With every passing day, Torae’s international presence continues to grow. This time East London’s The Blu Mile chops it up with Tor about his musical influences, dream collaborations & Hurricane Sandy. Check the interview HERE or after the jump.
Torae. A name that is quickly becoming more and more recognized across the world. After the release of his first mixtape ‘Daily Conversation‘, then the collaborative project ‘Double Barrel‘ with well-known producer Marco Polo, I was given the opportunity to catch up with the Coney Islander a year after the release of his debut album, ‘For The Record‘.
Firstly I would like to just thank you again for taking the time out to do an interview with us at TheBluMile, it’s much appreciated.
So, it’s been almost exactly a year since you released your solo album, ‘For The Record’. How has the year gone since the release? Are you happy with how the album has done?
Thanks for having me. Yes For the Record just hit the anniversary mark. I’m pleased with how the album did. Could it have had more promo? Sure. Could it have sold better? Definitely, but over all I made a dope project as stated by the people & it help raise awareness that Torae was a force to be reckoned with.
Why did you name your album ‘For The Record’?
It was a play on words. I like to slip double entendres in my lyrics & once DJ Premier & I did the record I knew it would be the perfect title. Like, the songs I did were literally done “for the record” & when you’re making a statement, you make it “for the record”. See how smooth that is? Nice!
For any of those who aren’t yet familiar with your projects, how would you describe your sound?
My sound is inspired by the hip-hop I came up on in the 90’s without sounding dated. Yes there’s some Pete Rock, some Large Pro, some 9th Wonder but it’s done in a way that feels reminiscent yet fresh & current. In addition to the fact that I just get plain ole’ busy!
One of my personal favourites from the album is ‘What It Sound Like’. What is your favourite track and why?
They’re all my favorites at different times for different reasons. They all tell a story, they all mean something to me so depending on my mood my favorite switches.
You dropped the video a few months for ‘What It Sound Like’ back in September. How did you come up with the video concept and what was it like shooting in the Far East?
My friend Todd Angkasuwan the director & I spoke about shooting a video for “What It Sond Like” a while ago, once we got the scheduling together he realized he’d be in Thailand & asked if I was willing to come there to shoot it. Once we got there & the treatment just wrote itself (laughter).
There are only three guest appearances on ‘For The Record’. Was that a choice you made to allow your listeners to focus on Torae and his message?
Yes, definitely. I wanted to tell my story, my self. On “Daily Conversation” & “Double Barrel” I shared the mic with other MC’s but for the official debut I wanted to showcase Torae holding down the LP on his own.
How did it feel to be selected as The Chairman’s Choice for XXL Magazine back in 2007? How did it come about?
It was a great honor to be Chairman’s Choice. That was the 1st time I ever appeared in a magazine so it was a real big deal to me. Chairman Mao is a well respected DJ, writer & taste maker so for him to give his approval was big for me.
What was it like as a child growing up in Coney Island? What major experiences did you have that drove you to pursue music?
Coney Island is just like every other hood across America except it’s on beachfront property with an amusement park (laughter). My neighborhood definitely shaped & molded me into the person and artist I am though. I’m pretty sure I would have pursued music no matter where I came up, the content may have just been given from a different perspective.
Who were your musical influences?
Wow, too many to list. Every thing from Stevie Wonder to Bob Marley & NWA to Kid N Play. I love music period. Any genres, any sound dope music is dope music.
If you could feature on a track with two other artists, who would they be and why? And who would produce the track?
Let’s go left with this one. I’d have Raphael Saadiq produce a joint with Me, Mos Def & Marsha Ambrosius. Y’all want to hear that?
I’m an aspiring singer/songwriter. What advice can you give to any artists who are attempting to get into the music industry?
Be true to yourself. Don’t just do music trying to get a quick check or because it’s the cool think to do. Do it because it drives you, because it’s your passion. Ask yourself if you knew you’d never make a dime from music would you still do it.
We’ve seen some of the comments on your YouTube videos are from all over the world like Serbia & Macedonia. What are your future plans and will you be doing any shows across Europe?
I’ve been touring in Europe since 2008. That’s actually where I do the most shows. They’re way more accepting than the states. Since I’m not all over the radio in the US I can’t get big shows like I get over seas. I did Hip Hop Kemp in Prague with like 10,000 people, but I can’t get on Rock The Bells at home.
Finally, we know the effect the Hurricane Sandy is having on everyone in New York and states close by. We hope that everything can get back to normal ASAP. Are there any words you want to say to anyone affected by the storms?
To those affected by the storm keep praying & know that things will get better. My old neighborhood Coney Island was hit very hard and it pains me to see the people suffering like they are. Where I live now in South Brooklyn got hit pretty hard as well. There’s still no power in my apartment & my car was flooded and no longer works. Fortunately I’m able to get up & go elsewhere, but there are a lot of people cold, hungry & with no place to go. I’m working on doing something’s to rebuild the community & help the residents. It’s really, really bad right now.