Well, well as a big thank-you for sticking by us whilst we try to maintain our real-life jobs and real-life problems, we thought we’d give you a treat for being such nice supporters.
As I’m sure you can see, this interview with Sullee J is the biggest written we’ve ever done, but quite honestly the guy is such a nice and humble guy, that we had a really long conversation and it just ended up being this in-depth. I’ve tried my best to edit out a few bits where we went off on to tangents here and there, but for the most part I’ve been pretty liberal and kept pretty much everything we talked on, in the interview. Easily one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to; one of Stix’ favourites, and after this interview mine too! Once you’ve read this, you’ll see why.
Thanks once again to Sullee J, and his management for sorting this out.
First and foremost could you tell us who you are? AND for someone who’s not heard you before, how would you describe yourself and your music?
What’s good, its your boy Sullee J from Baltimore, MD! That stands for Society’s Undisputed Liberating Lyricist Expressing & Exemplifying Justice. Pakistani/American Hip-Hop Artist.
I would describe myself as a positive, inspiring artist who creates music, which not only is different, but also is set to make a difference. I make music that people can feel, relate to, and touches their hearts. I consider my self the “righteous trouble maker”.
Your sound is pretty versatile; you can play with dudes like Lowkey, and then have your music played on Fox News of all places. Or have dudes like d12 on your records, how do you manage that?
I believe music is universal. I see it as one of the most powerful tools in today’s era. I feel like it is the language of the soul. Regardless if you understand it or not, you feel it, and that’s what’s most important! I like to make music that you can hear years from now, and it still makes sense, instead of just a one hit wonder. I’m not in the game to reach some sort of 15-second light. I’m in it because I love it and it’s truly become a part of me. I adjust to all sides of it and am willing to take it as far as I can.
I respect all artists. Some people would differ and say some are bad lyricist, or some are bad because they do not rhyme on certain topics, but I believe to each their own. If it’s your passion, and you are doing what makes you happy, than peace to you! I like to work with all types of artist, to test my own ability and be able to stay compatible in the game.
Let me know if I’m writing way too much haha!
Nah man, the more the better!
Saying that, would you say that there’s a certain part of hip-hop you feel most comfortable in, or is a more open scene for you?
I feel comfortable when I can just be myself. When I hear a beat, usually I like to listen to beats before I even hear the original song. The only reason is I don’t want what I write down to be in any way influenced by the original track at all. Of course I’ve done tracks over the past where they are not my style at all, but just to prove that I can flow over anything, and to challenge myself as an artist. Other than that, I’d say hip-hop as a whole is comfortable to me however it approaches me.
So are there some styles you’ve done in the past that you wouldn’t do now?
No, because even though what I’ve done in the past was not something I do regularly, I still always remain in my boundaries. I refuse to ever be fake in anything, therefore I don’t mind going back to anything I’ve done since I’ve kept it all real. I guess you can say, whether it’s good or bad, I have no regrets from all the styles I’ve played with. They’ve only helped me find a better me.
That’s a really sincere way of looking at it.
With your more open minded approach; when it comes to influences both musically and in general, is it quite varied in who and what’s inspired you?
Yes definitely. My inspiration is very random. I could be listening to a song, totally zone out on the artist, and just get a crazy topic from the beat. I could be watching a show like Family Guy, see something bizarre, and come up with a psycho track haha. I could be walking outside, and something that happened across the street could trigger a thought and from there, my mind won’t shut up. It’s a constant thought. Anywhere I’m at, I pick up inspiration from all around me. That’s how I know this is meant to be for me! I don’t know if it’s insomnia anymore or my hunger for music that keeps me up.
So it’s not always necessarily a conscience thought at first?
Nope! Spontaneous combustion! Haha.
Who would you say your biggest musical influences were then?
Pac! Em! DMX! Pac = Poetry/depth, Em = creativity with lyrics, X = heart/pain/emotion.
Although I have a range of artists I listened to growing up, ironically being from the East Coast. One of my first/fav artists was Eazy-E. Cypress Hill’s B-Real was always a great artist to me; anything Wu-Tang was honourable to the conscious.
Yeah man Pac is my number 1!
For sure! In his time he was a movement by himself. A revolutionary. Not only was he making music, but he was also standing up for his whole race. It was a different era, but the fight is still necessary. The law is just that much more corrupt to where people are afraid of standing up.
Yeah he definitely paved the way for a lot of rappers! Would you say that’s something you ascribe to?
