How did you start your rap career?
I started rapping as a kid in the 80's. I got a lot more serious in the early 90's and did shows and small tours from around 92-95. I stopped participating in hip hop for a few years and concentrated on other areas of service, ministry, and life. I finished up college and a post graduate degree and became heavily invested in the service I was doing in the community. I started writing and rapping again in 2000. However, it wasn't until 2003 that I decided to actually drop an album.
How did you come up with “Elias”?
My real name is Elias. Back in the day, I had rapped under different names and 'aliases' but I wanted to be natural and real on the mic. I did not feel the need to project a persona other than the one I already possess. There is no 'secret' mid 90's acronym meaning to my name either, like Every Living Irate American Salutes or something. It's just Elias.
What do you want to achieve with your new album (Scraps of Paper)?
I do not know if 'achieve' is really the right word for my desires for this album. Initially, all I really wanted to do was make an album for arts' sake. So, in a sense, it's already succeeded--I made it. I've literally written and recorded hundreds of songs that most people outside of my circle of "peoples" have never heard. However, the enthusiastic response I received from listeners made me decide to share it on a larger scale.
The album will be shipping to 350 or so college radio stations in mid-September and my hope is that as many people can hear the album as possible. The work speaks for itself, it is musical, thoughtful, challenging, introspective, and authentic. At this point, I'm most interested in simply sharing it with willing listeners. This album is musically diverse and I believe it simply displays my own personal philosophy that 'sound' dictates the lyrical and cadence approach. I approach every song differently so no two songs sound the same.
Who and what inspired you for your lyrics?
Well, I believe that God ultimately inspires all art. However, below that I find musical and lyrical inspiration in almost everything. I can be inspired politically by things happening around the world. I can be inspired by moments crystallized into my consciousness by a reflective backward glance. I can be inspired by the life stories that surround me as I serve the poor in my neighborhood. Life inspires me. I believe that as Christians we have a unique perspective into what "happens" to us as people and I try to let that perspective come out in my lyrics.
What is your favorite song in the album (Scraps of Paper)?
Quite honestly, I do not have a 'favorite' song. Every song I create holds a different emotive and expressive meaning for me. The joy is in the creation itself. But, if I'm forced to pick I would probably say, "Sunday Morning Coming Home", a song about the birth of my daughter on a Sunday morning. In that moment, as I held my daughter, so many things made sense to me...it was as if Sunday (metaphorical allusion to Jesus) came home and made even greater sense to me. I realized in that moment an overarching love I had for this child and it dawned upon me that God felt it for me too. I also realized for the first time on a very real and visceral level that I was not simply Elias, I was part of something so much bigger. I was a part of the people that held me and loved me in the same way I was holding this new child. I saw the strands that connect us to one another in ways that I had thought I knew intellectually but didn't really understand in my SOUL.
Who are the guest appearance in the album (Scraps of Paper)?
I'm not a person who likes to have too many guest appearances on an album. I wanted my work to stand alone for what it was worth. It seems that so many albums today end up being 'crew' albums instead of standing on the merits of the lyrical and musical work of the artist. BUT, I did have a couple of artists on my album. Kaboose is a very dope artist that is in a crew with me called, Scribbling Idiots. He was on a song called, "Last Night." On that same song, I had an amazing singer named Tyrone Wells sing the hook. Watch out for Tyrone that kid has mad talent and ability and is going places. His music is already heard on the WB and in many other media outlets. I also had JawnyQuest on a song with me. He is a cat from my hood that has mad talent and ability. If he ever drops an album people should watch out. I also had one other vocalist, Laura Knaak on one song and she sang beautifully-amazing voice.
What artists have you already worked and performed with?
I've worked with Cheap COlogne on "Just a little Sample" featuring Slug, Awol, Pigeon John and a few other cats release on Bomb Hip hop records.
I worked with Malachi Perez on one song on his first EP.
I have done 2 songs with Luke Geraty, one on his EP "Before I sold out", and then on his LP "It's cold out here."
I wrote a chorus and performed it on Australian Mark1's LP, "Audiosyncracies." The song, "Spotless Crucifixion" that we collaborated on has been picked up nationally in Australia and has heavy radio play there.
I was on a song called, "Slowly Dyin'" with Kaboose's album "Innersections."
I was on a song called "Bad Weather" on "Scribbling Idiots Presents: Just me and Cas Metah."
I've also worked with Id Obelus, Sycorax, and Noah23 from Plague Language.
What artist do you want to work with?
The artists that I would like to creatively work with are artists that I respect highly. I would love the opportunity to work with J-Live, manCHILD, Sintax, Lyrics Born, Gift of Gab, Slug, Sage Francis, and Common. All of these artists bring a great deal to the table in terms of skill and content. I consider them to be the creme of the crop when it comes to lyricism.
What was the best thing that happened in your music career?
I just love creating music and I'm blessed to be able to do it. I haven't had a 'big break' but I'm not sure that you need that to make music that moves you. If you can do that, I'm not sure there is anything better.
Are you working on any future projects?
Currently, I'm working on a project with a European producer that is very melodic and jazzy. I plan on finishing up an EP and getting that out to European consumers.
After that, I have a few projects I'm working on with different people but they have not been officially ironed out so it would be premature for me to speak definitively on them.
However, I am ALWAYS writing new songs and working on them. I'm planning on releasing a CD-R called "fragments" containing 30-40 unreleased songs that I've worked on but don't share. Many people have contacted me or asked me for more music and hundreds of songs no one has heard exist out there so I'm going to put a few of them together for the interested.
If you had to do another genre of music, what will it be and why?
I do whatever moves me. I do hip hop but I break out into song because I 'feel like it'. So, personally I don't feel constrained by 'genre' I only feel restrained by skill. I'd do all forms of music that I "felt" like sharing if I had the skill to do it masterfully. If I start performing with a live band, which is a future possibility, expect all different sorts of things from a live show--singing, rock, rap, whatever I feel.
More about yourself. How did you accept Jesus in your life?
I accepted Christ at a young age but had a real 'awakening' around 13 years of age. I grew up in a poor African American neighborhood in LA and I struggled with all kinds of issues from drugs to violence to what kind of man I wanted to be---hard, kind, etc... At 13, I remember my pops taking me to seventh and spring in LA (Skidrow) just to look at all the people that were homeless. We didn't talk or extemporize about who they were and why they were there we just observed. I walked away from that experience vowing to God that I would serve the poor.
I lived out my beliefs through actions and became a community activist and servant as a highschool student and college student. I promised God that if I personally made it out of poverty that I wouldn't walk away from that life but would spend my life serving others and helping them move out of the viscious cycle of poverty in America that so many fall into.
What’s your favorite…?
Food: Carne Asada
Sport: Boxing/Ultimate Fighting
Producer: Right now...Kanye West
Country: USA, Mexico, Canada...the only three countries I've lived in. Loved each one differently.
State: California...I've lived in MANY MANY states...none is even close to Cali.
Music: Hip hop wha?
Bible verse: Depends on what God is telling me. But when I see the struggles of the world and issues of justice that call to be heard and met, I echo Isaiah 6:8 and weakly I cry "Here am I send me."
How is it to be artist of the month on Rapzilla?
It is the highlight of my life, right in front of my wife, my baby daughter, my family, my service, my community, my music, my sports obsessions, and my hobbies.
Or was it behind? :)
Any last words?
Thanks for putting me on and Congratulations to anyone who was able to read my entire interview. Wow. Reading is FUNdamental.