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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Loj
Monday, April 28, 2008

Growing up in a bad neighborhood oftentimes leads young men and women down the wrong path in life. Loj’s parents weren’t about to let that happen to him despite their address being in South Jamaica, Queens. Loj remembers “growing up was an interesting experience because Southside is a rough neighborhood, but my parents did everything they could to keep me off of the streets. They put me in Catholic school all the way in Rego Park, which is a nice neighborhood, and they also put me in a number of after school activities.” When Loj turned 17 his family moved to Flushing, but well before that move happened Loj discovered Hip-Hop. “My sister is an emcee, Helixx C. Armaggedon, and she was rockin since she was like 14, so that means I was like nine when I started getting into it.” Loj is now more than just “into it” as he’s been making considerable noise in the NY scene as an emcee himself. This week I sat down with him to find out more about his fascinating life, the concept behind his album, No Labels, and where he finds his inspiration.

Adam Bernard: The cover and insert of your album, No Labels, have some powerful images, one of your face covered in words that are considered labels and the second of those words streaking down your face as if you are washing them all off. While the meaning of the pictures is perfectly clear, why was it important to you to communicate this message?
Loj: Big shout out to Ridz for the artwork on the album! But basically, I recorded the whole album, titled it, explained everything to Ridz and he took it from there. I told him that people would always try and categorize me and fit me into a box, whether musically or just in general. However, it never worked because I'm too versatile to be labeled. I'm from the hood but I went to Catholic school. My parents are city workers and my best friend's mom, who was like a second mother to me, was an entrepreneur. I'm Black and Italian. I like Immortal Technique and I like Fabolous. So I wanted to clearly convey that there are No Labels to be placed on Loj! Ridz brought my whole concept to life in his imagery. He's a damn genius. This message needed to be communicated because it is my foundation. My versatility is what makes Loj so unique. The album can't be compared to any other album because you go from a song explaining the difference between rappers and emcees to a song about a person's first conversation with their significant other to a song about gold diggers and promiscuous women to a song about losing loved ones. When someone describes Loj I want them to say his music is DOPE and that's it, nothing more and nothing less.

Adam Bernard: What kind of labels have been put on you in the past and how have you found ways around them?
Loj: People have tried to say that I'm a mainstream artist because of my production. People have tried to say that I'm an underground artist because of my lyrics. People have tried to say that I was a nerd because I went to Catholic school. People have tried to say that I'm a "player" because I love all different types of women. The list goes on and on. That's an interview in itself. (laughs) On the real, I don't care what anybody thinks. I will never change to satisfy someone else. If anything they'll have to change their opinion of me. So I don't find ways around the labels placed on me because they're all true. However, they aren't solely true. You can't just say 2Pac was a thug. You can't just say he was an intellectual. You can't just say he was an actor. He was all of the above, you feel me? And I'm not comparing myself to him, by the way.

Adam Bernard: Nice clarification. You know someone would have read that and thought it. Moving to your music, what do you want people to feel when they put this album on?
Loj: I want people to feel like they are listening to an artist that represents them. I'm representing any individual that lived or lives in a bad neighborhood but has high aspirations. I'm representing any individual that went to an all boys school. I'm representing any individual that is not a thug. I'm representing any individual that wants to see progression in Hip-Hop and not digression. I'm representing a whole nation of youth that follows politics. So in a nutshell, I want people to relate to me when they put my album on. Sometimes when I listen to music, I don't feel represented. I don't want to hear shoot em up bang bang all the time. I don't want to hear black supremacy. I don't want to hear how many females a rapper's had sex with. I want to hear about topics that I care about and situations that I can connect with.

Adam Bernard: Where do you find those feelings you can connect with in music? Who inspires you in that way?
Loj: I don't ever find the perfect mixture, but there are a couple of artists that come pretty close in there own ways. Nas, KRS-One, Fabolous, Common, A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Run DMC to name a few. These artists reflect me in certain regards. As of lately, Kanye West has been inspirational. Joel Ortiz has been inspirational. Lupe Fiasco, Saigon and Papoose are really creative and inspire me, as well.

Adam Bernard: Finally, as an artist who performs in NYC, what are some things other artists, and even fans, should know about concerning the trials and tribulations of being an independent MC looking to get on stage?
Loj: Coming up in NYC, I think all aspiring artists need to understand that nothing is going to be handed to you. Nine out of ten emcees need to start at open mics and work their way upwards. Of course there's always that lucky emcee that's in the right place at the right time, but for the most part it's standard procedure. Also, you have to truly believe in yourself to convince others to believe in you. If you have any doubts about your music it will probably show in your recorded songs and definitely will show on stage while you're performing. Don't be afraid to be innovative about how you want to get into the industry. You don't just have to drop a mixtape and do shows. There's a lot of other creative marketing and promotional tactics that you can do… not that I'll give any of my own away (laughs), you just have to think. Lastly, plan for the worst and hope for the best. Plan on getting booed off stage, hated on by some listeners, played out by radio personalities and shitted on by so called friends. The industry is shady!!!

Related Links

Website: thinkloj.com
MySpace: myspace.com/thinkloj


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:46 AM  
  • At 9:26 AM, Blogger Jeremy said…

    Great interview...Loj is a breathe of fresh air.

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