REAL HIP-HOP :: The Legend Interview

Legend; Barrel~dEM
As a recent transplant to Atlanta, I've been really eager to hear some local music. One night, I was out with my room mate and literally got finished saying that I couldn't wait to get my first Atlanta mixtape, when we were approached by someone on the street."Do you like hip hop? Don't worry, I'm not trying to sell you anything ... I just want to give you my mixtape." - he said. We took them and went our way. It was a CD in a cardboard sleeve ... very professionally done. I couldn't wait to hear it.

The first time I played Legend - Somewhere, I was floored by how good it was. I went to the website to find out more. I sent in a request to do an interview and received an email from Legend's manager - TeCori, the man that had actually gave me the CD. They agreed to do the interview and decided to meet up somewhere to do it. I picked a coffee shop thinking it would be quiet enough. Unfortunately, I was wrong, so what was supposed to be a video interview, turn into the transcript below:

Today, we are here at a coffee shop in Inman Park / East Atlanta talking to Legend. How's it going?

How's it going?

So we are here today because a few weeks back I was given your "mixtape" on the street, and it's been in my car repeatedly on playback. So I wanted to share that with our readers and get a short interview with you. Thanks for taking the time to come out tonight.

No problem.

Now, you're originally from St. Louis, aren't you?


What brought you to Atlanta?

A change in life.

I feel you. I just recently moved here myself and I can tell that there's some real good hip-hop going on in Atlanta. It's a great place to get a career going. So you created the mixtape here, yes?

Yeah, I produced it here in my home studio in my apartment.

What part of Atlanta do you live?


Let's talk about the mixtape - "Somewhere", for a little bit. To me the quality and production on the whole thing was excellent, and I noticed that you had different producers for each track. How was that to work with different producers?

I got beats off sites like Soundclick and Youtube. There's only one song on there that's from a face to face interaction with a producer. But, shout out to all the producers on there. I appreciate it.

I got you. The flow is excellent as well. It starts off and then peaks at track 6 - "Somebody or Nobody", my favorite on the thing ... and it steadily comes down from there. On track 1, you are talking to someone on the phone and getting their advice about getting in this game. Their comments were to put your DNA on this, to put your mark on this - to make it your own thing. Can you tell us who this was?

An older dude I know named Marvin, who's like an uncle/mentor to me. He taught me a lot about hip-hop and its essence. We have a lot of conversations about music and just life in general. He's a funny guy and jokes a lot, but still intelligent at the same time, as you can tell from the intro.

I love the fact that he says - when you take something from hip-hop, you have to give it back ...

Of course.

I definitely believe that. Let's talk about some of the other tracks. I notice there are a lot of tracks that seem personal to you ... relationships, your family, your mother and trying to be successful for your kids. I definitely respect that. What's next for you ... are you going to get out there and do shows?

Yes, to do shows and keep putting music out there, the same way you got it. Really just touching the people.

Social media is a great way to do it too.

Yeah, definitely.

Getting out and doing shows if a valid way to do it. Now, the video for "Somebody or Nobody" - I love that you use the sample from American Gangster. Was that what inspired you to make the song?

Yeah, I think I was watching the movie one day and later on found that beat on YouTube. Things just kind of flowed from there.

There's a line in there, I can't remember the exact words ... but something like "from one cent, like Mr. Lincoln, I'm never changing." That one stuck with me. Is that your seminal track off this in terms of promotion?

I feel like it's the most attention grabbing out of all of the songs. It's like the peak of the tape, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's my favorite.

Well, what is your favorite track?

Probably "Play This For My Mama", if I had to pick one.

So, let me ask about that one. From what I gathered on the track, you weren't raised by your mother.


And she's not in your life?

Not really.

Well, that's a nice dedication to her. Some of the other tracks talk about police brutality ... and that's topical because there's been a turning point of late in the eyes of white people and a lot are waking up. It speaks to me that you say in that track, I'm just trying to live my life - don't shoot me. Did you have a personal experience that inspired that?

Well, most of the people that grew up in the inner city and impoverished areas have experiences with police, and learn how to deal with cops. When I was making that song it just came real natural and I pretty much did it in one take.

Now, you're from St. Louis of course and Ferguson was right there.

I'm originally from Ferguson.

Oh, you are from Ferguson?

Yeah, yeah ... my family is still there.

Were you living there when the marches happened?

No, I was here already.

Well, that was definitely a turning point, with the Black Lives Matter group and other good things coming out of there today. Can you tell about the production?

I mixed and recorded everything myself. The beats were pretty much already mixed when I bought them, I just mixed all of the vocals and got them to mesh well together. It's all software based.

Well, you definitely fooled me, because it sounds studio quality. How have you utilized social media?

I haven't really utilized social media, in terms of myself speaking out. I let the music speak for itself. I like for people to hear it and know me for the music. Just use that to connect to people. But, I do understand the importance of social media and plan on utilizing it more.

I think that's a true sign of a great artist. Well, music is art and passion, and it's great when it can speak for you. Do you have any artists that have influenced you?

Kanye is a big influence. I really like Starlito ... Future. A lot of R & B, new and old.

I noticed you don't use the vocal effects all over. You use them, but sparingly.

Yeah, I had an engineer who told me to leave my vocals as natural as possible, to give the listener more of a raw feel and experience. But I'm not against vocal manipulation. Sometimes, it can bring a different feel to a song that's necessary.

Now, I'm showing my age here … I don't know how old you are, but in terms of production, it reminds me of the album "The Main Ingredient" by Pete Rock and CL Smooth. Are you familiar with those guys?

No, but I know the name. I'm only 23.

Yeah, this was early 90's. Anything else, you would like to say?

I'm really appreciative and thankful for you listening to the music and taking the time out to interview me. I just want everybody out there to check out the music and let me know what they think through social media and when they see me.

Thanks for the interview.

Definitely, thank you!

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