I believe it is. I try to have no limits when it comes to my music. I am versatile as stated before, so it’s never all political only. Of course there is activism shown in my music, and it will always declare some sort of message, whether revolutionary, love or religious. But, it’s definitely something I keep in a lot of my music, I like to voice my opinion and I have no fear of the consequence as long as the truth is what I’m speaking, the truth shall be heard! A lot of people tell me to be careful. But, like the great Malik El Shabazz aka Malcolm X stated, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”.
I like to spit lines that make you think. I’ve always been a complex person I guess, or a mystery, as even my friends would call me. I guess that’s because I listen more than I speak, I’m an observant person. I like to have bars that each listener deciphers in their own way. Even if I’m saying a line that sounds straight forward, it’s never straightforward!
Even though you’ve written it yourself, you want the lines to have more meanings then just what you had in mind?
Yes! I like to tap into people’s minds, so I write in such a way that it leaves room for many interpretations. I guess it’s to challenge the listener, the message might conclude to the same end result, although in each persons mind, it will take a different route. It takes brain cells to listen to my music, per-say.
Is that why you’re so heavily involved in charity work, because you want to help and challenge people to be more active?
Yes! Also, one of my main purposes in life is to help others. I feel that, at the same time it also helps me stay consistent with healing myself. Not that I’m in any sort of pain or constant guilt, but healing as in spiritual growth. I feel like making another person have something to look back at one day and smile that means the world to me. I’d rather give than take. It’s just in my heart to make others feel hope, and if I could I would change the world myself. I try to create a burst of miracle myself when I’m capable of it, instilling hope in these children or adults that I help, having them see more potential in themselves. Usually the people I have come across helping have little to nothing, and I wish I could give them more, but in the moment I definitely give them all I can. One day, I have dreams of building shelters, mosques, schools, hospitals [free care] and whatever else lies in my destiny.
I will always stay real to those dreams, whether it’s music that brings the money for it or not! I will continue to pursue the same goals in mind and heart
Has your recent involvement in these movements and charities influenced your latest tape, and can you tell us a little but about it, and your ideas behind it?
My involvement with the charity work that I do, keeps me grounded. I believe the more better I get, there will be more praise, more light, which always takes a person to feel a bit better about themselves in some way, or can sometimes take a toll to make you feel like your great. I never want to feel like I’m ‘greater’ though, I feel like I keep myself surrounded by these conditions to remind myself, how grateful I am to not be in these conditions. So, I try to make it better for those who do not have what I have, and so forth. For example, my latest project was “Justice Strikes”; I had the chance to bond with Saint Christopher’s Children Shelter, and rounded up several people to help out by donating food, clothes, books, and various electronics. We even raised enough money to replace their washing machine, which wasn’t working before, when they had to use a hose to clean clothes. Overall, I do these things to keep myself humbled, and again as a reminder for me and those who I influence through my music, letting them know the struggle your going through can always get worse.
Do you think it’ll be a project you’ll do again?
Of course, I do at least 1-2 a year. This year I’m focusing on Syria. I am currently writing up the plan, and that will fall through hopefully sometime in June.
Do you plan on going to Syria?
I would love to, it all depends on the severity of the condition, but most likely it will be fund raising, and then sending the money off to have it purchase certain items that are necessary in the specific region I would be working with out there.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I was droned, and the news claimed another ‘insurgent’ owned. Some crazy story by the media ha.
I went to Istanbul last year, I wish I had the chance to cross over to Jerusalem for a bit to check out everything but, Turkey was beautiful. I learned a lot about the history and got a chance to see churches/mosques, all the beautiful places.
(Around this time we went off on a little tangent about how great Turkey is, and how we both wanted to go visit it again. Back on subject.-Aimee)
I can’t believe 6 years ago, I would’ve never thought today I would be affiliated with a producer from Shady Records, or have gone across seas to open for a legend, or be the first of my kind to be on radio, any of that, it’s all a dream.
Are you living off it full-time now?
I wish. It is making me money; artists are paying me for collaborations, which make up for studio time and a little extra to eat from. Most of the time I feel I starve myself and save that money for the next move. Haha my hunger for music is greater than my hunger for food. I don’t know why or how, but it makes me happy enough to be okay with the sacrifices. A lot of people look at you funny, and don’t understand the pain behind the passion. They think I’m crazy for doing all this, and spending so much time on something that’s not guaranteed, but my heart believes otherwise. Nothing great comes easy.
Where would you like to be when you die, musically?
