Nothing is wrong with music to turn up to or trap music. It's all forms of expression, and it gives listeners choices. Although this is true, in a time where the market and the radio waves are flooded with boastful rhymes about weed, sex, clothes, and strip clubs it is quite a breath of fresh air to hear someone use their talents to speak about things that everyday people can relate to. The artist I'm talking about is a rising star by the name of Johnny Hobbes. His stage name consists of the first name Johnny, which is his middle name and his uncle's first name. His Uncle was like a father to him, so the name represents family, heritage, and his struggle. His last name is from the philosopher Thomas Hobbes whom he credits as sparking his interest in learning. During my time speaking with the young artist, I was able to learn a variety of things that made him into the person that he is today.
What made you want to get into hip-hop?
I wasn’t raised in an environment that listened to or created a lot of hip-hop. Growing up in Ann Arbor, MI there wasn’t a huge hip hop scene in fact a few guys I went to high school with are basically the scene now, which is interesting to see the type of scene I would have been apart of, had I stayed. So yea, we mostly new the big names, I got into Jay-Z in the late 1990s and them Eminem in 2000. I listened to ONLY them and Will Smith for a few years then came Kazaa, Napster, and Limewire. These opened up a whole new world to me. I delved deeper in hip-hop at that point. That was in 2002. This is when I truly discovered what hip hop was I found Pun, Big L, BIG, and 2pac, Rakim, DMX, NWA the list goes on. I would just download and soak up all that hip-hop greatness. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in until I heard Nas’ God’s Son and Talib Kweli’s Quality. That was when I knew I could belong in hip-hop as well.
In terms of getting into hip-hop as a creator of it I actually dedicated the first verse of my song Be at Peace off my upcoming project End of Resistance to that experience. I won’t geo into much detail here but I was asked to freestyle in a cypher in ‘03 and I had never rapped before! So I went home to write my first rap and never stopped after that.
What can people expect from your past, present, and upcoming music?
Past: Inspiring and socially aware music. I did a lot of reflecting on the world around me so you will hear a lot of my evolving perspective on the world that I inhabit on Hanged Man Chronicles Vol 1: Grind Beneath the Grind.
Present; More inspiring and conscious music. I’m finishing up my next project ‘End of Resistance’ now. There is more self -reflection on this project. I’m turning the eye inward and looking at the affect the world has had on me. I’ve grown immensely as a songwriter and I’ve found some amazing producers who are working with me to create a consistent sound.
Upcoming: I’ve got plans upon plans for after End of Resistance. But right now I’m focused on finishing ‘End of Resistance’.
What is your creative process like when it comes to making music?
Hmmm usually I hear a beat and it will inspire me to tell a particular story. What I look forward to doing more is having pre established concepts and even a chorus or pre chorus and I will sit with one of the producers I am working with and make the sound to what I’ve already conceived in my head.
What artists we're you influenced by?
I’m really feeling new cats like Kyle Bent, Raheam Lawrence, Raury, Willow and Jaden Smith. Any artist who is pushing a positive message in a unique way.
What do you think about the current state of Hip-hop?
I love it. There’s something for everyone. More and more fans are using their energy to support an artist that they like rather than complaining about artists they don’t like. And they are dictating the direction of the industry. Drake, J Cole, and Kendrick Lamar are major artists who sell millions because they built strong followings for years in the underground and that following has stuck by them and made them huge. It might not seem like it now, but Drake doing the singing and rapping about feelings thing, wasn’t cool when he started doing it. He and his fans forced the industry to listen and play it. Artists are using the low cost of making and distributing their own music, blogs like Real Convo are showcasing artists with a message but without major backing so lovers of hip hop are finding each other with the big conglomerate middle man. I love it.
What is your vision for your career?
Whoa! Man I could write a book to answer that question haha! I’ll just say for now I want my music to contribute to the paradigm shift happening. The shift that recognizes that the human race is one family. That says more than I’m American, or Tennessean or any member of any ethnic group- I’m human. And that any power that I need to achieve my dreams and recognize my potential is already inside of me. I want to make music for those people. And for the people that are very close to seeing it that way. And also for everyone else, haha!
I heard that you had a stand up comedy performance a few months ago. How do you like performing stand up? Can we look forward to more comedy from you in the future or will you be integrating comedy with your hip-hop?
Yes! I most definitely will be integrating comedy into my performances. Just doing a joke or two here than there between songs to set up the songs would be ideal. Not looking for a special any time soon. But opening up the audience with laughter is essential. That’s the best way to open someone up. The more mediums to express truth one uses the more people they will reach.