We talked to local hip hop veteran about his new album, the Rochestetr scene, and his process for producing music.
You are a hip hop artist?
Yeah, I’m a hip hop artist from the Rochester NY area. Currently got my new album released, called ‘Every Day Working Man’, available on bandcamp.com and at The Record Archive.
You worked with a lot of people on that album, can you name a few?
Golden was on there, my buddy Kes, Volatile Lava from Rochester, and my buddy Fortona P, he did a feature with me on my album.
Was there anyone you didn’t get to work with that you wanted to?
Honestly no, every joint that I had laid out and planned, I had the features worked out in my head.
You’ve worked with all these people before?
Yeah I have
The only one that was new that I worked with was Fortona. I’ve worked with Volatile and Kes, and Golden, if it wasn’t as a joint, I’ve done shows with them so we had a good rapport.
Is there anyone you want to work with in the future?
Well, I don’t have anything in the future in mind. Honestly, I’ll work with anyone, it doesn’t even have to be hip hop music. But at this moment, anyone specifically, no I don’t have anyone in mind. I’m willing to work and connect with everybody.
Besides rapping, is there anything else you do for the scene?
No I don’t produce, I used to make beats, other than that not really. I like to promote shows for other MC’s that I like, that I dig, other than myself being on the bill. If I ain’t rapping, I’m working ya know?
How does your writing process happen?
A lot of times, you see, over the years its changed. It used to be I need the beat. Now, depending on the time, usually I’m working and I don’t have the beat. If I have the beat I’ll listen to it and get to know the beat, it really depends.
Freestyle or Written?
I’m old school, so if you’re going to free style, you’re going to do it off the top. Nothing that you’ve written or recorded. I guess when I see freestyle battles I look at them like, damn, it took this dude months to write that, you’re not really coming off the top or anything you know, or showing me anything skill wise when it comes to freestyle. If I had a choice it would be more for me to write, but I love watching freestyle shit happen.
Are you good at freestyling?
No, not any more. My early younger days we used to go off the top, especially when it was a bunch of us going different places to cypher, it showed skills you had to be on top. I can write fast , I can write joints in 15 minutes, but freestyling, I like it, but I don’t do it no more.
What do you think of the venues in Rochester?
I think it should be more. It’s usually just Brew Haus and Lovin’ Cup, and I think Bug Jar is coming back towards hip hop music. I used to do a lot at Dubland. At the end of the day there needs to be more, but you can’t, us as people, mess up that opportunity. Then the crowd gets characterized as violent and now us artists are looking for places to go.
What do you think of the hip hop scene?
I think its good. I just had this conversation that I did for straight from the underground. I think the hip hop scene here in Rochester is dope, we got everybody that’s in their own lane, but then there’s a lot of people that want to join up which is fine, but at the end of the day, to me its all competition. Like I said, I can respect you and your craft, but that does not mean I have to be part of your team. I think a lot of people are looking for handouts and want you to help them and support them, but they won’t do that for others. And when I say I can respect you but I don’t have to deal with you, I’ll support you and I’ll go to your shows. But that doesn’t mean I have to be on your team and promote and vice versa, ’cause we got a lot of talent from singers and rappers and producers, I just think a lot of people don’t have the right state of mind to broadcast themselves out of Rochester, and they are all complaining and crying but they won’t put in the work, if that makes sense.
You do a lot of stuff with straight from the underground?
Chris G has been doing this for a long time. I remember me being 8 or 9 living with my mom and recording tapes from his show. He’s been doing it a while, he gets a lot of respect from me.
How did you hook up with him?
He actually got me from the Insider magazine. And around that time I started a Facebook account and I ran across his name. I asked him if he was the guy from 89.7, and he asked me to do an interview. Then from there, that was probably five or six years ago, and around that time I had my Beans and Rice 2 album, he’s really hard core if he don’t like something of mine, he ain’t going to play it. I think its funny ’cause you know it’s his show and he can play what he wants.
Is it harder for you to sell yourself as a musician that’s a rapper?
No I think you have to know your crowd and go to the type of places that support the type of thing you do. I can’t go to rock venues and try to get on their bill if I see they never done hip hop stuff. So I go and network places I know that do that music. I’ve done shows in the Bronx and Cleveland and PA. It’s just, know that type of place that does that type of music.
Where would you never want to play again?
I’ve had experiences where the mics were fucked up.
Would you ever play there again?
I have! I mean I’ll play there again, just get your shit together. Because its promo, I’ll play again no matter what usually, so no not yet. No bad shows that were that bad.
There is a lot of those white suburban kids coming up what do you think of them?
They are okay, the thing is for me ’cause I’m Puerto Rican, so even when a spanish or black kid comes out of a suburban area, just do what you do. If you geek rap, you get high, you stoned, that’s your day to day, that’s what you’re going to do. I don’t like when you’re going to come here and you’re going to gum me, and then go back to your prep schools and nice house, ’cause that don’t make sense, and vice versa, even in the urban area. Don’t play, don’t disrespect, and know your lane and stay in it. Like the best ever crew, I liked them, stoner kids, but they can rhyme.
So is this album ‘Everyday Working Man’ that just came out, different then the other mix tapes?
This album I went for a more conscious way. Like the joint I have for my daughter, or my wife, this album is more personal. On my mix tapes its always been Alvaraz Masterminded, and on this album since it was more pure to my heart you got the Alex Alvaraz side. I think the concept and everything I put together, it flows. So if you listen to that and go to my old mix tapes, they are real hip hop shit. Then you go to the new album, its like wow this is real shit. Its a whole complete different side.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Thank you for the opportunity. Glad that hip hop is still rising. Everyone get at me, my ‘Everyday Working Man’ album is out now. I also have my Beans and Rice mix tapes are available as well. So just reach out, I’m always willing to work and build with anybody anytime.