You must have been rocking a blindfold and a pair of earplugs if you aren’t familiar with New York MC AWAR. Over the last couple of months, he has been churning out banger after banger, gearing up for his official retail release, The Laws of Nature.
Teaming up with an all-star lineup of both producers and rappers alike, this Albany rhymeslayer has hit the ground running. He's collaborating with Nottz to release his album, and AWAR emulates the true essence of Hip-Hop with both his music and his outlook.
AllHipHop.com: What or who would you say has been your major inspiration when it comes to your emergence as an MC?
AWAR: My inspiration comes from many different sources, I'm from an artistic family and naturally had a passion for music, creative writing and art from an early age. I've seen rappers, singers, and producers come and go. I feel blessed to have this chance to show what I'm capable of. My work ethic comes from hunger and I have respect for the art form as a student of the game. I feel like I had something unique to say and I'm compelled to grow with my music. Money has never been the sole object of my desire, my priority is making a really dope piece of artwork that is a time capsule for how I was feeling at that stage in my life. The process of creating records is my shit and having the opportunity to do this at a high level is a testament to my drive and abilities. The musicians I work with and the people I keep around me inspire me to keep progressing and to live out my dreams. I get chills the first time I hear amazing music, and thats what I want the listener to feel when they hear my records. I love the energy of performing and connecting with the audience, it's an adrenaline rush for me, I'm a product of my passion for this. I strive to create something I would listen to, because I grew up listening to the greats- they set the bar high for me.
AllHipHop.com: You are releasing your first official retail release in August, The Laws of Nature. What has gone into making this album?
AWAR: I will say this- making a real album takes time, dedication, patience and inspiration when you doing it right. The struggle of life evoke emotions in you, and that will manifest itself into something beautiful if you let it. The industry probably won't accept you with open arms, you have to fight for every inch of your position. I've had this album title about four years now. I released an EP and a tape last year called, Things Of That Nature EP and Nature Of The Beast, respectively. I wanted The Laws Of Nature to be the opus of the trilogy- a sure-shot classic and something i could rightfully call an official album. I made sure I had some fire, and when I caught my stride with the writing, the rest came together naturally. When I go into the studio, I'm about my business. I like to go in focused, and I have good chemistry with my engineer and producers. Conceptually I wanted to make something that would stand the test of time. It's a reflection of my life. It's powerful, soulful street music. There might be some jewels in there if you soak it up.
AllHipHop.com: There are various major producers and artists on that project. Do you feel that as an unsigned act you need to secure features such as these to get notoriety?
AWAR: I feel like there's a stigma attached to saying "unsigned act" like you waiting around for a label to sign you and change your life. The grind never stops when you get a deal or an advance, so I prefer the term "independent artist" because that's a better reflection of what I am and how I move. I set a standard for myself with this album and I aim to get better with each release. I'm very fortunate to have an experienced team in my friend and executive producer Vanderslice and with Raw Koncept. We just happen to have connections to some of the best producers out there, and the reward of the investment outweighed the risk. Some of these relationships are years in the making, everyone who was part of this album delivered and it came together pretty organically. If you give me heat I'm going to make sure it turns into flames. I don't think it's absolutely necessary to have features to get notoriety, but I think the fans like to hear you collaborating with other artists as well, their voice and vision can bring some extra flavor to the table to compliment the music. It gives each artist an opportunity to speak to a fan base and demographic they may not have touched before. I feel like I held my own as the navigator of this album's sound and got my points across on joints I did with no features and the ones I collaborated on. It's a shame to have the gift of sight and no vision- so I visualized this album with my team and it came to fruition. The politics of the game shouldn't rule you if you are an artist, but it definitely helps to work with names people may already be familiar with, but only if you know how to make great music with or without them. We're not looking for some insta-cred or to buy our way in to anything, a feature shouldn't be a crutch, it should be something special because this is a competitive sport and everyone involved should come correct for the sake of making something ill. That's my philosophy on it. Shout to all the artists and producers involved in this project. Salute.
