Amateur skydivers begin their introduction into the action sport by engaging in a “tandem jump.” The process includes two people being connected by a harness as they hurl toward the Earth. Through training and experience the newcomer is eventually molded into a veteran able to handle jumping from an airplane on their own.
The stages of becoming an expert skydiver are comparable to the career stages of Trademark Da Skydiver. The New Orleans native started his process in the entertainment business as a co-founder of the Hip Hop collective known as Jet Life, but he has since set out on his own individual path as an artist.
Trademark’s discography features numerous songs with longtime friends and fellow Jets Curren$y and Young Roddy. He also established his own musical followers through solo projects like the Roasted EP, the Flamingo Barnes mixtape, and the Super Villain album series. Trademark is once again returning to his “Super Villain” personality for his latest commercial project.
Over 14 tracks, the comic book alter ego reintroduces fans to the character first presented on Super Villain: Issue #1. Even though Trademark may be officially skydiving solo these days, he still brings along Jet Life affiliates Roddy, Smoke DZA, Fiend, and Street Wiz for Return Of The Super Villain.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Trademark Da Skydiver to pick his brain on The Return, the split from Jet Life, and more.
Why did you decide to revisit the super villain theme for this album?
For a couple of reasons. The fans been missing that particular sound. I was under contract to do four Super Villain tapes, so this is the last one that I’ll be doing. I just wanted to take it back to that old feel. Let people know it’s not just one lane that I can get into. I can do two lanes and do good in both of them.
Do you feel like there’s a difference between Trademark the artist, the Super Villain character, and Flamingo Barnes?
Definitely, I would say that it’s really the particular style that makes them different. They have their own style, their own set up that they usually f**k with. I even speak about them in third person like they’re other people. They all bring different s**t to the table.
Outside of gangsters, most rappers don’t usually associate themselves with the “bad guy”. Why did you first embrace that persona?
I wasn’t necessarily trying to be like, “Here I am. I’m the bad guy.” I’ve been f**king with music so long, and so many people told me, “You’re not going to make it with that sound coming out of New Orleans. You’re not going to be able to do this, do that.” So it just made me take on this persona of the super villain against hate. Not on no crazy or joking s**t. That’s just how I felt at the time, so I just ran with it.
This album is being distributed through iHipHop. Your other projects have been as well. Are you still officially connected with Jet Life?
No, that’s still fam. But as far as business and my career – that’s all me.
Have you found it to be difficult to establish your own brand away from Jet Life?
Absolutely, because that’s how I came into the game. It’s like a Converse [trying to switch] over to Nike type of thing. It’s going to be hard to establish that brand. But once it’s established, once people realize you can still produce the same sound and put out quality music, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. People are still in shock behind the whole thing.
You have your own fan base that follows you and that’s looking for your music in particular. How have the fans reacted to that?
It hasn’t been a negative reaction. It’s been more of a “What happened? What’s going on? Why?” What people don’t understand is that people split up and do their own s**t and it don’t necessarily be behind no crazy s**t. It wasn’t an argument. It was what it was. It was just time for me to move on and establish my own s**t. I got homies that rap. I got homies that make beats. I know homies that shoot videos. It’s this big pool of opportunities, so why not go out there and try and make my own s**t?
I’m glad you said there’s no beef, because a lot of times the audience will say, “He’s not in business with them anymore that means there had to be some type of falling out.” I also noticed you still have a lot of the Jet Life family featured on your album.
For sure, that’s fam. It’s deeper than music. It’s way deeper than music. We started that s**t before music. It’s all good. At the end of the day, it’s always going to be fam. But business and fam don’t always mix. I’m not even saying that in a bad way. It’s hard to separate the two, because it’s going to be personal when you’re dealing with your n***as you’ve been knowing half your life. So in order to keep the peace, in order for there not be no beef and to keep s**t moving, sometimes you got to back out of s**t and go do your own thing.
You seem to be a low-key artist. You don’t tweet a lot. You don’t do a lot of interviews. Is that by artistic design or is that an extension of your own personality?
It’s really an extension of my own personality. I’m a laid back, cool dude. I don’t be on no extra s**t. I just be chilling. If somebody hits me up to do an interview I don’t say, “Nah, I don’t do interviews.” I don’t be on no s**t like that. Basically, I f**k with who f**ks with me. I’m not no attention whore type n***a. I’m low-key in the cut. I’m a “speak when I’m spoken to” type n***a. That’s just who I am. I’m comfortable with that.
I was going to ask if you feel comfortable in that space. Because it seems like in today’s Hip Hop world if you’re not going at somebody on Twitter, dropping a diss track, or actively seeking that type of attention, a lot of the public doesn’t really pay attention. But from what you’re saying that’s not your interest.
That’s not my interest. My interest is to entertain people who f**k with my brand, f**k with what I’m doing, and to keep that rolling. I’m not trying to pull no gimmicks or other s**t like that. Karma is a b***h. What goes around, comes around. I’d rather be a working artist able to put out mixtapes on iTunes and make a couple grand right quick… go on the road and make a couple grand right quick. I rather be able to do that and keep my integrity, keep who I am intact, then to have to do all this make-believe, fantasy s**t. I ain’t really with that.
It’s funny you say that, because everybody who meets me says, “I would have never thought you were this laid back, this down to earth.” In my mind I’m no different than the next man. I just have a different skill set. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to be the best that we can be and get as much as we can while we’re on this Earth. I’m no different than the next man. I don’t look down on nobody, and I don’t necessarily look up to nobody either.
What do you enjoy most about being a recording artist?
The freedom honestly. The freedom to be able to create and make a living off of this. That’s what I love the most about it. Also, touching the fans, because when you go out on the road you get to see the fans’ reactions face-to-face. They’re howling at you and wanting you to sign autographs. That’s what keeps me going. The fans definitely keep me going.