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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week - Final Outlaw
Monday, February 22, 2010

Artists and fans involved in NYC’s underground hip-hop scene should be at least slightly familiar with Brooklyn’s Final Outlaw by now. His mix-CD, titled We’re All Gonna Die, made a nice impact when it was released and his single off of the Hip-Hop 4ever album, which was the title track, has received more than 20,000 plays on YouTube. His vibe is one most everyone can get down with; “we just have to work harder to help each other,” he says, “that’s all.” This week, after seeing a few powerful live performances by Final Outlaw, I caught up with him to find out more about his music, the story behind his name, and experiencing homelessness up close and personal.

Adam Bernard: You have a fairly incredible life story, moving all around NYC and even being homeless for a bit. If you don’t mind me asking, how’d you end up homeless?
Final Outlaw: We had been living in Washington Heights and my sister was born with Down Syndrome. My mother’s initial reaction was “let’s get out of the city,” so we went to North Carolina. I was 12 years old when we moved and we spent five years there, which a lot of people don’t know. By the time we returned to New York City the only place we had to stay was my aunt’s house in Dyckman, which is 200th street and above in Manhattan. She was living in an unstable place, and was renting out one of the rooms. We ended up being discovered by the super and he had us taken out. I spent a month or two in Fort Lee, NJ, where I have some other family, but things didn’t work out so well over there, so we had to make a decision to either go back down south or stay in the city. We decided to stay in the city and that meant that the harsh reality that we had to go through the shelter system. That’s how we ended up homeless. We ended up moving from shelter to shelter, occasionally being placed in hospitals that had been abandoned, or in a motel room for a night, but there were a couple nights where we had to sleep in the car. I actually think other people have it far worse. The only thing I feel bad about is my little sister, she has Down Syndrome and there’s no reason she should be sleeping in a car, in America.

Adam Bernard: How has going through all that informed your work and your work ethic?
Final Outlaw: There’s a lot of emotion involved in a situation like that and it helps my music because I don’t want to forget what happened. Often we see artists that have come from situations like mine and somewhere along the line material things and a superficial lifestyle become more important than where they came from and that’s sad because we’re supposed to give hope to people. I was a teenager when I was homeless, and if I can tell a story that can make someone feel like they’re not alone, I feel great, I feel happy about that. Remembering where I come from helps me stay grounded, it helps me remember to not get too happy about a check, or an article in some magazine, because I have a story to tell, I can’t forget that.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of the stories you have to tell, I know some of them are in your music, so why don’t you tell me a little bit about that. Your first mix-CD, We’re All Gonna Die, had a real sunny happy name for an album.
Final Outlaw: Yeah {laughs}, no doubt about it, but believe it or not it does have a message behind it. I spoke to my brother, and to other friends, and we eventually asked; what messages does Final Outlaw want to put out? We’re All Gonna Die is the first thing that came to mind. When you break it down, in life you find yourself in a lot of discussions and debates with people and it turns out a lot of the time you’re bickering about nonsense. At the end of the day we are all gonna die, and since that’s the case then we all need to focus on more important things in life. Also, if that’s what to become of us all, then that literally means that we’re all the same, because there is no creature that I've come across that is eternal, so We’re All Gonna Die is also, in a sense, telling you that we are the same, we bleed the same colors, we all have an expiration date, and we need to begin looking at each other with more empathy, with more sympathy, with more of a helping hand. People bicker a lot over petty things, like skin color, which I consider petty because, only in theory, let’s say an alien race came down to earth and they wanted to destroy everyone. I think they would laugh at us because we can’t even come together and fight together as one because of a stupid thing like skin color.

Adam Bernard: That’s the first thing I’ve ever heard said about aliens that seems reasonable. Now, after We’re All Gonna Die came out you did another version of the album with totally original beats, and then the “Hip-Hop 4ever” single came out, which was huge. Up next is Unstoppable Love. When do you think we’ll start hearing music from that project?
Final Outlaw: I think you’re gonna see singles coming out, maybe even music videos, within the next few months and then the album will probably be closer to the summer. I’m working on two videos right now.

