The state of Michigan has produced a number of legendary rappers. Eminem, Royce Da 5’9, Jon Connor, Big Sean, Obie Trice, and The Dayton Family are amongst the legends Rapper Substance810 hopes to add his flows to the names who have put on for the Great Lake State.
The Port Huron native is that perfect blend of lyricism, charisma and authenticity that the game has been missing for years. Substance810 already has a large body of work.
Substance810 started in 2015 with his album Osom (Outta Sight Outta Mind).” The release was followed by *Osom (Outta Sight Outta Mind, (2016), The Definition Of, (2020) and three albums this year: Makin Waves, (2021) The Hanging Gardens, (2021) and his most recent release A Righteous Offering.
AllHipHop: We have a very special guest from the Midwest, my man Substance.
Substance810: Little bro how you doing? Nice to meet you.
AllHipHop: Nice to meet you to man. I’m good man. Shouto my man Grouchy Greg, he put me onto your music and stuff like that so shout out to Grouchy Greg.
Substance810: Yeah. Shout out to Grouchy man no doubt.
AllHipHop: All right. And so you’re from Michigan, can you let me know which part?
Substance810: I’m from Port Huron, Michigan. It’s where 94 East ends on the highway. So it’s the farthest eastern point of Michigan.
AllHipHop: What is it like out there man? Because I think we’re all familiar with Detroit obviously, but what is Port Huron like?
Substance810: It’s the border town to Canada, Sarnia, Ontario. So, it’s just a bridge that separates the two. It’s just a small border town, real small town. You know what I mean? Just a real small town kind of joint. You could go from one side to the other in 30 minutes, if that. It’s really small man.
AllHipHop: What do they listen to out in Port Huron?
Substance810: We was heavily listening to a lot of East Coast rap, and a lot of (Midwest) stuff too. We was listening to Nelly a lot and a lot of East Coast stuff though. Me, personally, all the golden era, Wu-Tang and Dipset stuff a lot, The Lox, a lot in high school.
AllHipHop: So let’s get into your career. When did you start rapping?
Substance810: I started rapping probably about ’98, ’99 somewhere around there.
AllHipHop: So it’s been a steady climb for you?
Substance810: When I started writing verses and stuff like that. The first album I ever put out was like 2006.
AllHipHop: What was the name of album?
Substance810: The Definition Of.
AllHipHop: You’re not from a big town. So what gave you the courage to be like, I’m going to put out an album or put out a body of work?
Substance810: Probably technology, you know what I mean? In 2006 a lot of stuff came about. I just realized how easy it was to get your music distributed to the whole world no matter who you were, or where you were from. So that was a big influence and a big competence booster because you could do a lot man. When the internet started changing, like it did back then. So all we had was MySpace before that.
AllHipHop: I remember MySpace days. So when you first started, because you told me you started in ’98, did you feel that like that no option kind of thing? Like damn how do I get my music heard through to the world? Did you feel that small city kind of thing?
Substance810: Back then I wasn’t even putting nothing out, ’98 I was in ninth grade. So around 10th grade or so I had a creative writing class and I was writing a lot of poetry for that. And around then about ’98, ’99 in creative writing class that’s when I started writing rhymes. I ain’t really put nothing out officially. I was in a group Broader War, my neighborhood group. We was putting out CDs and going to school and selling them, burning CDs at school. But we ain’t putting nothing out on the world, on the internet or nothing like that till around 2006 or whatnot.
I was on the independent label in 2003 as well to. So there was a lot of experiences with touring, shout out to my dude Champtown. He also introduced me to Grouchy too. Nut I was on his label, we was doing a lot of shows, doing a lot of radio shows, and live performances. And it was a lot of experiences with that too. So that was a confidence booster as well when I got on my own, doing my own thing, you know what I mean?
AllHipHop: So let’s fast forward to Makin Waves. That’s the album that won album of the year. So how did that project come about? What was the writing process for Makin Waves?
Substance810: Man, you could find everything on any streaming platform you know what I mean? Shout out to Believe Music and Detroit Digital, my publisher Theo, everything is on all the DSPs. But that album actually I was recording, Makin Waves, I would just record a certain type of song and have a certain vibe and I’d put it on Makin Waves. Makin Waves was just a bar fest type of album. When it’s just a bunch of bars, bunch of hard ass beats, bunch of spitting. That’s pretty much what the concept was on that. It wasn’t concept heavy besides that.
AllHipHop: So “Invisible Lines” you were talking about a situation and as a father. How’s that situation going between you and your daughter at this point?
Substance810: At this point its good finally, you know what I mean. It’s been consistent for several months still being able to get her, but we got to meet at the border and there’s a bunch of hoops we got to go through and papers and letters and proof. And depending who we see is easier sometimes than others, but it’s way better than not seeing her at all. Because at that point, when I made that song, I think I hadn’t seen her for four months straight or something like that. It was a while.
