Louisville curator’s and all around good people Saving Our Style are throwing a show this Friday night called Bourbon and B Sides. Performing at the event is renowned community activist, non profit founder and oh yea…consummate hip hop artist Devine Carama. You can listen to his most recent album below before the show Friday. We decided to catch up with Devine in an interview to find out more about what we can expect from him at the show Friday, among other questions.
Never Nervous: You juggle a lot of different roles. What are they and how do you stay organized?
Devine Carama: Honestly it’s not as difficult as some would seem. I honestly believe that we waste a lot time as a society. When you take in to account the partying, hours on social media, watching TV, etc., there are several hours in a week spent on things of no major significance.. As I’ve gotten older I’ve just learned to use more of that time to engage in things that are more purposeful and aligned with my mission.
Never Nervous: You just performed in Cincinnati opening for Zo!, you are opening for Talib Kweli in Lexington soon and you’re performance at Saving Our Style’s “Bourbon And B Sides” show this Friday night. What all goes in to your approach when preparing for shows? What/Who are some of the things/people you would say have influenced your stage show?
Devine Carama: Indeed. Been blessed to still move around and give people the my music live. Jay-Z and Common are 2 of the biggest influences for my live set and for totally different reasons. Hov has a way of completely captivating the crowd with absolute nothing but his LYRICS… Limited movement and crowd engagement but no hype man and no backtrack… That’s what stood out the most to me when I saw him perform in Northern Kentucky a few years ago. Ironically that show was the first time I saw, or even heard of for that matter, J. Cole.
In any event, the way Jay performed forced all attention on his words. It created this aura of royalty during his live sets.. Iconic. Being someone who doesn’t move around a lot in my live sets, I’ve learned to captivated the audiences with eye contact, diction, and presence. With Common, I loved how he made conscious & soulful songs on track very energetic during live sets. A lot of my tracks are so soulful and somber that they don’t always translate well during live sets. I’ve learned to take ques from Common on how to make those type of songs translate more during my live performances.
NN: What is Believing In Forever and what is your vision for it?
DC: To make the world a better place… Corny, right? lol.. Seriously though… I think that our initiatives specifically focuses on uplifting our community’s youth. Not to say that adults can’t be inspired, but you can’t empower a community or a country focusing on those that are on their way out… The future of any society is it’s young people so if we are trying to better the future, it only makes since to start with our children. Check out some of our initiatives.
NN: Is hip hop unique in comparison to other genres in how it relates to people and community?
DC: Pop, Techno, R&B, & alternative genres of music aren’t really created from the community like hip hop is. Other genres were built off love, business, experiences, and sound… Hip hop was built to be a voice of the community. I think that’s why it’s roots are so deeply entrenched in the heart of every city and town that the art form resides in.
DC: Balance. We need more balance in the artistry, in the promotion, in the coverage, in the content…. Everything, including hip hop, is at it’s best when it has diversity. Diversity and balance not only represents more people but it also exposes people to different types of art, social ideas, spirituality, and other mechanisms that can change our lives for the better thus making the world a better place. All of just one thing is BRAINWASHING. We need “turn up” and trendy… But we also need uplifting and timeless… Hip hop isn’t as exciting for me on the mainstream or even the local level these days because it’s lost it’s balance. Thank God for catalogs and discographies… 🙂
NN: What’s it like being a hip hop artist in Kentucky?
DC: Frustrating. Not to get too deep into this, because I’m touching on some of those issues in some new music coming out soon… But to put it short.. Too many rappers and not enough fans. To the point where 90 percent of the people attending local hip hop shows are other hip hop artists… One of the pieces of foundation that hip hop is built on is competition. So when you are relying on support from those that are competing against you at the same time, it muddies the waters and creates a toxic environment. Social media, the modern wave of talentless artists engaging now leading the popularity of the art form, and home studios have made it possible for damn near ANYONE to become a “rapper.” So those that have been lifelong fans and lovers of the culture are now trying there hand as a rapper.
Imagine at 35 year dude who has never played a minute of basketball in his life, waking up one day and saying “I think I’m going to try out for an NBA or semi pro team!” So in KY, more so Lexington than Louisville, you kind of have to work backwards. Hit the blogs, hit the road, make some noise and get acceptance outside the city and then come back. Even then, many of the hip hop lovers have been driven away from the local scene because of the influx of bad music that comes from it which is directly correlated to al…….. Wait a minute….. I said I wasn’t going to go deep on this answer, didn’t I?? Ok.. I’ll just stop here….. lol.
NN: What does Kentucky get right as a hip hop scene? What does it get wrong?
DC: Talent is what Kentucky gets right. Some of the most talented lyricists and producers in the world come from Kentucky. I honestly believe that and our music speaks for itself. But where we fail is in using the modern platforms to promote our art in ways that highlight our music scene individually and as a whole to our own local community as well communities abroad.
The game has changed.. The “streets” is now the net…. Mixtape DJ’s of the early 00’s are now the blogs…. The problem is many Kentucky artists have failed to make that transition.. Some of the nicest MCs in Kentucky don’t know how to convert a WAV file to an MP3 or how to make a show tape or believe the Internet is for “nerds”… So until we learn to adjust with the times and use these platforms to our advantage we won’t go to that NEXT level…
NN: Are you working on any new music? If so can you tell us about it?
DC: I am currently working on a project entitled Kingtucky. Been 2 years since my last full length album. I took a year off and then came back with a couple of EPs… My ultimate goal on this album is to push my pen to its zenith. If I die the day this album is released, I want to be known as one of the best MCs in K ever… That is obviously a long shot but I can’t push my pen to the moon if I don’t write for the stars. October or November release. Hopefully we can talk again later as the release date grows closer.
NN: What are you currently watching? Reading? Listening to? Do you have a favorite spot in Louisville to eat?
DC: Just watching movies from my epic DVD collection until TGIT on ABC starts next month.. Read the Bible daily. My favorite spot to eat in Louisville is definitely Smokehouse BBQ over on Bardstown. Ate there with my wife a couple of years ago on Derby weekend and have been hooked every since!