AllHipHop.com caught up with a Coney Island, Brooklyn MC whose lyrical ability is definitely a wild ride! Torae filled us in on everything from his thoughts on preparing for live shows, to his beverage making abilities, and “Off The Record” the new EP he just dropped. Check out how AllHipHop.com got “Off The Record” with NYC’s own Torae:
AllHipHop.com: OK, so for those who think you are a new artist, or that you have only featured on other artists’ projects, can you give a brief overview of how long you’ve been out here working on this music thing, and what some of your favorite projects are that they should check for?
Torae: Well, professionally I’ve been putting out music since 2006. My official first 12” single was “Promises” with my group, The Coalescence. As far as my own projects, I think you should check for all five, but if I had to pick just one, I’d say my debut album, For The Record.
AllHipHop.com: You are known for a lot of things, lyrical acrobatics being just one, but what would you personally like to be known for? What would make you overjoyed to read it about yourself?
Torae: I make the world’s best red Kool-Aid!! Once the Kool-Aid man busted into my living room for a glass, it was awesome.
AllHipHop.com: I hope the readers take note that you said “Red Kool – Aid” – this is very important! I salute you, sir! [laughter] But seriously, anyone who’s seen you live knows you really go all out with each performance. What all do you do to prepare for a show?
Torae: Show preparation for me is key. I’ve seen countless performers lose the crowd by not being prepared and not interacting with the crowd. Me and my DJ E Holla definitely get in that rehearsal space and work on giving the people a dope live show. Guys like Busta Rhymes, Masta Ace, Big Daddy Kane, Meth & Red, as well as Kanye West, inspire me to want to bust *ss on that stage.
AllHipHop.com: Totally understood. What do you think about MCs that rhyme over their own vocals in a live show? Would you ever do it?
Torae: I think that’s “THE WORST SH*T EVER” like, really, you’re just going to go on stage and rap over your raps. I think it’s super unprofessional and sounds horrible. With that being said, if it’s an impromptu something that’s different, but doing a whole set of vocals is not hot, period. If I wanted to hear your song vocals, I’d stay home and listen to the song!
AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk about this project you have out now. Talk to us about the highs and lows while making it. What was your favorite part of creating this effort? What made you wish you never started it in the first place?
Torae: Well, my current project is an eight-song EP titled Off The Record. It’s a spin-off of my debut album, For The Record, which was released last year. These eight songs are joints that for whatever reason weren’t included on For The Record. Not because they’re wack or anything, but just because I recorded a few songs with certain producers, then picked the one that I felt fit best on the album. The only lows with putting this project out was me not wanting people to judge it as an album. It’s just eight dope songs, and that’s it. It’s not conceptual like my previous works, and it’s not as well-rounded. It’s just eight records I wanted to present to the people.
AllHipHop.com: What if anything, did you learn about yourself while working on this project?
Torae: I learned how much I care about releasing product that tells a story. The one hang up I have about Off The Record is that, although the songs are dope compared to a fully thought out Torae release, this isn’t even close. It’s still dope, but not like For The Record, Double Barrel, or even Heart Failure conceptually.
AllHipHop.com: Who did you work with on this new EP? And do you have any interesting stories about putting it together that you would like to share?
Torae: Pretty much everyone who appears on the EP is also on the album, and these songs were made during the same sessions. So there’s 9th Wonder, Marco Polo, Eric G, E. Jones, and Da Beatminerz, and the lead single, “Getting’ Biz”, is produced by Khrysis. Funny thing about that song is the chorus you hear isn’t the original one I wrote. I had something different, and I told Khrysis I wanted him to get on and say the chorus as well. This fool went and wrote something brand new and laid it down. I was taken back initially, but I couldn’t front it added a dope element to the song so we kept it.
AllHipHop.com: Will you be shooting any videos for this EP?
Torae: Definitely want to shoot “Getting’ Biz”. It’s a really fun song, and I think it would make for an ill video. If you’ve every seen any of my visuals, you know I like to drop dope clips, so if we can come up with something fun and entertaining, it’s on.
AllHipHop.com: So, what is this we’re hearing about you being a radio star, as well as everything else you have going on? We’re hearing the show is pretty serious!
Torae: [laughter] Nah, I’m not a radio star, just doing my part to put on for the culture. But yes, every Sunday night on SiriusXM’s Hip Hop Nation, DJ Eclipse and I have a show called “Rap Is Outta Control” – two hours of dope Hip-Hop music. Not what you hear all over terrestrial radio all day long. DJ Eclipse breaks new records and artists weekly, while I provide the humorous conversation and questions. It’s been working well the last two years, so maybe after the stage, there’s a place for me on the air. I have a face for radio.
AllHipHop.com: Get out of here, face for radio! [laughter] OK, then would you like to do a “radio shout out” to anybody? [laughter]
Torae: Actually, yes, shouts to DJ Eclipse for giving me a shot on radio. Also big shout to the bosses Ron Mills and Reggie Hawkins for not getting rid of me every time I did something wrong!
AllHipHop.com: Torae, if you could only use five words, to describe your music in five words, what five words would you choose?
Torae: Passionate, lyrical, insightful, fun and aggressive.
AllHipHop.com: Nice, very nice. Where can the readers check for you online?
Be sure to check out “Off The Record” and Torae every Sunday on Serius/XM’s Hip Hop Nation.
Catch up with AllHipHop.com contributor Skyyhook on Twitter (@SkyyhookRadio) and at SkyyhookRadio.com.