SO-LAR is on his way up in the rap scene. As a Connecticut-based artist, he often shows love for his home state both in his verses and in his videos. Mick Theebs got a chance to speak with him and get an inside look into how he works and what drives him to create art.
MT: How did you get your start rapping?
SL: I first started rapping riding around in a car with my boys, drinking, and getting high. It was like a ritual: once the driver put on the instrumental, you had to rap when it was your turn. If you stayed quiet you would get kicked the car and had to walk home. Everybody spit a freestyle and when I would say mine it sounded good. I thought to myself that I had something that could grow if I kept doing it.
MT Where do you find inspiration for your work? Who are some of your major influences?
SL: I find inspiration from the tumultuous life I've had. I have a story to tell, an honest one that people respect. Music and ideas go together like hand and glove. To me, the tragedies of life and triumphs are enough to continue to inspire me to create listen-worthy material. My major influences are the notable legends in hip hop: Nas, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Eminem, and Lil Wayne, just to name a few. The artists I mentioned may sound cliche, but I would gauge my work against theirs as I grew as an artist. Each of them has their own identity as an artist, something I had to create on my own. The true talent lies in the ability to move the listener through different emotions, reactions, and elements of surprise. If you're a dope writer, the listener can never guess what you will say from one line to the next. If I may say so I think I have mastered those abilities over time.
As far as the newer artist that have emerged, I like Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, Papoose, Kayne West, and J-Cole. All of these guys speak a full range of content, that is thought-provoking for the listener. Those are the tools of a dope emcee.
MT: How do your tracks come together? Do you work with a producer?
SL: My tracks come together when I hear a beat that fits my flow pattern(s). The track actually tells me what I should rap about as soon as I hear it. I usually write the hook first, then the verses follow. I have been writing that way for years. I've worked with a variety of underground producers over the years. Most recently I have been working with Jimmy Dukes out of Buffalo NY. He has tracks of all hip genres like trap, Midwest, R&B, new school, and classic east coast hip-hop. He has produced for industry artist like French Montana, The Lox, A$AP Ferg, Uncle Murda, and Fabolous.
MT: What was your proudest moment as an artist so far?
SL: My proudest moment was when a fan told me he listened to one of my songs called "Bullpen Therapy" every morning before work to motivate him for the day. The fact that the record had connected with him was big for me. It was the second track on my previous project called Back In Power. Bullpen Therapy is a slang term for when you get arrested and you have to sit in the waiting cell to make a phone call, pay a bail, or go to a court hearing. You are in this holding area with multiple personalities which makes it an interesting experience.
MT: Can you talk about your upcoming album The Valachi Papers? What does the title mean? What kind of sound can listeners expect to hear on it?
SL: Valachi Papers is the sophomore follow-up to my previous album/mixtape Back In Power that released in 2012. The project was named after an old Charles Bronson movie that actually the original La Costro Nostra film before we ever saw The Godfather or Goodfellas. Charles Bronson who played Joe Valachi in the film was just released from prison and became a driver for the mafia. They were involved in crimes like robbery, drugs, and extortion, all the while he wanted to quit his position as a driver for the mafia to open a restaurant and go legit. As the film goes on, the mafia members became the target of the FBI and were eventually arrested one by one. When he was the last one standing, the mafia began to speculate that he was an informant. He was the last one to be arrested he became a target to be murdered at every prison he was shipped to. Eventually, he began talking to federal agents and the notes they recorded became known as the Valachi Papers.
That film resonated with my life at certain points. I have been involved in illegal activity and had encounters with the legal systems. I am not only the founder/owner of CCE Records Music Group, but I'm also the owner of CCE Transport LLC, a car carrier company that ships new/used cars all over the Northeast/Southeast region. However, I never ratted (snitched) on anyone regarding illegal activity, which is where the disconnect was between me and the movie; facts.
The sound on the album is trap combined with east coast hip hop. That new sound that hip hop fans can identify with and the classic 'bar for bar" shit that true rap diehards demand. I touch a full range of topics that will cater to all people from different walks of life.
MT: Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists?
SL: My advice for aspiring artists is to believe in yourself and your talent at all times. Do not seek validation from other people. Work on your craft until you become polished. Keep dope visuals on your social media so people can see you in motion, and not just HEAR it. Most importantly, keep GOD first!