Confidence is everything when it comes to hip-hop. Though you don’t necessarily have to be the world’s biggest bragger, belief in oneself will take you very far. In face I would even argue the confidence that a rapper possesses can directly affect their career. If you aren’t assured of your talent it may cause you to become more lenient to do the things that have been done before instead of innovating.
Coming straight out of Canton, Mississippi is 1$T Letter. He is an artist with an unwavering amount of confidence. This is quite evident upon listening to him and his aggressive style of rap. He has taken hold of other mainstream beats on projects like “Rumble In The Radio: 1$t Letter vs. Everybody” and more recently on his “One A Week” series. Without hesitation he takes each beat and makes a case on why he is better than the original artist and whoever else you may put in front of him.
This level of skill and confidence peaked our interest. To learn more about 1$t Letter and all that he has going on we sat down with him for a one on one conversation. Check it out below.
So to start could you tell anyone getting a first impression of you a bit about yourself?
2Pac said that he would spark the brain that would change the world. He was talking about me. Some may say that’s a lofty statement to make, but I truly believe it. Based on my background, I feel like I can relate to individuals who may be in our most esteemed universities, any trap spot in America, or anywhere in between.
I would like to know more about your upbringing? What was growing up like for you?
My upbringing was complex, which is why I’m so complex. I was raised by my single mother in Canton, MS. My mother taught English for 40 years and stressed education. However, my environment didn’t stress that. My environment stressed athletic achievement, being able to win fights, and being able to get women. I went to great schools, but my city is known for drug dealing. As I said in one of my rhymes, “I’m the product you get when you mix higher learning with hood shit.”
What made you start rapping? Were you ever apprehensive about taking it seriously?
I’ve always been great at poetry. I still have raps and poems saved from as far back as middle school. Back then, I would pretend to be CEO of my own label and the featured artist like Master P or Hov. I wasn’t serious about it then. I was just having fun. I didn’t start pursuing this as a business venture until I met my homie Michael Welch (aka Blaque Magic) who is a producer and R&B artist himself. Ever since then, my friend and business partner Tim G. Jacob has been down with me. We started our own label together since no one else would help us.
If you had to describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before how would you describe your sound?
Real. Truly, undeniably, real. Everything I say I am, I am. Everything I’m not, I will never profess to be. I AM ME. That rings true in my music. I tell my story and the stories of others from struggle. Therefore, ALL emotions are covered. Pain. Pleasure. Anger. Hope. Self confidence. Self doubt. EVERYTHING.
Who are some of the artists who inspire you?
2Pac, Hov, Tip, Kanye, Scarface, UGK, Wayne, Pastor Troy (who’s severely underrated). All of the greats. I’m inspired by greatness.
What do you like about those artists and how do you feel there work reflects in your sound?
Our company is called IG Entertainment. The IG stands for Intelligent Gangster, which is my philosophy. I love artists who share that mentality. They are brilliant. They give game. They got bars, but they fear NO ONE. Also, their music is versatile. They have something for you no matter what type of mood you’re in. That’s how I am.
One thing I’ve noticed about you is that you are not hesitant to do your thing over popular beats. This is pretty rare since Lil Wayne was doing it heavily about 10 years ago. Why do you find this to be a good route for you?
First of all, I am HIGHLY competitive. When I hop on those beats, I want to show the world that I am just as good, if not better, than the rapper who released that song with the major label behind him. Secondly, I’m a fan of most of the songs I get on. Finally, as a businessman, it’s a smart move. As you said, it worked for Wayne as he built his brand with the Squad Up and Drought tapes. My plan is to build a strong following through my “One-A-Week” campaign on YouTube and drop my completely original joints periodically.
Everyone has dreams of where they expect to be. For you personally when will you be able to say that you have become “successful”?
I will feel like a success when I win the BET Humanitarian Award. Most people would say winning a Grammy or some shit like that, but I’m different. If I win the BET Humanitarian Award, it will mean that I not only became rich and famous. It will mean that I used my power to help my people. That’s what I want. However, even then I won’t be satisfied. As long as people struggle, I won’t be satisfied.
To date what has been the biggest challenge you have ever faced in your life?
I’ve faced MANY challenges in my life, which is partly why my music is great. No challenge has been greater than raising my son who has Autism l, though. I was fatherless, and I wanted a son so badly who would be just like me. Fuck that. BETTER than me. It hurts me to see my baby go through what he deals with. I love him and my daughter more than myself though. They’ll both change the world too. He’ll do so by raising awareness about Autism. She’ll do so by doing whatever she chooses to.
How were you able to overcome that challenge?
We haven’t overcome it. It is painful. Being the parent of a special needs child hurts all day, everyday. But I do my best to remember that he’s the one going through it, and he needs me. As a man, I am the rock of my family. They ALL need me. Therefore, I have to just do what needs to be done, which is to love, protect, provide, and teach them.
What is the thing you are most proud of in your life?
I am most proud of being the man that I wish I had in my life. My children’s lives are already better than mine was. My wife doesn’t have to worry about the type of shit that my mama had to worry about. She gets to just be a mother rather than being Ms. EVERYTHING like my mama was.
If you would say there is one thing not many people know about you what would that be?
I graduated #1 in my class with a BA in Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. That shocks people because I have 10 tattoos, and I don’t act like a typical “nerd”. One of the fucked up things about our culture is that many black males think that academic achievement makes you seem soft. I counter that notion. I tell young people that it’s better to be smart rather than hard, but it’s best to be BOTH. That way folks can’t fuck with you mentally or physically.
What would you like for your lasting legacy to be when it’s all said and done?
I want to be the one who led the cultural revolution that led to Black America FINALLY rising from our seemingly permanent status as the underclass. I study history, and it’s been like this in America forever. I’m tired of this shit, and I’m determined to change it by remolding our culture. Nothing moves our culture more than this music.
Before we conclude is there anything else you would like to say to anyone reading?
People should follow me on Twitter @1st_Realest and subscribe to my YouTube channel (1$t Letter) to keep up with my “One-A-Week” campaign. My material can also be found on soundcloud.com/1stletter_ig. I’m dropping shit weekly that no one should miss out on. They should also check out my previously released mixtape “Rumble in the Radio: 1$t Letter vs Everybody” featuring my single “Jealousy”. Lastly, they should be ready for my album dropping in October.
Live Life. Love God. Get Money.