With over 20 million total YouTube views on just a handful of music videos, it is becoming more and more apparent that you don't need a major label or record deal to make things happen for yourself career-wise and become independently successful.
For the 26 year-old rapper, producer, and director, Hopsin, landing a coveted spot on the 2012 XXL Freshman Class cover was just the tip of the iceberg. He says he has never been one to get caught up in the hype surrounding himself or his music.
AllHipHop.com spoke to Breeding Ground artist Hopsin, the artist behind "Sag My Pants" and "Hop Madness", as he continues the process of hammering out tracks to complete his third album, Knock Madness, slated for release later this year.
Previously, we told you all about his work with Travis Barker and wanting to work with Childish Gambino. Below is Hopsin's full interview where he discusses his relationship with Tech N9ne, how his new album, Knock Madness, is coming along, and more:
AllHipHop.com: We already know that you turned down the opportunity to sign with Tech N9ne and his Strange Music imprint so that you could build your own movement and brand, Funk Volume, which is commendable as an emerging artist. But, what is it like to have a legend like Tech N9ne endorse and co-sign you and your music?
Hopsin: As a fan first, I remember when I used to be on the Tech N9ne forums just posting stuff [laughter]. I was just another rapper guy posting my stuff on his forums and just trying to create buzz and get him to notice me or somebody at Strange [Music]. So it was dope, and I know all the people that have been supporting me over the years were excited for that, but as an artist, it was sick, too. I’ve been waiting for that moment to perform “Am I A Psycho” with Tech. Now we just got to get B.o.B. on a stage so all of us can do it together. It’ll happen one day. It was dope, though.
AllHipHop.com: Well, the “Am I A Psycho” record did its thing, and I know how excited you were to get your face and music on places like MTV, but I have to ask, going forward, has there ever been any talk of you and Tech teaming up for a collaborative project or an EP possibly that could bridge gap between your fan base and his, which aren’t there far apart in the first place?
Hopsin: We haven’t talked about that. We have talked about doing other collabs like on my Knock Madness album. I just threw the idea out there to him, and he said he’d be down. He also let me know that in the future, he’d be interested in doing a tour. I don’t when that would be happening with the tour he’s on right now and all, but we’ve talked about it. I’ve got to stuff ready on my end and finish my album, but yeah, in the future, there will be more stuff with me and Tech on it, for sure, guaranteed.
AllHipHop.com: Since you just mentioned the album, let’s get right into talking about it. What is the current status of Knock Madness? How far into the recording process are you?
Hopsin: The album’s been coming along kind of slow, but I’ve been producing the whole album myself, and the track I did the other day with Travis will probably be the only collaborative beat that I have on there, but I have all of my own beats ready now.
I finished all the beats a few days ago for the album, and I was mainly focused on getting the beats done. Because that’s really important, ‘cause I need the production to center the album and makes people bop their head to it and feel the emotion. So I’m officially done with all the beats; it’s got 19 beats on it, and I finished them all and got them all to sound how I wanted them to sound. I’ve been working on all these beats since last September, when I actually said I was going to drop a single, but I didn’t, and that’s ‘cause I’ve just been working on beats, and I finally got them all done.
I feel that choruses are important on beats, too, so I come up with the concepts, and then I make the beats, and then I put the chorus that fits it, so most of these beats have choruses on them. So now, I have all the beats done, and I have to write to them right now. That’s what I’m going to be doing for the next few months, as I try to get the album done create videos to the songs. So there’s a lot of progress being made, but it’s just in a different way.
Usually, an artist will be like, “Let me write the song while the producer makes the beat,” but I’m doing it all, so it’s taking me a little longer. I guess you could say the album is about halfway done; I just need to work on lyrics for a majority of the songs.
AllHipHop.com: Is it safe to say that the album will be out before the end of the year?
Hopsin: Yeah, it will be out ‘cause I’m going to be putting out another single in about a month or month and a half, possibly. I already dropped “Hop Madness". Now I need to do something different ,and I want to paint a new picture now, ‘cause I’m at the borderline now where everyone is either taking me as a joke. Or, they know I can be serious, but they think I’m doing too much on the joke side, like a gimmick, which I can understand, ‘cause I would think that too.
As an independent artist, it’s hard to get attention without coming out with some wild sh*t first, and my “Hop Madness” music video was definitely that attention grabber, whether they liked it or not. It had over one million views in a month, which is great for an independent artist who doesn’t have any other source of promotion but word of mouth. So, now the next single is definitely going to be something that they’re not expecting.
AllHipHop.com: Do you already know what that next single is going to be?
Hopsin: I’ve got two tracks in mind, but I don’t want to say what it’s going to be. It’s going to be different. It’s not your typical Hopsin walking around in a diaper or bouncing around your bedroom kind of thing.
AllHipHop.com: Let me just ask you one more thing about the album. Do you have any plan to make a “motion picture” sort of story with your album where you’ll be filming visuals for each track?
Hopsin: I’d want to, and I said I was going to do that last year with my album Raw, which didn’t work out, because my tour schedule mixed with making music videos does not blend well; unless I would do like tour bus videos on the road, but I don’t like those. I want videos that mean something, so yeah, I didn’t get all the videos done for Raw. But I’m pretty sure there won’t be a video for every song on Knock Madness. I would love to say that there will be, but just the reality of that isn’t good, because I’m going to be on tour right after the album drops, so it’s going to be difficult.
AllHipHop.com: I actually first started listening to you last year at the request of Machine Gun Kelly who was is a big fan of yours and had made it a point to get me listening to you. The rest is pretty much history, so I just wanted you to know how I became a fan of yours.
Fast forward six months from talking to MGK about you, and you two ended up on the XXL Freshman cover together, so I have to ask what that accolade meant to you? How much have things changed since the issue came out in March?
Hopsin: Well, first of all, shout out to MGK for making you become a fan. I’m a big fan of his as well, and he’s a cool homie so I appreciate that. Life has kind of changed; there’s been a lot more attention on me, especially when I’m in the airport or just walking into 7-Eleven and the magazine would be right there as I’m grabbing a hot dog or some sh*t [laughter]. It’s just funny to see that, and I’ve got some crazy friends, that when I walk inside a store, they’ll grab the magazine and get all hyped. It’s just funny, but I’ve been getting a lot of attention off of it, and it also opened me up to a new market as well, a new type of people.
Before, only a certain type of people were hearing about me on the underground, then with the magazine, people want to Google every artist on the cover and see who they are, and if they’re dope. It’s cool, too, and also proves the point that you don’t need a major record deal to get anywhere. Me collaborating with Tech N9ne, and independently getting a million views on YouTube, me getting on XXL, or even Travis Barker hitting me up, it all still happened, and I pray that God will continue to bless me with more things that come my way.
It really just goes to show that if you have skill and talent, and you’re confident in what you believe in, then just keep pushing and things will come. 'Cause it will get to a point eventually where this guy isn’t signed to anybody, but he’s so big and you’d be stupid not to work with him, because he’s so good. It’s just fans, though, and that’s the cool thing about it and keeps me going. The fans are doing it for me.
AllHipHop.com: That’s got to be the most rewarding part about it is to be so heavily repped for by your fans, and I should have said it earlier, but congratulations on getting that XXL cover.
Hopsin: Thank you, man, I appreciate it.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anything else you want the people to be on the lookout for before Knock Madness drops later this year?
Hopsin: Just get ready for Knock Madness, and that’s it.
Follow Hopsin On Twitter: (@Hopsin)