Adam Bernard: Great! Incidentally, I really dig your name. Tell me about its origins. What do you feel makes you an outlaw, and even more importantly, what makes you the FINAL outlaw?
Final Outlaw: Ever since I was younger I always felt that too much of our life is chosen by outside sources; where we work, where we go to school, what our name is gonna be. I’ve always been somewhat of a rebel, and at the time I was living in North Carolina I went to a school that was extremely racist and there was a lot of gang activity, which surprised me because the neighborhood that we had moved into was a good one. We had things we didn’t have before. We went from a little apartment to a full backyard, a full front yard, a garage and everything. So I was going to this school and they didn’t know what a Puerto Rican or a Dominican person was. The only things they knew (about Latin people) were from television. I had been referred to as Taco Bell, or Paco, or Jose, they would just make up names for my brother and I. The thing was, in a school where there’s a lot of gang activity you gotta be very careful. I swallowed a lot of my pride, and eventually a lot of that turned into violence. My school education took a nosedive because I was more concerned with whether I was gonna end up in a fight again than actually passing a test. At the same time I started feeling like I was the only one that had an intellect. Everyone was more concerned with sex and drug and pop culture and violence while I was very curious about cultures and art and history and things of that nature. I eventually felt like I was the only one. That’s where Final comes from. I also felt that as a Latino, or anybody that falls under the minority umbrella, which I call it, even though I don’t believe in the word minorities, anybody that falls under that category is somewhat treated like a criminal to a certain extent.

Adam Bernard: Hence you were the Final Outlaw.
Final Outlaw: Exactly. I sort of just embraced it.

Adam Bernard: This has been a really serious interview, so let’s lighten the mood a bit. Close things out by telling me about something absolutely ridiculous that you enjoy.
Final Outlaw: This is a good question. I have to admit, I’ll watch a horror movie with my friends and instead of being frightened or scared of really bloody scenes, my reaction is to laugh. I don’t know why. I think I share that with other people, but it’s very ridiculous. I think it’s wrong, but I just can’t help myself. If I see somebody hit over the head with a two by four I just burst out laughing, or if I see somebody get their arm chopped off with a chainsaw it’s funny to me because I know it’s not real. It gets pretty annoying, but I find it absolutely hilarious. I don’t know why.

Related Links

Website: finaloutlaw.com
Twitter: twitter.com/finaloutlaw
MySpace: myspace.com/finaloutlaw
YouTube: youtube.com/finaloutlawtv


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:25 AM  
  • At 11:33 PM, Blogger VITHYM said…

    Deep article! My brother Final Outlaw is the truth!!

  • At 11:35 PM, Blogger VITHYM said…

    Deep Article! My brother Final Outlaw is the truth!!

  • At 11:36 PM, Blogger Skila said…

    sometimes you gotta laugh at life's horrors and ironies or else you lose it, gotta laugh brothers.

    Good Stuff guys
    Hip Hop Forever

  • At 12:13 AM, Blogger Thatbostonkid said…

    Final Outlaw is one of the only artists when I'm in a bad mood, I sit down and just listen to one of his tracks. Almost every track I play off We're all gonna Die I can say "I feel that". I wish him and he deserves nothing but success in the future. Everyone NEEDS to support Final Outlaw! Hip Hop 4ever!-Nate Libby

  • At 12:40 AM, Blogger Isaiah said…

    Final Outlaw man! Great MC. great man. Little by little he progressing and becoming more known. Dont stop making MUSIC. We need you more then ever nowadays.

  • At 1:11 AM, Blogger Cupcake + Muffin said…

    My boss said to me,
    take my advice please
    instead, for one second, up off your knees we are not the competition
    when we strive, we strive..
    to be number one

    Final congrats on all you have done and may God Bless you.

    -Violet Rocha

  • At 1:12 AM, Blogger Cupcake + Muffin said…

    My boss said to me,
    take my advice please
    instead, for one second, up off your knees we are not the competition
    when we strive, we strive..
    to be number one

    Final congrats on all you have done and may God Bless you.

