In anticipation of his upcoming release through Chuck D’s SLAMjamz Records, ‘Configaration Volume 1’, I sat down with Configa to tap into the mind of the boom bap beatmaster:
You clearly have love for the genre; what first drew you to hip-hop?
Configa: The passion, the excitement, the feeling, the rhythm. One incidental listen on the radio in the late 80s and I was hooked for life. I emulated the MCs I loved by memorizing all of their lyrics and rapping along as a kid.
Then came my first shot at hosting radio in my early teens, followed by penning my own lyrics from around 16 years old. It just grabbed me from the get-go and has been a part of me ever since.
Has your style evolved over the years? What has changed if so?
Yes it has. From my earlier music, from when I released my debut over 17 years ago to now? Beyond recognition. It’s way more polished now, coherent, professional, planned, mapped out. It’s just…better. The more you do something, the more you will get better and grow. Instead of simply throwing out music for the sake of it, such as 90% of people now do on SoundCloud, for me it’s a definite professional process that the music is the culmination of.
Everything I make is professionally mixed and mastered. It’s a package, and I’m involved in every step — from cover art to liaising with the recording artists themselves, my sound engineer, video guys, the label, my music publisher and then I go about PR. I’m more confident in my ability now, the “training wheels” came off a long time ago.
I learned my trade, and “graduated” upon getting my first record deal in the days when CD distribution wasn’t easy and you had to have a good output to really get noticed. I truly think that I arrived a while back to where my music means something to people. It takes a lot of sacrifice, dedication and learning the ropes to get to that position.
You’ve put out a lot of great work, most recently teaming up with HaStyle. What can fans expect from your upcoming album?
Fans can expect a change up in tempo from last time out. Last time was a concept, dark beats, atmospheric gloom and hostility. This time it’s more free flowing — less tied down to a particular theme or overall concept.
Different styles, different sounds, different MCs. Way more variety but still all underneath a boom bap umbrella. Just me bringing to the table what I want, unrestricted.
What are you most proud of musically?
I’m most proud of being recognized for my music by the public. I rarely self-promote — I generally let the people do the talking for me. That’s powerful to me — to have someone I don’t know want to spread my music to other people who don’t know me personally, just because they enjoy it. That’s it. It never ceases to amaze me. Word of mouth power.
Also, I love engaging with fans and my relationship with them. I try to be as accessible as I can be and I think people like that. It creates an attachment to the music that goes beyond JUST music. I’m proud of things like the #ConfigArmy movement where diverse individuals are a collective that rep that hashtag and combine creatively with myself and each other.
Who are you most happy to have worked with?
I have to say that Chuck D has been a monumental force in interacting with me, signing me, showing love, welcoming me into the fold and connecting with me creatively. He makes time for me when he himself is a living icon but is as down to earth as I’ve met.
Your record label, Configaration Records, promotes “true-school” hip-hop. What does true-school mean to you?
It means that it can’t be classified as “old school” OR contemporary. It’s not old, it’s not new. It’s true. It is about a feeling more than any image or sub-genre specifications. There are no age limitations, we aren’t targeting specific demographics like too often happens in the mainstream.
It’s music that maintains and represents its true spirit and essence. When I hear music today I don’t get a “feeling”, music should ALWAYS evoke some kind of visceral response. True-school is music free of any outside corruption, artists that can express themselves exactly how they desire without pandering to the latest fad.
Configa has been a driving force in the underground hip-hop scene for many years, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He can be found on Twitter, Facebook and on his official site Configa.com. His upcoming album, ‘Configaration Volume 1’ will be available through SLAMjamz Records on November 21st.