“The time is now for me to burn em/N***** dropped and I
ain’t heard em/ I decided to adjourn em/ And claimed my stripes cause I done
earned em.”, states the emcee known as L.I. [Lyrically Intelligent] in the
track “The Time Iz Now” off his sophomore mixtape The Time Iz
Seemingly the newest sound out of Rochester, NY,
L.I. [born Curtis Arline III] has gain independent popularity through a strong
national fanbase and buzz-worthy lyrics to match. His recent single “Cook” has
not only been received by his loyal underground fanbase, but also condemned by
critics for its drug-based lyrical content.
With a short list of few, including SoSo Def/Virgin Records
SunNy and DJ Green Lantern, L.I. resides with the sparse number of artists that
have crossed the borders of Rochester
and into the mainstream Hip-Hop market.
Selling over 5,000 units of his latest mixtape The Time IZ
Now, this Lyrically Intelligent
rapper shares production with such hip-hop producers as Midnite [Frankie J,
Stacks, Loon, etc], Battle Roy [SWV, Frankie J, Lil Mo] and E Bass [Jay Z,
Beyonce, Fabolous], and Vato [Former in-house producer for Carl Thomas].
Whether or not an MC from Rochester,
NY is capable of bring the urban
focus back to East Coast is debatable. However, this upstate underdog hopes to
showcase his New York
State of mind and
tell us all exactly What Time It Iz.
AllHipHop.com: I read in your bio that you grew up on a little
Van Halen. Do you think that the different variety of music you grew up on has
helped you create a more unique sound for yourself?
L.I.: Yea, to be exposed to different artists.. I think its
made me a lot more broader. A lot of the music that came out in the early to
mid-nineties [has inspired me]. Like Nas, Pun, Jay-Z… a lot of them were real
lyrical but still entertaining.
AllHipHop.com: You used to spit under the name Clevy. What
made you change your name to L.I.?
L.I.: To tell you the truth, a friend was like You should
change your name to Lyrically Intelligent., because of my word-play and
whatnot. The way I told stories was always real descriptive. When I spoke about something it wasnt like I
was just rappin. So, I changed it to L.I.
AllHipHop.com: Youve worked with a lot of different producers
in the game that are known for working with major artists. Thats not an easy
thing for an unsigned artist to do. Whats been your hustle, as far as getting
different producers to work with you?
L.I.: I just try to come as hard as possible. Just like
relationships carry along from being around in the studios and whatnot. They hear
me flow and I hear the beat and if you like each-others work, you gonna wanna
hear each-other on your work.
AllHipHop.com: Whats some advice you can give to an unsigned
artist thats looking to find a producer?
L.I.: I say, just go hard at getting a fan-base. A lot of
unsigned artists make the mistake of going hard to get signed. You gotta show
[a label] that you can make money for yourself, so that you can show them that
you can make money for them. Thats why I
say Go hard at doing what you do, the best you can do it, to get yourself to
the fans. Put it like this, its not as hard as it used to be to get noticed, I
dont think. The industry used to be like a fraternity. Like if you wasnt
affiliated with somebody who was already in the mix.. it was almost like you
werent accepted. Its you over here and the industry over there. Now its like
the streets and the industry are intertwined. There are so many independent
movements nowadays,. You got a million people saying they got their own record
label and thing,. its just easier to get noticed.
AllHipHop.com: Your mixtape, The Time Is Now sold 5,000
L.I.: [Laughs] Yea, its
crazy. Thats my second mixtape. I did one a year ago and I didnt really get
to push it like that. A friend of mine, SunNY got signed to SoSo Def/Virgin, so
I went on the road with him and helping him with his projects.. so all that got
put on hold for a min. When I came home, just being out there, made me realize
what this is all about. It made me realize that I wasnt really doing hard work
like I thought I was. Now I got more organization in my step.
Whats been frustration as far as getting a record deal?
To really keep it real, I don’t have a frustration with all of that. I mean, of
course I want something good to come along but, I’ve really set my mind at just
going hard at getting a fan base. I’m satisfied with the way things have been
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about your single Cook and why its
been so controversial for you as an artist.
L.I.: The content of it. People automatically hear it and hear
the hook. They dont really listen to the lyrics. Im saying how it is, but
people hear, Cook the crack, make the quota.
They like, Here we go with another drug rap. If you listen to the
lyrics, I speak about how Im trying to take a different route in life. I say, I couldve traveled on the
road/with a half-a-mill a load/and said F*** the music/my coke is goin gold.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think that the public could ever be
receptive to an emcee from Rochester
bringing The East Coast back to the forefront of Hip-Hop?
L.I.: I think its possible definitely. You just gotta break
that barrier. If your hot enough and you keep coming with it. Keep coming
strong with it and you dont slouch on it. I mean, you cant deny it. If people
think its possible, then thats what it is.
AllHipHop.com: Howd you link up with Lady Luck for the track
L.I.: If I remember correctly, her peoples hit me up. I think
she had heard some of my stuff on Myspace. [laughs] Myspace is crazy. A lot of
people will say like, Oh, thats that kiddie stuff. People going think you
unprofessional and whatever. I say, Its free. You know what Im sayin? Its
free exposure and you can connect with people. So, Im up on it.
AllHipHop.com: Whats something you want people to know about
L.I.: That Im comin. Expect L.I.
To check out more of L.I.s music you can go his official