Complexity and Clarity with Sadaway| Written Wednesday

While not a huge fan of labels, Sadaway would call himself an artist in the broadest sense. He creates visual art (mostly in the form of pen and ink works, but occasionally paintings and, recently, jewelry), poetry, raps, sings, and produces beats. While he wouldn’t go as far as to say ‘I do it all,’ Sadaway is definitely open to trying it all.
For his art and image as an artist and performer, Sadaway puts a lot of thought and effort into cultivating a unique aesthetic.  He has managed this through choosing specific motifs that persist across all mediums of his work. From the visual pieces released to his sound and, even, the style of his outfits, Sadaway keeps certain elements in mind.
If he were to put a name to his specific genre/aesthetic, Sadaway thinks it would be something along the lines of:  Post-Apocalyptic Alternative Vapor Rap (ridiculousness intended).
To check out what he means, follow his Instagram, SoundCloud, and art page?? (find these***). If you are interested in learning more about the creation behind his aesthetic and style, read our interview with Sadaway below!

 

How do you cultivate and maintain a following on social media?

Building an Instagram account up to 10k followers was easier than it sounds, actually.  In all honesty I could of grown the account even more effectively if I had stayed more consistent with the content I posted. But, I decided to compromise sheer numbers for individuality and creative freedom.  The account started as a meme account which, unsurprisingly (at least in my experience), grows very quickly. Humor is a great medium, as it transcends particular interests and has huge sharing/reposting/whatever potential.  The theme of my meme account was Fallout, as that game franchise has been near and dear to my heart since I was the ripe young age of 13. I started it on a whim during my first semester at college, just for fun, to see how many jokes I could think of.  Unbeknownst to me there was already an entire community of similar content creators on the platform. Connecting and collaborating with these community members gave a huge boost to my following and introduced me to some really cool people. Eventually, I decided to transform my account into a showcase for my art and music as this is what I am truly passionate about.  Making the transition was difficult as the account did stagnate to a degree and I lost my momentum. The account is still a pet project and asset of mine and I’m confident I will accumulate new followers with the same techniques. (@sadaway.jpg if y’all wanna join the wave)
Overall my advice to burgeoning content creators would be to stay consistent both in content and uploading habits.

 

What inspired the song “Fuckin’ Cat” ft NGGA? What is the meaning behind the song?

Fuckin’ Cat was my first venture into the sometimes frustrating but ALWAYS rewarding realm of beat making.  Beat making, for me, is pretty straight forward albeit time consuming (not helped by the fact I’m lazy and distractible as fuck).  It sometimes starts with a concept, it sometimes starts with nothing.  I find that having one specific sound or feel in mind is the more difficult route. It’s easy for me to pigeonhole myself into a mindset of how the beat should come out and lose my creative edge. For me, it’s often best to just sit down and start plucking keys and experimenting with drum patterns. Depending on what I’m feeling at that moment, my beat will come out accordingly.

Not only do you rap but you make your own beats. Describe your beatmaking process.
Ok, so bear with me on this one. Speaking of Instagram, y’know those sponsored ads in your feed for clothing brands you’ve never heard of before? The ones selling overpriced streetwear, ironic graphic tees, or something like that? Well, one day I happened upon one selling all-over print ski masks. More importantly, they were giving away the first 100 units free (just pay shipping). So, one was a kitten and immediately I thought, “damn, that shit’s tough. I need me one for shows.” It just so happened that when that mask arrived I was just beginning to experiment with making beats. As soon as I got it and proceeded to put it on, the idea just came to me along with the music and I got to work. I had the beat completed in time to perform it the same day. Thus, Fuckin’ Cat was born.  It’s definitely a lighthearted, sort of gag track. I’m not trying to impress anyone with it, I was just having fun.  But, at the same time, it was my first ever song completely produced and written by just me. It’s special for that reason.  There’s really no rhyme or reason to this song. It’s just a 5 minute bombardment of awful cat puns and wild ad libs (shout out to NGGA for coming thru with those).

 

You have very fast-paced, multi-syllabic verses. How do you learn to balance complexity and clarity?

I personally feel that’s it’s one thing to rap and have a catchy hook, but it’s a game changer to have lyrics that flow seamlessly or, even, poetically on a track. That’s why I have such a tremendous amount of respect for artists like Earl Sweatshirt and MF Doom, I think they really own this style of music. I try to emulate this style too in my own work. But, my approach has evolved as I have grown as an artist. When I first started writing and performing, I would often cram as much wordplay into a verse as possible. Usually this would lead me to being forced to rap really fast which, in turn, lead to me choking or running out of breath. On top of this, most listeners couldn’t appreciate everything I was saying. So, over time, I slowed my pace and started writing in spaces to breathe.  Now, writing a line is kind of like a game, the objective being to see how many rhymes and how much wordplay I can fit into the shortest amount of words. My takeaway here is that if you want to flaunt how clever you are on a track, emphasis comes first. Speed is a bonus.