    -Violet Rocha

  • At 1:44 AM, Blogger psychmajor said…

    This interview has definitely left me wanting to read more. I feel like I have just been given access to one of the most creative mind's in the (underground) hip hop sector.

    Back in January, I had the pleasure of seeing Final outlaw perform one of his masterpieces "Unsigned from uptown" at the monthly bondfire. Final's intensity and passion was so vibrant, that my eyes couldn't stop watching him up on that stage. As I looked around at the audience, I noticed his presence was equally felt, and the audience was at attention like troops awaiting a drill command.

    In listening to Final's music one could easily conclude there is a deep-rooted love and strong passion for his conception of Hip Hop. His lyrical content is not only powerful, but meaningful. He spits from the perspective of every "conscious" urban kid in Amerika and beyond this Western Hemisphere.

    I wholeheartedly feel this recognition is one that deserves a standing "O", and I won't be surprised to see this emcee/poet/warrior/final outlaw continue rising to the top, to receive many more recognitions.

    Bless up to the young warrior Final Outlaw, and to you Adam for another insightful interview....

    Much light,


  • At 1:50 AM, Blogger Homeboy Sandman said…

    i love this kid

  • At 3:10 AM, Blogger phillip said…

    i am glad that theirs artist still out there like final outlaw he brings life to a dieing art form in my opinion which is being a true lyricist thats hard to come bye these days to me in hip-hop keep moving foward god peace

  • At 5:10 AM, Blogger iLLspoKinn said…

    Great Interview...FO is a bad bad man. It's good to get some more insight on why he does what he does. I'm a fan.

  • At 9:00 AM, Blogger Robert said…

    What Puerto Ricans can RAP?! Of course we can, and there are few who can do it better than Final Outlaw, this man's metaphors and flow are hotter and more lethal than havin sex w/ a stripper @ Sous!
    I've had the pleasure of sharing the same stage, and there are few who command such lyrical respect in the underground community as he, someone who can tear you apart with just a few bars and some spit. Watch out for this Hip-Hop Ninja!

    Robert Rios
    R&B/Latin Soul Singer/Songwriter/FutureCommanderOfEarth

  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger Sebastian said…

    You run into lots of people who speak of things they want to do, wish to do, dream of doing, but ever soften you get to know someone whose only about getting shit done, because they have the knowledge, the drive, the know what it is to fail and they will stop at nothing to succeed not only for themselves but for those whose voices cannot be heard, these are the people we should all listen to and that is why absolutely no one should sleep on ma boy FINAL OUTLAW. --Sebastian M.

  • At 10:24 PM, Blogger Kody said…

    Peace and Blessings to the real...Speaking on a personal level, I know Final Outlaw to be a humble brotha, down to Earth and true to his word. He dont take and take like so many Ive worked with in life, but is sure to have your back, to give back. Character is equally important as skill level as an MC. Some current artists speak real talk on the mic, but they are disconnected, concieted, or fake. Final Outlaw is someone you can really build with, and in one conversation you feel like you know him. These are the type of people that eventually rise, the type of people that cause trouble, that make noise that is eventually heard by the masses.
    Una Sola Vida Photography
    (860) 919 5456

  • At 1:07 AM, Blogger grey said…

    real.raw.life.skillsz.heart.hunger.drive.relentless.survivor...he's a blessing. gotta be FINAL OUTLAW - Hip Hop is 4ever! keep it live and comin!

  • At 11:11 AM, Blogger G.A.ME said…

    Final Outlaw is doing his thing. He definitely one of the artists to look out for this year and NEXT! Dope article!

  • At 1:37 AM, Blogger SoSoon said…

    Been watching Final OutlaW's movements from a young proactive G.A.Me member to a SEEMINGLY self sufficient movement of his own (i say seemingly because I know the homey is all about the people.)

    I can't stop expressing not only how happy I am for him, but how proud I am to know him.

    This article introduced me to a more in depth look at JJ the person. Great questions and better responses.

  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger Cril said…

    Great Interview, Stay true Brother!


  • At 12:43 PM, Blogger O'Hara said…

    peace king, keep it alive!

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