Published on December 16th, 2010 | by Daniela Rodriguez0
Interview | Genesis: From Grey Skies to Better Days
Hip-Hop this. Hip-Hop that. Don’t you just get tired of hearing the same complaints about hip-hop? Hip-hop is not something you learn from one day to another or do to “fit in”. It’s not the brands you wear or who sells the most albums. It is much deeper than that. It does not matter if you are white, black, brown, young, old, rich, or poor. It is a universal lifestyle. But with so many new “talented” artists that sound the same and talk about the same thing, where is the progress in hip-hop? It is obvious why hip-hop gets the criticism that it gets now. When most songs talk about having money, drugs, or some type of negative sexual connotation, many will start turning their back on it. It feels as if this once fun and conscious art has hit a plateau and can only be overcome and saved by those up and coming artists who deserve a listen, and that would be all it takes to get hooked on to them.
Take Genesis, a 25 year old artist coming from a place where there is almost no precedent of hip-hop influence, Virginia Beach. Between Virginia Beach and Chattanooga, Tennessee, Russell “Genesis” McGee Jr. proves to be a force not to be reckoned with. From constantly taking trips to New York, he has grown as a well-rounded artist. As should every artist be, Genesis isn’t closed minded when selecting what to put on his playlist in his iPod. From the likes of Jay-Z to Radio Head, he keeps a very broad spectrum of musical interests. Hoping to capture the attention of others by his music or his laid back personality, Genesis will make you seem him in a different light with just listening to one of his songs. He is trying to depict what a painter tries to capture in his art, a clear picture of everyday life and his emotions and struggles. Throughout his childhood, he went through many situations that made him question his values and what he would want his destiny to ultimately be. Being surrounded by friends who dealt heroin, coke, and crack to seeing his own beloved uncle being stabbed to death, Genesis proves to be a survivor and did not let these close encounters with jail time or even death, influence him but only give him motivation to become more than just a product of his own environment.
Having released two mixtapes so far, it already has produced some buzz. Going through Grey Skies and Grey Skies 2 , I couldn’t just pick one favorite song because they were all good. But with process of elimination, I have to say “Begging for Change” in Grey Skies and “Note to Pharrell” in Grey Skies 2 have to be my favorites. He basically had two options; he could have gone through the route of numbers or respect. The numbers route meaning how many people listen to his music OR get the respect of people that have been in the industry for many years. Without a doubt, he chose the route of gaining respect and so far, the numbers have followed. With great, quality music comes followers. Being co-signed by Joe “3H” Weinberger (music mogul), Coodie & Chike (directing duo), and Tony Williams (artist/Kanye West’s cousin), you know that has got to mean something! Joe “3H” Weinberger immediately co-signed him when he first heard “Note to Pharrell”. And so did Tony Williams when he heard “Here We Go”. Not including all the positive feedback he has gotten from social media. Look out for his next two videos, one being shot by Coodie & Chike and the other by Tem of Creative Control. Speaking of Creative Control, he will have a show premiering on Creative Control TV very soon.
DR: What are your aspirations as an artist and as a person?
G: Well, my goal right now as an artist, is to keep things organic. Keep music in the same form it comes out as…don’t want to water it down any. Its almost like a recipe to a good dish (laugh). I feel that adding too much to an already good dish could ruin it. Ttrying to stretch it out will leave something missing from it. Change is good, progression is good, but i want to change and progress as myself…and not the things around me.
DR: Are you satisfied with the response you have been getting from your music? Any bad responses? And how did you go about those bad responses if any?
G: Yes I am, fortunately no bad responses so far (laugh). But really, there is no such thing as a bad response, just opinions. Some can be encouraging, some can be aimed to cut you down…but at the end of the day, if you stay true to your music, it doesn’t matter.
DR: What are you most proud of right now?
G: I would have to say my team. Without them, many people would never have known who I was.
DR: Looking back at your life, what would be some things you would change, if any?
G: (laugh) Wow, there are so many. One thing I would change is the crowd I chose to surround myself with. I had some real good friends, but for the most part, everyone was concerned about themselves only. Best friends setting each other up to be robbed. What?! Makes no sense to me how someone from our own neighborhood, thats cool with the whole crew, set my man Mark up, and have dude killed! Over some drugs?!?! And they were good friends. He’s been over the crib on a number of occasions. Shout out to Andre “diddy-TG4G”….I remember homie. Many of them guys are doing the same things they were doing 5 years ago…not cause they have to, but because they want to. I still speak to many of them, but still, a made up mind is the hardest to change.
DR: What are some projects you are working on right now?
G: Well right now we have the new official video “Here We Are” shot by Chike. I’m working on an EP that will be released sometime early next year..umm, yeah, we got the show airing on Creative Control TV under “Genesis the GreyKid”. Thats going to be a show where you get to peer into the creative mind, building process, and the day to day environments I’m in doing this music thing, “indie”. It will include a lot of people I work with or rock with in the industry…all pushing us toward the same goal. (laugh) Dope music!
DR: What are you best at personally?
G: Most people tell me poetry and ideas…I know that sounds weird right (laugh), somebody is like, “What are you best at?” and I say, “ideas”.
DR: What was your dream job as a kid and why?
G: To be a basketball player. My dad played a lot of basketball and won all kinds of trophies that he used to have around the house. So majority of my youth revolved around basketball.
DR: Are you happy in the position you are in right now in your life or are you still waiting to accomplish many more things to finally be happy?
G: I’m extremely happy with my current position in life. The important things are in their proper place….family, spirituality, health. All the other things that follow, like music, I feel that will always grow. As long as I grow in music, I’m happy…the success of it is just a perk to the growth.
DR: What passions do you have aside from music?
G: Chess, wine, and just thinking…I love to sit around and just think.
DR: What is one thing you would like everybody to know about you?
G: How down to earth I am…never want people to feel like I’m any different than they are.
DR: Do you feel like you are put in a box when making music?
G: Yeah, I think everyone tries to put someone or something in a box. What I try to do, is be out of the box with my thought pattern, my subject matter and lyrical wit. They can always box your music and say “He does club joints” or “He’s a conscious rapper”, but they can never box the picture you painted on Mars. Showing them you went out of your way to paint this picture is what makes them recognize your different than the other hundred billion guys doing music (laugh).
DR: In the process of making Grey Skies and Grey Skies 2, which one challenged you the most as an artist?
G: They really both came naturally to me. We recorded GS 1 in a day. I had some verses that no one really heard, I came up with a bunch of new ones, then put the album together. The intent of GS 1 was really to just give to my friends/clients…(laugh) I only printed up 20 cd’s at first. James Wood and my brother Serontae Royster were really the first ones to get me to think about making more. GS 2 came together in about 3 days…most of the songs done in 1 day. The EP will be the biggest challenge for me, because I’ve never done one. I’m really taking my time with the EP, putting out the best work I can possibly make right now. I see the mixtapes as practice, we had a really good practice. Now its time to really go in….all the way.
DR: What would be a typical day in the life of Genesis?
G: (laugh) Wake up…if i’m not going out of town, eat at Applebees, or freestyle with my brother. Play a game of chess, meet up with Mike G. and debate some idea I came up with. Meet up with the wife, go downtown to eat…head to the house, open one of my bottles of wine, write some crack in my head to some instrumental I’ve never heard before (laugh).
DR: Any words for those who are trying to get their music heard as well?
G: Never stop thinking….the music will come. If you don’t think about what to do with your music, then you won’t go far “typically”. Coincidence is much rarer and harder to capitalize on than a planned out strategy. (laughing) You seen the beer commerical? With the old spanish guy, when he’s like “…stay thirsty my friends”. (laugh) It’s kinda like that with music. You gotta stay thirsty.
For more information on Genesis:
http://iamgenesis.bandcamp.com/track/begging-for-change (Genesis – Begging for Change)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4kBSZltZhk (Genesis – “Note to Pharrell” Music Video)
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