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Introducing... Heis

I think that finding a decent unsigned rapper is like finding a needle in a haystack. I've scoured Soundcloud looking for ones before because, being a massive rap nerd, I wanted to have a rapper feature on my 'Introducing...' series. Throughout that search I found only one rapper, who wasn't good but was actually excellent. His name was Heis. However, I couldn't find any contact details nor find him on Twitter, so I gave up. That was until a week ago when I got a DM on Twitter from Heis asking me to check out his new tune, Dirty. It was as if the stars had aligned and it is with great pleasure that I got the chance to actually talk to Heis who is an incredibly genuine guy with a deep love for Hip Hop and its roots, and a shared distaste for the route it's going...

Question. Hello Heis, firstly when did you decide you wanted to rap?
Heis: Recently, I've been actively writing/recording for about 3-4 years now. I released two tapes "System Error" and "Black" so far, with my first one being in 2015. It was never really something I decided to do. It was more so something to do while I was in school. I just happened to fall in love with it. Once I found my voice and got comfortable with it, I started pushing the boundary and speaking unapologetically. It was a way for me to speak my mind uninterrupted. I also wanted to make music I felt wasn't being made. And people could either listen or not, I never cared if it was liked. I still don't. So now it always means a lot more when people tell me they actually enjoy it.

Q. What made you want to pick up that mic for the first time and spit a verse?
Sophomore year of college, I was about 20, and I recorded my first track with my man Keith (Youniverse). He had been trying to get me to rap for a while, but I wasn't with it. I started writing but I still wasn't trying to get on the mic. But one night he had a song with room for a verse. So I said fuck it and spit something I had written over the beat. It came out crazy, so I started writing more and more and finding my own beats. After that I hopped on a few more tracks with him and I got more comfortable. I've always loved writing and as a kid we would make songs and even recorded a couple with my dad. But once I got back on this time and was actually able to speak my mind it became a passion. Now it's something I don't think I could stop doing. Even if no one listened.

Q. Why did you decide to only spit positivity and good vibes?
There's too much of the same type of music now. Everybody, except for a few, is talking about their jewelry or cash or cars or women but nothing about it is progressive or really means anything. I wanted to actually say something of substance. I also wanted to make music I could vibe to. It's hard to get on a smooth, chill beat and start talking about killing niggas and fucking chicks. That's not my type of music. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I want to listen to some gangsta or some hard shit, but overall I like to listen to music about real situations, things that matter. I didn't hear it too often, so I started making it. I wanted to make music you can listen to driving down an empty road on a cool night with the windows down. Trying to provide real lyrics of actual thoughts over a soulful beat. Vibes are everything

Q. How has living in Philly influenced you to crate?
In Philly you gotta find who you are quick. I learned early on that there were followers and leaders. And I found myself trying to be something I'm not. I used to fight a lot, get in trouble over stupid stuff. It's a tough city, you're bound to see or hear something. You just gotta stay above it. Once I realized I didn't have to be like anybody else but me, I focused and rose above what was expected. I got offered a scholarship in 5th grade but I had to keep my grades up through college in order to earn it. My parents stayed on my ass and I was able to get it. There's definitely been times when I considered selling or doing some stupid shit for money, but the scholarship and my family kept me focused and clear. It's easy to fall into the trap of the "Philly nigga" life, but I didn't wanna stay in the neighborhood my whole life. Too many guys there don't know much past their corner. There's lots of positivity in the city though. People doing good things, we just have to get over this hump of unnecessary violence and mistreatment. I love my city though.

Q. Is it tempting to make a pop influenced record and 'sell out'?
I feel like I can speak the truth on any track. But those type of songs aren't really my sound. I think selling out only happens when people don't stay true to their original values. If someone changes their entire sound or their content just to gain fame or money then shame on them. I can't see myself ever changing what I speak about and how I speak about it, no matter what type of record it is, Ima speak my mind. Selling out is for the weak hearted.

Q. Who's your favourite rapper out at the moment?
It's between Kendrick and Cole for me. Their music inspires me to create and push my lyricism, wordplay and subject matter. I fuck with how they put their projects together, consistently. It's one thing I admire. Every tape or album should have some type of story, concept
or flow to it and they seem to capture that every time.

Q. Who inspires you to keep grafting?
My friends mostly. 4OneLove is all about good vibes and even better music. When I hear my guys DopeSoul and Youniverse make music, I immediately get ready to write. We've created a lot of tracks together among the 3 of us, there's a natural setting that just breeds creativity.  Also my family and other people close to me. When I see they enjoy the music, it pushes me to keep going. I love that they like it.

Q. Are there any topics you would shy way from rapping about because new single 'Dirty' tackles a lot of hard hitting issues?
No, not at all. I treat the music like a type of diary. Anything in my life or going on in the world is fair game. Especially pressing issues like police brutality and white supremacy. It doesn't seem like enough people are talking about real things going on, so I figure I might as well do it. I want to push boundaries, make people uncomfortable. Everything can't be about a turn up. I have songs that talk about abusive relationships, cop killings, racism, drugs, you name it. I don't care, I talk about whatever.

Q. 'Oh my god, I'm so happy' has some of the most positive vibes I've ever heard in a rap song, how important was it to find that tone of song?
Thank you, I was aiming for that. The tone was extremely important. I really wanted to make something that fit the mood I was in. I had recently graduated with two degrees and two minors and was starting my career, in the fields I studied. Not too many people get to do that. When I heard the beat it made me feel happy and excited, I usually let beats simmer a bit to help me catch the vibe better, but the hook came after my first couple times hearing it. I had actually written most of the lyrics a few weeks before graduating, but it wasn't until after I started working that I actually finished the song. It's one that I'm very proud of, the beat, the tone and everything just meshed perfectly to fit how I was feeling. Every time I hear it I get that same excited, optimistic feeling.

Q. A lot of people claim that a rapper is only as good as their beats, how true do you think that is?
The way music is now this is kind of true. There's a lot of "rappers" with amazing beats, some of the hottest beats I've ever heard. But the rappers aren't saying anything of substance. Now everyone wants to turn up and get lit so that's the music that hits. That's not my audience. A real rapper, or a real lyricist, makes the beat theirs. The bars should still have the same effect whether you spit them on a song or in a poem. The words are what brings that extra emotion to the beats.

Q. What do you think of the current state of rap?
It's like, 80% nonsense for the most part. The other 20% is the group of rappers that talk about real things and actually put any type of thought into the wordplay, vocabulary and lyrics other that "uh" and "yeah". The main stream stuff is just gibberish to me. Hot beats, really good producers, but the lyrics are trash. There are some good underground rappers but the stuff being pushed and played on the radio isn't the music that will last. It's just cool in this current moment.

Q. Finally, what is the ultimate goal for you and what's next in your career?
I want to change the current state of music by creating my own wave. A different sound all together. Not too worried about money coming from it, I just want to be heard and to change somebody's way of thinking. I plan to go far as a software developer, but I'll never stop making music whether I'm selling out shows or not. I fell in love with it so I can't see myself ever stopping. Only getting better.

Follow Heis on Twitter
Listen to Heis on Soundcloud
Listen to Heis on Apple Music


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