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Interview: A-Bomb Talks New Release, Crossing Genres, & Staying Independent

Atlanta MC A-Bomb knows what it means to be an independent artist. Having grown up moving around cities that coincidentally proved to be major forces in hip hop, he’s happy to call Atlanta home. After all, it’s there that he learned to support other musicians, book shows, and where his ‘boom rap’ trio Mighty High Coup got their start.  (Read about Mighty High Coup’s recent visit to our Brooklyn office here.)

When their song “808” was remixed by an influential dubstep producer, A-Bomb and Mighty High Coup enjoyed unexpected success on the iTunes Dance charts, as well as access to a whole new fan base. A-Bomb is releasing the remixed follow-up to his first solo effort, The Movie, on Feburary 24th. We got the chance to learn more about his solo work, his on-going career with Mighty High Coup and more below:

From the northeast, over to the west coast and down to Atlanta – you’ve been around! How did the various environments you grew up in affect your desire to make music?

A-Bomb: Man, I think it just gives me such a unique perspective. I grew up in the Northeast back when NYC was the only respected city making hip hop music. When I moved out west, Death Row popped up. It was a bit of a ‘Declaration of Independence’ thing happening out there at the time. People rising up and proving their worth in a scene dominated by a completely different demographic. The same movement took place when I moved to ATL being led by Outkast and the Dungeon Family. I think it affected me in many ways – mostly being my view that anything can happen. Underdogs can win. And that the musical ‘norm’ is ever-changing; it only takes one innovator to shift the whole balance of power.

How crucial was being involved in Atlanta’s hip hop scene in terms of building a name for yourself both in music and in business?

Being in the Atlanta hip hop scene has been huge in the success of my career. I honestly don’t feel like I could’ve gotten to the place where I am in any other city. NYC, LA, Chicago, Detroit, Miami…all of these places are victims of ‘crabs in a barrel’ syndrome. If you’ve ever seen crabs stacked in a tall barrel, they all try frantically to get out. Once one gets close to the top, instead of helping him get the freedom they all want, every other crab switches their focus from getting out of the barrel to making sure that front runner doesn’t get out. The same goes for most cities’ approach towards independent music. I’m so fortunate that Atlanta is completely the opposite. The support system here is strong. We take pride in our neighborhoods and want the best for anyone from them. We all go to each others shows, the deejays play each others music, and we work together whenever possible. Atlanta has been called “The city too busy to hate.”

Tell us about how you got together with Mighty High Coup.

Another testament to Atlanta’s “open-mindedness”. Myself, Ricky Raw, and Mr. SOS were all members of our own groups that had enjoyed some success in the city. We were in different ‘types’ of groups, but we often crossed paths in the scene; battling each other in contests, booking each other for shows, opening for each others groups at parties, etc.

I say on “Opening Theme”, the intro to my album The Movie:

We were always dope but different, nothing you could do about it /
Then we smoked a couple blunts and started up a crew about it.

Mighty High Coup was my group-mate Ricky Raw’s mastermind idea. He reached out to MR. SOS and I and pitched the idea, to both of our dismay. After some smoking, and thinking, and prodding, we conceded. Ricky produced and ‘conducted’ our first album, (To The Moon), with the sole purpose of making the kind of music that he wanted to hear. And he still says to this day that me and Mr. SOS are his two favorite rappers.

Your song, “The 808 Track”, received the remix-treatment from dubstep legend Bassnectar. How did that impact Mighty High Coup’s fan base?

The Bassnectar 808 remix was huge for us. Career changing. We were an underground hip hop group that rapped on underground hip hop beats. And, it happened fast! We’d recorded some songs, but “The 808 Track” was the very first single Mighty High Coup put out as a group. When Bassnectar did that remix we were immediately exposed to an entire new group of fans and we loved it.

What kind of doors did unintentionally crossing genres like that open for you?

It opened tons of doors for us. Bassnectar putting us in that forum allowed for us to also work with a lot of other EDM legends such as Caspa, Bro Safari, Datsik, Mayhem, Oiki, Treasure Fingers and too many more to name. Still to this day, most of the biggest and most enjoyable shows I’ve done have been ‘raves’. We were always a bit of a party-rap group and most that know me will tell you that, in the words of Cal Naughton Jr. (from Talladega Nights), “I like to party” – so the scenes meshed perfectly. When dubstep began to fade and trap music took off, and we were already in that arena – it was kismet. This was the type of music we’d been making for years! All was right with the world.

You released The Movie (via TuneCore) in August of 2014. Where were you coming from lyrically on that album?

I really wanted The Movie to be like a slice of my life. As such, the I kept the lyrics pretty natural to my existence: weed , women, money, booze; booze, money, women, weed; partying and club life, working hard, and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

Tell us a little bit about the upcoming release of The Movie (Remixed), set to drop 2/24. What can fans look forward to from a production standpoint?

It’s a complete re-working of The Movie, which was my first solo album since Mighty High Coup embarked in 2010. The initial release of The Movie made a lot of noise; I was blessed to be able to reach out to a lot of my favorite producers and work closely with them to take the remix record to a whole new place. The production is pretty next-level. Smooth-edged future bass, hard and loud trap tunes and a feature from Fish Scales of Nappy Roots!

Spring will welcome the launch of your new independent label, moredope – congrats! What does being independent mean to you?

moredope is a three-way venture between myself, my producer Wes Green, and my management team Zuko Inc. I couldn’t be more excited about going at it independent with a team that has always believed in my work. I truly feel that as a unit we have the innovative brainpower, artistic ability and knowledge of the game to do more for ourselves than any major label could right now. All of us have chosen to focus our efforts on careers in music, which meant living our lives trial and error. Now we live the research together: we read articles, watch interviews, and explore every avenue that pops up. That is what being independent means to us – rising up with a team that fiercely stands behind what we create, and making our own rules as we go.

From Mighty High Coup, to your solo career, to your new label, what kind of role has TuneCore played in the musical journey of A-Bomb?

TuneCore has been hugely important to us. Just knowing that you can put your music on iTunes by yourself was huge. In this digital age that is by far the biggest link between artist and consumer. We’ve recommended TuneCore to several friends and they’ve all been happy with the results, as well. Because of TuneCore we’ve been lucky enough to be named ‘New and Noteworthy’ in the iTunes Store and we’ve had songs on Amazon compilations. It’s the single best relationship we’ve developed since we’ve been in the game, and moving forward we know that TuneCore will be integral in building our new label from the ground up.

What advice can you offer aspiring independent MCs and producers in today’s music industry?

Be yourself, and hone your craft. Practice makes perfect; and knowledge is key. Also patience, and planning, and some other Confucius-style sage advice.

Besides the new remix project and your new label, what else does 2015 hold for you?

Mighty High Coup will be releasing a powerful new project this year. We have a big big big surprise from our pop artist, Nedric Nedo. Also, super-producer Wes Green has a Dr. Dre The Chronic-style project in the works. Overall, you can expect Moredope!!