Like I Do is perhaps your best-known single. What does it contribute to your story as an artist and a performer?
I think “Like I Do” is a fun type of song. It helped showcase a part of my personality that was a bit cheeky, a bit confident…it’s definitely an epically fun one to perform. It sets the tone for the audience to expect to hear something a little different than what they might expect from a hip-hop artist, and illustrates that anime/moe-girl aspect of ThaGataNegrra.
Which of your tracks on GATA City are your favorites, and what about the efforts make them into favorites?
The title track is definitely one of my faves, especially to perform live, and even more so if my brother PoppaRazi is there to perform it with me. It’s just so unusual, the cello and the energy. “Like I Do” is a fave because it’s…cute, LOL. I used to say that it was my “Hey Ya”; it would probably get on people’s nerves but they’d still be singing it in spite of themselves. “Felinephunk” is also a fave. As far as making them into favourites, I find that people end up liking any song with energy they can feel…and that sometimes they just like simple.
What artists possess the greatest influences on your music?
I think my biggest influences are probably Run-DMC, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, KRS-One, Digital Underground, Rakim, Slick Rick, people like that as far as my foundation (I love Golden Era stuff), but the Native Tongues movement—De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah Leaders of the New School– definitely had a big influence on me. I tended to gravitate towards strong lyricism, storytelling, and unique, intricate flow, so nearly anyone with that style appealed to me. Eminem was also a big influence, as was OutKast, and dancehall reggae. Other influences included Prince, Faith No More, Duran Duran, Metallica, Nirvana, Janet, Parliament-Funkadelic…I get bits from everywhere because I like so many things. Stuff like manga and anime and video games had their influence on me, too.
How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first started performing?
It’s become more expressive, I think. And perhaps more refined. One thing people used to point out to me is that my voice would keep changing every time they heard something from me. It may not even sound the same on anything I plan to do next. I think I was a bit more conservative in my verbal, maybe a hair harder and rougher in delivery when I first started, but I think I tend to go more with the vibe of a song now, just follow the feel of it and not stick to any one mood or style to convey it properly and make it interesting.
Can you describe your creative process and your recording set up for us?
My process…I used to write lyrics first and then try to find the right track for them. That still happens, but I am a wee bit spoiled by having the track first now and writing to it. I do the typical practice of writing lines down if I happen to think of something. The recording setup is a pretty elaborate home studio called the Darkroom. We have the songs mastered by someone outside the Darkroom but most of the production is done by my brother and my father.
What has been your most memorable live experience?
I think having to perform outside in the middle of Hurricane Irene was pretty memorable! The NYC Marathon was fun because I got people from different countries who didn’t know me from Adam’s housecat coming off the course and dancing with me and then going back to run, LOL. Their energy was just awesome.
What goals do you still have left to accomplish in your career?
There’s plenty of those, like I want to remind people what rap came from: the emcee getting the dancers out to the floor, calling them out. That was the rappers’ main deal. Get the party going. People seem to have forgotten that. I also want people to remember it told stories as well, and not just all this decadent shxt everyone is hearing nowadays that makes it seem so empty. But the most important to me right now is to gain the proverbial thousand “true fans”. It may not seem very grandiose or ambitious, but it works for me. Baby steps.
How can individuals find samples of your music?
They can go to http://www.thagatanegrra.net; I’ve plenty there. If you like what you hear, tell someone!
Thank you for your time. Do you have anything else that you would like to say to our readers?
Hip-hop culture– rap in particular–isn’t dead; it’s just in an amnesic state, unfortunately.