Story By Mr Ceza | Photo Courtesy ???

Where are you from and what was life like for you growing up

 I’m From Washington Heights in New York City, and life growing up in the neighborhood was very multi-faceted. A lot of good-hearted people, a lot of not-so-good people. Crime was as prevalent as the beautiful women and good food. Overall though, everyone is on their hustle. And you couldn’t be on blocks you weren’t from unless you were respected. It all played a huge role in shaping who I’ve become.

How old were you when you started rapping?

I was 11 when I discovered my passion for writing rhymes, and at 12 I recorded my song. Its funny, I didn’t know bar structure then, so i would just write paragraphs and paragraphs until I was satisfied with that stream of thought. The first time I put ink to paper in that way, I knew it was meant to be.

Who were you influenced by growing up and in your early years as an emcee?

 Some of my biggest early influences growing up were guys like Nas, Mobb Deep, Pac of course. My biggest influence and the reason I started rhyming was Wu Tang. That Triumph record was mind blowing when I first heard it! Changed the course of my life.

How significant do you see them being on your own style and content?

My musical influences were not particularly present in my content. My muse was my environment, the content always drew itself from there. Stylistically I’m a fusion of the Salsa and Merengue I grew up listening to, the hip hop artists I loved that paved the way, and the streets that raised me. All which translates into a unique experience for the listener.

How did you break into the scene?

 In 2014 my first mixtape, “A Star In A Broken Sky” began circulating on a grassroots level and at that time I was introduced to Wordsworth by our mutual friend, Range. It was then that I met the rest of the eMC crew (Masta Ace & Stricklin) and got the opportunity to be featured on “Fly Thoughts,” which ended up being the first single off their “Tonite Show” album. The rest was history.

Who have you worked with?

 I’ve done some amazing records with Masta Ace, Cassidy, Crooked I, Khrysis, Marco Polo, Talib Kweli, Kool G Rap, Blu, Rasheed Chappell, Torae, Wordsworth & Syll among other incredibly talented artists and producers. 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My inspiration is drawn from my experiences mostly, as well as the experiences of others. I dissect life through my art.

Can you describe your creative process?

 The creative process can happen anywhere, at any time. I’m pretty much a vessel for whatever message I need to convey through the music. Sometimes I write it down, sometimes I just freestyle it. It’s truly up to the moment.

Where has your music taken you performance wise?

 I’m blessed to say it’s taken me around the world. I’ve toured all over Europe, Canada and the U.S multiple times, and there’s still so much more to see on this journey.

Where would you most like to travel and perform?

I still haven’t been to Africa or Australia. I’ve connected with fans in both regions, it would be fun tear some stages down out there for sure.

What was your last project released and where can it be listened to or downloaded?

My last project was my debut album, “Live From The First” which was dope as hell and fun to create. Its available on all major music streaming platforms.

Have you got new music in the works?

 I have an album in the works with Wordsworth called “Champion Sounds,” entirely produced by Quincy Tones. Also working on my 2nd solo album, an EP with Syll and some more incredible stuff I’m keeping secret for now. Stay tuned!

What do you hope to achieve in the coming years as an artist?

 I hope to uphold the integrity of quality in music, touch lives and continue to contribute value to the culture. I’ve won an ASCAP award, but my ultimate goal is to win a Grammy.

What’s on the cards for 2019?

More life, more growth and more peace. Oh, and more music releases of course!

IG @ItsPearlGates

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