A few days ago, NewMusicBoom caught up with a very intriguing hip-hop artist by the name of Eb&Flow for a very detailed interview. The artist was very adamant about his views on politics and the current state of the rap community. He also shared his thoughts on rap artist Kanye West’s situation, stating…
“A lot of people in the culture still have a lot of faith in Kanye and don’t want to admit he’s turned his back on them, and don’t fully disagree with his antisemitism. It reminds me a lot of the excuses people made about Trump when he first emerged.
To those people I say, Ye’s been consistent, and he’ll remain consistent in his moving toward a far right audience that celebrates him because he repeats their talking points. Those people will turn around and stamp black people and their culture out with state violence the second they get the chance”.
The conversation got even deeper as the interview went on. Interested in seeing what Eb&Flow had to say, take a look at his interview to learn more.
Q: Where are you from and how did you get to this point in your career as an artist?
A: Eb&Flow. I was born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I lived in lots of different neighborhoods around the city and learned a lot about the privileges and conditions that different people live in. It taught me to see people and society in a complex way and to digest information from a broader perspective.
As I grew up I came to relate to Hip-Hop more than any other art form and the raw stream of consciousness and speaking truth to power was really appealing to me. Once I learned about the art of freestyling, and that rhyming off the top of the head was a thing people actually can do, it was a wrap. I was hooked for good.
Q: When did you know that you were going to make music a career?
A: Eb&Flow. I spent years releasing music on a local level and working with the extremely talented network of artists still thriving in Cincinnati. In 2017 when Donald Trump came to power, I had a vague sense that I wanted to start to speak up. But I was unsure how to approach the subject.
This leads me to learn a lot about right-wing radicalization projects and how online disinformation works. It’s fascinating and sickening stuff. Basically, the terminology and political nuances of that conversation inspired me to make music that addresses the state of technology and right-wing ideology in our society. I feel Hip-Hop has a responsibility to speak on this in an articulate way and for the most part, no one is doing it.
Q: What musical influences did you listen to growing up that helped to mold you into the artist you are today?
A: Eb&Flow. I’ve always been into lyrical styles of rap, detailed expression, and imagery. I love good concepts, and when artists speak from creative perspectives in their music. Nas is one of the best ever at this. Eyedea (R.I.P) is also one of my favorites and had some genius song concepts.
I listened to political rap at a young age like Immortal Technique, The Flobots, Public Enemy, Dead Prez, etc. As I grew up I wasn’t into the “self-serious” stuff as much. But with the way things are now, it seems like rappers are so afraid to touch politics. No one wants to take a definite stance, meanwhile, bad actors are using rap to spread an ideology that has nothing to do with Hip-Hop. So I might as well try to set a better example if I can.
Q: On your current/upcoming album… How did you come up with the concept for this project?
A: Eb&Flow. “Rap Grifters” is my single coming out on 11/1. It’s a title and concept I thought of almost 2 years ago now. It was a pattern that I started to notice, I was starting to see right-wing ideology pop up in various places in rap culture, or in some cases the kind of vague winking and dog whistling you see from the Alt-Right types. It made me realize that Hip-Hop is fertile ground for right-wing propagandists because a lot of people in and around the culture aren’t that tuned into politics and history, and sometimes latch onto some pretty toxic narratives.
So I started talking about dudes like Tom MacDonald, among others. He’s a rapper who’s become very popular over the past couple of years basically repeating the same talking points as every Fox News and right-wing pundit. He’s another link in the network of right-wing disinformation and radicalization, being laundered through rap music. You can hear when someone doesn’t come from this culture or know shit about it. Skip the music and just look up the lyrics to his song “snowflakes”. You’ll get the point.
Also, he doesn’t write his own shit, I know he doesn’t. I challenge Tom to swear to his fans that MadChild didn’t write his most recent song. you can hear it in the flow, and the cadence, he even copies the dude’s voice straight from the reference track. So he’s dressing up like this minstrel character, pushing wack anti-black politics in Hip Hop, and he’s not even writing the shit himself. He’s a total fraud and doesn’t deserve any type of pass in this hip hop shit.
At the time, I didn’t want to make a song about it because I didn’t want to call attention to him. but my thought process has changed on that, and meanwhile, the dude is twice as big or more. I feel that a character like this might not go away completely but by taking a firm stance I believe we can push people like him and their fans further away from claiming Hip-Hop in any sense. That’s basically my goal.
I decided to write the second verse about Kanye because I felt that his drift toward right-wing rhetoric was consistent enough to conclude that this was who he was. It felt weird at the time to mention one of my top inspirations in the same light as a dude like TM. That was 2 months ago. Since then Ye has done nothing, if not, prove me correct.
It’s not easy taking on this type of message, it’s inflammatory and nuanced and these people have way more fans than me. But if I can at least get the ball rolling in the right direction if nothing else, it’s worth it.
Q: What are some of your greatest challenges as an artist, and what is your greatest attribute when it comes to your work ethic?
A: Eb&Flow. It’s really challenging to communicate some of these ideas through a rap song talking about anti-vax propaganda, the attacks on women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, and things that are the specific attack points of far-right propaganda. People in Hip-Hop have strong opinions on these things already. The writing itself is challenging because not only is it about staying on the subject but making the track conversational enough that people can hear the sentiment behind it and relate to it. That’s one of the most important things to me, and all of my favorite rappers are masters at it. So I’m constantly balancing wanting to dig as deep and be as detailed as I can in covering these subjects, really trying to substantiate what I’m saying, but also keeping my technique approachable so the average person can be pulled in. It’s a challenge I have a lot of fun with.
Q: What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical career?
A: Eb&Flow. Honestly, the biggest steps forward I’ve taken as an artist are the moments I took certain things into my own hands. At one point I decided that I wanted to make my own visuals so that I could put them out more consistently. Producing my own beats has completely freed me up to attempt to execute any idea that pops into my head. Doing my own PR has allowed me to have a much further reach than I’ve ever gotten. I never really bought into the idea of “doing it all on your own”. I don’t really think it’s possible. But the more skills I took on, the more control I had over my trajectory as an artist.
Q: How do you see your sound evolving in the next couple of years?
A: Eb&Flow. It’s hard to say. This rollout I’m doing right now is going to be my focus for a while because I really want this song heard. I’m expecting a lot of pushback for it, mixed reception, and hopefully a lasting impact. Where I go as an artist largely depends on where the culture goes. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to doing the type of chill, hypothetical lyricism I was doing before. Talking about things that are relevant and feel important has a certain thrill to it for me. I’ll probably always try to keep my finger on the pulse and call shit how I see it. I have a feeling I’ll be fighting right-wing ideology in rap for at least several years. But if more rappers start speaking up about politics in a responsible way and that void gets filled a little more, I’d be a lot more comfortable moving away from political rap. I’m always interested in trying different genres and styles, especially incorporating those into Hip Hop. I think that’s what will keep the culture alive and relevant forever.
Q: What impression would you like listeners to be left with after hearing your music?
A: Eb&Flow. I want to make people think, I want people to question their own beliefs and mine, see things from multiple perspectives, and learn how to better communicate with those who might not agree with us or see things our way. Ultimately that’s what we have to do. Hatred can only be changed over time with a culture that reinforces inclusivity and unequivocal rejection of that hatred. That requires being firm and unapologetic in your stance against hate speech and those who spread it. But I ultimately want us to be able to come together around common knowledge and individual experience and build towards a better world. Hip-Hop is only a small piece of that. But I believe it can be a crucial part.
For more information about Eb&Flow, contact him via email at [email protected]
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