Being a promotion and marketing company, we get sent a lot of music on a daily basis. Music from artists based in different cities across the world, with varying styles and from all walks of life. What we’re always looking to hear is authenticity and originality. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got major label backing or you’re working in your bedroom and striving for perfection, those two qualities are delivered straight from the soul of an artist. In fact, if an artist channels this into their music, the terms ‘independent’ and ‘signed’ become meaningless, terms disposed only to the bloggers and journalists who necessitate their use to retain some kind of media hierarchy.
This is why we got excited when we first heard PyInfamous.
His latest album, Final Discussion, is one that will leave media pros and industry peers scratching their heads. The quality of the album defies all those tired preconceptions that the ‘best’ artists are those with record deals.
We first heard PyInfamous at the beginning of 2011, when he worked on the track ‘No Stress‘ with our good friends Musiq Man and Sophie Paul. At the time, we recognised his talent, but neither we, nor Pyinfamous, had any idea that he was on the verge of one of the biggest challenges and rides of his career. Check out the interview with PyInfamous below to find our more about this particular journey and an insight into the Py’s career to date.
WTBD: So we caught up with you and your music just prior to the whole Coors competition. Can you sum up what you were doing before the competition to promote yourself?
PY: Prior to the Coors Light competition, I was working on Final Discussion with Sam.i.Am and When Great Minds Think Alike (the record “Bliss” is on) with Colin Dunbar. I was doing quite a few shows in markets and using social media though not as aggressively as we did during the Search for the Coldest competition. I tend to put a lot more emphasis on the development of the music, which I think a lot of independent artists do. That process tends to lead to good music with fewer folks hearing it, but I always prefer to put out a good product regardless of how many people get to hear it.
PyInfamous wins Coors coldest MC search
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WTBD:…and what grabbed you about this particular competition? There are obviously lots of MC competitions around the globe, what spurred you to take on this one?
PY: Honestly, I entered as an afterthought. I didn’t think I had a chance of winning because I don’t necessarily consider my brand of music “popular” or “pop” in its sound. I think the fact that all I had to do was click a button on ‘Ourstage’ made the difference. I didn’t really start following the competition until I got the call that I won the South.
WTBD: Can you describe how you felt once you became involved in the whole process? Did it consume your thoughts to the point where you thought, ‘damn, I have to win this…’ or were you feeling laid back about it all?
PY: I definitely didn’t think I had to win. Like I said, I didn’t think I had a chance to win at the outset. However, once I won the South, I did feel a need to win the entire competition. And that wasn’t for me as much as it was for the South, for Mississippi and for good hip-hop music. I wanted to show fans and other artists that hip-hop music with content was relevant and buzzworthy.
WTBD:What went through your mind when you found out that you won?
PY: Man, I was ecstatic – but again, not just for me – for everyone who contributed to the victory. We won more than 40% of the vote, which was crazy. I was excited about another opportunity to perform with PacDiv and N.E.R.D. and to continue to represent the South.
WTBD: What has winning the competition done for your career? Do you have a different outlook now on the industry after that wider exposure?
PY: Well, a few more folks know about PyInfamous and have heard the music, which is always good. I don’t think it changed my outlook on the industry. The industry is what it is. I still don’t think the industry is very interested in promoting independent artists making music with content. You have a few who get through every now and again that remain true to their art like Jay Electronica and Lupe, but for the most part, the music industry is designed to make money not to give people great music.
PyInfamous – So Dope music video from Final Discussion
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WTBD: So, the whole Coors thing aside, can you describe a little about your journey as an artist up to that point. Have you been working jobs and music simultaneously? Give us a slice of the Py…(real sorry about that).
PY: lol It’s all good. After I graduated college in 2004, I worked a few part time jobs while I made music, and in 2006, I was asked to be one of the emcees on the truth campaign’s national tobacco prevention tours. I did that for two years and right after traveled to Boston, New York and some other major markets making music with some very talented emcees and producers (who you’ll probably never hear about) and trying to get a foot in the door. When the money started running low, I had to come back home and get a real gig, so I did that in 2008 and have been puling double duty since then. It’s tough to balance work and music, and a lot of times, work wins. I think that’s the reality for a lot of musicians and artists – not just in the hip-hop genre. The passion for creating music keeps me going as I’m sure it does for other folks.
WTBD: Now it’s easy to ask artists about their influences, and usually there are plenty, but we want to ask you in a different way. Can you nail down for us your favourite album of all time. An album you’ve listened to more than any other?
PY: Wow. That’s a tough one. Favorite album of all time… I’m going to have to go with Outkast’s ATLiens.
WTBD: And what is it about that album that’s got you playing it more than any other?
