RapMusic.com Interviews Phashara

by admin on March 19, 2012

RapMusic.com Interviews Phashara

RapMusic.com Interviews Phashara

In preparation for the release of my new album “Pathways” I did this interview with my people over at Rapmusic.com. If you ever wanted to know where the name Phashara comes from or what Pathways is about or How the Beatmonstas came about…. this is the interview to read.

Many years ago, I was introduced to Phashara, both the man and his music, through a mutual friend of ours. While he turned out to be a fantastic person to know he was also a very talented hip-hop performer. Through his work with Beatmonstas, I saw a talent that was definitely on the rise, and when he released his first solo album, The Storybook Adventure, in 2008 it was solidified, in my mind, that he was someone to watch. Now, Phashara is planning to release his next solo project, Pathways.

Phashara was kind enough to answer a few questions, from me, about Pathways, as well as his influences and balancing between going for your dreams in hip-hop while having a family to take care of.

1. Tell us about the new project. Does it have a central theme?
The new project is called Pathways. I came across this title when I began to feel boxed in by a previous concept for the album. I found that the previous concept for the album made me feel as if I had to refer back to the concept every time I made a song or else it wouldn’t fit within the parameters of the concept. So I wrote the song “Pathways” and I had fun with writing the verses. Then the hook came to me… “Just another bird in the flock that wont fly, just another kid on the block that wont try. Choose your own road sometimes you pay a toll but every path aint paved for you.” When I wrote the hook I began to think more like I don’t want to be boxed in while making this album. I want to be positive but I want to curse when I want to curse and I want to harmonize my hooks and I want to produce how I want to and  I want to smash cats with the lyrics and emcee mannerisms too.  That’s how the Pathways album was born. The theme is just like the hook “Choose your own road sometimes you pay a toll but every path aint paved for you” my path may be a bit uncommon sometimes but I have to be free to create according to whatever the day brings. Different day and /or emotion begot different pathways.

As for the nuts and bolts of the new project… I’ve produced 10 of the 13 tracks. The other 3 were produced by the Illmind, Noble Dru (of the Beatmonstas) & Passion HiFi. The Illmind joint features a verse from my young Beatmonstas affiliate Reefa Rei and my Detroit homeboy Finale (A Pipe Dream and a Promise) with cuts by Chicago DJ Rice The Sound Transmitter. The Noble Dru joint features a verse from Sadat X (Brand Nubian) with cuts from another infamous Chicago DJ, DJ 3rd Rail. The Passion HiFi song is the original version of “Sunshine” which you may have heard the remix produced by myself a while back. Other joints feature a couple of emcees from Chicago that I respect, Dee Jackson of 80′s Babies, Savant and my brethren Noble Dru.

2. You’ve done extensive work with the BeatMonstas. How did that group come together?
Yeah I am one third and co-founding member of the Beatmonstas. We’ve all known each other forever. Noble Dru and The Fat Kid Therapy have known one another since elementary school. They were a group when I met them both much later in College. At the time I was in a group called Sac Fly. We were all signed to a production / management company in Chicago. When that all imploded, a lot of the artist were left without a creative home so some of us took hiatus while others started on a journey to become self-sufficient in every aspect of our music/art. Fast forward to 2003 or so and we became Beatmonstas the group and started our indie label which we release all of our projects thru. We’ve been family ever since. Those are my brothers.

3. Tell us about your moniker, Phashara. Where did the name come from? Who are some of your influences in hip-hop.
I love a hiphop that doesn’t seem to exist anymore. My name Phashara is a product of a certain Afrocentric hip-hop era. Its’ derived from a few names that I’ve gone by at one time or another. If you take the first letters of each (Pharaoh Shaquell Raschid) you get PhaShaRa.

I love and was influenced by the Native Tongues (De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, etc.). I’ve always been a huge fan of KRS-One and Run-DMC  too. Those two acts in particular changed my life. It’s like when I heard Run, DMC & KRS’ styles of slick lines of poetry with that hard edge it kind of reminded me of “Chicago Ave” where I grew up. It was the soundtrack to my environment. They influenced me to want to rap. Literally when I heard BDP’s “My Philosophy” life changed and I’ve been rhyming ever since. Overall, there is an entire era that influenced me in hip-hop. There is more than just the emcee or the group. It was what we did and how we lived and our thought process in that era that influenced me. The pride, the bravado, the fun, the lyricism and so on and so forth all had a hand in molding me into the Phashara that you hear today.

4. How did you get started in the hip-hop game?
I’m the youngest of four and I spent a lot alone. I would record the new joints from college radio in Chicago and watch yo MTV raps or rap city. I used to transcribe the lyrics to songs. One thing led to another and before long I was writing my own rhymes. it kept me occupied. In my old neighborhood I used to carry a notebook around (kind of corny i guess). It was full of rhymes. most of which were neatly typed out like literally a book of rhymes. I would go a few blocks down to where my friends lived and spit my rhymes. I couldn’t freestyle back then. But I was the first dude within my group of friends that knew how to rap. its all i did. Cats came to know that I either spit my own or knew what ever was the latest hot song verbatim. Eventually, in high school and college I found that i was suddenly around like minded talented people. So many cyphers and freestyle sessions later i was in a group that was signed to a local production deal. We started performing around town recording songs. I haven’t stopped since.

5. Is hip-hop your primary day-to-day activity? If not, how do you keep that balance between “hobby” and “day job”?
Well I don’t make my living with hip-hop. At least not enough to make it my full time gig. To tell you the truth I don’t know that it would suit me and my life style as a husband and a father. To do this full time I would have to redefine what it means to be a full time rap artist. For shows I’d prefer an art gallery over the club. I’d prefer ownership and creative control over being enslaved by a major label. I’d prefer panel discussions over club dates. I don’t know man… my dreams are not the typical desires of a modern rap artist. I love the art of hip-hop. On the title track to my new album “Pathways” i said “no longer searching for fame, Realizing I’m the sun, being a star aint the same.”

As for keeping a balance between hobby and day job… Wow… this is a great question… Well, I’ve never considered rapping and making beats a hobby. To do so would minimize its importance in my life, in my opinion. Not to mention I’m an owner in the indie label that releases mine and Beatmonstas’ music. That said… I pay taxes on this thing. If it were a hobby I don’t think I would be willing to do that. My label has licensed records for distribution in the UK and Ireland. So although it’s not my primary source of income I still don’t consider it a hobby. The balance between work life and rap life happens as organically as morning time. I make music. That’s who I am. I go to work. That’s how I eat. If I didn’t work would I make more music? Sure. If I worked more would I not make music? Not likely.

6. What advice would you have for an up and coming rapper?
Beyond learning the business of music and not trusting everyone to do everything for you, I think I’d advise one to find your own voice. Be careful not to become a carbon copy of what inspires you. Stay focused on what inspires you to create the things that truly resonate with you regardless of whatever the popular opinion is. My point is… Kanye West is great at what he does because he was the first Kanye West as opposed to the next Jay Z. I would also say, forget about the lights, the cameras and the action. Its all fiction. None of that really exists. The reality is your mastery of the music and the art. That’s your foundation and it’s only as strong as you allow it to be. Focus on sharpening your skill and honing your craft. Because when you get in your zone the lights, the cameras and the action will find you.

7. Is there a particular hip-hop artist you’d love to do a rap battle with? Why?
I honestly cant think of anyone I’d like to battle. Maybe thats my inner artistic peace speaking. Or on second thought… maybe I’d like to battle my 1995 self LOL. I mean, battling is for cats that can actually spit. Most popular rappers cant do either LOL.

Author: Marques Lyons
March 19, 2012

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: