Monday, March 9, 2009

Hello Harlem - Harlem's Cash Interview w/ Amplified Minds

Harlem’s may think you know the name now, and if you don’t, you will. Cash is creating quite a buzz in the underground music scene with his mixtapes On My Way to Harlemwood, 1.0 and the recently re-released version On Way My to Harlemwood, 1.5, Government Approved. And after speaking with him, I found out the man behind the true meaning of Harlem’s finest.

So, where did you get the name Harlem’s Cash?

Well originally my name was just Cash. People would say, “oh yeah, he look like he’s about that money” from the way I would dress. A while later, I was told that there were way too many Cash’s out there already. And a label exec said to me one day“ everything about you is Harlem”. Thus, the name, Harlem’s Cash.

What were your experiences growing up in Harlem and what led you to music?

I was always into music. I was raised by good parents and a good family who always tried to get me into the arts, tap dance, everything. Growing up, I would always see 2 sides of Harlem, the street side, which was the dark side, filled with drugs and poverty and the fancy side, when people would get dressed to go out, and that was more so the Hollywood aspect of it. There was the wrong path and the right path. I chose the wrong path which then led me to the right path. As a child, I was really into poetry. I would see people on the corner battling, and that’s really what started the rap thing. I would be at home rhyming with my friends on the phone, so the first time I went out to battle, it was like 50 dudes standing around. My friends was like “go Jonathan”, this was before Cash, and they was like “yeah, go Jonathan”. (laughs) I was like “oh man”, but once I heard the ooh’s and aah’s, that was it.

New mixtape dropping, “On My Way to Harlemwood 1.5, Government Approved”. Tell me about it.

On My Way to Harlemwood 1.0, is the original mixtape, but on 1.5, all of the tracks been remixed by The Government.

Now you're working The Government on your mixtapes, who were initially discovered by The Roots. How did that collaboration come about?

Well I met them while I was in this group called ACES and they came through to meet Midi Mafia, who was working with us on the album. We exchanged numbers, and after ACES parted ways, we just kept in touch. It took a while for me to cultivate my sound, but they liked my vision so we just went with it. At first, the music came off sounding kind of like rock and alternative so we started experimenting with it, adding hip hop or whatever. Now, I’ve heard my music being compared to Santigold or MIA, but I’m not trying to blend with any genre. My sound is eccentric. I’m not the everyday rapper.

The Root of Evil was your first solo project. How was it transitioning from working in a group to becoming a solo artist?

In a group you have to really hold back. You can’t get as personal as you would like on a record because you only have like 16 bars and the other group members may not see or agree with your vision. As a solo artists, I can really get more personal and go in depth into the subject that I want.

How do you feel about the overall state of music and mainstream artists vs. independent artists?

I don’t really feel like music is taking a hit right now. I feel like the artists are coming out selling millions of records and using the same gimmick over and over to sell records. I like artists who take a chance with their music to do something different. Like Lil Wayne and Kanye West. When an artist is that daring, it shows that they’re growing in music. I mean you look on these videos and you see the same people, the same girls, everything is the same. I’m trying to give you something to think about more than to just dance to in the club and being fly. The advantage that independent artists have is that they don’t have to be held back by a major label.

What artists do you listen to and would like to work with?

“I don’t really listen to other artists. (laughs) I find that it jades your perception. I mean there’s a reason why you have a million records using auto tune (laughs). I’m actually inspired by a lot of artists that I listened to as a child. My family is from the West Indies, so I grew up hearing Beres Hammond, Barrington Levy, Shabba. I’m an 80’s baby, a true 80’s baby (laughs) so I listened to Biggie, early Nas, Wu-Tang, NWA, Clipse, when they first came out, and Jeezy. I think Kanye is dope. Even his fashion sense is crazy.”

Ok so now we’re gonna do a quick word association. I’ll give you the word and you give me another word or words you would associate with it.

"Ok, ok."

Harlem- “Harlem’s Cash, I embody it.”

Hip Hop- “Ever growing.”

Truth- “Lies.”

Progression- “Me.”

Be sure to check out Harlem's Cash at WWW.MYSPACE.COM/HARLEMSCASH

Check out the newest release from On My Way to Harlemwood, 1.5, Government Approved,

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