Andre “Add-2” Daniels is not someone who wants to be viewed as your stereotypical rapper. He is a family man first. Also, he works to be a responsible human being. Those values are emulated through the music he constructs. Not one to take any responsibility lightly, I catch up with him to ask him a classic “21 Questions” to see where his head is at.
I bring you into the mind of Add-2!
1.) How does it feel to have so many fans amongst rap peers that you are either coming up with (ANTHM) or people you actually look up to (9th Wonder, Common, etc.)?
It’s humbling because, as emcees, we take a lot of pride in our craft. So to give someone else acknowledgement on theirs shows a lot of character. I have so much respect for other emcees who study the craft like ANTHM, Kendrick and, of course, the legends like Common, Nas and 9th Wonder. So to get the respect back is something I don’t take for granted.
2.) Between the release of Save.Our.Souls and More Missed Calls, can you tell me anything that has changed about your life, your career, and your mind set?
Between that time I was dealing with the loss of one of my closest uncles , was just stepping into this role of primary caretaker for my grandmother and one of my best friends was still in prison. During that time I felt like I was slowly going into a depression because I wasn’t where I wanted to be. It brought out this sense of urgency which is why you may hear more of an aggressive tone or I may go harder on a verse because this is my way of venting. I felt like I cried as much as I could so now I have to get THROUGH it. Not over it but get through it. That’s why I want to get the respect I feel I deserve.
3.) Since Chicago is gaining more steam due to the growth of certain movements and artists (from Chief Keef and 3-Hunna all the way to more abstract emcees like Change The Rapper), tell me your honest feelings on it all. Likes, dislikes, and lack of concern for it can be addressed. Just tell me: how do you feel about it all?
I love it. I love that Chicago is growing and showing how much of a gumbo pot of talent we truly are. A lot of people want me to speak out against Keef or would want me to be jealous of another person’s success, but I’m not at all. I want the younger artists to be successful because that’s creating more outlets for more people and showing kids that you can do anything. That’s important to me because I know what some of these kids could be doing. Instead of rapping or in the studio they could be on the block smoking weed all day, posted, robbing people or in jail. Would I want more artists to speak out on whats going on for real? YES. But I’m not going to wait for it to happen. I just got to do what I do best to make it better and speak on what I know.
4.) Since I’m also a transplant of the Midwest (Gary, Indiana), I wanted to know what is it about the Midwest that makes you take such views on life? Is it the harsh climate? Is it the hood life? Or is it the search for something more?
It’s a combination of all of those things. I think the Midwest is a very blue collar area. We work hard and we respect you if you do the same. We are very direct and simple people. We don’t like fake shit no matter what level it is. Chicago, in particular, has taught me to be appreciative for every day I have and everything my eyes see. I’ve lost people, both young and old, who I wish I could see again. I appreciate the good weather while I can…the sights and the moments because I know it’s not promised to be the same tomorrow.
5.) You ripped the set that you did for the Jamla stage at the A3C (I was in the front). Do you plan on coming back? And how was your experience at the A3C and in Atlanta (as a whole)?
Thank you. I hope to come back this year. I enjoyed myself so much. That was the first time I ran into my first screaming fan. I was outside and a girl came up to me and asked, “Are you Add-2?” I said, “Yes” and she lost it and was screaming like I wasn’t real. That was a moment I would never forget because I felt like “so this is what it must be like to be one of those r&b dudes.” Haha.
6.) Lending my ear to “Modern Day Coons”, do you think the plight of African Americans (and we all know it is still a plight) has improved or are many of us still “steppin’ and fetchin’ it?”
I think we are still playing into it. People don’t see how powerful we could be if we would wake up. Unfortunately, there is more profit in keeping people ignorant, drunk and high than there is being educated to the ways of the world. Sometimes I visualize how it would be if WE stopped feeding our brothers and sisters poison, if WE stopped shooting each other, if WE trusted each other, if WE transformed OUR neighborhoods to be beautiful places of thriving businesses, if WE educated our children. Can you imagine how beautiful that would be? I may not live to see that day, but I want us to get there. I want us to see we are kings and queens and not niggas.
7.) Why the name Add-2? What is the meaning? And how do people take to it?
The name comes from my initials ADD and I was the second child of three. My father always said whatever we have in life we have to “add to” it, so I used it as a mantra for progress. Never destroy; just help make it better. Some people have messed up the name, calling me “And 1” or would think I’m good at math, but, other than that, I usually don’t hear too much. It’s good though because when people hear the name and see me they immediately can put the face to it. So it fits.