I want my music to inspire generations, old and young people. After I die, I want people to see how strong the power behind it is. I’ve been able to travel because of a few thoughts I’ve written with a 99-cent pen. I want them to see how music has unified so many people across the world, all races and backgrounds. I want people to listen to my work after I pass and be like, damn I feel that, or that just helped me open my eyes. Everything I do, I put all my heart and soul into it, so that’s exactly what I want my listeners to feel.
A lot of people who paid me no mind, now wanna work with me, or at first those who said I don’t got what it takes, have messaged me and said congrats homie for coming a long way, let’s work! I just sit there and nod my head in shock, like what just happened? It’s a funny world we live in! People now days are only attracted to what others are attracted to; I feel that they are afraid to be themselves. That’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to gain support when you’re independent at first.
Underground or mainstream, fake is fake. There are people in both spots that fit that category. Some just do it for shine, some do it because that’s really who they are.
How did you get hooked up with Royce then?
Man, it took almost a year of back and forth with his management, because he was on tour, and then so much was going on with him, since he was doing the whole “Bad Meets Evil” with Em. My management hit his manager up, Kino and they were humble enough to want to work with me. One thing he said always sticks in my head that, “Royce doesn’t work with just any artist unless he feels that they got potential”. That meant a lot coming from someone up there already, it just confirms the hunger in my heart, and makes me push even harder. It made me feel I’m that much closer, and slowly the industry is watching me.
I love the whole of Slaughterhouse.
One of the next artists I really want to work with is Yelawolf. I think his style is vicious. A lot of people say they see him and I going back and forth on a track, because of the speedy flows and actual substance when rapping.
Oh man I love Yelawolf, he’s my guilty bad rap pleasure. I’m not a fan of his content, it’s all too bitches and bling but his style is ridiculous.
Hahah, his older stuff is great, right before he got signed. It was a lot of real talk, he’s still one of my favourites, but it’s always different when you’re not under the influence of a label’s money.
Yeah, I like Arena Rap. Trunk Muzik 1 lost me when he started talking about bitches though.
That’s one thing I feel as a “real” artist, takes a lot of understanding. That’s why I say there is a lot of real artist, and because they came from nothing, they are deprived by the owners of the industry, it’s a business. It’s like your 9-5 job, you go in, you have to follow the rules in order to get the check. How else are we gonna eat? I’m not saying you got to be a sell-out, never that! But it takes a lot of understanding for people to see, some of these artist had nothing, literally and this life change for them to make money is an investment, and later on when they have enough, they can go back to doing what they wanna do without someone above you telling you what to do. And I agree, I’ll never start talking about money, drugs, bitches etc, because that just never was me, never will be!I don’t believe in that flaunting type of lifestyle. It’ feeds the soul negativity!
I made a promise coming into music, I will stay who I am, not what they want me to be. I write a lot of articles from time to time, and one thing I believe I wrote was “Remain you, and they will hate you. Do what they do, and they will praise you.’ Or “If it doesn’t make cents, it doesn’t make sense”.
So what are your next plans for your next releases then? Now you’ve dropped that track?
Man! Right now the last thing left to finalize my mixtape ‘Vicegerent’, double-disk [15 tracks each] biggest project I’ve ever worked on was supposed to be released April 29th. Now that DJ Twin of 106 & Park/Sean Kingston’s official DJ is hosting it, I will postpone it a bit due to marketing/promo. This is my most epic project, people have only heard about 7 tracks off of it right now, these collaborations from mainstream artist to several underground artists who I picked up to help out, and get them the credit they deserve. I am releasing my next music video “Free World” on the 29th now of April, premiered by Hip Hop Weekly [I will also be in their hard copy issue on April 30th in stores like Wal-Mart, CVS, Barnes & Nobles, etc]. We recorded 4 videos, but they will be out later this year. There is so much happening. The whole Royce track with Cashis, there is an official remix being made right now by Shady Records producer “Rikanatti”, no telling who’s on the remix yet, that should be a surprise later. We are trying to set up a tour for the end of the year in London hopefully is the goal.
‘Vicegerent’ will include the likes of Kuniva of D12, Cashis, Royce Da 5’9, Canibus, Diabolic, and quite a few other underground artists who are on the rise from all over the world.
This CD means a lot to me, because I’ve played with so many different styles on there, people will be shocked to hear. I go anywhere from electro, hip-hop, raw underground, grime, to a slower love song. It’s all in there!
Is there anything else you want to cover?
I think we have enough information right now! There’s a lot of untold things, but that’s on purpose haha. I like to be a surprise element to people in this industry
We always have a pt ii after the mixtape drops because we will have that on Worldstar hopefully, and from there. Only God knows what can come about. Bless!
Sullee J Twitter