Sacramento I would like to present an artist that has been deep in the underground scene with a voice that means business and a head full of lyrical lines you have never heard from artists that are currently in the mainstream spotlight. His name should be that of a house hold one when talks about Hip Hop and the Sacramento scene are being spoken. Not only has he made history here in Sacramento but will continue to make history with his drive and love for music and its entirety. As a lyrical member of Righteous Movement to the mixtape world on Jae Synth’s Dub Sac Mix to his strong solo career with Cold Piece of Work, that debut early this year, he is bound to become a light for our city.
Skurge has set himself up for a successful ride in the music industry. I wanted to do this interview due to his steady activity in our music community. His representation of our talent in this city is proper and should be followed. Drawing inspiration and influences from artists, producers and dj’s as well as his new addition to the Gray family, Skurge is what I like to call the real deal. He follows his craft, keeps up with his community, sharpens his delivery when needed and is constantly nourishing his hungry mind to stay fresh. An artist with depth, drive and determination, CapCitySoul welcomes Skurge.
Q: What were your reasons/what attracted you to music and to become an artist?
My big brother, Rich, was a Dj at a strip club when I was young. I thought he had the coolest job in the world. He would give me these mixtapes that he’d made with a lil j-card cover and everything. Songs like “Roaches” by Bobby Jimmy & the Critters had me crackin’ up. The music was entertaining and informative. LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad” made me want to rap. Big Daddy Kane’s “No Half Steppin” made me want to rap BETTER, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle album made me want to perform in front of crowds. In ’95 I started actually WRITING raps while incarcerated for robbery. I got tired of looking at the rap game and saying, “I don’t even rap, and I can rap better than THIS.” I chose to activate. After a few years of battling and sharpening my craft behind bars, I sought rap as an alternative to violent crime, you Braille me?
Q: What do you feel sets you apart form other Sacramento artists?
I’m a tangible dude. As far as other artists, in some ways, we’re in the same boat. I go through the same struggles a lot of other artists go through. However one thing that I feel sets me apart from a lot of regional artists is I’ve lived on a few different parts of the map & country. I was born in SoCal, moved to North Carolina as a young teen and came to Sacramento from age 17 on. SoCal born, Dirty South Seasoned, and NorCal Raised. I love Biggie AND ‘Pac’s music. I’ve got what I feel is a more rounded perspective than, say, someone who was born and raised in Lincoln Village, Sacramento California and never left the liquor loft, or anyone else who never left they hood. I got a passport. Ain’t no stamps on it yet, but I got a valid one. I figure it’s better to be prepared. Now shout out to my dudes still holdin the turf down even after they put them surveillance boxes on the street in plain view. Another thing that sets me apart though, I feel, is my versatility. Go ahead, name your favorite artist and I bet you I can get on the track and not only hold my own with them, but bring the best out of them as well.
Q: Who inspires you?
My new inspiration is my son Jahmeel. His existence makes my every move calculated and effective. He’s my drive when ambition has done faded.
Q: Was there a time or place when you heard a song, beat or seen an artist that just lit up your world? If so who and what did you feel?
There’s been a few throughout the years. That’s part of why I love this rap game so much. Let’s see though, to name a few… I’m Bad, from L.L., Doctor Dre’s the Chronic tour, Outkast on their whole first album, Raekwon’s Purple tape was big, Mobb Deep’s Infamous, ODB’s first joint… I’m tryna think… 2pac’s Me Against The World, E40 is another one that keeps it lit, and has set the soundtrack to a lot of my life as well. Black Star, Common’s first few albums, Biggie, the list goes on. I gotta name albums because it took a lot more than just a hot song to keep my attention, let alone light a brotha’s world up. Right now the dopest lyricist out there, excluding myself is a 3 Way tie between Black Thought, E-40 and Damian Marley.
Q: As a young adult what were your musical influences?
When you say young adult I think of the time when I began selecting the music I would listen to, for myself. That wasn’t until about 5th grade for me. I remember my first tapes I ever bought: EPMD “Strictly Business” and then Slick Rick’s “The Great Adventures of”. I still got THAT one on vinyl. After that is was NWA &Too Short. I was glued to YO! Mtv Raps and Rap City. I taped videos on VHS. I was a fiend…before I became a teen. Moms was on some R&B & Soul Music, Pops was Reggae all DAY. I didn’t want to hear none of that. I wanted to hear what was going on in the streets. Rap, it was like the hood CNN.
