DRIP DROPS of HIP-HOP from CHATTANOOGA
By Ben Banks
This week I got the chance to catch up with a good friend of mine, Slacker Genius aka N16 The Kid aka Transracial Sayian. Slacker’s an artist, Youtuber, and all around funny dude. We had a great conversation about music, life, and the differences of the 3 distinct characters he releases song under. Check it out below.
Where are you from? What area do you feel like you best represent?
Slacker: I’m from Chatt and I represent nerds. I feel like kind of an outsider, so I don’t have a particular area that I claim.
What/who got you first interested in music?
Slacker: Okay, this is a real story; when I was around 3 or 4, we went to my aunt’s house and she puts in this VHS. This was like back in ’97. It was a copy of Reel Tight’s music video for ‘(Do You) Wanna Ride.’ My aunt was dating Reggie Long, a member of Reel Tight, at the time and I was like ‘Wow, I know that guy! He’s on TV singing and dancing, I wanna do that!’ My music really picked up around ’08 when I started rapping on Youtube, back when that was viable.
What are some of the changes that you’ve seen in Youtube culture?
Slacker: There’s so many differences now. Back then views were important, but now it’s watch time. A 10 minute video with around a thousand views is now much more valuable then a 2 minute video that has around a million views. There was a really big Youtube rap community back in the day; they were an independent group and did collabs with each other, producing their own beats/tracks. Nowadays, with these huge multi-platformed channels, companies are paying producers to make tracks, then just get Youtubers to jump on them for diss tracks and such. Today, you’ve gotta be versatile to be taken seriously. You’ve gotta rap and vlog, and act, but back in the day, just be able to rap was good enough to be a part of the rap community.
Who are some of your current inspirations for making music?
Slacker: Kyle, Childish Gambino, and Juice WRLD for his creative vision. He does amazing stuff with his music videos; he’s what I wanted to be when I was younger. I also listen to smaller independent artist, plus some Chatt artists, but just not consistently. Lately, I’ve been getting into South Korean underground rap scene; it sounds like a crazy combo but they’ve got some good stuff.
Briefly take me through your creative process for making music:
Slacker: Okay, so I have two approaches. The first way is to find a beat I like, then write a song that matches the beat, and then record it. The second way is I come up with a concept, write a song around that concept, then I’ll find a beat to match and relate back to what I wrote about.
How do you balance making music and other aspects of your life?
Slacker: Last semester was my last semester at UTC and I was swamped with homework on top of work, so I wasn’t able to make music. I usually try to put time aside time for music or videos, but I haven’t been unable to lately like I want to.
What are some of your goals that you hope to accomplish within the music industry?
Slacker: My biggest goal, for sure, is getting back to making music. I only did 3 songs last year because I was so busy. Music for me takes time, but I really want to be putting out music consistently. I’m also gonna be helping push my friend D-Chop’s album ‘Work in Progress’ dropping mid-Feb/early March. Oh, and I want to make more music videos too.
What are some themes that you really focus on in your music?
Slacker: Going back to my ideas and concept; it depends on which character I’m doing for that song. With my persona, N16 the Kid, I go for more darker themes. When I’m Slacker Genius, I focus on love affairs, relationships; not exactly my relationships, but more like hypotheticals. Then I’ve got Transracial Sayian; he’s more comedy/parody; I wrote a song under that name dissing my student loans.
What message are you trying to send to your audience?
Slacker: So it doesn’t matter which character, but they all go through things that everyone goes through. I want to let people know that if no-one else can relate to you, I’m trying to. As a suburban kid people think I don’t know hood issues, but problems are still problems.
Have there been any obstacles that you’ve overcome to pursue your music?
Slacker: I have a really bad habit for burning up computers. I have these powered computers, but try to do things the use up a lot of power like make high quality music and videos. So, right now with what I’ve got, I can only make music. I’m also working on overcoming inspiration block. I’ll start making a beat or song, but then lose motivation.
What are some victories that you had with your music?
Slacker: So in 2013, I got to work with the company Tweak Footwear; they make shoes for high profile Youtubers and social media personalities. I made a kinda funny song for them and they actually asked to use my song for a video. After that I became an east coast rep for their brand and they’ve sent me several pairs of shoes.
How would you best describe your brand/style?
Slacker: Hmm, that’s a good question. I’d say organized chaos. Chaos because you never know what you’re gonna get with me. But, it’s also organized, because you’ll always know it’s gonna be unexpected.
What are some other forms of media that inspire you? (Movies, art, TV, etc)
Slacker: Definitely, video games. Everything I do with videos and music is overdramatic and that’s all because of Kingdom Hearts 2. The ending of that game is so over the top, but it’s done so well. Anime has influence in my stuff as well. Some songs, I’ll slip in Japanese words or phrases. Korean is gonna start slipping in as well. A lot of media and culture has influenced me, it’s all made an impact.
Tell me about your process for making videos
Slacker: It really depends on what it is. Just like with my music, it’ll start with either a concept or a joke. After that I’ll build the video around my idea. Sometimes, the concept I’m working with will be a particular special visual effect I’ll want to utilize. Like my Doll 3 video, I focused on the using whip pans for transitions and to move the action along.
Anything that you want to promote or any shout outs?
Slacker: Like I said earlier, D-Chop’s project ‘Work in Progress’ is dropping mid-Feb or March. And shout out to Yung Polo, he’s been producing for the city for awhile.
Where can people find you and your music?
Slacker: So, on soundcloud/twitter, I’m n16thekid. And on Youtube, you can find me at N16Music.
Tha Milk Drop is a site focused on highlighting the hip-hop culture in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but also taps into hip-hop worldwide. Each week we drop exclusive and new content from artists. Also catch the profiles and interviews of hip-hop artists and creatives.
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