cut, sometimes I’m grimy. That concept is just cool, someone getting there hair cut in the street. It’s fire. Shout out to Tuck he enables me to get all this shit, he is straight up a director, shooting movies. For him to be fucking with us for the raps, it’s smooth bro.
What’s next for you this year and where do you want to be by the end of it?
I got two projects, three projects in the cut depending how long you see a project. I can let the people know about two. Dirty Diggs, Flash, and myself, Flash and I actually got a group. We call ourselves the Craftsmen, we call ourselves that because that’s a type of house. The way the house is built, it’s not like a traditional house, it’s built off balancing, off perfect measurements and shit. I got some shit with Sharp coming. I’m going to let the music drop, I only have put out four projects my entire career. To only have dropped four projects, a couple singles, some videos, that’s not a lot of work man. For me to still be in the conversation with these other dudes who do drop after drop, it says something. I’m never going to stop either, I’m only going to get better. I want to create more music, I don’t want to make crime music for my fucking career.
Is there anything you’d like to add that we might have missed?
Peace to my supporters man. I don’t have a particularly big following like some of these cats do, it’s really just me. I really want to thank my fucking supporters. I got top five in Bandcamp best selling, across the board I got like maybe 1,500 followers. For you to even be sitting here, shout out to you for looking through the crevice. Just you finding me it gives me faith that this shit is really rocking. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, how many views you get, how many Tik-Toks you make, or any of that shit. If the music is there and you are a stand up person, people are going to fucking listen. I want to thank anybody that will listen, watch, or even read this shit. Thank you for this opportunity, and stay fucking tuned man.