A Triple X Threat - By: Tirusha Patwa
When it comes to the Urban Hip-Hop scene in the USA, I'll have to admit, everyday there's a new "rapper" in the market. Granted some of them are good, but honestly, people don't always want to hear this "new talent." Years ago, an artist by the name of Ajaxxx, stepped into this sea of rappers and gradually made his way up the food chain. From three mixtapes, to large-scale performances, to gracing the cover of international magazines, to finally releasing his debut music video -- Ajaxxx has become a "triple x threat," for those in the scene.
With the release of his debut music video, Blow, we caught up with this mic master and put him in our hot seat for a little Q&A. For those who don't like controversy...don't read ahead * wink, wink *
1. You recently released your debut video, Blow. Tell us about the idea behind the song when you were first writing it and how you depicted that on screen.
No doubt! “Blow” is the first single off my new CD. I wanted to write a song that returned me to my roots and got me back to pure lyrics. Especially because it was the first single, I wanted to remind people that I’m a rapper first.
I wanted them to hear my skills on the mic, and really let them know, “yo this guy is not a gimmick…he can REALLY rap.” I kept it real edgy and raw, and that’s the direction we went with for the video too.
2. The video debuted at the India International Film Festival in Tampa. Please share with us the experience.
The India International Film Festival was amazing. I don’t know of another event that showcases documentaries, Bollywood movies, shorts, and music videos all in one place. And, everything was Indian-flavored.
I definitely took a lot away from it, especially meeting the filmmakers behind the films. I’m really happy that I premiered the video there because it was so well received and because the love was so real. It was a great experience all around.
3. When will you be releasing your next video? Can you share with us the song and/or concept?!
Ahh, the next video! You’re the second person to ask me that today (Laughs). I don’t want to give away too much except to say it’ll go a bit more in the “Indian” direction. It’s still me, it’s still Ajaxxx, but I’m adding an ethnic twist to it too. It’s definitely vintage Ajaxxx. Okay, you’ve already made me say way too much. (Laughs) Next question!
4. Now it's time for some hot stuff! You're an artist who has always placed more emphasis on your lyrics. Why is that? When you hear other Desi artists rapping about cars, girls, etc., how do you react?
It’s sad, it’s disappointing, and it’s stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I have songs about girls too. But at the same time, a lot of these other Desi artists are so one-dimensional, it’s incredible.
I’ve always placed an emphasis on the music first, so when I hear some of these guys rapping about these overdone topics without any thought or creativity behind it, it’s hard for me to listen.
I find it hard to believe that half these guys would exist outside of the Desi scene. I’m not calling anybody out directly, but I hope that the artists in our scene rise above that and escape the generic bubble.
5. Now a lot of artists don't like to 'embrace' their "Desi culture," and don't want to be labeled as a "Desi artist." What are your thoughts on that?
I embrace my Desi culture, but I don’t want to be labeled a “Desi artist.” Two reasons why. Firstly, I think that pigeonholes you and kinda’ limits you from exploring different sounds. I’m so all over the place that I want to dip my hands in lots of different sounds.
Secondly, I feel a lot of artists use their Desi culture as a crutch to get them attention. I never want that to be me. So instead of being labeled a Desi artist, I’d rather be called an artist that is Desi.
6. Looking at the current Hip-Hop scene in the USA, who do you think really has mainstream potential and why? Do you consider them a "threat" to your career?
Do you mean Desi-wise? It’s hard for me to answer that, because I think we all have potential to go mainstream. Especially with the internet nowadays, it’s not hard to become an overnight sensation.
A lot of the artists and producers I’ve worked with have loads of talent though, so who knows? Do I find them to be a threat to me? Not at all. Nobody else should determine my success. I determine my own.
7. Compare the US and UK Hip-Hop scene. Which artists in the UK are really popping off? Who would you like to collaborate with?
Good question. If we’re talking generally, the US hip hop scene is more live because this is where hip hop originated. If we’re talking the Desi hip hop scene, hands down the UK takes it. I’ve wondered why for awhile, but it’s probably because there’s more of a scene there for it.
I really tip my hat to everyone out there doing it, because they’ve kinda’ created a movement. As far as who I’d like to collaborate with, I’ve worked with a lot of UK artists already so that’s hard. Maybe Raxstar or Swami. I like the new Menis track too.
8. Do you think the UK scene is more of a "survivor" in the industry because they have huge networks like the BBC who support them?
I think it’s a lot of things. The BBC is definitely a big thing, but I also feel like there are more people closer together too. One thing I’ve noticed, at least through my experiences, is that the DJs are real supportive.
A lot of them avoid getting caught up in politics, and instead show love to artists that have good music instead of accepting bribes and things like that. There’s a lot of positive energy, and that all contributes.
9. Do you think many of the US artists are just going through a phase? You hear 2-3 good songs and then nothing. Explain.
Music today is more single-driven. By that, I mean that people nowadays are mainly buying (or downloading) singles versus whole albums. So, although artists are producing lots more music, the singles are catching on, not the whole full-length album. The game’s a lot different than it used to be, I’ll tell ya’ that.
10. Where do you see the Hip-Hop scene headed in the next five years (both Desi and mainstream)?
The lines will continue to get blurred in the mainstream. Right now, you’re already seeing rappers singing. With R&B going into a techno dance phase now, you’ll probably see a lot of those sounds being incorporated into hip hop. It’s hard to say, but it’ll definitely change a great deal. As far as the Desi scene goes, I only see good things.
The drive and motivation some of these artists have really impresses me. At the same time, I expect a lot more of the generic stuff that we can’t escape. Wishful thinking here, but I hope that we can move past that.
11. What's on rotation on your iPod right now?
I don’t own an iPod. Next question.
(Laughs) Just kidding. Right now, I’m listening to a mix of a lot. I’m listening to a lot of Lupe Fiasco, B.o.B, Eminem, J. Cole, and Drizzy Drake. In the land of R&B, I’ve really been spending a lot of time jamming to that Bruno Mars. And on the Desi front, I’ve been listening to some new A.R. Rahman remixes. The sounds in some of his songs are just crazy.
12. Do you have any final words for the readers of SimplyBhangra.com and your fans?
Super, super thank you to SimplyBhangra.com! Not just for this interview, but for always showing me support! A lot of people might not know this, but SimplyBhangra was one of the first sites that featured my last mixtape when it dropped!
Special thanks to all my fans too! Thank you for reading this interview, for keeping up with me, and for the continued support.
And if you haven’t already, make sure you check out my video for “Blow”.
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