Up and coming Baltimore rapper Shid Latta of “HEATH LEDGER CHRONICLES: VOLUME II TOXICOLOGY REPORT” fame, shared his thoughts and musical fantasies with Rick Jamm in this exclusive interview.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Shid Latta: I have been rapping since I was like 6 but I just started getting serious about and pursuing a future in it like a year a 2 ago.
2. Who were the first influences on your music and style?
Shid Latta: The first time I heard ‘Doggystlye’ from Snoop I was mesmerized! It just felt so raw and organic to me, it was like it spoke to my little twisted mind in ways I couldn’t imagine. Then I got a cassette…yes a cassette…single for Da Brat’s ‘Funkdified’ and I already knew the words from beginning to end so I would test myself by rapping them over the instrumental to see how well I remembered. One day I added a 4 bar twist and started rapping my own version of the hook to Snoop’s ‘Blam blam’ which featured a little nigga just like me spitting the hook. And it stuck in my head, so the next day I wrote it down but added to it and made my rap name O Dogg to pay homage to my favorite rapper at the time and my favorite movie and character. After that I was hooked.
3. In your opinion who is the most influential and successful artist in your genre today and why?
Shid Latta: Jay-z hands down! Even niggas who not J fans, still know at least one Jay-z lyric. This nigga is hip hop or rap or whatever you want to call it…he is urban pop culture. Every major thing he has done has had an impact on society, from fashion to slang, if you can name it he did it. He didn’t even have to be the originator or anything. But from the way he presented it and carried shit, it brought attention to whatever it may have been and the world took/takes notice.
4. Describe the first piece of equipment, hardware or software, needed to produce your creations, which you actually purchased with your own money.
Shid Latta: The first shit I brought with my own money to make music was a $600 studio pack from the guitar center. It had 2 studio monitors, a Mic, a boom Mic stand, a Mackie Onyx portable satellite interface, and a program to run it. I saw it and had to have it. I spent all my damn money and waited like a week for it. But the day it was supposed to come it never showed up. Round 9pm I called Guitar Center and UPS and they both said it was shipped and dropped off at my house but that shit wasn’t nowhere to be found. So me my homeboy that was stayin with me and my mom figured the shit got stolen, me and this nigga was ready to fuck somethin up when my mom was like we should just call Guitar Center and UPS and tell em it was stolen. We called and come to find out they fuckin dropped the shit off next door in the fuckin rain in the fuckin driveway! I was pissed. They said I’d get a full package if anything was damaged, as long as I returned the fucked up parts or whatever. Most niggas would’ve been on some get over shit but I was so happy my shit came and it worked that I hooked it up and used it til my eyes hurt and I had to smoke a blunt and lay down.(laughs)
5. Do you think music today is enjoyed more for the beats or for the lyrical flow and content?
Shid Latta: That’s a good ass question because I find myself wondering the same shit. But I think it’s a fucked up mixture of both. I think where shit is right now it’s about catchy-ness(laughs), long as you say somethin niggas heard before to a beat niggas may have heard somethin like then people consider it a hit. Don’t get me wrong it has always been a formula to what makes a hit song and everyone tries to stick to whether they know it or not. Record labels pay people to research it and that’s how they monopolize but I think the internet is helping throw abstract elements into that formula and its starting to help make a positive influence. But a lot of music is garbage, we just hear so much and get fed all the press behind, that we start liking it, then lovin it, and now it’s a hit. So I try to go in my own direction and hopefully it shows. My shit is from my heart and soul.
6. Which famous song describes best what you’d like Shid Latta productions to ideally sound like?
Shid Latta: I almost had to smoke a blunt to ponder that one(laughs). But truly thinkin bout it, I would say ‘Victory’ by Diddy featuring Biggie and Busta Rhymes. Just the atmosphere, the production, the flow, overall the feelin it gave people when it came on, like “DAMN what the fuck was that shit? That shit go!” I want that type super polished sound.
7. If you had the chance to work with established artists or producers, with whom would you like to collaborate in future?
Shid Latta: It’s way too many to name and most aren’t even in the rap/hip hop genre. I’ll give you my top 3 from my top 3 genres, Rock, Rap, and Pop/other.
1. Iron Maiden (Rock) – One of the most prolific and epic rock bands ever! I love the music, the stage show, and the feelin they bring. And I know my spastic, attention deficit hyper ass would fit right in.
2. Skrillex with David Guetta (Pop/Other) – This is like a two-for but I love both these guys work and would love to have their music come together in a musical monage masterpiece and just destroy shit with em! Fuck, that shit soul be awesome!
3. Kanye West (Rap)- This dude puts in work and puts on a hell of a show. I would love to be on stage rockin out to a banger yo produced, in front an arena full of people that came just to see that shit.
8. Which of your original compositions is your personal favorite, and why?
Shid Latta: It would be cocky as shit to say all of em but I truly do feel that each one of my joints are special to me and are all my favorites but for different reasons. But if I had to pick one on the spot I would say ‘1up prod by @BangerCommittee’. I say that because I love that fuckin song overall(laughs)! From the beat, to the concept of the song, to my flow, and the feel of that shit.
The beat is a sample of the ‘Super Mario Bros’ theme song. And that shit is a banger! I relate everything in my world to shit in Mario’s world and it just works perfect. I have big plans for that song hopefully you’ll hear it in a lot of places in the next few months. So far it’ll be on @DJPapito09 new mixtape hosted by @DBA2GS of Dipset West. I have shirts and hats on sale at zazzle.com/dimesion666. Check it out for yourselves http://bit.ly/ORCcH2
9. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making your music the way it is?
