Since the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx by a young DJ known as Kool Herc, the city of New York has established itself as a hotbed of talent. Emcees from all five boroughs have emerged, each with their own sound composed of a collage of inspirations, childhood memories, and a little revisionism to keep it fresh. With the most populous city in the nation as their backdrop, they aspire to get their own spot within in the hip-hop continuum.
But what new generation of talent can we look toward to update New York’s classic sound for a new era?
Enter Ike Slimster. He proudly carries this task, which would seem to be a burden to most, on his shoulders, and relishes the chance to reinvent the wheel and make his mark on the game in a very big way. I was curious to learn some of Ike’s opinions concerning hip-hop in recent days: what exactly defines the NY sound, and who influenced him to create his interpretation of that sound? I got the chance ask him these questions, and more on how he got started, where he thinks the industry is headed.
Hilton Hosannah: What/who inspired you to start making music and when?
Ike Slimster: I used to be so bored; I had a lot of alone time in high school. But I had a computer, internet and music, so I got to it. Curiosity taught me everything I knew then and know now. I just did it, everyday. Honestly, I didn’t even think about dreams or making it big until the college years, when we all get hungry [laughs].
HH: Speaking of dreams, there are probably a lot of artists you watch and admire. If you could produce for anyone in the world, who would it be?
IS: If I could produce for anyone? So many to pick from, but I’d have to say K’Naan. The dude is the REAL definition of African Music. His versatility and composure on a track…he’s my idol, straight up.
IS: Ike is short for my full name, Ikechukwu, and I used to be, or should I say, still am the slim guy chillin’. A friend of mine called me “slimster”, and I was like, ‘whoa…hey!!!’ [laughs].
HH: What does the sound of New York mean to you?
IS: The sound of New York is UNIVERSAL!! It’s so many cultures jumbled up, you’d be a fool not to take advantage of the influences. You could live here for five years and still marvel at the scenery just ‘cuz of who’s performing there, or how the sun shines on it. Ahhh…I love it.
HH: With so many different influences, you probably aren’t tied down to one specific art form. What else do you create, and do you plan on focusing your talents in the future?
IS: Yes, I do practice a lot of different art forms. Graphic design, photography, music, film, poetry, and painting. And of course, all of these expand into sub-categories, so it goes on and on.
At first, I thought about focusing my talents. But no, I refuse. If it’s what we’re given to go out and contribute to God’s work, why compromise? Life’s too short…
HH: That’s true. Why stifle your abilities if you don’t have to? But I’m interested in hearing what your specific definition of art is.
IS: Art is the crayons and the paper God gave you, when you thought he sent you to Earth alone.
HH: Wow. I’ve never heard art described so intensely! Well, feeling so strongly about art, surely you have an opinion on the direction of the music industry?
IS: The industry…honestly, I can be pretty naive about the world. But the thing people forget is, all that clout and shout about money clouds your mind, and may eventually consume you. But it’s whatever. They’ll do them, and I’ll just continue carrying out my duty as an artist. I’m just as much a man as they are, to be honest. I just want someone to wake up and keep going because they listened to my music and the words behind it. I want to give to the people what so many artists have given to me.
IS: Oh man! My dream would be a lofty office, with a scenic view of Brooklyn, where I would provide various services for my artists and for my own products. All I know is, I want this everyday!
HH: Clearly, the future sound of New York is in good hands. Anything you want to say to the readers at home?
IS: Thanks for the opportunity to introduce me to the readers of Starved. I’m very grateful!