Q: How did you come to meet with the members and become Righteous Movement?
I met the Righteous Movement through Jae Synth, known as Slim at the time. They were artists he was working with and I felt like a rebel without a cause as a solo artist. I got jumped in. Nah, I’m kidding but we clicked from day uno. There was a brotherhood vibe. Righteous Movement was the first group of cats that I felt was ALL on my level.
Q: From the days of being a young MC, what do see/what do you feel has changed in Sacramento as far as a scene and musical force in general?
The cats before us, who I’ll say were The CUF, The Cawz, Socialistics, and Box of Chocolates were all dope. That was the Hip Hop crowd. Then there’s Brotha Lynch Hung and C-Bo. Two of the hardest Gangsta Rappers I had ever heard. I felt as though the bar was high, and if we went at it, we would have to clear the bar. Raise it, if possible. We’ve seen a better integration with the Hip Hop and Rap community through local news publications but just because we were the first rap group on the cover of the SN&R doesn’t necessarily mean we raised the bar, to me. Cleared it? It’s arguable. We’re still in flight if u ask me. I think there’s less rappers at the liquor store selling cd’s but I think that has more to do with gas prices and the economy than Hip Hop.
Q: What would you like to see in the future for Sacramento and its music scene?
As far as the scene…It’s going to take a breakout artist to really get the city that light we’re waiting for. You know that global exposure, presence in the marketplace and a fixed cultural identity that is our own. It’s the Capital of California, after all. There is so much talent out here. My bet is on, once again excluding myself, Doey Rock, Jae Synth, B McCoy, and C Plus. We’ve got to support our local artists.
Q: What other artists would you like to work with? (Producers, MCs, DJs, etc.)
Whoa I didn’t see that one coming, um let’s see…I’m gonna assume u mean living artists so I’m gonna start with producers: Dj Premier, Dr. Dre, Pharrell, Kanye West, Havoc, Daz, Easy Moe Bee, Diamond D, Hi Tek, Black Milk, Cool & Dre, Scott Storch, Timbaland, Jermaine Dupri, all the greats, you know, too many to list all of them.
Mc’s I’d have to say Black Thought, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Ice Cube, Redman, Gucci Mane, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Drake, E40, Nipsy Hussle, Curren$y, Busta Rhymes, Damian Marley, Nas, Tabi Bonney, Pusha T, Rick Ross, Diddy, Joell Ortiz, Outkast, Bun B, Trae da Truth, Dj Quik, and a lot more.
Being from Pomona was there a change in music and scene that gave you a reason to work harder as an artist? My development as an artist from just a kid freestylin’ wit his friends 5 deep in a tacked out Geo Storm to a full fledged artist here in Sacramento was in unison with my development as a man and a human. Art imitates life, right? Well if your life is bland, it stands to reason that your art will be too. I’m sure there are exceptions but my point is you gotta have some EXPERIENCE to draw from. As far as working harder, once you get to a point where you feel like you’ve got it lit, you’ve got to KEEP it lit…
Q: In one word what does music mean to you?
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects that I can shoot out there in the writing universe?
Yeah, my debut album just came out on iTunes: http://tinyurl.com/Skurge-iTunes. It’s called “Cold Piece of Work”. My best work to date. It features production by Jae Synth & Npire Da Great, and also features Guce, Goldie & Cali O. The hard copy release will be in stores July 2011, followed by The Phonovore Mixtape Volume 2: The SAVATAR and a gang of other projects, some with Righteous Movement. I don’t like to tell ALL my next moves so I’ll just say look for me on twitter: @Skurge, on FB and in these streets. I’m active.
Thanks Jacqueline, I appreciate the opportunity & encouragement.
Capcitysoul thanks you for your knowledge, support and music. Don’t miss out Sacramento follow Skurge and his musical journey.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Jahmeel Gray
Download his new album: Cold Piece of Work on iTunes.