I’ve said it once and I will say it again, we truly aim to grow with artists we become fans of here at 1DF. A prime example of this is Canton, Mississippi’s 1$t Letter, who caught our attention last year during his spree of murdering the beats of all your favorite mainstream rappers. We conducted an interview with him and were left quite fascinated in his forward-thinking mindset. To say growth has come over the past year for him would be a bit of an understatement.
Today we find 1$t Letter officially standing on his own as a solo MC, with his debut project “Redefine REAL” making it’s rounds and already being covered by several national outlets. On it we get to see how his thought process has developed into a full fledged sound as he takes a street, yet profound approach to his music in a way similar to the beloved Tupac. Over just 5 tracks we get to hear him tell tales of family on “Mama Sick”, call MC’s to prepare for a revolution on “FWM” and sprawl out a love story on “They Don’t Want Us To Make It”.
Impressed by the growth we found it to be a great time to speak with 1$t Letter again and catch up with all that has gone on in his life since the last time we were able to converse.
It’s been about a year since we last spoke with our prior interview being in June. What has changed for you since that time period?
A lot has changed. I dropped my first video for a joint I did called “Don’t @ Me”. I also dropped my first EP, “Redefine REAL”. I’ve gotten great responses to both projects.
We all go through life lessons and I’m wondering what are some things you’ve learned from this past year or so?
The biggest change for me though has been my decision to leave the classroom. I did my best to educate our youth, but I have to leave in order to pursue more lucrative business opportunities. My goal is to use my platform to help revolutionize the educational system. Education is the only thing that can save our people.
I was driving home from work, and I finally realized that fear of the unknown was preventing me from pursuing the life I desire.
You just released a new EP, tell us about your mindset going into creating that.
As always, I just wanted to put out great music that appeals to every emotion of the listener. I got records that will inspire you to get money, lead a movement, kick it with your lady, ride out, or help you get through real shit. My versatility is one of my strongest attributes.
How would you define the word “Real” and how important is it for you that you remain that way?
Being real is being true to yourself. We’ve lost sight of that. I think the word must be redefined and reclaimed because so many in our culture equate being real with street shit.
I’ve had young people tell me that they’d never listen to a J. Cole record because he’s not real. That type of shit bothers me. Cole doesn’t really make club bangers and shit like that, but you can’t say a man like him isn’t real just because he’s not talking trap shit. That shit is unacceptable.
Take Jeezy, a street rapper and one of my favorites. He’s real because he’s true to himself and his listeners. He gives both sides about the streets. If you actually listen to all of his work, you’d know not to do the shit he did. But Drake is real as well without being street. He’s been criticized for singing and making records for the ladies, but that’s who he is. I just want kids to follow what’s truly in their hearts. Fuck the outside influences and peer pressure. Do you and put on for your friends and family. THAT’S REAL.
Now to be the REALEST, you have to keep it 100 as well as uplift the culture. That’s what Pac did. That’s what I’m doing.
How would you describe the sound of the music on “Redefine Real”?
There’s not just one sound. As I said previously, I’m versatile and so are my projects. Different types of production puts me in different spaces mentally. Once I get the emotion of the track, I go from there.
Is there a song on the set you think stands out as your favorite? If so why is that?
“They Don’t Want Us to Make It” is actually my favorite. One of my former students, who goes by Finesse Kxng, did a tremendous job with the beat. That shit’s beautiful. It put me in a space where I just wrote about real shit in a long term relationship. I knew that a lot of people could relate to it and vibe to it.
I like the fact that you always leave a little bit of a message in your music, as a musician do you feel it is important for an MC to do that?
It’s important for ME to do it because that’s who I am. Everybody’s not built like that. Some artists are simply entertainers, and that’s cool. But, thankfully, I have the ability to entertain AND educate. All of us who have that ability must use it to uplift the culture.
Can we expect any visuals to come from this new project?
Most definitely. Videos are the best commercials for our brand. They also extend the life of a song and allow me to add life to my words. We wanna shoot as many as possible.
You said a bit earlier that you have gotten good feedback on what you have been doing. How have the listeners responded to your new EP in specific?
The response has been great. Most people’s favorite joint is “Mama Sick.” That record is so personal that it’s hard for me to even listen to it. I understand why others fuck with it, but I was truly rapping me and my mama’s pain.
Since coming into the rap game what are some of the key things you’ve learned in what it takes to succeed?
Being lyrical will give you longevity, but marketing dollars is what gets you on.
If you could give any advice to someone considering being a musician what would it be?
Stack your money and invest in your brand. YOU are a business.
What else should people be looking out for from you in the near future?
Visuals. Visuals. Visuals. Maybe some more freestyles as well. It depends on what the people want. Anybody who’s reading this should make sure they fuck with the entire catalog and put their people on as well.
Do you have any last words before we conclude?
Like Kanye was at the beginning of his ascension to the top of the game, I’m very confident that I’ll do legendary things in my career. Unlike Kanye, I’ll never switch up on the people. REALest.
Follow 1$t Letter on Twitter at @1st_Realest to keep up with his moves in the future.