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Finale A Pipe Dream and A Promise The late great Jay Dilla mentioned him as one of the best emcees to come from Detroit, the Rawkus 50 series upgraded his name fame, while Fat Beats supported his collaboration album with Spier1200. ‘All I got is a pipe dream and a purpose, y’all call it hip-hop’, Finale explains in the intro to his recently released debut solo album. Bombarded as the next best thing from Detroit, Finale, who quit his automotive engineer job to pursue a rap career, sums it up as follows; ‘There are two sides to hip-hop or any dream that you follow. It starts as a dream that everyone says is a pipe dream. They deter you from your dreams. But as artists we promise ourselves we are going to follow our dreams’.

How was it to quit your day job and become fully dependent on your musical output?

In the beginning it was a drastic change in lifestyle to say the least. But after paying a lot of dues, learning the ropes and connecting with so many amazing artists who share the same mindset, goals and overall drive it made everything worth it. I'm still on the ‘grind’ so to speak. But now that I look back it's helped me appreciate everything that’s happening now so much more than I would have if it was just handed to me. So quitting the day job, even if it was just for a limited time back then, felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.

Are you living the ‘dream’ now?

Well I don’t know what other folks' definition of ‘the dream’ is but it feels good everytime I step on stage and look out into a crowd of 5 or 500 people. The support is what keeps me going and the fact that music is used as an outlet for me rather than a sole monetary source. The money is great but I'm not rolling around in dough (laughs). It feels like I made the right decision.

Do you hope that people will listen to your album and be convinced to follow the same goal?

I wouldn’t suggest that you quit your good ass job and go do hip-hop (laughs). But I would encourage people to focus more on their dreams because a lot of us walk away from our original plans whenever we hit a speed bump or road block. Then we end up regretting and reminiscing every chance we had. So I'd advise you to THINK and PLAN carefully before you make that leap of faith. It'll help you gain a more realistic perspective than you would be able to come up with if you just run into the booth with your hand out expecting a big pile of money from some major label. I'm still on the road to what I consider success but I think it takes ‘Patience’ and ‘Preparation’.

Has your background as Automotive Engineer influenced your approach to the hip-hop game?

Definitely. My original job was technical and I had to pay attention to details. So every time someone asks me what I expect them to get out of one of my songs, I just reply ‘I want you to know that I paid attention’. I don’t just spit out random bullshit or write ten minute-songs and call myself a legendary emcee because I can rattle words off the top of my head with no pen and pad (laughs). I pay attention to every bar and beat selection so hopefully folks appreciate that.

General Motors, Ford or Daimler Chrysler?

I dig GM & Chrysler.

Detroit is all about auto industry, so with an economic crisis hittin’ the sector very hard, how has affected the crisis your former colleagues and how are they copin with this?

Well a lot of people in Detroit ended up taking the ‘buy out's’ that were being offered throughout the auto industry. Then they started putting their own money behind what they've always wanted to do. My boy Zach started his own magazine called ‘Eight O Eight’ and it focuses mainly on production/beat making. So using the buy out's towards your own small business or project seems to be the direction most folks are taking. When I left my job a LOT of people were already getting laid off on a monthly basis and that was a while back so the auto industry was in trouble back then as well.

Were there a lot of promising/aspiring or potential rappers in the auto industry?

I mean you have a rapper named Octane (also of the duo Octane & Illite, ed.)who's apart of OneBeLo's crew called Subterraneous. He owns his own sneaker boutique called Burn Rubber in Royal Oak, MI. He's been making a lot of moves lately. Then there's my boy Zach (Creme Of Beats) who started Eight-O-Eight magazine with his boy Alex and they both came out of the auto industry as well. So there's dope rappers everywhere (laughs).

You’re from East Detroit, for people who don’t live there, how would you describe that area as opposed to the rest of Detroit?

Well the east/west side of Detroit are both different in a sense that if you walk down a block on the east side you normally would end up seeing only one or two houses on that particular block. I've taken people through the spots where I grew up, which hasn’t changed AT ALL. The general description everybody likes to use is ‘war zone’ but it's all we know. 23 schools were closed recently. Liquor Stores everywhere. But while you can walk through a desolate area like that, two blocks away there's a gated community of overpriced mansions and condo's.

Now a bit about Interdependent Media, what makes this ‘your’ label, why did you choose to put your first solo record out through them?

At the time I was dealing with a handful of indie labels trying to find the right situation for this record. The homie ID hit me up and told me that he was about to get on board with this new label and then he told me the roster and I appreciated the fact that it was a small label with a quality roster so I knew that I'd get the attention I needed instead of getting lost in the mix on another label. So I weighed all of my options and ended up working it out with iM.

How was it like to work with Dilla’s first supporting group 5 Ela, we bet you were a big fan of theirs back in the days?

Yep those are my big brothers right there (laughs). I remember sneaking in local clubs back in the day to either catch Proof battling (one time I saw him battle 50 people in a row and no one beat him) or one of their performances. They help me stay grounded and focused.

Now that we’ve come to the phenomenon J Dilla, he mentioned you as one of the best rappers in Detroit, right?

(laughs) Yeah, when I first me him at the DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival) he was more surprised to meet me than I was him. He let everybody around us know that me and Guilty were the best rappers out (laughs). Then he proceeded to introduce me to Madlib and everybody. He was more friendly than I thought he'd be but by that time we had already been building on the phone off and on but I was still shocked.

So if he’d be still alive ‘A Pipedream’ would’ve been fully produced by Jay Dee right?

I WISH (laughs) but I’m happy with the mix of different producers and sounds on the record. I think everyone complimented everyone else very well.

There’s one beat of his on the record. Was the song finished immediately after you got the beat or just recently in preparation for your album?