In what ways do you combine your different art forms and present them to your audience?

As was stated earlier, I try my best to capture a similar aesthetic across all mediums of my art.  This means that most, if not all, of the visuals I put out should be almost interchangeable with most, if not all, of my music.  And, of course, you have to dress the part too. I aim for bright neon colors and gradients that compliment each other and contrast this with drab, piecemeal designs and textures like rust, corrugated metal, and  torn fabric for my outfits.  My visual art shares many of the same elements along with computer generated graphics and scenes from popular post-apocalyptic games and movies (mostly Fallout if you hadn’t already guessed).  For my music, I use a lot of synths and electric instrumentation to create elaborate, serene soundscapes then contrast this with rough, heavy percussion and sound effects.  My goal is to establish a recognizable and unique aesthetic that permeates all fields of my work.
In what ways does your music style allow you to discuss different topics while maintaining a consistent theme?
I think that my style of music should not have a significant impact on what I communicate through it, on my own beliefs, or values.  While the instrumental aspect of my music may be fairly homogeneous, thematically, my lyrics and messages could ultimately be anything. That’s the beauty of poetry and hip-hop to me.  People expect rappers and poets to give them something raw and real, something they can relate to.  Rapping allows an artist to speak their mind as frankly as possible. It’s really just rhythmic talking. Whether that talking comes in the form of a story or a conversation is at the artist’s discretion. For instance, in my own music I’ve discussed everything from childhood nostalgia to regret, from love lost to being that fuckin’ cat.

 

As a visual artist how do you ensure you are being properly compensated and credited for your work?

This is a tricky one. In short, I don’t.  Unfortunately, being a novice independent artist and putting your personal creations out into the world always poses the risk of having your ideas be stolen, especially in the internet age.  I used to get fired up when seeing someone post a meme I had spent time imagining and editing without so much as a mention of my name. After that, I began to watermark my work. But, even then, anyone could crop a watermark out of a photo, edit it out with a program like photoshop, or even reproduce the same idea on their own.  Now, I take these situations in stride as they’re really just a fact of life for artists like me. The dream is that once you become established, your work will be able to stand out from the rest and immediately be recognized as your’s, with or without your name attached.  For compensation, it’s pretty much the same, you win some you lose some. I think the visibility that the art I make for others provides me is more valuable than the $20+ I ask for small pieces anyway.

 

In what ways do you network and collaborate with other artists?

I network with any opportunity I get to. You never know who’s a creator, who’s a connoisseur, or who has connections.  It’s not like we all have sticky notes on our backs that show who’ll fuck with the vision and who won’t.  So to that end, I just engage people about their interests and go from there. I really love a good conversation and, for the most part, I’m an open book. If someone asks, I’m more than willing to share what I’m about. In my opinion I think that’s the most natural way to go about it, just get out there, drop the phone and talk to another human being face-to-face dammit. I really can’t stand the guys sliding into every dm or comment section they can with the shameless self promotion. I guess I give them props for their tenacity but I find it really obnoxious and a sure fire way to have me never check out your stuff.  For me, it’s as simple as if you appreciate what I’m doing and the feeling is mutual then let’s swap contact info and make something radical.

 

Over the span of your career, you have changed your stage name multiple times. Tell us about the process of deciding the right name for you. How do you know when it’s time to change it? How do you ensure that your audience remains familiar with who you are despite your name change?

Hahaha, damn. I knew this one was coming. I can make it short for this one.  Basically, being a successful artist or visionary means not giving a single fuck about what anyone thinks of you,your talent, and making your own way.  In that respect, I do what I want because I want to.  If I’m not feeling a name, a look, an idea, or whatever it might be, I switch it up.  Typically there’s been a good reason in the past. I change, my art changes, and I need a fresh start to seize upon the new energy and direction. Other times, I just realize the old name is lame and that’s that. I see it as no harm no foul since I don’t exactly have legions of adoring fans to catch off guard. And for the fans who might be confused? They either get with the program or move on, I won’t lose any sleep either way.  As for the name itself, it’s whatever the coolest thing to pop into my head is.

