(AllHipHop Features) There have been countless rap stars to rise out of Atlanta. The city seems to constantly present new acts that eventually connect with a wider national, and in some cases international, audience.
Matt Citron is on the verge of being the latest ATLien to leave a mark on the music business. Following his years-long grind from Atlanta to New York City and back to the A, the 22-year-old former acting student took a big step toward creating an unavoidable digital presence with 2016’s Final Moments Of Forever.
The project featured fellow A-town rap representatives Cyhi Da Prynce and Money Makin’ Nique. Citron also saw his work get an influential co-sign from DJ Greg Street, the legendary radio host who has had his finger on the pulse of Atlanta’s music scene for three decades.
“He helped me like a big brother in a lot of ways. I think he helped me mature a lot too,” says Citron about his connection with Street. “That was part of the transition from a kid in college to being a man in the music industry. He was a big piece to that puzzle.”
Street states on his protégé, “Matt has the sound, skill set, and talent to be one of Atlanta’s greatest rap artists. He has a personality and sound that anybody who really loves true Hip Hop will gravitate to. He’s naturally a superstar.”
The self-described music junkie has adopted the smooth, laid back southern style as well as the brash aggression of the East Coast. He runs off names like OutKast, Organized Noize, Goodie Mob, T.I., Ludacris, Jay Z, Nas, Dipset, Busta Rhymes, Buckwild, D.I.T.C., and Just Blaze as influences.
Citron just began releasing music a few years ago, but his musical lineage traces back to a grandfather that played saxophone professionally. Even though Citron never met his gramps, that instrumentalist gene still seeped into the scion.
Rather than playing the sax, Matt is mastering using his voice as an instrument by flipping his flows and diversifying his delivery. He puts those skills on full display throughout Final Moments Of Forever.
Discover more about Matt Citron in AllHipHop.com’s “Three Questions” interview series.
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On “Election Day,” you seem to suggest that ghostwriting might be a form a cheating. Do you think a rapper that uses ghostwriters can be considered one of the greatest emcees of all time?
I don’t think so. But I can jump back and forth on that. It’s a tough question because obviously an artist that I always looked up to was Drake. And I think the reason I loved Drake so much was because he was not just a musician or just a rapper. He played the game so well, like chess. We saw that in its best display in the whole interaction with Meek Mill.
One thing, you can’t be out here saying, “I’m the hardest spitter.” It’s like, “Why use a ghostwriter?” I’ve had different theories on why Drake had Quentin Miller and other writers on that project. I thought he was trying to take some pressure off writing songs on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late so he can keep his mind focused on Views.
But honestly, I feel like rap is the most personal genre of music in terms of vocals. In R&B, Folk, and other genres, it’s more ambiguous. You almost don’t expect the artist to be telling the truth. You can say they’re interpreting someone’s story from their point of view.
In Hip Hop, it’s so personal. When someone said, “I did this.” You expect they did it. If they didn’t do it, then you feel they’re a liar. So when someone in Hip Hop has someone else write their own words, I almost feel like how is that even possible? If you have someone help you with hooks or help expand your writing ability, that’s different. But when you have someone writing the actual words, I just think you’re not really a true lyricist, you’re not a true spitter.
Drake is still, to this day, one of my favorite artists to watch in terms of how he plays the game and manipulates different situations into his favor. But for me, I got to reel it back to a personal level. I said, “If I get to the point in my career where I can no longer write my own lyrics because I feel like I’m not that sharp with the pen, God forbid, I’m just going to step away.” Then I’ve said everything I need to say. I’m not just going to force it.
If you could only listen to three Just Blaze tracks for the rest of your life, what three tracks would it be?
Damn, that’s crazy. Okay. The first one would definitely be “Public Service Announcement” by Jay Z. That’s one of my favorite songs of all time. Maybe “Oh Boy” by Cam’ron and Juelz Santana. And then maybe “Touch The Sky” by Kanye West.
I think those show the three sides of Just Blaze. “TSA” is hard and aggressive. Then you got “Oh Boy” which is real smooth. Then you got “Touch The Sky” which almost has this inspirational bounce that’s very bright and has a positive feel to it.
Atlanta is an epicenter for a lot of rising talent, particularly in Hip Hop. What is it about Matt Citron that makes him stand out from everybody else in the city?
I think the thing that makes me stand out is probably the thing that makes all the artists in Atlanta stand out. It’s really what makes Atlanta stand out from all the other areas in the country and the world.
I get asked a lot if I ever catch flack from Atlanta because I don’t sound like everybody that’s coming out of there right now. To be honest, I think there are a lot of people that try to copycat other people’s style.
But I think the reason the main guys coming out of Atlanta have been so successful and the reason Atlanta continues to stay on top is because the guys in Atlanta are not afraid to sound different, they’re not afraid to separate themselves from the sound people might expect.
OutKast started that trend. It was the Booty Shake music that was popular in Atlanta when they came out. At first, people didn’t take to them because they sounded so different. But they blew up.
Then you got guys like Gucci. He came out and blew everybody away. Then more recently, Future kind of invented that Auto-Tuned, gutter singing-rapping style. Then you keep moving where you have Young Thug, who does these unbelievable runs with his voice. Migos got that real crazy, choppy flow.
Say what you want, but if the kids f-ck with your stuff then you’re doing something right. I appreciate all the music coming out of Atlanta. Look at someone like Lil Yachty who’s getting so much backlash for being different. But he’s being different and people are taking to it.
So what makes me love this city so much and what has made me able to do what I do coming out of the city is that I feel comfortable being different here. I feel comfortable doing my own thing and people from the area support it.
I never heard anybody not show me love because I didn’t sound like this, that, and the other. It was always like, “Yo, you’re making dope music, so we f-ck with you.” I think that’s the mentality everybody in the city has. It’s like, “Oh, they’re making dope music and they’re from Atlanta? We f-ck with them and support them.”
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Stream Final Moments Of Forever below.