Washington, D.C is a place still ascending, musically (rap specifically). CAMARABI plans to blow the doors off for the heart of the DMV. We took the time out to interview him recently: Peep what he had to say, below:
Salutations bro: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get started?
I always rapped and produced at the same time. I started making beats around 12 years old and used to come up with basic raps to go over them. I had friends who were heavy into rap culture and we used to have freestyle cyphers and make songs together.
How was DC growing up?
I think like any city, there are good things as well as not so good things. The city has a rich history and I think I learned a lot just by living there. It has a lot of free museums which my mother would take me and my siblings to. Our downtown area always reminded me of Rome because the buildings look ancient.
We also have our own style, lingo and local culture, as well our own music form (Go Go. I remember a lot of crazy things happening growing up, but there were also a lot of good times I had. Overall, it was a unique city to grow up in and I wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else. It definitely influenced who I am today.
Ok, so name your biggest influence…
It’s tough for me to pin down a specific one, because growing up, I liked a lot of different Hip-Hop artists for different reasons. Each region had certain artists who I kept in rotation. For instance, on the West coast I was rocking with [Dr.] Dre, 2 Pac and Snoop [Dogg]. Down south, I listened to a lot of the artists on No Limit and Cash Money [Records], and I was rocking with Texas artists like the Geto Boys and UGK. Scarface was real popular in DC. On the East coast, rappers like DMX, Nas, Biggie and Jay Z were my favorites.
Why do you think you’re able to draw inspiration from so many different styles of artists?
I think it’s because of my production roots. I like to listen to all types of music. I believe you can find inspiration anywhere if you are open-minded about it.
If you can, put your style in words…
I think my style of music is motivational. I like creating songs that sound like the part of a movie where someone just triumphed. The climax. Like music that you listen to while you get to your hustle or grind.
As far as my production style, I would say it’s cinema-influenced. I like beats that paint a picture in your head or take you somewhere. Every beat can’t sound like that but those are my favorites. Those instrumentation-heavy beats that have a luxury feel to them.
Do you consider yourself “conscious”?
I don’t really think of myself as a conscious rapper. I would say a self- and social-awareness comes across in my music, though. I do have a couple of songs where I touch on social subjects, and plan to do more of that. Right now, I almost like to use the music as a diary.
Describe your “Come-Up” so far…
It’s definitely been a grind. For most of my music career, I worked as a producer. I would make full songs of my own here and there but kept them to myself. Mostly for fun and experimenting. I started putting some of them out eventually and I’m grateful to get a positive response on them. So I kept dropping them and taking music more serious.
What’s your biggest challenge as an artist?
Getting more songs out! I produce most of my own songs, so it can take more effort to get everything where I want it. It’s easier when I just jump on someone else’s beat because I can just think about the vocals. I would say the silver lining of self-producing is having more control of the sound, though.
Describe your songmaking process…
Making the beat and getting the music and instruments where I want them is always a first step, because hearing the right sounds and notes motivates me to paint a certain picture with the vocals. I might listen to the beat on repeat over some days and try to feel what it’s telling me. Like find the energy or personality of the beat. When I write the actual lyrics, I try to keep my mind on that theme and bring it out more. One of my favorite parts of the songmaking process is creating music videos. I’m a visual person, so seeing my music come to life in that way is always something I look forward to.
What legacy will you leave?
Only time will tell, but I would hope that people hear my passion for music in my songs and my songs connect with them at the right time.
Plug your new single/project…
My latest song I just dropped is called “Same.” I think it’s definitely one of those triumphant kinds of records. I enjoyed the process of creating it because I got to work with a horn player on the production-side to really bring that larger than life feeling through. It’s out now everywhere.