AllHipHop: You took a risk, being vulnerable and so honest in that song, what made you decide this is a song that you had to put out? A lot of people would want to be private about a situation like that.
Substance810: I take my name Substance, literally. I try to be real vulnerable with the music and real transparent with everything. I’m not really against saying too much, you know what I’m saying? I wanted to be real pulverizing and shocking even, you know what I’m saying? Because that’s the s### that touched people the most. I had a even deeper song than that on The Definition Of, it was the last song on the album. Because my daughter’s autistic she can’t speak, I spoke about that on that song. I think I spoke about that on Invisible Lines too actually. I mean it is important to me to touch on everything that’s artistry plus, my name is Substance so I got to have that in the music.
AllHipHop: You charted on iTunes out of this country a few times. How does that happen? How do we go from Port Huron to the world, man? What advice would you give people to get that going?
Substance810: I never really used to focus on the streaming stuff to be honest, early in my career. I was just always pressing up physical CDs and cassette tapes and stuff and selling them. But I never really mess around with the streaming, but I got with my dude with Theo, my publisher and Believe Music had a lot of tools. And it just started working and next thing I knew album by album, things were just building up. I started being able to see the demographic of where people were, how old they were and what they listening to, and all of that just having a better understanding. That would be my advice. Gain a better understanding of where people are listening to your music and why, you know what I mean?
AllHipHop: Who is your demographic?
Substance810: It’s a lot over in Europe to be honest. United States be the first place and then it’d be Russia, Belgium, France, Canada.
AllHipHop: So tell people about your new album A Righteous Offering.
Substance810: It’s called A Righteous Offering. It’s produced by my dude Onaje Jordan, he produced a whole joint. He’s out of Chicago. I’m in Michigan, he’s in Chicago that’s some real Midwest s###. It’s some real dirty Hip-Hop s### too at the same time. It’s a lot of different vibes on it. It’s like 13 joints on it. I usually don’t even do more than 10 or 12 songs.
I just put out one joint, “Grim Predictions” featuring my dude Ethemadassassin, shout out to him. We are also putting out some physical CDs and tapes out and some vinyl later.
AllHipHop: How is the CD game still, the physical game? How is that working these days?
Substance810: That s### is better than ever, bro. To be honest, it’s crazy man because I never thought it’d be like that, but yeah, selling CDs, cassette tapes, the vinyl is probably the best thing. But it’s dope because I collect all three of those things myself. I got a big collection of CDs, tapes and vinyl, you know what I mean? And it’s dope to see it come back like that.
AllHipHop: Are you in the position that you want to be, or are there aspirations or ambitions to do it on a bigger scale? Or do you like your niche that you’ve carved out for yourself?
Substance810: I like how it’s going as far as, I just want to do more shows now that stuff’s opening up. It’s been crazy not being able to perform the last couple years with COVID you know what I mean? It’s been wild. So I’m trying to get back on stages, start performing more over here, but I’m even more focused on performing over in Europe. And touching my fan base over there. I want to go over there and see what’s up. Do some shows over there, touch hands over there.
AllHipHop: Which country do you have the biggest fan base out in Europe?
Substance810: I’d probably say France because that’s where the album went to number 20 or number 28. I can’t remember. It charted out at 200 on the iTunes charts.
AllHipHop: So what I need is your Top 5 Dead or Alive.
Substance810: All right. I’d say Pac, Biggie, Jay, Nas and Big Pun.
AllHipHop: Do you feel like your sound can fit in with what’s going on today?
Substance810: Yeah, no doubt. Shout out to people like Willie the Kid, shout out to my dude Ty Farris. I think that’s the type of Hip-Hop that we doing, that’s going to have more of a spotlight on it. And the next time to come here, as far as the underground Renaissance is concerned. It’s a lot of dope s### going on. Boldy James, Royce da 5’9, Elzhi, 14KT, Black Milk, Guilty Simpson.
AllHipHop: What is the rest of 2021 looking like for Substance?
Substance810: I got probably three to five more joints in the chamber that I’m just working on, little by little. Link with my dude Foul Mouth just yesterday, actually shout out to Foul Mouth and Middle Finger Music, the whole camp over there. We’re going to be cooking up something with my dude, Chuck Chan, he produced “Chess Pieces” that we dropped last year. Got a couple joints coming man, too many to even name. But just continue pushing, putting out the good music on projects, man. I’m going to time them right. So everything gets in, just do music videos to the projects, live performances as everything continues to open up. And that’s really what the plan is, man. Because I’m anxious to actually promote these songs through performance and live show. We’ve been in the crib two years just making gems.