Born in the midst of an ever growing hip hop culture ….Matt Reeves grew up in the Parkhill area of Staten Island home to legendary artists such as Wu-Tang Clan King Just, The Force MD’s, The UMC’s and Shyheim. Other influences include A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Boot Camp Clik, Common, Black Thought, Pharaohe Monch, Mos Def, and many more. Artist such as these helped to shape the various styles and content of music that he brings to his ever growing fanbase.
Although joining some of hip-hop’s newest talents, Matt Reeves has been underground for many years collaborating with some of Hip Hops most respected underground artists and producers from coast to coast. Matt Reeves is an artist who creates a hip-hop dreamscape, weaving a groove with everything from Jazz to Alternative Rock. A free-thinking individual and free-form artist with a chameleon-like style. Matt Reeves looks to many genres of music, including Rock, Reggae, Hip-Hop, Jazz, R&B, (as well as his spiritual philosophy). His mixtape “4 The Love Of Hip Hop” Brings his diverse style to a lilting, hardcore poetry-filled Hip-Hop.
THEFEED: What was life like growing up in Staten Island?
Growing up on Staten Island in Parkhill was pretty much like growing up in any other hood: drugs, violence, murder, the paper chase; but in the midst of that I found a strong sense of hope and speaking for myself, that’s why I survived. I was fortunate enough to go to school on the other side of Staten Island and realized we were being short changed on the side I was from. I had some obstacles to overcome from within, but that too only made me stronger in the end.
THEFEED: What inspired you to start rapping?
I was always into Hip Hop, for as long as I can remember because my older brother Boogz, who is 13 years older then me was a well respected B-Boy and he rapped really well too. My older sister was into the more conscious side of hip hop and she even purchased my first boom box for me. The box showed a black radio, but when I opened it, it was pink! Man, I wanted one so bad I didn’t even care. These experiences shaped a love for the culture that till this day is unexplainable. My sister put me on to hip hop outside of NY like the Ghetto Boyz, Too Short and NWA. I guess it happened organically from that point being that I was reciting so many rappers lyrics in the mirror every day.
THEFEED: Tell Us About your first album
I think it’s safe to say I haven’t really made my first album yet. Creatively, I’d like to experiment more with live instrumentation as well as vocalists from various genres. So far I’ve only released projects that I felt fit to make for that time. Ive touched on certain issues but I haven’t really told my story yet; I’m saving that. It’s also because hip hop isn’t cheap to do the right way. You need money and there are places I’d like to go creatively with live instruments, and things that take a little more to create.
THEFEED: What is the writing process like for you, from the concept of a song to the final product? Do you just sit down with a piece of paper and start writing? Do you do your own beats?
My writing process isn’t that complex at all to be honest. I get beats from my team of producers Ave, Phitz, Backpack, Majestic, Kwesi, Quis Star and Klassic. I know right away if its going to work, because I start mumbling the first few lines right off the top. I’m 100% driven by the beat. I just do and say what the beat tells me. As far as production, I don’t make beats yet, I do however recommend certain samples to the producers I work with so I have the ear just not the know-how…..yet (laughing).
THEFEED: What is your favorite part of the creative process?
My favorite part of the creative process is between getting the beat that speaks to me, and nailing the actual recording of the song. It’s hard to choose between the two.
HEFEED: Tell us about your latest album Conflicted, What was the driving force behind this album?
Conflicted is a series of conflicts that I experienced, and in some cases still experiencing now. Everything from whether I pursue a record deal, to dealing with the opposite sex, to addressing issues I see going on in the world and finding the balance in that; as well as being about my business and celebrating that musically to making sure I speak on social issue. It’s a constant conflict, but it’s healthy because it keeps me aware and thinking at all times, which is perfect for consistent growth.
THEFEED: How have you grown as an artist from your first album to Conflicted? What do you know now that you didn’t know back then?
The biggest way I’ve grow I would have to say is creative freedom. I’m no longer worried about what people might say or think I just create what’s true to me with an understanding that everyone won’t like it but it’s not for them, it’s for the people that will. I’ve learned not to take myself too serious as an artist after all its art, which means it’s subject to public opinion. And lastly, I’d say I’ve learned the art of under-rapping. I use to say way too much trying to drive a point home.
THEFEED: The music industry loves labeling artist and keeping them in a little box, how would you like people to label Matt Reeve’s music?
Box Cutter music. I keep a box cutter for that little box they try to put me in. I’m creative, not sure what my next direction will be, but I’m free to do whatever I like. I just honestly want to make really good music without worrying about limitations and fitting into a specific space.
THEFEED: What is the business model for an up-and coming artist like yourself? Where is the money? Is it in record sales? Bookings?
To be honest, right now the money is in every body else’s pockets (laughs) even at the beginner level everybody wants to be compensated. The artist has been devalued so much, he’s the only one doing anything for free in the industry. I’ve been blessed to have people that give me tremendous breaks, if not for free and because of that they will be the first to be compensated when the checks start rolling in. As far as the business model goes though, I would say as an indie artist the money is in everything you do from shows to record sales to merchandise. It’s all a matter of lining your ducks up in row so that you have a functioning enterprise. I think artists seek out deals because of the instant gratification, but it has no long term benefits. I have my own business outside of music so I’m not standing in line waiting on any handouts. My business affords me the privilege of being patient and building this with my team.
THEFEED: What is the most important thing you have learned about this business since you first started?
That you don’t need a record label, period. And that face to face interaction always trumps social media activity.
THEFEED: What has been the most frustrating thing about this business?
Thinking I needed the industry’s help to be successful I wasted so many years and way too much money trying to find a way in.
THEFEED: What do you love the most about making music?
The thing I love most is the impact I know it can potentially have on the listener. I literally create music with the intent being to impact someone’s life. Knowing I have the power to do that is an amazing feeling.
THEFEED: What is your opinion on the current state of the music industry in general?
It’s a rat race. Everyone is worried about everything, but the actual music. That’s okay, because in a recession, new businesses and new business models are formed. Right now is the best time better then ever before to become your own boss and control your own destiny in this business without having to actually be a part of the madness. I definitely see how it’s going to come full circle and go back to being more exclusive in terms of how it’s consumed.
THEFEED: What is next for you?
Establishing a strong business model, perfecting my performances, expanding my fan base and collaborating with different brands to release music.
THEFEED: What advice would you give other young rappers out there trying to get into the game?
Don’t try to get into the game, get into your own lane and bring the interest to you. Don’t make excuses, find a solution and whatever has made you bitter about not having the opportunity to get noticed, turn that into inspiration and create your own opportunities out here.
THEFEED: Who are you listening to right now?
I’m listening to Nipsey Hussle on the 1 train on my way to go speak to students at a High School about pursuing success. Other than that, it’s the usual 90’s era hip hop, with some Chance the rapper, J.Cole and Kendrick mixed in there. I also think Rhapsody and Ab Soul are dope. I really like the whole TDE honestly.
THEFEED: In 10 Years where do you see your career?
In 10 years I will have a fully functioning multi media company, that will be a One stop shop for everything needed to push any vision forward. I actually see that in three, so in ten, we’ll be seven years running.
THEFEED: Finally we try to ask our guest some questions to get a more three dimensional picture of who they are. One word answers if you can.
What’s your favorite movie?
THEFEED: Who is your favorite musical artist of all time?
THEFEED: What is your favorite piece of technology that you can’t do without?
Nothing special there my Galaxy Note 3
THEFEED: Love, Money or Respect?
Love. Respect doesn’t run as deep as true love and I don’t think you can really love someone without respecting them. Money comes when you keep things in their proper perspective.