When we interviewed CHOPS a few weeks ago, there was one stand out appearance on the record that made my ears perk up. That man was Timothy Flu. Dope name, great delivery, and an unmatched hustle. Off the heels of releasing his upcoming tape, we sit down with Flu and talk about his mindset, process, and more. Read below for the full Q&A…
How did you become attached to CHOPS’ Strength in Numbers project? Did you reach out or were you approached?
TF: I was approached personally by CHOPS. CHOPS knew of me because I sent him a song I did with Jin tha MC over Twitter a few years ago. He sent me a beat (the beat that eventually became “Top Down”) that reminded me of an old-school southern hip-hop song and thought I would sound good over it. He was right.
A few years ago you released ‘Whatchu Lookin’ At?’ for free to the masses. Fast forward a few years later, how does your new project dropping in early 2014 showcase your growth and maturity as an artist?
TF: I’m a much better songwriter. Im better at coming up with concepts and putting songs together than just spitting bars and verses. “Whatchu Lookin’ At” is a good project but its scatterbrained in its vision and very raw compared to “The Other Side”. I think I focused too much on crafting clever verses instead of making great songs. I concentrate more on my hooks nowadays and I create better songs because of it. I’m also a much better rapper. My flow and delivery is a lot stronger as well as more versatile. I play around with different deliveries and even harmonize a little bit in my raps.
Will you be following the same sales model as that mixtape? Or will you be releasing it through a different format?
TF: “The Other Side” will be a free digital release, just like “Whatchu Lookin’ At”. I will also have physical copies pressed up as well.
Why did you name this project “The Other Side”?
TF: I named the project “The Other Side” because I wanted to show another side of Atlanta that isn’t trap music and booty club music, which is what we are primarily known for. I wanted people to understand that there are other scenes in Atlanta; we have a real hip-hop scene down here with real MCs with varying sounds and I wanted to showcase that. It also represents the other side of me. Anybody who knows me will tell you I like to joke around, act a fool and have a good time. I don’t really talk about my feelings too much. This mixtape gives me a chance to get personal with people.
What can you tell us about the production and guest appearances? What kind of headspace were you in when you started molding this album?
TF: The production varies. The first half of the mixtape has a lot of Southern Hip-Hop influence to it; a lot of harder tracks with strong bass, hi-hats and 808s. The second half of the mixtape, however, is full of soulful, jazzy vibes to it. It’s a lot more mellow and introspective. As far as guest appearances go, its mostly local talent, like Mic Barz, Andrew Wiggs, and my UN1Q Production family (Yellow Boyz, The Risk Takerz, SS and Jerm).
As far as my mindset when I first started molding this album, I was hungry. See, my mom passed away not too long ago, and it kind of lit a fire under me. She had been suffering from a chronic illness ever since I could remember and I had to help take care of her from a young age; this made it difficult for me to fully pursue my dreams. Ever since she passed, I felt like I had to go hard and utilize the gifts that my mom and God gave me or else it wouldn’t be right.
What are some of your favorite Asian films or anime?
TF: Growing up, I watched A LOT of Jackie Chan movies. “Rumble in the Bronx”, “Supercop”, and “Who Am I?” are a few that stand out off the top of my head. “Twin Warriors” with Jet Li is another one I remember watching alot. A lot of Kung Fu flicks. As far as anime goes, I grew up on Dragonball Z. I was a huge fanatic when I was a kid. I have a notebook laying around somewhere with a buncha drawings I did of Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, and the whole team [laughs]. When I got older, I got into Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach. Bleach was the last anime I really kept up with and watched all the way.
What is it like nowadays being an MC reppin’ Atlanta? Is it a good time to be a MC there? I don’t really hear too many things buzzin’ from that area.
TF: It’s a great time to be an MC/Artist/Entertainer in Atlanta. In my opinion, Atlanta is the mecca of mainstream hip hop right now. T.I., 2Chainz, Future, Big Boi, Jeezy, Trinidad Jame$, Rich Homie Quan.. they’re all here. As well as all the major record label executives and promoters. They’ve all got their eye on Atlanta, looking for the next big hit/act. I see a lot of people moving from other cities/states to Atlanta to try to make it. There are open mic showcases every other night everywhere in the city. It’s a great time for Atlanta. As far as Asian artists go, yes, we don’t have much of a buzz out here yet because it’s Black Hollywood. But me and my UN1Q team are working on changing that, as well as artists such as Mic Barz and Sonny Bonoho.
Hip hop has always been a vehicle to stand out and look unique. Do you feel it is harder to excel in the game being an Asian rapper?
TF: It’s a double-edged sword. I get a lot more attention on me because I look different, which is great for me, but you have to be able to relate to people. If all you do is rap about being Asian and the Asian experience, you’re gonna alienate people, and you aren’t gonna gain any fans in Atlanta (a.k.a. “Black Hollywood”). That’s why I feel like Jin failed in America with that “Learn Chinese” record. America can’t relate to that. I actually try to rap as little as possible about the Asian experience and focus on the Human experience.
Pertaining to you specifically, how do you put your own cultural spin on your music. Will the new album deal with tracks about your experiences, the culture of ATL, and more? Or is it just a feel good record? How introspective is it?
TF: The first half of the mixtape is very southern; I rap a lot about Atlanta, use a lot of southern slang, and talk alotta fly shit. It’s very swagged out for lack of a better term. The second half, however, is very personal, very introspective with a lot of soulful, jazzy sounds. I definitely have a lot of feel good tracks on there though.
Lastly, throw out some advice that other young MC’s can apply to their own struggle to stardom.
TF: Take everything seriously. Be committed. Have professional photos done, professional videos, presskits, and just be a professional. Don’t just have random unmastered tracks on soundclick with a picture you took in your bathroom and think you can call yourself a rapper. Because if you don’t take yourself seriously, nobody else will. Do a lot of shows; that’s how you build your buzz locally, and that is how you network with promoters, DJs and people in the media that can help you gain placement. You have to work harder than you’ve ever worked.
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