Since it’s inception, Hip Hop came from The South Bronx, and expanded to place far and wide, throughout both this great nation, to all around the globe, with each place providing their own spin on it. One such place is Cincinnati, Ohio. Known as one of Ohio’s biggest cities, it doesn’t have the cache of Cleveland, and being directly across the border from Kentucky, also has a southern feel to it. In spite of that, Hip Hop has developed it’s own voice in The Nati, birthing the likes of Hi-Tek, Donwill, Ilyas, MOOD, and even new jack Easy Lantana. Another Young Lion in the city goes by the name of Buggs Tha Rocka. Since coming up 7 years ago, he has worked with the likes of Tanya Morgan, S.A.S., Little Brother, Freeway and others, while sharing the stage with Bone Thug n Harmony, Talib Kweli, Mac Miller, Odd Future and others. He recently dropped his latest album, titled Scattered Thoughts of an American Poet to positive. With that said, it was a no brainer to make him my newest interviewee in my The Whole 9 series. I chopped it up with homie about the album, his evolution, Cincinnati, performing at last year’s A3C, his musical influences, other emcee names, when he realized Hip Hop was his way and his future. For more on homie, follow him on Twitter and cop his latest album here. So read the interview after the jump, and peep what the Nati’s worth.
the9elements: On December 10th you dropped your album Scattered Thoughts of an American Poet. What does this album mean to you and what did you want to get across with the album?
Buggs Tha Rocka: I honestly wanted to show my versatility in my music. And also my song writing abilities and just let things flow organically one song at a time. I’ve always had a wide range of musical tastes, so I wanted to represent that to some level combined with the concept that the subject matter was also varied, my scattered thoughts, and so the two elements work together. It was my first solo release for a number of years so I wanted to let my fans have something new ahead of my plans for this year, and for me right now, it’s been my most important release to date
T9E: The first project that I can recall from you was a mixtape hosted by Mick Boogie titled Hip Hop Supa Hero. You had some notable features on it, like S.A.S., Tanya Morgan, Freeway and Little Brother. How has your style changed from that mixtape to your new album?
BTR: Yes indeed, my first project that really caught wind was the mixtape Hip Hop Supa Hero but Mutant Level 5 was my first actual album which had all those featured artists appearing. But to answer your question, I think my song writing abilities back then were based more on just having a real hunger to try and attack every record lyrically and creatively with the verses. Whereas now I’m adding an extra emphasis on constructing a well rounded song, still with the same passion but also with greater voice control. It’s just a natural evolution through experience
T9E: You’re from Cincinnati, Ohio. A town with a Hip Hop history that consists of Hi-Tek, MOOD, Donwill of Tanya Morgan, Ilyas formerly of Tanya Morgan, Piakhan and a few others I know I’m forgetting. If you could be a Hip Hop tour guide for your town, how would you show me around?
BTR: I would first off have to get you a bag of Grippo chips and some Gold Star Coneys (chilli on hot dogs), that’s some Cincinnati flavor! We’d have to also hit downtown, you can’t come without hitting Tek Labs, that’s Hi-Tek’s studio, and of course Clifton to check out the scenery. Could then show you around the Rhinegeist Brewery where we put on the Resurrection of Hip Hop II event back in October, we had loads of local artists performing that night headlined by Reflection Eternal, then there’s a few clubs like Bogart’s could have a show on. I opened for Bone Thugs n Harmony there last October.
T9E: In 2014 you had the privilege of performing in Atlanta for the A3C Festival. Judging by the recap vlog you put out a while back, you definitely enjoyed yourself. What was it like to perform at A3C?
BTR: Well A3C was dope as always. I got to join Talib Kweli on stage. And of course it gave me the opportunity to do a lot of building and networking with my peoples out there in Atlanta. The festivals are always cool, you get to perform for people who haven’t heard your music before and connect with a lot of other artists you know but you don’t get to see as often as you’d like as everyone’s grinding. Then of course it gives you the chance to build with those you didn’t know previously, so it’s a really positive experience for all of those different reasons.
T9E: One thing I get from listening to your music, is that you have musical tastes that extend outside of Hip Hop. If you could, break down a little history of how you cultivated your musical tastes.
BTR: Well my mom used to have me listening to a lot of jazz coming up, and she even bought me a harmonica with Stevie Wonder in mind. There was also an indie rock/jazz live spot called Sudsey Malones I used to visit when I was a kid. So as is traditional in Cincinnati, I was surrounded by all these different styles, and they all open the mind and play a part in influencing you. That’s probably why the city has a reputation for being a meltin pot of different genres which can give rise to new fresh sounds developing. I had a focus on Hip Hop, mainly influenced by the lyrical qualities from the Golden Era, but to express myself with these other influences I played in a band Gold Shoes for years. That was a real mix of styles, very eclectic, and we opened for John Mayer, Wiz Khalifa and The Black Keys.
T9E: Your name is Buggs Tha Rocka but is that the only name you’ve had as an artist? If not, what was your first emcee name?
BTR: Yes, it’s my only rap name I have had since really starting to perform or release music. Except when I was a very young kid and then I was just going by my actual name but I put LiL in front of it (laughs).
T9E: What moment in your life did you decide to give this Hip Hop thing a shot career-wise?
BTR: After high school I kinda just jumped out there without a Plan B.
T9E: With you releasing your album at the end of 2014, how will Buggs Tha Rocka conquer 2015?
BTR: I’m going to tour for sure to promote this project more, and there are still several videos to be released from the album. I’m also working on a number of new recording projects now which should be released later this year. I have full creative control over what I do, and a vision, drive and determination to get where I wanna be. I’ve put the work in through the years and will continue to do so. These things combined help any artist achieve their goals.