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Interview: Caspa Narkz

Image: 15th King
Caspa Narkz
Image: 15th King

A Dual Talent Who’s Slowly Breaking Down Imaginary Walls of Self-Deprecation, Loathing for His Industry

Some weeks ago, in the Bad Boy offices located in New York City, a Brooklyn-bred 26-year-old rapper and producer named Caspa Narkz and I discussed how sheer boredom inspired him to make music, his first offer to sign to Capitol Records at the age of 14, his beginnings, and finding a website called SoundClick over ten years ago, which changed his life.

Shortly before meeting with the East New York native, the first of many unreleased series of his Gorilla EP was premiered on my website.

Recalling the very moments which made him walk on the path of music, he admitted and recalled “[I was] Just bored. [I] Started that shit from being bored.”

Then, he went onto talk about his first record deal. He mentioned recorded vocals with his cousin on a compact disc and sending it to The Source. “Two weeks after we submit the demo, we got a call from Capitol Records. They wanted to sign us, but we showed the contracts to our parents… My parents are Guyanese. They weren’t trying to hear that shit. We told them that ‘We wanted to go to L.A. ands try this music stuff’. They were like, ‘Fuck that, y’all not going anywhere.’ I think my mother still has that contract till this day. I was 14, I’m 26 now.”

“What?”, I blurted out. “Wow I didn’t know that. That’s amazing. That’s actually rare because I’m pretty sure everyone doesn’t get a reply.” I was impressed by his story. However, the part about his mother being clueless about show business, record deals or what that might entail for her 14-year-old child and cousin, was nerve-wrecking for him.

[quote]We were too young to sign at that time. We needed parental consent. My cousin stopped after that. I just kept on.[/quote]

With that noted, I decided to ask “What do you think is the most rewarding thing so far throughout your career?”

[quote]I think the experiences are the most rewarding thing. Going through the things I went through with the music stuff, I would have never learned those things If I hadn’t gone through it. No one would ever sit down and tell me ‘Don’t do this and don’t do that. No one will spend that amount of time in detail explaining. Now, I know what to do what not to do.”

He listed, “Don’t spend this much. Save this much. Hold on to this, and kind of figure it out, and get it done… Better.[/quote]

So, you rap and you produce. Was that always from the beginning or did you kind of pick up production afterwards? When would you say that happened?

[quote]That was literally right after not signing with Capitol Records. I continued doing music and I found this site, SoundClick. This was at least 2003, I believe. I got tired of rapping to other guy’s beats. I don’t like doing that.[/quote]

But what the rapper didn’t realize until later is the instrumentals uploaded to SoundClick’s website were not exclusive to him. Everyone rapped over the beats he selected.

[quote]So I’m like, since I want my own beats, my boy at that time, introduced me to Fruity Loops. I learned it and started playing with it. Trust me, the first beats I made were the worst. If I played them shits now, you would tell me to give up my career and go to school…[/quote]

Do you still have them?

[quote]Nah man. I don’t have ‘em. I don’t want anyone to ever hear ‘em. I started making my own beats because I didn’t want to rap off beats that other guy’s had. It became a habit. Like something that had to be done. In the process of making music.[/quote]

Is there one that you enjoy more, currently? Does it go up and down?

[quote]It goes up and down. Sometimes, I can have fun, just producing. Sometimes, I’m just sitting and I could be in the zone and I’m really feeling the music. Other times I have the urge to want to perform, and be on stage, and have video shoots. That comes and goes. So it’s like half-and-half, for the most part.[/quote]

And currently, how would you say in this year, 2014, do you see yourself musically? Would you like to market yourself more so along the lines as a producer or rapper / producer? Are you going to have any rap releases this year?

[quote]I’m planning on two releases. I have two projects already recorded and ready to go, but I’m just trying to figure out which strategy will work better for me. At this present time, I think production would work better than coming off as an artist. People are more open to work with a producer than they are open to work with an artist, because there’s so many of them [us?]. I’d rather show that first. After they are into me as a person, then [I’ll] introduce them to the music. Then, they can decide if that’s what they want to deal with, or [if] they just want beats.[/quote]

Who are your favorite producers and who influences you the most?

[quote]Timbaland, Scott Storch. Dre is #1 for me. Pharrell is pretty good. Polow da Don. I’ve been into his production for a while, and myself. Me and those guys.[/quote]

What would you say is the song you hear that’s like, ‘Damn, how did they come up with this?’

