Pete Sayke talks Growing Up In Ohio, “Heaven Can Wait” & Working With One Producer [Interview]

Pete Sayke talks Growing Up In Ohio, “Heaven Can Wait” & Working With One Producer [Interview]

Chicago by way of Ohio emcee Pete Sayke teamed up with Indianapolis Lonegevity to create “Heaven Can Wait” a rare full-length project. Featuring heavyweights like Blueprint, Stik Figa and others. More importantly though Sayke tells a story of struggle, while making sure to relay the idea that we have to push on through these dark times. I had a chance to sit down with Sayke and talk his new album “Heaven Can Wait” his choice of leaving production to Lonegevity and more.

Dead End Hip Hop: For those who don’t know who is Pete Sayke?

Pete Sayke: Hmmm. That’s always a tough question. But a good one. Pete Sayke is an emcee born and raised in Cincinnati, but I’ve lived in Chicago for about ten years. As far as music goes, I love and respect lyricism and I value vulnerability in artists. In that way, I try to follow in the footsteps of some of my all-time favorites. When someone can be impressive lyrically, while still making it digestible, while somehow being able to bring the listener into his or her world/thoughts/emotions…that s*it is special! That’s what I try to do.

Beyond music, though, I’m mad normal. I have an amazing wife and we have a super cool dog and we live in a condo in a cool neighborhood. All that first world shit. It’s pretty great. I love my family and friends. I grew up playing basketball and baseball…then somehow ended up playing D1 volleyball in college. I’d say I’m semi-introverted, so it’s interesting that my passion is to create art and present it to the public for their enjoyment or displeasure haha. I guess there’s so much to say that I don’t really know what to say. Sorry for rambling.

DEHH: As someone who grew up in Cleveland, I’m always curious to others upbringing in Ohio, tell me about that

PS: Honestly, I kinda feel like Kendrick must have felt as a kid in Compton. Clearly, nowhere near as dangerous, though haha. But what I mean is, I had plenty of opportunities to get into some really fucked up situations, but I always chose the better path. So many kids I grew up with had gotten knocked up, locked up and/or killed before we had even reached 10th grade! I thank my parents for guiding me away from that shit, but also I give myself some credit for actually listening and learning from others’ mistakes.

Because of that, my childhood was pretty much consumed by sports and music. I grew up in a neighborhood called Silverton, which was a mixed bag of rich-poor-black-white kids. We would make our rounds to all the hoop courts and just hoop all day. Then when I wasn’t hooping, I was listening to or writing raps. I remember riding my bike to Everybody’s Records in Pleasant Ridge and buying maxi-singles so I could rap over the instrumentals. My first show ever, which I discuss on the title track for Heaven Can Wait, I rapped over OutKast’s Players Ball and that shit was tight!

DEHH: I’ve heard a lot of projects this year and I feel like a lot of them were EPs tell me about your choice to create a full-fledged LP

PS: You know what? I don’t think that’s ever really crossed my mind, honestly. I’ve just never made an EP before. But I’m open to it! I guess I just feel less restricted when I have more tracks to work with. It allows me to go to more places on a project and fully express myself. I’ve had some droughts in my career where I’d go a couple years before feeling inspired again. So when it comes, I guess I just want to let it all out before I lose it again. But I won’t lose it again! (knocks on wood).

DEHH: How did the idea of “Heaven Can Wait” come about?

PS: After having not written anything since my last album, Forever, my life had changed quite a bit. I got married and we bought a place. Some people who were in my life were no longer there. I was just a completely different man. Life was good. And I wanted to create a project that reflected that. “Life is so good that I can’t die anytime soon. Let me soak this in.” However, as I started the writing process, current events shifted my thinking. Yes, my personal life is good, but at the same time we are struggling and suffering as a society. We’re broken. A hateful portion of the country elected a clown. Cops are still killing us. Schools are being shut down. Religious fanatics are steering the wheel of politics. As someone whose art always reflects his own life and the ongoings surrounding him, I was compelled to touch on these things. So, it became more of a “There’s so much work to do…Heaven Can Wait…I have so much to accomplish on this planet…Heaven Can Wait…My life is good but there has to be a way for us to all live good lives together…Heaven Can Wait.”

DEHH: How did you and Lonegevity link up? Why did you choose to stick to one producer in crafting “Heaven Can Wait”?

PS: I met Lonegevity through one of my best friends, Maja 7th, back at Ball State. Over the years we became closer and closer and I always wanted to work with him. He’s a brilliant producer. I’ve told him that for years! I think he and I see music the same. I want to work with a producer who is rooted in soul, because soul is the most important element to me. But they also have to be daring and willing to push the envelope at times. He’s exactly that. He’s someone I will force to work with me for the rest of our lives haha. As for sticking with one producer, I just really like that approach. My whole college career I was in a group called KM2 and Maja 7th was the producer. Forever was a project I worked on with a producer named ThatKidMyself. I think I prefer it because we can be more connected and create something truly cohesive that way.

DEHH: You had a mixture of tracks, topics and vibes on this album, what was the process of making this like? What was your intention with this project?

PS: Like I touched on before, my music is guided by my life and OUR life as a people. And I don’t mean just black people. But humanity. We should all be connected. We’re in this mess because we’ve been disconnected for-fucking-ever! So like all of my projects, what I want people to get from Heaven Can Wait is what I want them to get from The Welfare, and The New Black, and our Grumpy Old Men albums and Forever. I want people to feel like they know me. You’ll get personal stories of triumph and failure. You’ll hear about my feelings on certain aspects our American culture. I want to cover all of these things but do it over dope beats and with dope bars! I mean, I don’t have all the answers, Sway! But I’ll always speak my mind and share my feelings.

DEHH: What do you want people who listen to “Heaven Can Wait” to walk away with?

PS: Man! I don’t know if there is a sole takeaway from the project other than the fact that this, like all of my albums, is a time capsule of sorts. It’s me sharing with you what I’m going through and you may be experiencing something similar. Aside from that, I guess I would like people to understand that I’m not a political emcee! I have always touched on society’s ills in previous projects, but only to a degree. Mostly, I just try to make dope, cohesive albums that reflect how I’m feeling at the time. I only say this because I don’t want people to box me in as the Political Rapper Guy and then be disappointed when I don’t run for mayor. But you can always trust and expect that I will speak my mind, share my life and do so with quality music. 

DEHH: Now I know I’m probably jumping the gun but what can we expect from you in 2018? Will we see you on the road?

Well, I am in the beat selection process right now, so we just might see a new project in 2018! As for the road, I will be playing a festival but I’m not allowed to say until they’ve announced the lineup. I would love to play a few festivals, though! As a Cincinnati native, I obviously hit up Scribble Jam a few times and those were some of my favorite memories. I remember going up to Brother Ali after his performance in like 2000-2001 and buying his Rites of Passage CASSETTE because he was out of CDs! So festivals have always been a dream of mine. But also, anything I can play in Minneapolis/St.Paul would be amazing because I’ve been a Rhymesayers fan for years and Minnesotans are the shit! Shout out to Anne and Ben! Haha. But I promise, as more shows book and more songs are made, you will be the first to know! Well, after my wife and Mike Schpitz and Lonegevity and Roy Kinsey…you’ll be the fifth to know! Haha.

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