First Look: KOTA The Friend
We interview KOTA The Friend for our first look series.Read More
More love over there, than over here is a popular phrase for underground Hip Hop artists. From Wordsworth to Little Brother, Dilated Peoples to Pugs Atomz, many emcees spit bars about feeling neglected in their hometowns, and Chicago grew quite a rep for sending artists elsewhere to achieve some sort of validation before gaining the Windy City’s love. It’s perplexing and frustrating for some, daunting for others, and disappointing for most. But, not so much Bullet, a Chicago emcee that reps hard…for Jupiter that is. Bullet explains,
“I personally got tired of trying to be a part of something that was so cliquish. I got tired of reaching out to certain people, so I did it on my own and was like, ‘you know what? You can have Chicago. My mind is somewhere else.’ Hence the reason I rep Jupiter.”
But Bullet’s not all Rodney Dangerfield. While he battles for more attention in the city, he has built a solid foundation outside city limits and hopes to capitalize on them witha record deal. Bullet talks about his plans, speaks more on Chicago, and breaks down his outerspace ambitions vs. Lil’ Wayne’s. Check it out below.
RubyHornet: When did your fascination with things outer-space-ish start?
Bullet: About 3 years ago. I mean, most of it has nothing to do with being from outer space. It’s more to do so with the fact of not caring about fitting in. Like before I even actually started writing about stuff from that aspect, all of my social networks and people who have talked to me in person I’ve told them I’m from Jupiter. I did not want to fit in with anyone I was just my own person. I had no problem being myself. I then got more into it when I realized how segregated the Chicago music scene was. I personally accomplished a lot and I felt like, ‘man, if I lived anywhere else doing what I do, it would be a different story.’ So without being politically correct, I know a lot of people that feel this way but don’t say it. But I personally got tired of trying to be a part of something that was so cliquish. I got tired of reaching out to certain people, so I did it on my own and was like, ‘you know what? You can have Chicago. My mind is somewhere else.’ Hence the reason I rep Jupiter.
RubyHornet: At what point did you marry that interests with your interest in music and making music?
Bullet: I married the interests around last year during my first project, Back to the Lyrics. I had a record called “Earth Girls”. That was the record that got me buzzing on the net. That record came about because people would always say I’m not from here at all cause I’m always spaced out. I’m always thinking. So when we made the hook we kept that in mind because we had initially another hook that was more “common” to radio. But I took a risk with “Earth Girls” and it worked. That ended up becoming my brand. Martians and Robots. Me doing that leaves me open to so much stuff creatively to talk about because I’m not stuck in the box most people are in. I can take it where ever I want to go.
RubyHornet: Lil’ Wayne also uses the alien or martian title, do you feel any sense of identification with him or how he uses it? How do you think your interpretation of being from outerspace compares to his?
Bullet: Not at all. I was kind of confused because I had it first. Not to say I started anything, but you can literally look up my record. It came out before a lot of these people started talking about being a martian and being from outerspace. If you listen to “Earth Girls”, Slot-A says in the beginning ‘Yo Bullet, we about to take them on something new.’ Now, it couldn’t have been new if someone came out before me and I wouldn’t have gotten certain things if I was looked at as being a carbon copy. I think what Lil’ Wayne means by being a martian is that other rappers are not competing with him, so he is so on another level. But the thing I hate about it is that artists who are followers take from that and now turn it into a trend.
RubyHornet: Do you see any of these themes being too much for people, or closing you off to an audience that may just see all the imagery, etc. and go, ‘this is just too much’?
Bullet: Well not at all for the simple fact that I can actually rap. I can actually write song. But what’s all of that without the brand? You can be the best rapper ever. You can be the best singer ever. But if you don’t have a brand, something people can buy into then it is pretty much pointless. If you have nothing to market, it’s pointless. Especially in these times you can’t just be like, ‘Yo, I’m a dope rapper.’ EVERYONE is a rapper. I don’t even claim rapping anymore to be honest. My Genre is Pop/Hip Hop. I got tired of everyone saying they can rap. On top of that, people are trying to turn the “space” theme into a trend. So, now to separate myself from them, my imagery has to be on point and I have to always come with 100 percent better material, which is easy for me because that’s my lane.
RubyHornet: As an independent artist from Chicago, how do you see Chicago’s current Hip Hop scene, strictly from your point of view?
Bullet: Well, from my point of view…It’s cool to a certain extent. I stopped really caring about it after a certain point. I will go to some parties I will go support some artists at shows, but other than that I do not pay attention to here anymore. You get tired of all the cliques. It’s a shame that all my money from music comes from outside of this city. I have worked with Big Names outside of this city. And I’m doing 70 percent of most of this stuff on my own. The other 10 percent is production by Slot. The other 20 is a team of people helping me to get where I have to go. But as far as people coming together, somewhat that is happening with certain people, but people are still stuck in their ways, which is why I don’t bother…Long Story short, support me I support you.
