El Genius- Shout Weekly Interview

El Genius By MarQ Manner The hip-hop scene in Omaha was once considered more of an afterthought and a genre that Omaha musicians could not compete in on a national level. A lot has changed in recent years with hip-hop artists from Omaha reaching out beyond this city, putting out quality records and mix-tapes, and putting out some of the more high-quality videos that anyone from any genre in town has produced. Over the years some of the “underground” or “indie” hip-hop artists have made a name for themselves on live stages, but the artists more in tune with what is happening on the charts and radio have kept to themselves, their studios, and have not branched out. More and more of these artists are getting the opportunity, and making those opportunities happen for themselves and branching out not only in town but well beyond. Omaha hip-hop artist and producer El Genius is one of those making things happen. I recently interviewed El Genius in his space inside Make Believe Studios in South Omaha. I found him to be confident in his ability, knowing exactly what he wanted, and having a plan to make that plan happen. His plan was streamlined, well thought out, and unlike any that I have heard from any other artist or musician of any genre. He was not talking about groundbreaking things; he was just talking about common sense plans that could actually work. El Genius will be releasing his new CD “The Long Ride II” on June 7 on iTunes and at other outlets. El Genius will have a CD release party on June 9 at 415 in the Old Market as part of Hip-Hop Revival Episode XII. For more information go to elgenius.com. Shout! – Tell me how you got started? El Genius – I have ben rhyming since I was 12 years old, and I am almost 29 now. I don’t even remember too much before that time. I just did it because I was curious if I could do it or not. I just got progressively better. I have always believed in myself and I have been coming up like nobody has, especially in rap. So we started off recording on like tape decks, and I don’t mean like reel to reel, but like cassette tapes and we grew from there. I just had a passion for it. Even when I went in the Army that was something I could lean back on. It was an escape from reality for me. Shout! – When were you in the military? El Genius – 2000-2004-I was overseas when 911 happened. I was in Kuwait. Shout! – Do you speak about your military experience in your lyrics? El Genius - Oh yeah- definitely. A lot of it, a lot of the pride in my music comes out from my time in the military. I take a lot of pride in what I do. You know that. Shout! – When did you first start to put out music? El Genius – I dropped The Long Ride in early 2007. Then we rode that little wave and that is when I first came out and was doing shows and meeting people. From 08 to 09 we put out the Big 3 mix tape with ASO and King James. Shout! – What did you do to prepare for The Long Ride II? El Genius – I went to Portland and Seattle to get away from everyone for a while. I have a producer out there, two actually. I was working with the guys from Max B’s crew also. As far as the recent indie’s go he is very important. This is one that I started with E. Babbs right before I went to Portland. Then I went to Portland and Seattle and that is when I did a lot of production for it and I wanted to find a place where I could record. I have my own studio at home. I was working out of there for a year-that is when I recorded a lot of music. I have the Gothic City Chronicles mix tape coming out-that is actually coming out with the album and that will be a freebie. That is all original from the ground up to the last sample. It is my s**t. No usual mix tape bullshit. Shout! – You seem to do a lot of the music and take care of the business yourself. El Genius – Yeah big time, from start to finish I don’t have to go outside for anything. I like to micro manage shit. I am pretty much in house from the initial idea to the final output besides the mass production. When it comes to making a beat for a visual purpose or a track I can use my business degree. A lot of those people are just hood ass mf’s that do not have the business aspect down and they go nowhere. Some have been someone where and they won’t go there again because their money is not there. This is a business and if you don’t realize that you are an idiot, you just another knuckle head. Shout! – So what is your business plan? El Genius – I want to go with the regional market and then overseas, because that is important. You have your regional support and your overseas support and that creates a national support. It’s impossible to reach any major labels without going through all the channels. If you don’t have a lot of money already these cats don’t want to deal with you. So this is just blow up when you show up. Especially now because everyone wants to be a rapper or artist. I just use strategic hustle. Shout !- Explain “strategic hustle.” El Genius – It doesn’t guarantee no win, but you learn from it. Even if you lose, you win from it. I don’t want to be forgotten. I feel that I am too talented to be forgotten. I am 28. Imagine when I am 35? That is another 7 years for me to strategic grind. Imagine where I will be then? I am one of the cats who has the keys to where he lives, and that is not just the door to my house but this town. Not too many people can say that. Shout! – Did you collaborate with anyone on The Long Ride II? El Genius – One was recorded with Lindsay Donovan (Omaha song-writer), “The Call” she is on the keys. This album ain’t like anything that I have ever done before. It is like a real string heavy and a dope ass album. Shout!- What about touring? A lot of local hip-hop artists do not tour. El Genius- If the numbers aren’t right then I am not doing it. If they are I will. Shout – Are there any tracks that mean anything in particular to you? El Genius – A lot of them, can’t say one particular. There is some where I just want to have fun and have an easy beat and just murder it. (he starts rapping over a track at this point). Shout! – You seem to have found a new focus since you have returned from your travels. Why did you leave? El Genius – At the time I didn’t know. Something was compelling me to just leave, leave, and leave. I have noticed I follow a pattern where I am driven to a point of self-destruction. That was one those points, where I couldn’t get over things and that just made it more complicated. I was just far away from home when I should’ve been at home taking care of business. I just spent like a month up in Harlem slumming. Shout – Harlem isn’t the same as it once was, is it? I mean The Clintons had space there. El Genius – Are you kidding? The apartment I was in was smaller than this room; we were in the other part of Harlem. It’s so dope, it’s like the black American Mecca. It’s like where black is beautified. It was great to make a record there. I was recording by where KRS 1 was first starting off. You know how the Muslims go to Mecca every year? We should go to Harlem every year, real talk-I really believe we should.