NYOIL - He's up next!
Alyssa Menard

Emcee, activist, entrepreneur...NYOIL is bringing the purpose back into hip hop one song at a time. Only a year since his well received album Hood Treason debuted, he's back already to drop some more knowledge on us. Speaking out on everything from race relations to the lack of originality in music, this Staten Island emcee is definitely not known for holding his tongue. With his MySpace page flooded with messages to the tune of 'keep fighting for us' and 'THIS is music', it is pretty apparent that his ever-growing following could not agree more. In an exclusive interview with Rap Industry, NYOIL gives us his take on a flailing music industry, taking on roles in hip-hop and that oh-so-controversial Nas album...

"I'm trying to empower young blacks to defend themselves against being called a “nigger”. We've all been in the situation where we're hanging out with another race and they get comfortable and start calling us that word. They don't want to be called these names, so the song calls them these names so that they can get a taste of what it feels like. "

So NYOIL, you've been doing your thing for a few years now, but your name was really put out there when you dropped the very controversial track “Ya'll should all get lynched” back in '07. Just reiterate the reason behind making the track.

It's hard to say, because for me there was no reasoning behind it...it wasn't intentional. It was less intent and more feeling, I just felt a certain way. I felt frustrated by issues in the neighborhood, by the circumstances that my children were living under, and more so, I am frustrated by the conduct of these other emcees that have taken black culture and made it into a joke. That makes it unacceptable, and I just had to say something about it.

Your video was pulled from Youtube shortly after it was posted, due to the controversy. In general, what was the response towards the song?

The response was phenomenal and it still remains so. I think that it's a unique song in that regard because songs, especially in this day and age in hip hop, last all of six weeks before it's on to the next hit. This song has persisted for almost two years now and people are still discovering it and rediscovering it, and they are tapping into it because there's a general base of frustration that people feel that they want to express. They don't get that opportunity because pop culture is dictating another style of life to them. So when they heard that cry of anger that this song represents, that frustration, it struck a chord for them because they feel that way. I haven't got people so much against the song, but rather debating the song. Even so, I've done my job because I've engaged you and that's a great thing for an artist to be able to do.

Hip-hop sales have been steadily decreasing, yet ringtone sales are going through the roof. What do you think that says about hip-hop music at this point in time?

It speaks a lot about pop culture in general, that corporations have developed a single servings mentality. They are selling us something quick and disposable with this music. Music is very forgettable at this time. These corporations aren't developing their music or their artists. They're just developing their single serving artists, which is why the music industry is suffering. You can't hustle people into buying music because it's not a product, it's personal. There's an emotional connection to music. If you can listen to a song and it can bring you back to when you were outside playing baseball, or when you were out hanging with your friends, or the first time you made love...that's music. Not “let's package this up and sell it”. Because people have diminished it to that, the sales have diminished. If they return to that, they will see that the sales are there.

Many people say that with success comes the pressure to keep cranking out hits that will appeal to a broad audience. Do you feel that you would be rapping about the same things, making the same points, if you were to reach mainstream fame?

If you have the talent for it and you make music that's true to you, it's not a pressure. After I made “Ya'll Should all Get Lynched”, I stopped trying to make another “Ya'll Should all Get Lynched” because I already said that. I'm not going to keep trying to make that song, because I know how to make good songs. I'm fortunate because creatively, this is the talent that God gave me. I think that everyone has a hit in them, a hot 16. They may have the innate ability, but everyone may not have the consistency because that's not who they are. God gave me the opportunity to do that, and I don't want to die with all of these songs inside of me that no one would have heard.

Would you consider yourself a conscience rapper, or just someone lashing out against the state of hip hop right now?

Neither to be honest with you. Marketing-wise, I've coined the termed being an “activist rapper” because I am active in the capacity that I am speaking on. But, fact of the matter is, I really consider myself a common sense emcee because I'm just talking common sense. I don't think that I'm saying anything too different than what someone else may be thinking. In hip hop and in the music, what each artist ends up having to do is personifying a particular paradigm. You have the thug dude, the pretty boy, the hustler, the lover boy. Me? I'm the black radical, and I represent that. It is what it is. Artistically, I'd like to say that I'm capable of a lot more than that, but if that's what I am to people than that's what I am. I do my best to make the best music in the context of that.

You have a very interesting blog posted on your Myspace page, in regards to rapper Nas and his highly controversial album title “Nigger”. Explain to us how you feel about it.

Nas is recognized as one of the greatest lyricists in our genre by a lot of people. Because of that, I feel that there is an expectation and allowance given to what he does. I'm not trying to take away from him, and I don't want anyone to get me wrong. But, I think that their expectations are not allowing Nas to be human enough to not know what he is doing. Nas is incapable of handling this issue. He's said in his own interviews that he's not doing it for any real reason, basically that he's not Farrakhan, not Al Sharpton...that he's just saying what he's saying to sell records. But no one's talking about selling records. If you were enlightened beyond that you would take into account what it means for the people that are alive today and have experienced it and know what it is to have been called “nigger”. Those people that have had water hoses turned on them, dogs sicced on them, thrown out of places, segregated, disrespected, marginalized and persecuted for being black...for being a “nigger” in the eyes of a white man. It's not about the songs, because I've rocked to some of his songs too. It's about the dignity and honor of a race of people at a time when we need dignity and honor the most.

You released a song on your last album called “What Up My Wigga Wigger”, which was basically a play on the widespread use of the N-word by other races. Nas has a similar track called “Be a Nigger Too” on his upcoming LP which discusses a similar topic. Yet you stated, in regards to him, “ We're the only race that embraces our disgrace, and now you would have everyone else sing along with us in our shame”. A critic would ask what's the difference?

There's a major difference in our songs. I'm trying to empower young blacks to defend themselves against being called a “nigger”. We've all been in the situation where we're hanging out with another race and they get comfortable and start calling us that word. They don't want to be called these names, so the song calls them these names so that they can get a taste of what it feels like. In the song I'm being very clear like, “be yourself only or find yourself lonely, we only rock with real dudes” . I'm speaking to every race. If you're supposed to be my brother, than I don't want anything less from you than I would want from myself.

So what's next for NYOIL?

July 8th is the release of Hood Treason the 2-cd deluxe edition on Petroleum Empire Media Group, which is my label and Baby Grand Records. That's really exciting for me because it's a testament to the fact that I've been doing a lot of work. I've done eight new songs and two new spoken word pieces. In recognizing that part of my job as an emcee is to entertain, I have a few club bangers and radio banger on there. But, I don't depart from the message. I should be on tour subsequent to that, and I will continue to release videos and visual images to support my projects because we're living in a time where people want to see things in addition to just hearing them. I'm forming a partnership with a company called Distinctive Personnel, which is the largest Hispanic temporary staffing company. I'll be working with some of the guys I grew up with to put together videos with tips on finding jobs. I think that empowerment starts with employment. If I'm going to call myself an activist rapper than I need to do things that are consistent and conducive to that title, so that's what I'm working on now.

Any final words?

I'm trying my best. While you may not always agree with my politics or the means by which I portray them, I sincerely just want the best for all people. I'm working from the place in space that I am in order to do that, and ya'll should just try and rock with me.



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