RubyHornet: Where do you see yourself within that scene? Do you feel the love from Chicago?
Bullet: Well personally, within the scene, I feel like the guy that everyone knows but since I’m not a part of a certain “clique” I’m just there. I get along with everyone and that’s how I will always be. To answer your 2nd question, that’s a yes and no answer. Yes I get love from a lot of people. They respect my art and they respect the grind that comes after the art is done. The little people that don’t show me love are like the anonymous people on fakeshoredrive. I don’t even read comments on there, but one time I read it and some comment was like” this isn’t Chicago” or something like that, and my thing is, ‘does it look like I’m trying to compete with artists in Chicago? Have you not been studying what I’m doing?’ I sound NOTHING like what people say Chicago is. I’m from here, and I love it, but my mind is elsewhere. I’m trying to compete with the Timbaland’s and Justin’s. And I’m doing a heck of a great job without a label budget.
RubyHornet: What’s the relationship like with Slot-A?
Bullet: My relationship with Slot is dope. 9 times out of 10 I just know where to go when he makes a certain record. Like, we mesh really well creatively. And it’s even dope because I’m good at songwriting and he is good at songwriting. So if I get stuck he knows what to say for a hook and that goes vice versa. We’re like tag team champs. He is Timbaland and I’m Justin. LOL!
RubyHornet: Your debut album was called Back To The Lyrics. Now, the new material that I’ve heard from you is very beat heavy, and dance music like. What’s the concentration like on the lyrics this go ‘round, and is it a misconception that lyrics fall off as the tempo increases?
Bullet: Well, with back to the lyrics, the reason it was called that was because my attention was to gain the buzz off the top Hip Hop sites and blogs which, I accomplished. BUT if you listened to the singles, they are everything of what this new project is about…My goal on the last project was for people to have the singles and understand my sound. Then when they downloaded the album they know that I can actually rap. So when I got on what I got on now, they knew I would still be spitting. I think there is a big misconception that lyrics fall off in the pop genre or dance music. Like at the end of the day songwriting consists of melody and lyric. You can’t have a great song without great lyrics and definitely not without a great melody. “Mr.Robotic” the official single that’s out now, the line everyone says is ‘Your girl wanna feel (phil) like Vivian Banks.’ I always have a line or metaphor as an opening line in 98 percent of my songs so you can know I’m not on no corny b.s. I take music very seriously in all aspects. And it’s even crazier because I have profanity free music. But people still ask me for edited so I must be good if you don’t know that I’m not cussing LOL
RubyHornet: What do you see as the real-world value of an education at Columbia College? What role do you think the school and its students play in Chi’s music and culture scene?
Bullet: To tell you the truth, without Columbia I wouldn’t be here at all. I wouldn’t have met Slot. I wouldn’t have met a lot of people that have helped me get to where I have gotten. Columbia College for me was a school of networking, but not just networking, it was more of get myself known to a point where the RIGHT people come around me. Everyone wants to do this and that but it’s only a select few of special people that does what it takes to get to their destination. Those are the people I keep around me. It also helped me learn more of what I already knew about the business so I applaud the teachers also.
RubyHornet: Favorite place in Chicago to….Waste away an hour between meetings or classes:
Bullet: The Lake by the Shedd Aquarium
RubyHornet:…Grab a quick/cheap bite to eat
Bullet: Bar Louie
RubyHornet: Impress a date
RubyHornet: Get f**ked Up.
Bullet: Lava Lounge or Tonic Room
RubyHornet: How much time would you say you put into “being Bullet” on a daily basis? What’s the hardest part of the grind?
Bullet: Well, I’m Bullet all the time. I got the name before I even got into music because of the shape of my head (well, how it used to be shaped lol). So, I’ve had that name since freshmen year of high school at Luther South. I am him and he is me. The hardest part of the grind for me is a couple things. Doing all that I do and seeing people who haven’t done it get to a certain place before me, and me trying not to care. To feel unappreciated like certain things I accomplish it’s like, if anyone else would’ve done it, it would have been like OH YEAH!! When I got in the Source magazine, or when I’m on allhiphop or became Dx Next on Hiphopdx etc etc, then the stuff other people accomplish, which sometimes isn’t that big of a deal, they get lots of praise. So that hurts sometimes, but it makes me work harder and people outside of this city support me and always want to work so I just take the good with the bad.
RubyHornet: Tell those new to you three things you’d like them to know before they go grab more music.
Bullet: I will help change music. I love Crunch Berries. And anything I put my mind too I WILL accomplish it no questions asked.
Photography By: Bradley Murray
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