Written Wednesday| Interview With Jonathan Stamper

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Jonathan Stamper has been singing since he was 4 years old. He plays several instruments, writes and produces original music, raps, and acts. Jonathan has toured Portugal and Spain in addition to singing backup for superstar recording artist Sting. Jonathan is not only the Flagship Artist but is also the Vice President of Artist Relations for Block IV Entertainment and CEO of Dominant Collective, a networking and artist development company built for empowering young artists. He has performed at many local community events such as the city of Newark’s annual 24-Hours-of Peace event in which he wrote the song The Drug PSA. This song awarded members of Dominant Collective as the winners of the N.J. Shout Down Drugs competition.

If you are interested in hearing more of Jonathan Stamper, you can find his music on SoundCloud. Check out his album Summertime Vibes below. To find out more about him, continue reading! 

 

 

Tell us about your collective (Dominant Collective) and the role you play in it.

Well basically, Dominant operates as a community of creative people. We all bring different skills and styles together to collaborate on all kinds of projects. I’m the leader, the CEO. I’m also the artist that connects the rest of the artists to opportunities that will help them further their career.
What are the biggest factors that played a part in your growth as a musician?

Meeting my stepdad for sure. He opened me up to so many different genres of music. He’s also the person who got me to rapping and singing. I didn’t think it was possible before he told me it could work.

As a rapper and singer, how have you struggled with trying to balance and/or blend the two?

I always struggle, haha.. my goal has really been to blend them to the point where I’m so fluent in both that I flow seamlessly from one to the other, like Spanish and English. For a long time the balance was so hard to strike. But, I think there isn’t a perfect balance. You serve each song, album, and audience what they need at that given time. This makes every experience special.

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How does your faith connect with your music?

It’s really my foundation for everything. I try my best to tell honest stories and relate to everyone so everyone feels like they’re heard and understood. But, ultimately, I want them to know there’s hope at the end of every struggle we face. Jesus is that hope for me.

Tell us about your experience with connecting with the community in your hometown.

Honestly, I’ve always been about home. I want to travel the world, but the city that really shaped me is Newark. It made me who I am. I feel connected there forever so i want to represent them well. Not just that, but help to see the city thrive in any way possible.

How about outside of your hometown?

 I want to connect to the world. At the end of it all, I want to have a reach that is so much greater than me. So, if I can affect communities all over the globe and leave my mark in a positive way, that’s the best way to create a legacy that can stand the test of time.

You’ve performed at various venues across the country. How do you decide which venue is “worth” traveling out for?

It really depends on the kind of crowd, the influence of the event, and how much creative freedom i have. I just want to perform anywhere where true creativity is welcomed.

Your performances include a lot of high energy and crowd engagement. What is your advice to other artists in terms of being comfortable on stage and working a crowd?

If you’re not nervous, you’re in the wrong profession. But, know that once you start, you gotta be all in. Also, understand that every person won’t accept what you offer or match your energy. But, be unapologetically you no matter what and people will respond.

What your favorite record you ever recorded?

That’s hard man. All my songs are like my kids. But, if I had to choose one, it’d probably be a song called “Uptown”.  Even then, it would probably change if you asked me in a couple hours.

 

How important is it as an artist to have a manager and/or team behind you?

It’s crucial. No man is an island. Even the most talented people can’t see or perceive everything. We got to have people we trust to take on our vision and help us get to where we want to go. Otherwise, we won’t accomplish anything of significance.

Rate and explain the level of importance (in terms of crowd attraction) between singing/rapping a cover versus an original piece

I think putting your spin on someone else’s work is one of the most underrated forms of creativity. If you have a mind creative enough you can take anything and make it your own. Covers are one of the best ways to test those creative limits.

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How does sampling music/songs inspire you?

Sampling always challenges my creativity. I want to invoke a feeling of nostalgia with innovation whenever I sample an artist. I want to connect their story to mine and the audiences. So, the sonics of it are just as important in crafting a story as lyrics because music can take you to a place. That’s the beauty of sampling, taking you somewhere familiar and uncharted at the same time.

What should one look out for when doing something like this?

Be original. Don’t just copy what was done. Add your sound and your touch to what they did. Also, do the sample and the artist justice. If you’re going to take from their piece, make sure that it honors their work and is on par with it. That’s the best way to do it.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in pursuing the arts as a career? How can one know this is what they want/what is meant for them?

The best advice I could give someone in that position is to figure out if you really want it  or if you just want popularity and fame, because that’s not enough to sustain you. You have to have a deep love for your craft and a security about yourself to be successful.

Funk Friday: Meet S0ulfood

https://soundcloud.com/aziz-finney

Name: S0ulfood

Age: 22 (12/1995)

Hometown: Cliffwood Beach, New Jersey

Genre: Singer Songwriter

Artist Bio: Stemming from a small shore town in New Jersey, S0ulfood brings an urban twist to the Singer/ Songwriter genre. Delivering to the world, a raw uncut interpretation of his emotions. He forced his way into the music scene as a street performer in towns such as: The Historic Asbury Park, Nj, Long Branch, Nj, and Redbank, Nj. There he acquired the following that has attributed to his impressive growth.

