There’s something special about socially conscious rapper Stose. Beyond the tattoos, studs, and leather, lies a man who is thoughtful, kind, smart as hell, and all about bringing social injustices to light through his music. He’s also pretty damn funny.
Stose just dropped a collection of songs that is so eclectic, compelling, and edgy, that regardless of whether or not you agree with his charged political messages, you’re definitely going to want more.
You can hear old school, new school, and every school of hip hop in between on Stose’s debut EP “Civil Disobedience”. And with a healthy helping of power chords, courtesy of his veteran status in the punk world, there’s something for you rock fans as well.
“Civil Disobedience” is definitely the first step in a long, successful journey for Stose. He’s already gotten props from MTV and Paper Magazine (no big deal), and “Civil Disobedience” will for sure push things to the next level.
You’re fresh off a show at NYC’s famous club Westway. How did it feel to perform the new songs live?
It felt great! That was the first club I performed at after moving back to NYC in 2012, so that place will always have a special place in my heart. Frankie Sharp has always been very gracious to let me perform at his party “Westgay”, whenever I had a new release of some sort. It’s a shame that the gentrification of this city is responsible for this club being torn down in a few months, all so they can build more condos. But with that said, I am very glad I got to play there one more time before it closes its doors. It felt great to play the new songs live for the first time, especially in front of that crowd.
You’ve said you’re fully aware that the political content of “Civil Disobedience” might alienate you from people. What compelled you to take that risk?
I think the current state of mainstream music is mostly disheartening. Music is getting more and more whitewashed, ignorant and dumbed down. It’s losing its sense of creative awareness and turning into an easily-digestible package that can be served to consumers on a silver platter. The issue there is when you have producers and label executives telling you what to say, how to dress and what your image has to be, you lose authenticity. The things I say may alienate me, but to not say them would be to sacrifice my authenticity and that is something I never plan on doing.
Do you ever feel there’s a burden that goes along with being a socially conscious rapper?
I sometimes feel like there may be, but I try not to focus on it. From my perspective the burden lies more so within being a human and trying to do your part to make the world a better place. But personally, I experience more of an internal burden that comes with being an artist, always feeling the need to create something better than before.
You recently moved to the Bronx. Has living in what is debated to be the birthplace of hip hop had any effect on your music or the EP?
Well the EP was basically done by the time I moved to the Bronx, but I am sure it will have influence on whatever I do next. Since moving up here I have constantly been working on new songs and writing more frequently, there is definitely something magical and inspiring about this borough. Your influences include Dr. Dre and Black Flag, what do you think is the common ground between hip hop and punk rock?
It can actually be traced all the way back to the birth of the hip hop movement in the Bronx. In the late 70s early 80s, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash would perform at clubs in the Lower East Side and East Village, which were frequented by punk and new wave kids. The two disenfranchised cultures of Punk and Hip Hop were formed out of a need for music of substance, so naturally they bonded on that. From then on the two cultures clearly influenced each other yielding music such as Blondie’s “Rapture”, Afrika Bambaataa and Johnny Rotten’s group called Time Zone, and the Beastie Boys. The interesting part of my personal story is that growing up I gravitated towards both of these genres of music, before even knowing the history. I was drawn to the attitude and ideology of the two groups, and obviously I wasn’t the only one.
Fun fact… You play saxophone on the record… If you could jam with Bill Clinton, Lisa Simpson, or Kenny G, who would you pick and why?
Hahaha yeah, I did! Although Lisa Simpson is pretty socially conscious, I think I am going to have to go with Bill Clinton. He seems like a pretty real dude and I bet he’s got some crazy stories. I think I now have a new life goal, so thank you for that. Download “Civil Disobedience” here, and for more on Stose, hit up his Website, Twitter, or Insta.
Photo Credit: Jahn Hall