Cale Sampson Interview Part 2

Chase: “How ya doing Cale?”

Cale Sampson: “I’m doing great, man. Thanks very much for having me on the show. I really appreciate it. DOPEfm is solid radio show that’s been around for a long time. I got much love for you guys. I’m really happy to be on the air with you guys to talk.”

Chase: “We just played your song ‘Potential” and I really like the lyrics in that one. It’s kind of ‘poor man rap’ relating it to Sweatshop Union there. In one part you say, ‘This is a call for help. Ya know, this is real life, I can’t do it all by myself.’ and then you start addressing the listener. So I’m wondering if that was about you needing listeners or like you needing support from like the whole business aspect?”

Cale Sampson: “Yeah, definitely. I think both. It’s the struggle, right? I remember when I wrote that first verse of ‘Potential,’ I remember the exact spot I was. It just came to me. I basically freestyled it. But it came right from my heart and I remember at that time, ya know, just loving it and feeling like I was at my peak, lyrically. But just being broke. I remember walking to the bank to take out my last twenty bucks and not even knowing what I was going to do next, really desperate. I just wanted to fulfill my dream. So that song starts off with desperation but it builds up into courage, and like I said, just sticking with it and over time finding your strength. And at the end of it, it’s basically the struggle leading to the glory. Nothing in life comes easy as we all know. I’ve been rhyming since I was nine years old and since I was a little kid, it’s always been a part of my life. I’ve gone through ups and downs. I think most emcees feel that struggle. It’s a beautiful struggle, but in the end, when you experience the glory, it’s all worth it, ya know.”

Chase: “Definitely. I want to talk a little bit about the writing process because you have a really nice lyric in that song, once again. It says, “Cale’s rhymes always control the instrumental, the beat rides me.” Now most people say it the other way around, that the beat tells them what to say and that they ride the beat. But you’re flipping it and saying, “the beat rides me.”

Cale Sampson: “I’ve always put a lot of focus on the lyrical side of things. I felt that that was one way to make myself stand out, was to try and find subject matter that other rappers never really touched upon, try to develop different styles that people had never explored before, just try to be original, know what I mean? Try to do something different, try to contribute something unique to hip-hop and to my style. I actually had written about 80 percent of my songs without a beat. A lot of the lyrics just seem to come to me. into my head when I’m walking or when I’m traveling. And a lot of time I don’t have a beat, but what I will have is a napkin or a piece of paper around. So, in a way, I just wait until I find that right beat and sometimes it takes a long time but I keep all these lyrics and all these songs. Basically, the lyrics come before the beat does in most cases in my situation, which is a little bit different than the way a lot of people work.”

Chase: “Yeah, I heard Shad writes the same way. You’ve actually collaborated with Shad, I think.”

Cale Sampson: “Yeah, we’ve done a couple of joints together. Also with the Rhythmicru did a track off of Supertoke 2 called ‘This is the Underground.’ We did some stuff with Shad when Shad was first getting into Toronto, we did a lot of shows with him. We went out to London and did some shows with him too. Great dude, amazing skills, I wish him all the best. It’s great to see him killing it and building his career too. I think it’s good for hip-hop in general to hear Shad’s voice out there.”

Chase: “Definitely. He’s really taking off. The Canadian scene seems to be growing right now and getting some international success. And it’s interesting to see that you have some producers on here. You’ve got Kemo producing something on here, from the Rascalz. You got Classified producing a track.”

Cale Sampson: “And we got D-ray as well. D-ray, my man from the crew.”

Chase: “So, it’s a Canadian production there through and through.”

Cale Sampson: “We got my man Merciless too. He’s also one of my producers as well, who is actually here right.”

Chase: “Nice! We’re at the venue right now. Cale’s gonna to be going on shortly so lots of people are here. Good to see, good to see. Speaking about the writing process, how you’re saying you actually write a lot of stuff wherever you are or you write it down on a napkin. And before you said that you kind of freestyled ‘Potential.’ Don’t you think some of the best writing does come spur of the moment like that?”