8.) I notice that you tend to chat with people on Facebook (unlike a lot of rappers, artists, etc.). Is that what you do to stay grounded or you actually do it because it is “what you do?”
I like to feel like there’s a connection between me and my fans. They are the reason I am living my dream so if it means I have to take a few minutes to answer a question then I will or joke around in some way. I spend a lot of time after shows shaking hands and talking about whatever they want to talk about because I know it means a lot. I want them to feel like they aren’t just supporting another artist because they aren’t.
9.) What is your belief about God? Are you religious? Spiritual?
I believe in God. I’m not a fan of the church because I feel like there is an element of exploitation, corruption and showmanship that shouldn’t be present. I’ve learned the most important thing is to have my own personal relationship with God that’s completely independent of what happens on Sunday or holidays and to connect with him daily and not just when I’m in a time of need or want. I’ve learned to trust him even when it’s in dark days that seem to last and to trust his plan for me even if I don’t understand how it will come together, because it always will.
10.) Any big plans with your next project? Any “one producer projects” in the works?
Not yet. Ideas being tossed around but, until I start really creating it, it’s just ideas.
11.) What artists do you plan on working with in the future?
I have some people in mind but I want it to be a surprise when or if it happens.
12.) Is it me or have you noticed that the quality of major label CDs has been dry before the hype of June 18 came around? A lot of these major label cats dropped weed plates for retail (outside of A$AP Rocky and maybe a couple of other people).
The major labels are pretty much dead. They dropped the ball so many times and they have no clue what fans want. They aren’t able to force feed fans the way they use to or try to dictate what the fans should like. If they want to sustain they will work with artists as partners otherwise at the rate its going technology will leave them all bankrupt and it won’t be long.
13.) Do you think D.Rose is going to come back stronger than ever or apprehensive about his injuries?
Next season he will be back stronger than ever. I always knew he wasn’t coming back but I felt like he was under contract with Adidas to keep the whole Return campaign alive. Coming back in the playoffs isn’t the best place to start testing the waters nor would it be smart to mess up the team chemistry when you haven’t played all year.
14.) So, how much do you miss DJ Pink House?
Much respect to DJ Pink House. A pioneer in Chicago music from house to hip hop. I used to hear stories of him and Twilite Tone who were paving the way for Chicago hip hop. Unfortunately, I’m still catching up on my history because I was still a youngin when he was laying the foundation down.
15.) Which spot had the best chicken: Harold’s or JJ’s?
Harolds. The one off 87th and the Dan Ryan specifically is always on point for me.
16.) Seeing plenty of artists make it happen independently (from Tech N9ne to Macklemore), can you shed some light on the pros and cons of being an independent artist?
Of course the best part is your piece of the pie is much larger and you get more control of how things will go from art, the music itself, the visuals and you get to run the job as you see fit. Unfortunately, you have to do everything that you aren’t outsourcing someone else to do and it’s hard wearing all those hats from artist to manager to booking agent to publicist to assistant to street team. It can be draining, but if this is what you want to do you have to accept whichever position you choose for all its good and all its bad.
17.) Do you think that, due to the success of artists like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, that being focused on “making good music” is starting to come back?
Yeah it is. They, along with blogs and fans who celebrate these types of artists, are bringing it back. I think when we look back at this time it’s going to be one of the best times in music.
18.) Financially, have you been able to make things happen off of rapping? Or are you still dependent upon a main job to provide for yourself?
All I do is music. I get enough from features and performances to cover my bills so with that said DEFINITELY keep hitting me up for shows and features! Haha!
19.) Are there any words of wisdom that you want to impart on those that want to become emcees in the game?
Make sure your heart is in the right place. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be rich or famous or wanting the finer things, but don’t let any of those things overshadow your love for the music. You should be an artist before anything else and should be willing to be that even if the other perks leave.
20.) In 5-10 years, where do you plan on being? With music? With life?
All I want is to be respected. That’s all. I don’t care if I have a Grammy or if I’m still making mixtapes. I just want my fans and other people to respect me for what I do.
21.) When are you coming back to the ATL to rip up a few more stages?
Whenever they bring me out I will be RIGHT back to ATL. I need to go back to Waffle House to see my homey, Sunshine, and get some good food.