PY: Outkast represented the South in a way that few others have represented any region, and the combination of lyrical ability, content and soul was in every track of that album. A lot of folks talk about how dope Andre 3000 is now, but he was killing it back then on every track.
WTBD: Last album you played from start to finish?
PY: SHDSOFBLK by Lexx Black and Daily Bread by Hassan Mackey and Apollo Brown.
WTBD: Album you’re most looking forward to this year?
PY: I can’t wait for the new Scarface album to drop. I think it’s going to be really dope. A lot of folks sleep on Face, but he’s a really dope emcee.
WTBD: Do you ever find it hard getting into other people’s music when you concentrate so hard on your own, or does it help to provide motivation and inspiration?
PY: I am hypercritical about music, so I do find it hard to listen to hip-hop music that I think is average. However, when the music is good, it does motivate and inspire. That’s just hard to come by these days.
WTBD: Switching the focus back to the present, your album Final Discussion has been out now a short while. You must (and should) feel really proud of the project? Can you tell us a little about Sam.i.Am the Son?
PY: Sam.i.Am is my guy. First off, he’s just a good dude. He’s like a brother. Whenever I come to the ROC, it’s like I’m part of the family. Before we go into the lab, we sit down and chop it up with the fam. It’s been a blessing to watch him grow as a producer over the past five or so years. He’s really come into his own as a producer, and he’s got a few bars in him too. We are both proud of Final Dicussion. It’s the first project that we’ve worked on where we’ve been able to be in the same location. I flew up to Rochester for a few days and we spent almost every minute in the studio in his basement bringing the project to life. That’s why I think this is the crowning jewel of the Discussion series. It definitely has a more vibrant feel because our chemistry explodes on the record.
WTBD: When you finish a track or indeed a whole album, are you the type of artist who can really feel satisfied at the end of it, or do you find yourself thinking, ‘I could have done this better… I wish I could have done that…’. When do you decide, ‘Right, I’m happy with this how it is’?
PY: I was in the studio once with my homie Sxcrxt Jonxs, and he asked if I edit anything after I write. And I told him no. Once I’m done with a record, I either like it or hate it. There’s no in between. Once it’s played back, I know whether I like it or not, and if I like it, I’m happy with it. There’s no need to change it.
WTBD: When you first got into rap and Hip-Hop can you tell us what your favourite memories were? Can you remember the first Hip-Hop tracks you heard and do you have any other Hip-Hop related memories you look back on. Is there such thing as a ‘golden era’ for you?
PY: One of the first vivid memories for me was when I recorded Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacfunkymusic off of the radio. It was on the alternative radio station, and it was the first time I had heard anything like it. It was crazy to hear artists from the South making music like that. I do feel that the golden era of hip-hop was the 90’s because there was so much diversity. You had righteous/political music, gangsta rap, party music and everything in between. Hip-hop told the colorful story of America back then, and that’s something that I really miss. I think the middle is missing. Now we just have extremes.
WTBD: Regarding the whole creative process with producers. Do you find that you write to a beat, or that you wait for the perfect beat to suit and idea you already have? Or both?
PY: I let the beat guide what I say. I like for what I say to fit with the beat, so I don’t write a word until I hear a beat.
WTBD: So everyone and we mean EVERYONE, who we know has heard the album is saying just how good it is. It’s without doubt one of our favourite albums of the year so far. Where do you take it now, what is your aim for this album and what you want to come from it?
PY: Well, we definitely want to push this album because we’re really proud of it, and I appreciate the support y’all are providing. We’ll probably be working on another video for the project soon that my homie LH Maloney will do, and from there, we’ll just continue to push it. I know there are a lot of folks who still haven’t had an opportunity to hear Final Discussion yet, and we want to remedy that issue.
WTBD: How do you feel about the music video side? Do you like to get involved in that creative process and add a visual to your music or are you more of a stay-in-the-studio guy?
PY: My brother LH Maloney has done all of my music videos, and he has a great eye, so I let him do that. His creative vision always embodies what the I’m trying to convey. I usually just send him the record and let him go with it.
PyInfamous – One Take music video
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WTBD: So wrapping this all up, what are your immediate goals. What can you tell us you’ll be getting up and working on the day after people read this interview?
PY: I’ll be working on getting more folks to pick up a copy of Final Discussion (and going to my day job depending on the day of week that someone reads this!). I just want to continue to pain a truthful picture of what’s going on in the world and provide a space to help people craft solutions. That’s what I think good art can do.
WTBD: Finally, what’s your favourite closing bar/lyric of a song or album? Drop it on us now and we’re done.
PY: I’ll go with something from Final Discussion – My plan to advance is a simple one. Stay alive every day I write trying to lift us up… “So Dope”.