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Skam2? on Work as a Graphic Artist, MC & Everything in Between (interview/video)

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Skam2? is a graphic artist/MC based out of Miami. He has done cover art for the likes of Ill Bill, Sa-Roc, Eminem and Tribe Called Quest to name a few with an even more extensive resume in the lab including Ill Bill, Raekwon, Eminem and Talib Kweli. It speaks volumes of his skill set as a multifaceted artist in the scene when artists mess with not only his visual art but work collaboratively in the studio.

Later this coming March Skam2? will be droppin highly anticipated ‘The Skronik: Flying Monkey Murder Cirkus’ on the masses. If you’re not yet familiar with his gritty versatile flow be sure to get some homework in with ‘The Skronik: How To Boil Vomit‘ available free for streaming off  audiomack.

What inspired you to start doing your graphic art professionally?

Single mom, there wasn’t a lot of money to go around, so I started airbrushing shirts in school or designing little personal things for people and then it became a thing. When I was a kid my mom was on me about getting a job so that was gonna be my hustle. As far as getting into the rap game I felt like there was a gap that needed to be filled. It was either that or draw comics.

 

Is there any cover that you’re particularly proud of?

Them all. I try to make (them) as good as I can given the time constraints. I’ll literally spend days fixing things that nobody sees. Different things for different reasons. I liked the Dizzy Wright one because I hadn’t done anything like that. (We) came up with the idea on the spot and it came together. I hadn’t done anything monochromatic before.

dizzy wright

They all come with different challenges and I learned on the spot. When I did the Tribe album I wasn’t any good doing airbrush on a hard board, everything was on fabric and I’d never gotten to get technical. I was literally in the art store asking the guy, “How do you do this? How do you…” and then when I was done I took it back to Pearl and he almost popped out of his chair because I think he thought I was doing street paintings or something. Honestly if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t send it out.

The Tribe Skam

They say, “An artists work is never done.” Do you feel that way?

Yeah, a piece is never done. You just decide to stop working.

 

Do you have to be concision of overworking pieces?

I’ve gotten a little better with the “this works” because what is good enough for me is usually way past what’s good enough for the artist or the client. Once it goes out, unless there is something that always really bothered me, it’s done. I’m not fuckin with it anymore.

 

Are there any artists you’d like to do cover art for?

Oh yeah! I’d like to do a cover for Linkin Park. At one point I really wanted to do something for Outkast. Probably somebody that would just fuck people’s heads up. I’d love to do something for Iron Maiden. I’m a Maiden head.

 

Where do you feel like you pull your inspiration from?

I think everything that anybody takes in permeates on some level. I think for me music wise I’m about vibe, the feel of something and probably thinking more so about what I want to do with things, not always how I want (them) to sound.

 

You had the opportunity to perform that single “Definition” with M1 during Dilla Day Weekend?

Yeah. It was the last day so it was a little light but everyone that was there wanted to be there. We performed it for the first time. It was fun because I’ve known Dead Prez since before they got their deal. We were supposed to get Stic on there but it didn’t work out time wise but there will definitely be something with both of them.

What separated that track as a single for you?

People liked it. There are certain things that you as an artist feel and then… it was one of those tracks that wasn’t even going to be anything. I did it, was working on a straight Hip Hop album but people were just like, “I LOVE THAT TRACK! THAT SHIT IS CRAZY!” The people have spoken.

 

Who are some of the features besides M1 that you have on ‘The Skronik: Flying Monkey Murder Cirkus’?

Not a lot. It’s Ill Bill, Shadow, M1 and DJ Immortal. I’m not a feature dude. There are a couple trains of thought. It’s fun working with your peoples, good times, people that you respect. We talk to each other about our families. I know their kids and stuff like that. Sometimes you want to do a track with somebody that will push you. Miami cats, we’re very different. The Miami attitude…

 

What’s your insider’s perspective on Miami?

Things are changing with gentrification and hipsters and the popularity of Southern rap but the city itself has changed in a lot of places. It’s a little different. You’ve got to think, it was a place with a lot of dope dealers and strip clubs. A lot of local labels were probably started off drug money. Allegedly. The mentality hasn’t quite (grasped) unspoken industry etiquettes. It’s a little different.

 

What are some of the things you do to remain conscious of maintaining your individual identity as you build notoriety?

I personally don’t look at people (differently) but even if I do… my mom always said, “Don’t idolize.” so I don’t. Did you do something I really liked? Yes. I admire it, you inspired me. The best thing in those situations is to not meet that person. Don’t meet your heroes. I’m not in any position to act like i’m better than somebody. At certain things I might be better at than somebody stylistically. Everybody’s got their thing and unless you give me a reason to look at you in a disrespectful light you get a certain amount of respect as a human being. No ass kissin.

Skam 2


Do you recognize yourself as a role model?

I don’t think of myself as a role model. I’m the oldest in my family so I’ve always been… but I don’t think of myself as a role model. I do think that I can be held accountable for the shit I say and do. Whatever you put out can be what you get back… in some form.

If you’re a guy that doesn’t like white kids saying the “N” word and you know you have a lot of white kids that listen to your music it might be worth a (thought). I’m not a preacher. I believe that for me. Yall do what you want. I can only control what’s going on in this little island to a degree.

 

What’s your take on the necessities of finances and management?

Some people genuinely really like money. If you’re somebody that doesn’t care about money that much your best bet is to get someone on your team that does. That way you’re not stressing it but (they’re) making sure you’re getting it.

 

Do you feel like you have that? You seem to be able to sustain yourself.

At different times some people help me with stuff but the most important thing for me to have is a buffer between me and the client. Ultimately I do a lot of stuff for people that I’ve connected with. Some people feel that if you’re accessible they can just pick up the phone and reach out to you. They might get a little bit… out of pocket. It’s on and off.

You’ve got to preserve your sanity but as far as a manager what people don’t understand is if you’re someone who isn’t able to comfortably navigate (the industry) than maybe that manager should take more of a controlling role. A manager works for you not the other way around and some people get that twisted… Someone told me, “You don’t need a manager until you have something to manage.” That was something that stuck with me.

At the core of it your guys are the art, I think sometimes people forget that.

Slaine Skam2

 

What’s going on with your art promo for ‘The Skronik’?

There are two of them. They are going to be linked to these videos. I have a video where you are seeing me do the album cover. I don’t know if anybody’s has done that yet but if they have I don’t know that they have done it on the level that I’m about to show. Not that I’m the best but there’s not a lot of people doing it.

There are going to be signed prints (of the cover art). Probably a little doodle on it or something to make it unique. I’m interested to see who really gives a shit about getting some signed Skam art but it’s cool. It’ll be a fun little experiment.

 

Do you have a number of prints?

The signed ones I’m thinking 10.

 

Who came up with the promo concepts?

Damn near anything involving what I’m doing or putting out 98% of the time it’s me. It’s a pain in the fuckin ass but I get what I want to see. I edit my videos. I’m not the best at color correction but I can do that too. I (also) started doing production.

 

What do you want to achieve with your music?

When I put these projects together it’s about showing my range. Whatever you want to rap on, I can do that. We’ll go from some boom bap to some rock to some double time to some whatever. It don’t matter. I think that’s important at least for me because a lot of people don’t know what I’m capable of. I like to be able to inspire someone in the ways that I’ve been inspired.

This is the future. You can get any beat you want. If you’re an MC what’s it matter if it’s a 36 Mafia beat or a premiere beat? You can’t rhyme on different things? Shut the fuck up.

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