Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
It’s taken Queens’ OTiS CLaPP years to get here. “Here” is being labeled one of AHH’s 25 underground artists of 2011. “Here” is getting interviewed & performing songs for people. “Here” is living your dream.
In an age where most rap cats never really had to pay dues nor jump Hip Hop hurdles (thanks to the internet), O.CLaPP has been steadily grinding his music, making a name for himself in the process. To date, CLaPP’s released three solo albums – 2008’s “Losing Control,” 2010’s “Welcome ll Nowhere,” & 2011’s “Welcome Home, Ralphy” – all of which have kept him visible & critially acclaimed. O has also had his music played on HOT97 Boston & probably rocked in every NY underground MC spot you can think of.
Fresh off the AHH buzz, I caught up with OTiS CLaPP to chop it up about this, that, & the other thing.
RWDP: You are one of AllHipHop.com’s Top 25 Underground Artists of 2011. With so many rap cats lobbying to get noticed, how does that feel?
OTiS CLaPP: Honestly it was real dope. I remember my phone buzzing like crazy that morning. I was like “What the fuck?” & put my phone on silent. When I woke up I saw why it was going off. But at the end of the day I do what I do & appreciate all support, however I don’t do it FOR that reason. & my mentality is always “at the very bottom” which keeps me humble & keeps me working even harder. I’m finishing up my fourth full length project since Aug 2010…original beats,doing all my own recording, engineering & mixing. No management, no PR team, so everything I’m doing is basically all me. I’ve really been working diligently at getting my name out there.
RW: Do you think your race has helped with your popularity at all?
OC: No… I would have to attribute any popularity I have to my crazy work ethic, & my humility.
RW: How important do you think race & culture is in today’s rap music?
OC: I guess race is important, if you are paying attention to it. I don’t focus on the shit at all, & I hope when I rock a show & people come up to me & show me love, it’s based on talent and skill, not on color of skin. Maybe next show I’ll rock a costume so they cant see if I’m light or dark. Hip Hop itself is a culture, so if you can add something to it with your own style & culture, you are def winning.
RW: Now that the semantics are out of the way, what’s your first Hip Hop/rap memory?
OC: First Hip Hop memory may have been my mom finding my brother’s Onyx “bacdafucup” cassette & making him return it to “The Wiz.” Word, we were mad young. Or maybe playing basketball to the [Wu Tang] “36 Chambers” tape when it came out. I don’t know which came first but mom dukes was NOT getting her hands on that Wu tape.
RW: Top 3 Rappers ever are…
OC: Oh boy, this is where the hate mail will come in. Let’s just remember this is MY top 3 (laughs). I’m not gonna give the obvious B.I.G. Pac and Hov answers. I’m gonna have to say first is Nas, second is Black Thought, & third could be anyone from Andre 3000 to Em[inem] in his prime to Kanye to early Prodigy.
RW: Name a rapper, current or not, that you’d like to do a buddy movie with.
OC: (Laughs) I have no clue what a “Buddy Movie” is but it sounds super gay.
RW: Well, have you heard of Sissy Rich? He’s the first openly gay male rapper, & he has a mixtape streaming on Datpiff.com as we speak. What do you think that says about Hip Hop, or more specifically, rap music?
OC: I don’t think it says anything. No disrespect to Sissy Rich, I ain’t never heard of him, but anyone can get on datpiff.com. If you sign up & upload your joint, its on the site. I have a mixtape up there that was uploaded in 2007, I never promoted it & it still has close to 7000 listens. & I have two “label sampler” mixtapes up there featuring me from the music group i was signed to at the time from ’07 as well, they have over 6700 listens. Anyway to answer your question; if you make music, whether you are good or not, someone will listen. Bands, rappers whatever. How many times you go to a show & someone terrible is rocking? If you make music someone is bound to listen.
RW: So what makes you stand out? There seems to be a formula to success these days. It’s not like way back when, when one had to hunt down a record contract & label office. Now, everything & everyone is online, in line, so to speak. What makes OTiS CLaPP different than his contemporaries?
OC: What makes me stand out is the fact that I have my own style, my own sound. Love it, or hate it, it’s mine. Whoever hears me, can say “Oh that’s OTiS.” If they don’t know me, they’ll say “Who’s that?” not “He sounds like so and so.” My formula has always been the same; I’m a song writer. I write dope verses that people can feel, emotion in my voice, relatable subject matter, even if the listener has never been through what I’m talking about. There aren’t not too many “rappers” doing shit like that. & of course, my live shows are filled with energy, which makes people want to come out & see me. That’s what people are paying for, to be entertained.
RW: Speaking of which, you have a show coming up with some pretty big names. Can you talk about that a little?
OC: Sure, I’m rocking a Black history month festival at “Suny Old Westbury” College. It’s a three day festival with rappers, singers, comedians, artists, painters, bands, etc. Acts like Ryan Leslie, Red Cafe, Fred Da Godson, Paul Mooney, & a secret headliner that I don’t even know yet. It’s exciting. When its all said & done, they are anticipating 3-5 thousand people. It’ll definitely be the biggest show of my life, & I cant wait…
RW: Are you ready for December 21, 2012?
OC: Oh, Hell yeah! I’m good to go, can’t wait actually. I’ll probably be somewhere boning a bad chick with nothing but my chain & a pair of timbs on! (Laughs)
RW: Any last words for the listeners & readers?
OC: Hell yea, this is going be an interesting year people! Stay Off My Lawn! Stay Tuned.