An Hour with Hip-Hop Artist, Witness

Chase: “All right everybody, this is Chase March, Daddy J is on the boards, and on the telephone lines we have Witness. For all the listeners out there, remember you can download this interview for free. You can read it on the blog or stream it there as well. Enjoy!

So, Witness, it’s nice to finally have you on the program. I first heard your Everafter LP last year and I was really blown away by it.”

Witness: “Thank you.”
Chase: “It’s a really nice album. I blogged about it and you ended up in my Top 10 Albums of 2010. You actually found that post and that is how we started talking, so that’s kind of cool.”
Witness: “It was flattering, man. That was a hell of a compliment. I really appreciate it. Thank you.”
Chase: “The one thing that is interesting about that album is that it is fairly short. It’s about 26 minutes long, I think. Ten tracks. But in the day and age where so many people are putting out huge albums with 21 tracks and long mix tapes with tons of guest appearances, there is something about a short album, such as yours, where it is just perfect. I didn’t even realize it until I wanted to write about it, so I decided to see what other people had said about it. They said, “Well, it’s short.”
And I’m like, “Who cares?” It’s slamming from beginning to end and in that way it kind of reminds me, I know that this is probably a crazy comparison, but it reminds me of Nas’ Illmatic that way.”
Witness: “Wow, thank you. That’s a huge compliment. Thank you.”
Chase: “It’s nice and short and to the point and beautiful. You know what I mean?”
Witness: “Yeah, there’s definitely a reason behind it. Growing up I dug all kinds of different music and I always respected the punk, kind of, hit-it-and-quit-it approach. There are very few emcees and very few producers that can carry themselves on a track for 5 or 6 minutes.
There is a standard of three verses and a chorus, and while it definitely has its place, I feel like there is no point in extending a song for an additional length of time if I feel that I’ve got the concept as much as I can possibly say about it, ya know? There’s no real reason to stretch it to four or five minutes when you can get the same point.
It is something that I want to do. I don’t think I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve found the correct backdrop for my own sound where I would want to do it now. It’s something that I definitely want to aim at. Shorten songs and having them with a shorter verse, I think, makes the whole flow of the album a little easier.”
Chase: “Yeah. I didn’t put my finger on that’s why I liked it so much. I downloaded it one day, kind of on a whim. Quite often, being in hip-hop radio, I go digging to see what I can find. I know some people think this is weird, but sometimes I will download something based solely on the cover art and the name. And that is why I downloaded yours.
This looks like it might be good. This looks like it might be a female MC. I was doing a whole show on Women in Hip-Hop. I put the CD in and I get this jazzy, laid-back kind of flow, and I was like, ‘Wow, I really like this.’ My girlfriend did too and that became one of the most bumped albums of last summer for us.”
Witness: “That’s real cool.”

Chase: “We definitely gotta play a track right now so people can hear what we are talking about. I have some favourites on here but I was wondering if you had a particular favourite that you like us to spin?”
Witness: “My favourite one off of that album, I’d definitely start off with ‘Watercolours.’ That has a sort of tone to it that fits the album and makes the other tracks pop some more.”
Chase: “Okay, we will spin that. Daddy J will drop that track. This is called ‘Watercolours’ off the ‘Everafter LP’ by Witness. Chase March is on the interview tip. Witness is on the phones. And we’ll be right back y’all.”
Chase: “That was ‘Watercolours’ off the ‘Everafter LP’ and we are lucky enough to have Witness on the phone right now. How’s it going?”
Witness: “It’s going great. I’m out in sunny L.A. right now.”
Chase: “Yeah? What are you doing out there?”
Witness: “It’s kind of crazy. Back in February, I put up a video on YouTube. I was kind of jumping into the whole fast rapping thing that was going down online. Then about two months later, I got an email and someone just asked if I was interested in hearing some details about a promotional campaign. And the next thing I know, they’re asking me to fly out to L.A. And do two commercials for T-mobile.
So I am here in L.A. for some event for it. There is a big party with some celebrities and I think The Strokes are playing. It’s all surreal, man. I`m a pretty normal dude, so this feels out of my league in a lot of ways. I think it’s a life experience that very few people would turn down for the sake of how ridiculous it is.”
Chase: “It definitely sounds interesting. I know that a lot of people might say, ‘Oh, you’re selling out. You’re doing commercials.’ But, ya know, back in the old days commercials were done with professional voice-overs and actors dedicated to that, but now every commercial you hear on the air, the voice-over is done by Morgan Freeman or Donald Sutherland.”
Witness: “Yeah, and hip-hop is no stranger to it. Nate Dogg was doing St. Ides and all that. It happens. And it’s selling out if it becomes the thing that changes your art. If all of a sudden you are making different records, or you’re doing something else. But I think there are very few Mcs, where if someone came up to them on the street and said, ‘We’ll pay you this money if you’ll rap for twenty seconds on any topic I give you,’ I think very few MCs, especially since it’s hard to get the money you need to record or put an album out, would say no.
But for me, it’s more of like, if I get exposure from it cool, if I don’t get exposure from it, it doesn’t really matter. It just helps fund something I do care about. And worse comes to worse, if it does introduce people to my music through a means I wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable with, it will at least expose people to a sound that they would otherwise might never have heard.
If they say, ‘I’m not really feeling this Witness dude but they end of finding some Rhymesayers stuff or picking up an LP record and getting lost in this whole genre, then something was done. Something was done well.”
Chase: “All right, so let’s play one of your commercials now for the blog audience. We’ll come back and continue this interview here on Silent Cacophony tomorrow. You can continue listening to the podcast of this show with the player below, or you can download the entire hour for free right now to listen to at your leisure. Thanks for tuning in ya’ll. See you soon.”

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