Shid Latta: My mindset and my life and everything in it, good or bad. The money, the drugs, the sex, and the people and situations involved, and all that makes me, me. All my music is based on my life and true to my heart. If wasn’t for me livin like I do I wouldn’t be able to make the music I do. And not to say the music I would make wouldn’t be good but it wouldn’t be the same ‘Shid shit’.
10. Which emotion currently dominates your music? Joy, sadness, anger or passion etc. , and why?
Shid Latta: Most definitely Passion! I don’t care what the feel of the song is, happy, sad, or whatever I go at with passion. It’s like a fire burning in my heart and I gotta release it. When I spit on the beat I don’t try to flow or ride the beat like most people, I feel that should happen naturally. I try to put my heart into the shit in belt my lines like a rock singer would. So I try to bring a Biggie/Tupac flow with a James Hetfeild(Metallica)/Lemy(Motorhead) delivery. Niggas be asking me why I be yelling and shit on the Mic and I tell em ‘Cuz I’m feelin it…the shit is comin from my heart!’ So unless I’m gettin heartburn from prescription pills, henny, and lean…the one shit I feel when I spit is Passion. The Fire that’s inside me from birth to death.
11. What aspect of the music making process excites you most, and what aspect discourages you the most?
Shid Latta: I love writing recording! The creativity, the artistic, expression, and all that shit that goes with it. I could do that shit all day. I do a lot and have a lot to say so I could record albums weekly, if I had the time. But the part I hate is mixing. I think that’s because I’m just learning and have grandiose ideals. And I do all the shit myself. That shit is time consuming. Perfect mixes and even almost great ones take time and dedication. That could be days or weeks. But it’s not too bad (laughs).
12. How involved are you in the recording, producing, mastering and other processes needed to produce and market your music, and do you outsource any part of this process?
Shid Latta: I’m 100 billion percent hands-on in all aspects of my music. Recently I started working with other producers and marketing people and so far so good. But I try to do as much as I can because it’s my music. Nobody will back you like you.
13. Do you think the advent of internet and all the new technology, has helped your music and independent musicians in general, or do you think it just creates a mass of mediocre “bedroom artists” from where it becomes difficult to distinguish yourself.?
Shid Latta: It’s the shit to me cuz everybody get to share what they got. If it wasn’t for the internet I wouldn’t be doin this interview, I’d be tryna mail shit to people and make phone calls and shit like that. And I think it gives the fans a chance to really choose what they listen to. Just hit a couple buttons and your can listen to anything…shit you never knew existed.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far. And one you didn’t follow, but now know you should have?
Shid Latta: The answer for both is ‘Grind Non-stop’. That shit is a fuckin must. You don’t grind you won’t climb. The time I wasn’t grinding I can’t ever get back so now I gotta grind even harder. Never miss a day! So I don’t care what it is I put effort toward my movement everyday…no matter how small.
15. As an independent artist, which is the one factor you currently desire most (increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, club performances etc…)?
Shid Latta: That’s a hard one, I would like all of em but if I had to choose one, I’d say…club performances. Because I feel like once I really get out there and interact with the people, everything else will follow or can be added to the list from there. I want to get out there and build my brand from the ground up. I’d rather get paid to put on a show, than make money for an album, because you can always hit play for the songs but the only way to see a great performance is to go to another show. And I want to provide that experience.
16. How do you distribute and promote your music ( Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Your own Website, Youtube etc…) and why?
Shid Latta: I do everything but sell my music. I’m on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reverbnation, Soundcloud, and so many other places, some of which I have no idea how it got there but cool(laughs). A lot of it is linked to my Reverbnation page Reverbnation.com/ShidLatta666 or just Google me…Shid Latta or Shidlatta666 and check out the links cuz its shit I don’t even know about popin up. Share, like, download, Tweet, or whatever floats your boat. I even have a Zazzle store Zazzle.com/Dimension666 with shirts, hats, bags, posters, phone cases, and more. And definitely more to come. So please check me out and spread the word while you’re at it, good people(laughs).
17. How do you handle criticism? Who has been your worst critic, if any?
Shid Latta: I love it actually cuz no matter how good you think you are its someone who disagrees and it’s always gonna be someone better than you. So I think it helps keep you grounded and makes you push to achieve better. If greatness is never surpassed where would we go, what would we aim for if the highest levels have already been reached. But remember don’t let criticisms make or break you, just let it guide you. It’s like Kenny Rogers said ‘Know when to hold em and know when to fold em’, you fold too soon or too late you lose.
18. Is going platinum or winning a Grammy important you? Where would you like to see your career within 5 years?
Shid Latta: It would be awesome but no not really, I just want to make a living doin what I love and if I earned platinum status or a grammy award then it will come, but its not a main goal or focus as of now. 5 years from now I plan to be at a crossroads in my career where I can pursue this all out and it is my future or say I enjoyed the ride and fall back. And I plan on goin for the longevity and makin a future out of this shit. So 5 years from now hopefully you’ll be seeing and hearing a whole lot more of me but in a much more established place in the industry. I plan to be a brand!
19. What in your opinion is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself, has to face and overcome, to gain any commercial success?
Shid Latta: Exposure at the right time to the right people! If we could have our music put exactly where it needs to be at the right time for the people it’s truly made for then wow, it would be fuckin indie paradise. But because we can’t do that every time we make a new song I feel it works out better. We have to work and listen and grind and take steps to make shit happen, which I feel builds better artists and weeds out the weak.
20. If you were not a music artist, what would you be doing today?
Shid Latta: Probably a ninja!