As the landscape of hip-hop continues to morph and redefine itself for a new generation (or devolve and deprive it's listeners of substance; dependent entirely upon who you ask), there is a wave of hungry lyricists determine to eke out a lane of their own.
Neatly nestled away in the heart of the midwest has always been Detroit and it's unique take on backpack and everyman bravado.
While the legends are well documented, it's the students of those forefathers who will ultimately continue the legacy of the genre we've come to know and love.
With the release of Park Orange (produced by Mr. Pocket Jam himself, Ilajide of Clear Soul Forces) rapper Semi Six contributes to the storied pantheon of underground hip-hop that adapts and channels the spirit of the Motor City.
When asked about the intent of his latest effort, Semi stated that:
"I wanted to showcase my lyrical abilities, and display the techniques and skills of an emcee. I want young aspiring rappers to listen to my project, and learn the fundamentals of rap. I showed the range of a lyricist on this project."
With such a strong outing available for consumption, I spoke with Semi about it's inception, his time abroad, and involvement with other spitters representing the 313.
Prox: We have to take it back to the beginning. What was your relationship with music growing up? How did Detroit play a role in your artistic development?
Semi: My relationship with music growing up was special. Growing up in the D, I was exposed to various genres by friends and family. From the church choir, John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things to 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me, I was influenced in some way by the instruments and the messages. The first CD I ever had was The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. My mom bought it, and it was the first Hip-Hop/R&B album that we had at home. But, when I heard The Neptune’s production for the first time, I knew that I would make music one day.
Prox: How did you end up spending time in Kuala Lumpur? Did the scenery and culture over there influence your personal philosophy as an artist and human being?
Semi: I went to Kuala Lumpur originally to study art and design. I had dreams of designing sneakers for Nike and making my own streetwear brand. Kuala Lumpur is a very diverse place, and there are many cultures that I was blessed to learn about. Those traditions and cultures, widened my perspective of people, lifestyles, and international pop culture.
Prox: Could you talk to us about the new project? What does Park Orange symbolize to you musically? Why did you settle on that particular title?
Semi: Park Orange symbolizes Hip-Hop culture. I made this album for people to dance to, scratch over, bomb the streets to and spit my lyrics.
I wanted to showcase my lyrical abilities, and display the techniques and skills of an emcee. I want young aspiring rappers to listen to my project, and learn the fundamentals of rap. I showed the range of a lyricist on this project. I’m just passing on the info to the youth. Park Orange is where I grew up. Asbury Park and Orangelawn.
Semi: Nolan and I went to the same High School. I met Clear Soul Forces at their Fab Five album release party at Hello Records in Detroit. We work well together because we understand Hip-Hop and how lyricism works.
We’re students of the game, and we respect the art form. I think a lot of new artists out today, are making music to be viral, rather than create something classic. Our goals are making something that we can appreciate generations later, rather than something short lived.
Prox: Ilajide’s production on this project is extremely dope. Can you tell us about the creative process you two underwent to create the vibe for this release?
Semi: Ilajide’s production is very dope. He has a Funk/Hip-Hop element on his music. That’s Mr. Pocket Jam! All his beats will make you want to dance, or at least make you nod the hell out of your head! He just plays what’s on the Maschine, and if we catch a vibe off a particular beat, we rock with it.
Prox: What is the message you’re trying to convey with your music? Is there anything in particular you’d like fans to take away from your work?
Semi: My message is, to just be your authentic self. I’m sharing my interests, dreams, goals and stories through my music. I want listeners to take the ambition I put in Park Orange and use it to make their dream a reality.
Prox: What are some tips you’d give to aspiring artists? How can they begin to make a living from their work?
Semi: My tips to aspiring artists are to be original and study the genre of music you’re making. When you listen to the pioneers, you can pick up on techniques, and how songs are made. Also, rehearse your music as much as possible, your voice is a muscle! Consider rehearsal an exercise! Making a living off of music and making it a brand and profitable business takes hard work! I would suggest: plan a budget for your releases, learn about digital distribution, network with people on the music scene in your city, build a social media presence to build an organic fan base. Grow that fan base and engage them with your content in a non spamming way. Hire someone to market your music professionally!
Prox: Any new artists, books, music, or movies/shows you’d like to recommend?
Prox: Lastly, what are your top 5 sneaker silhouettes/colorways?
1. OG Air Jordan 4 ‘89 (Black Cement, “Bred")
2. OG Air Jordan 3 ‘88 (True Blue) ‘88
3. OG Air Jordan 5 ’90 (Black Metallic)’90
4. Retro Air Jordan 6 (Carmine)
5. Nike SB Dunk (Mid/Low, all colorways)
• Semi Six: https://twitter.com/semisix
• Ilajide: https://twitter.com/ilajide
Follow Semi Six Online:
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/semisix
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/semisixer
• SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/semi_six
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