There has always been a debate on whether artists/producers should stay local or move out of their state to get success. The next few articles will check different points of view on this topic and their reason. First up, DC rapper and producer, Judah.
CG: Why did you decide to stay in DC to do music?
JUDAH: I decided to stay in DC for various reasons. Definitely, one being my family. My family is here; my mother, sister, nieces and everyone like that. I traveled a lot; I’ve lived in both LA and even New York. However, my creative energy and whole creative process started here in DC and remains in DC. I got to stay here. Plus, it’s hard to know what’s going on in your region or your area, when you’re not there. To help out all the artists in my area, I had to be here with them. I need to know who’s hot, who’s got it going on and I just need to stay in the mix. I love it in DC.I left to go to school and play football and went other places, but I always came back to DC. As far as musically, creativity and business… you just can’t beat it.
CG: Speaking of DC, you specialize in “gogo”.Do you feel since you are à gogo” producer, it’s beneficial for you to stay in DC?
JUDAH: No, not really. I wouldn’t even consider myself à gogo” producer. I took a lot of elements from gogo.I took the aggression and some of the patterns from it. Like they say,” When in Rome, do what the Romans do”. understand what is going on, you have to be in that area. I take elements from it;I don’t saturate my music with it. At the end of the day, the nation is still not familiar with gogo and have turned a blind eye to it.Honestly, if I was here or there, my music would still have that element in it.
CG: Name some local artists that you have worked with.
JUDAH: I’ve worked with Tabi Booney, Phil Ade, Wale, Marky XO, Diamond District and I broke out a lot of new artists that are buzzing.
CG: Do you think staying locally has helped you to work with these artists?
JUDAH: It helped, but those guys are younger than me. I’m 33. I was doing it for at least seven years before they started buzzing. When they came out, they knew about me. They came to me out of respect. I was buzzing before they were on your radar.
CG: Ok, I can see how a buzz can help you locally. Now,let’s flip it. With your buzz, who are some artists that you have worked with outside of your state?
JUDAH: I’ve worked with Ras Kass, Mick Boogie, Stalley, Currency, C-Rayz Walz, Yukmouth, GLC and I’ve scored video games (Saints Row 2).
CG: Do you see yourself more as a producer or rapper?
JUDAH: I’m just really a producer. I write a lot of songs. If I write and like a song and an artist doesn’t like it, I’ll use it for myself. At the end of the day,I don’t want to be a rapper. I really just want to be a producer. If the rap is hot and nobody wants it, I’ll put it out myself. I did that with my track”Sundressesand Sandals”.
CG: Do you think it’s easier for producers to get noticed locally?
JUDAH: Honestly, I think you need to lock down your area first. You need to produce for the artists in your region. You learn many different things in training and get experience before you go nationwide. You won’t be green. If you lock down your area, you can win in other areas. It can’t hurt you. I’m still training myself.
CG: I know it’s everywhere, but do you feel DC suffers from the “crab in a bucket” mentality?
JUDAH: Like you said,it’s everywhere. We don’t have too many people who came out from here to be successful. We only had three people to come out of here that you can say made it. There is Wale, Raheem DeVaughn and Tabi Bonney. And actually, Tabi Bonney hasn’t really had a deal, but he has had national exposure. We are looking at only three people who have broke ground on a nationwide level. Everybody wants to be first and “make it”. If we had more people making it, you wouldn’t see that mentality so much. Since it’s so seldom though, people are going to do whatever they have to do.
CG: How do you counter attack that?
JUDAH: Personally, I understand that it happens everywhere. You have to spread the love around.It’s all about opportunities. I’m about giving opportunities. I started a website called http://www.forthedmvonly.com for DMV artists only. It’s for music and videos. It’s not biased. There are a lot of websites that won’t post any of our artists. They only post people in their circles. You can’t have the same people doing the same things. You can’t have the same people doing the same shows and not giving other people a chance. When you have and give more opportunities, then you tend to feel less hated and show more love.
CG: In closing, what advice do you have for artists that want to stay local to make it big?
JUDAH: Lock it down. Be strategic about your moves. When you make it,make sure your city is proud of you. Be 100% honest with what you do. People are watching you. So, be careful when you say you’re putting your city on your back. If they don’t feel like you’re doing that, then they are going to call you out.
CG: Any last words or shout outs?
JUDAH: I appreciate you. I have a new instrumental album coming out. My Amber Rose instrumental album did better well. This new one will come out in February and will come out on universal indie. It’s called “Please Understand She Saved You”.It’s going to be a dope concept and has a lot of hidden messages. You can also check me out on at http://www.judah.bandcamp.com