Cale Sampson; “When I write a song, I try to make every single song unique, something distinct, and also kind of diverse. I think if anybody listens to the album, they’ll feel a wide-range of not just subject matter but emotion too. Ya know, there’s happy songs, there’s angry songs, there’s positive songs, political songs, and I’ve got songs that may not appeal to a hip-hop head but then I got songs like 94 to 96 that only a hip-hop head could fully understand as well. So, I think as long as you write from a real, genuine, emotional state whatever it may be. When you’re feeling something for real and you’re able to get it out somehow, which is a lot of the time how I write, it hits. It hits hard and that’s the songs that most people feel.”

Chase: “It’s interesting because you do have that versatility there. You’ve got some political songs, you’ve got some jiggy songs that, quite frankly, I kind of want to skip, like you just said, some heads might not be feeling it. Do you not feel an obligation to maybe make an underground album and label yourself that way because I know at DOPEfm we play mostly underground like that’s kind of our mantra.”

Cale Sampson: “Well, I came from the underground, I’ve grown up in the underground, and I still am in the underground. I think that my album is an underground album, for sure. There might be a couple of tracks on there that are a little bit less underground. I did that, in a way, on purpose. Some of my songs, for instance ‘The Human Genome Project’ before that there’s a song called ‘Distractions’ and in a way they’re kind of polar opposites. But what I was thinking was that I’m not trying to make an album solely for underground hip-hop heads.

I want everybody to be able to listen to this. And you know sometimes those songs that may not be the underground hip-hop heads’ favourites serve a purpose because it gets someone who might not normally be listening to my music listening and then the next song that comes on after that will be the most underground hip-hop song, which I want them to hear. So that’s the purpose for some of those songs.

And at the end of the day, I’m an underground hip-hop artist. I do all my own stuff. I’m my own businessman. College radio has been very friendly to me. Ya know, it peaked at number 3 in Canada so I think that’s representative of where I’m at, ya know? I’m happy if a mainstream radio station will play my song or if Much Music picks it up because all it is, is bringing the underground to a wider audience.”

Chase: “That’s a nice philosophy to have. And that ‘Distractions’ song is actually kind of cool in the way that you are kind of making fun of pop culture and just the consumerism culture that we have and how there really isn’t privacy. And like you said how those two songs kind of work together because in ‘The Human Genome Project’ you have that same kind of theme. Whereas, if we’re manipulating genes and stuff like that, then where’s the privacy there because people can see where that goes. So they almost do kind of blend together.”

Cale Sampson; “Exactly, and that was my purpose. It was a very strategic move to stick that song in front of the other one to try to set up the common listener so they could hear that song. Because I think that that song is one of my best songs and definitely one of the most politically relevant tracks. But it’s also maybe not the easiest track to listen to if you’ve never heard me before. The first song sets up the other one and it was done on purpose.”

Chase: “Very nice. Alright. I think it’s time we drop another track and I really want to drop ‘Never had a…’ Is it ‘choice’ or ‘chance?’ I can’t read my own writing here.”

Cale Samspon: “Never Had a Choice”

Chase: “It’s Choice, okay. I was scribbling in the car, sorry man. It’s a little messy there.”

Cale Sampson: “It’s all good man.”

Chase: “Alright so this is ‘Never Had a Choice’ It’s off of Cale Sampson: The Album. Disc One. So hopefully you’re here tonight because with the cover charge you can get this disc, which is really nice. And it’s good Canadian underground hip-hop. So anyway, we’re gonna play this track and I want to touch on a few of the lyrics when we’re done. So this is ‘Never Had a Choice’ by Cale Sampson, Chase March on the interview tip, Daddy J’s manning the boards. Let’s spin that track and we’ll be back.”

Sorry I couldn’t find “Never Had a Choice” on YouTube. Make sure you download the podcast to hear it. In the meantime, I leave you with this video from his group Rhythmicru “We Have Come For Your Children” and hope you will come back here tomorrow for Part 3 of this interview. If you missed Part 1, please click here.