AllHipHop.com: The beat used on your first single, "Tunnel Vision," was produced by Alchemist but a lot of people thought that joint was being used by Rick Ross. How did you get that track?
AWAR: Alchemist is a legend and a very busy guy. We had that joint, I recorded and shot a video and all that before the Rick Ross video leaked. Communicating with Alchemist is like it was before there was a post office, we have to use smoke signals, carrier pigeons, and other forms of ironic ways to talk to em. Phones, emails, and shit are passe. So he never heard the song I did or saw the video until it dropped which is probably why he was playing it for Rozay.
AllHipHop.com: When it comes to making a name for yourself what do you think people are looking for in artists today, and how do you plan on delivering?
AWAR: I'm not as concerned with what people are looking for in an artist as much as I am with just being myself. The rap game seems kind of cartoonish these days and I'm just trying to give the people real music they can feel. I come from an era where you had to respect the spitters and producers making that classic shit. I grew up on primarily NY hip-hop - the Gang Starr and Wu-Tang era. As I've grown, I learned to appreciate other kinds of music as well as hip-hop and I really think that there's some soul missing from most of the stuff thats out there. I have a good ear for the music and I look at rapping as a form of poetry. Hopefully people gravitate to it because its dope and authentic. I want to make those end to end burners. The kind of albums you can throw in your system and just ride to without skipping a track. That cinematic shit that takes your mind on a trip. That's what I'm trying to deliver. I want people that listen to me to know that my message is that I never took No for an answer. If you want something bad enough and you combine that desire with focus, consistency and creativity, you can overcome the obstacles and road blocks that stand in your way. I'm putting my life into my art form, so if the people relate to that, it's a win for me.
AllHipHop.com: Hip-Hop has gone in so many directions over the last few years, but you definitely hone in on the lyrical aspect. What does Hip-Hop mean to you?
AWAR: I live Hip-Hop, it's a thriving culture. I've seen the power it possesses in its ability to unite people of different areas and cultures, and how powerful words can be when we saw legends fall over petty beef and diss records aimed at each other. It's gone through different eras and I have many fond hip-hop memories, but right now I'm focused on the present and what I'm trying to do on this mic. I hone in on spitting because I always gravitated towards the shit that made me think, made me want to hit that rewind button over and over. That made me want to make pause tapes to write and rap to when I was a kid. Being an MC is what I wanted to do first and I stuck with it. Other people gravitate towards production, or DJing or Graf or B-Boying- I appreciate all those elements as well but the visuals, the wordplay, concepts, storytelling- thats what I do best.
AllHipHop.com: Your album is coming out through Raw Koncept, Nottz’s label, how did you hook with the homie Nottz as he is also on your album too?
AWAR: I reached out to Nottz for beats a few years ago and built a great relationship with him and his manager Darryl. I visited VA and we played some music and I been keeping them updated on the record throughout the process and when the time came to put it out, Raw Koncept offered to help push it with my imprint Lions Pride if that's the way I was trying to go with it. Nottz is incredible, hands down. He rapped and produced on my album.
AllHipHop.com: What is the immediate future looking like for you?
AWAR: My new album, "The Laws Of Nature" is available for pre-order now and drops on August 7th. I'm really trying to push that as far as it can go, because I really stand behind my vision and the music on there. I have a project I'm working on now with my producers Vanderslice and Green Steez called "The Winning Team" It's classy rap music. Vanderslice is kind of known for that hard hitting, mean mug, brutal kind of production, but I'm really trying work on music that other rappers wouldn't normally pick from him, or even get to hear at all. He's a pretty versatile producer and with Green Steez on board, we got something special cooking up. Beyond that, I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing, I have ideas, its just too early to say. Plus I really want to tour, see the world and get in front of the people as well. I'm working on that too, just keeping busy.
Check out AWAR's new album "The Laws Of Nature" digitally on iTUNES HERE