Purpose: To let everyone who hears my music know that they are not alone. It is ok to express your emotions in a world that looks down on those who wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Look out for his 4 song EP called Sorry For December, and check him out on Instagram, Facebook, SoundCloud, and all streaming platforms!

Want to be featured for Funk Friday? Send us your bio and tracks to shortlinereview@gmail.com

 

The Other Side Of The Game: An Interview With Diya Drake

 

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Naadiya Drake

Age: 21

From: Willingboro, NJ

Singer, Writer, Rapper/Lyricist

Interviewed by Steven Ikegwu

How did you get the opportunity to become a radio host? How nerve wrecking was your first broadcast?

I was pretty anxious to get on the radio. I did some research on radio stations on the campus of Rutgers to see what their operating hours were, who I should call/email. When I found what I was looking for, I put on my shoes and headed to the Core’s location. From there, I got to speak to a couple of DJs who actually let me sit in on my show. After that, I made it my mission to complete all the necessary training for my own slot. I was pretty nervous for my own show, but it didn’t trump my excitement. I tried to make sure I was well prepared by familiarizing myself with the equipment/rules and putting my first playlist together the night before.

What factors do you consider when choosing to work with someone, both in music and in radio?

Pertaining to music, who I work and collab with has a lot to do with style. It’s all about the vibe and the sound. I believe music isn’t just something you hear, but something you feel. I want myself to feel it, the person/people I’m creating with to feel it, and the audience to feel it as well. In short, I like working with people who can use their art to create different atmospheres. As far as radio is concerned, I signed up in hopes of developing a platform that gives a voice to the unheard. While I like to play “what’s hot”, I also like to put the spotlight on artists who aren’t necessarily top 40. Whether they be local, independent or just working with a smaller audience, everybody deserves a platform to share their talent. A lot of my fellow DJs share a similar mindset and its nice to be apart of it. For both music and radio, there’s, of course, a certain level of professionalism and respect. I need to trust that you’ll respect what I’m doing (and I’ll do the same) in addition to respecting the physical, mental and emotional space.

Who are your musical influences?

TOO MANY to name but here’s a few off the top of my head: Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, India Arie, Lalah Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Sade, Solange, Kelela, Chance the Rapper, Chance the Rapper, Chance the Rapper, Chance the Rapper, Noname, Rapsody, The Roots, Kendrick Lamar (and many more but we’ll stop there)

 

You work in OSG and Divine Write. How do you express your individuality in collaborative projects?

I believe everyone plays a role in collaborative projects. You have to know that everyone is bringing something different. Whether it be my tone, choice of words or overall style, I just try to make sure that whatever I’m bringing meshes, but stands out at the same time.

What does OSG stand for and how did you and Naomi come together to form it

OSG stands for Other Side of the Game (like the song by Erykah Badu). Naomi and I were at TGI Friday’s after a performance with our friends and we were talking about how we always introduce ourselves as “Diya Drake and Naomi Jay” before we start. We still go by those names but if we were gonna continue to perform as a unit, it would be best to have a name that can be associated with both of us. We discussed possible names in the past but none of them really made us wanna jump on it. The idea of naming our group after a song by a huge musical influence seemed pretty cool. “Other Side of the Game” just fit. We hope that when people heard it, they would know off bat that we were trying to bring something different to the table.

What is your creative process like?

The creative process varies. I could be inspired by good conversation, an argument, or a crisis. I go for walks a lot and I often get ideas while doing so. I have a journal where I dump a lot of my thoughts. In some cases, I take what i’ve written and reflect on what I was feeling in that moment. From there I try to build off of those emotions. Other times, it’s not so structured. I like to free write as well. There are times where I just put on music and say whatever comes to my mind. It honestly depends.

Do you ever feel limited when it comes to performance venues because you and Naomi carry instruments along?

Yes! If it was possible, we’d have an entire ensemble everywhere we go, lol. Having our own equipment definitely makes travel a LOT harder but it’s an important part of what we do. I’ll always appreciate Naomi for bringing her keyboard along because it is definitely heavy. Hopefully as we expand, transportation of instruments and equipment will be easier, but right now we just make it happen the best way we know how. We always take location of the venue and spacing into account when it comes to our set.  

Did you ever receive any vocal training?

I’ve been apart of different choirs, but I’ve never had any private or one-on-one lessons. I am definitely looking into a vocal coach or taking lessons!

Interested to learn more? Check out OSG’s music on SoundCloud!