[quote]Changes by Tupac. That’s one of the most emotionally gripping records I’ve ever heard in my life. Just because of the first lines of that shit.

“I see no changes / I wake up in the morning and I ask myself / Is life worth living should I blast myself.”

“The idea of that because I’ve been in that mind state before. Where I was really questioning like, ‘Damn, I woke up today… My life was fucked up. I woke up the day after, it’s fucked up. What should I do now?’ He said, “My stomach hurts so I’m looking for a purse to snatch.’ So it’s like, kill yourself or keep grinding… and that would be that record. Everytime I hear that record, it gives me chills. It’s not a good place but it was a very powerful turning point in my life.[/quote]

So tell us about Gorilla? And how that came to be and what’s the significance of the project?

[quote]A lot of people tell me I’m a very passionate, aggressive person. Sometimes I come off aggressive, and some people take it the wrong way. Sometimes, people think that I’m trying to be offensive or disrespectful. But that’s not what it is. I’m just a very aggressive person. Like, if you can’t deal with aggressive people, then don’t deal with the music business. That’s just how I am. In high school when I was doing this music stuff, I was a battling in high school. I had a group. We called ourselves Justice League. It was like 15 of us. At one point, we started having beef and stuff and we split up into two teams. I chose the name Guerilla Warfare because of the way I carried myself. We carried that name in high school. That team broke up to like three guys. And then, it was just “Warfare”. I just kept the aggressiveness. You know ‘warfare’ and ‘gorillas’ are all aggressive things. I try to attach myself to things that are like that because that’s how I am. So that’s where the Gorilla thing comes from.[/quote]

Are you a G-Unit fan?

[quote]I love G-Unit. I grew up on those guys.[/quote]

I feel like even when your influence and style is aggressive, it’s entertaining like G-Unit.

Wanting to denote more meaning and origin to why he’s so aggressive, the rapper added, [quote]I’m from East New York. It’s funny when people ask you where you’re from and you say you’re from Brooklyn. They expect a certain approach or response and behaviour. It is true. If you’re from Brooklyn, you normally have an aggressive manner, and it’s not always a disrespectful one. But it’s more aggressive.[/quote]

Why do you think it’s like that?

[quote]The living situations. Me, I grew up in a basement. Me, my mother and my brother shared a room. A bunk bed — my entire teenage years. I was depressed by that because I’m going over to my friends’ houses and they had their own beds. I never had my own bedroom till I moved out [of] my mom’s house. A lot of things my friends were doing, I couldn’t. Like my friends were bringing girls over and shit like that, I couldn’t do those things. Shit like that hurt me, because I always wanted a better life. But I never blamed my mother, because I knew she was trying her best. Those kinds of things harden you. Because you gotta be tough to get to where you want to be. We can’t back down. And being where I’m from, that’s already instilled in me. Realizing where I was at, pushed that aggression even more.[/quote]

When asked what he thought was the most challenging thing he’s experienced as an artist, he replied [quote]Being misunderstood. I don’t think people think I’m arrogant, but they take my aggressiveness as disrespect. Which is not where I am coming from. I tend wear my heart on my sleeves. I’m brutally honest with people. I don’t care how harsh it is because that’s how I want to be treated. I don’t want to be bamboozled and confused, and that causes conflict because a lot of people are so evasive to certain situations. That’s why I clash with a lot of people and I get frustrated because If I’m not coming at you [in a] funny [way], why can’t you just be straight up with me?[/quote]

He adds, “That’s the difficulty I have with moving in this business because people are so sideways and funny style.”

According to the artist, the premise for releasing an instrumental project was to make others in the industry, aware of his seemingly hidden talent.

[quote]People don’t know I make beats. I’ve always rapped over my [own] beats. I’m not really that person to run out there and brag. Which, I believe, is my downfall because if people don’t know what you do, how could they come to for that service?”, he asked.

“I’m still learning how to put myself out there, and letting it be known, what it is that I do. I’m like let me do this and let them hear what I can do and they decide if they wanna work with [me]. Before, I didn’t have the outlet to get my beats heard.[/quote]

He admitted, “I had no idea [of] which route to go.”

He plans to release another part of the series from his animal inspired extended play, and he’s interested in connecting with anyone who wants to work. If you like what he’s doing and you’d like to work with him by equally contributing to his efforts with vocals of any kind, just send him a tweet.

For more Caspa Narkz, just click here.

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is the North American Press Agent and US Business Manager for Oxlade; Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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