We did four joints. He originally sent me his whole discography of beats on CD’s -which I still have- (laughs) when we started working. I ended up recording heat before he passed away but I added the cuts and ending on it to serve as more of a tribute and reminder that people still maintain the same level of respect for him. The other three joints are being thrown in the vault (laughs) but the next Dilla beat I use will be something fairly new and not a throwback.

For almost each track you have a different producer, did you want to keep the production as various as possible or was it just coincidence?

Well I had a wish list and I just called up different people I knew or either they hit me up and asked if there was room. So I kept the whole process kind of relaxed and ‘in the family’. I was either able to work in the studio face to face with the producer or I could just call them up. I didn’t set out with a budget in hand and run up random people. I just wanted the project to sound different but show that I could go in
different directions but still tie everything back together in the end -if that makes any sense- (laughs).

At the other hand, there’s only one featuring MC, Invincible. You two go way back right, so you only wanted to have someone you’ve been working with for a long time?

Yea, Invincible is like my sister so that's a give in and also she's dope as hell!! (laughs) But originally I wanted my first project to be just me so that I could ‘set my own stage’ first and then call up all of my rapper friends. I didn’t want anyone to get the misconception that I needed 50 rappers on my CD in order to grab your attention. That way if I gain or lose your attention then it's all on me good/bad, pass/fail.

Why did you specifically wanted Awesome Dre on the album? Do you consider him the Godfather of Detroit rap?

I look at Awesome Dre as a reminder that we can actually MAKE IT in the industry. This guy had a MAJOR label deal and was ghost writing for a lot of people we grew up listening to. No one gives him his just due and I was honoured to have him come to the studio, sit down and school me on the differences and similarities between Detroit hip-hop now and back then.

How did you get with Whipper Whip?

Whip is also like a big brother. He used to host a monthly event that me and Invincible used to throw with DJ HouseShoes called Quality Control. This is a bonafied LEGEND living within the state of Michigan and no one knew. He has all of this knowledge that he wants to share and I wanted everyone to hear what I was hearing on regular basis. In order to get ahead you must know your past so Whip definitely came through to school us on the beginnings of hip-hop. HE WAS THERE and I hear a lot of dudes talking about how shit started with them and blah blah but back when it was a sound system in the park, Melle Mel, Flash, Caz and Bambaataa, there was Prince Whipper Whip.

Tell us more about the idea behind the on-line video game that was launched? How does it feel to see yourself as Mario?

It feels weird (laughs) but the whole process of seeing myself on screen for the first time to hearing the background music was amazing. Again I gotta give it up to my bro ID he hit me up and told me the idea and I said he was crazy! But hey it worked. I was surprised at the response.

In fact, Mario could’ve well been an auto-motive engineer from the D instead of a plumber?

Yep (laughs). He could’ve used Auto Cad and Catia to design new routing systems with the pipes to get to the princess quicker (laughs).

How did the Spier1200 collabo album come about?

I met Spier through a mutual friend we had. Long story short I did a mixtape joint for him while he was in Brooklyn. He liked it then he drove up to Michigan for a month and we ended up doing about 13 songs before he left. The project just felt right sonically and I liked the direction we were taking on the collaborative effort so we decided to finish it. Then when I was looking for an outlet, Rawkus 50 and
Fatbeats came along.

So how big of a part of realizing your dream has Rawkus been?

Well by then I had already realized my dream so the whole Rawkus 50 thing didn’t change that but it definitely helped in the online presence and Fatbeats did their thing with the CD distribution by placing me in major store chains. I appreciate everything from both sides.

What contests did you participate in?

Well I did a contest for Scion a while back and ended up making it into the Top 10 but I lost to Mookie Jones. It was all good and dope to see my fam (O Type Star, Emilio Rojas and Marv Won) land in the top ten out of a few thousand entries as well. I looked at it as a way to test myself just to see if I had what it took to get recognized and also how the online community would react. Would they check for me based of a streaming song on the internet or would they just keep clicking on the rapper they were already familiar with? So it can help you in a way it's all in how you navigate through the industry.

Maybe you don’t consider him as an influence immediately, but in what way would you say you’re influenced by Supastition?

Sup's the homey (laughs). I'm definitely a fan and I support everything dude does. We work with the same producers and run in the same circle so the comparison won’t be knocked on this end. That's family. I guess the way our bars run on and intensity are similar. But Supa's a beast flat out.

What’s the first rap album(s) you bought?

MC Breed & The DFC .

What’s the last album(s) (rap or non-rap) you uploaded unto your iPod?

Royce the 5’ 9” – ‘Bar Exam 2’
Foreign Exchange – ‘Leave It All Behind’
Anthony David – ‘Acey Deucy’
Jesse Boykins – ‘Dopeamine @ The Beauty Created’
Jazmine Sullivan - *the first joint ‘Mistress of Soul’ (check that ‘Round Midnight’ remake)
Kev Brown – ‘I Do What I Do’
Blu & Exile – ‘Below the Heavens’
Muhsinah – ‘Oscillations’
Bilal Salaam – ‘Harmonium Discordium Suite pt. 1’
YU – ‘Before Taxes’

What’s next for Finale?

I have an album that I’m wrapping up with DJ Houseshoes. It features damn near every Detroit rapper (laughs) but it'll be dope. Hopefully folks dig it. Shoes produced the whole record and I'm working on an Electro/Hip-hop project with Dabrye, Mark De Clive Lowe, Dimlite and a bunch of other dope ‘left’ producers...

Shout-outs?

Whattup and THANK YOU to EVERYONE who supported the album and take time out to listen to the music. I really appreciate y’all and thank you for doing the interview it always means a lot when someone wants to hear what I have to say.

Our pleasure. Peace Finale.

 

POSTED 04|01|2009
conducted by Cpf & Wulf

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