Da What Interview with Clif Soulo

Posted on November 20, 2009 by


Hopefully everyone downloaded and listened to Clif’s project, Forever Be Hip-Hop, that I posted a week or two ago.  Clif was nice enough to answer some questions for us here at Da What.  This was my first interview but I tried to think of questions that gave you a better idea of who Clif is as an artist and also some insight into hip hop as well.  Hit the jump for the rest of the interview.

Da What: First off, tell us about yourself/where you are from?
Clif Soulo: What’s up, I’m Clif Soulo. Born and Raised in Oakland, California. I’m an aspiring emcee, trying to bring some dope, honest, soulful, slappin’ hip-hop.

DW: How were you involved, if at all, in the hyphy music/movement?
CS: As an artist, I wasn’t involved because I have only been rapping for about 2 1/2, going on three years. But as a person, it influenced me a lot. I distinctly remember half of my graduating class in high school goin’ dumb on our way out of the building.

DW: How has Oakland’s diversity affected you/your music?
CS: I grew up by Lake Merritt, and went to a few different schools, so for me, I was able to experience the many different sides of Oakland, which in turn affects my music.

DW: Is Oakland only a diverse place on paper or do you feel that the people there are somewhat segregated?
CS: Yes and no. Oakland is segregated in terms of the neighborhoods, with the large portion of East Oakland being somewhat poverty stricken, in the flat lands, compared to the East Oakland Hills, which is a much more affluent neighborhood. And even Piedmont/Montclair area, which is or was a part of Oakland, but they sort of sectioned themselves off from the rest of the city. There isn’t much diversity in those neighborhoods. But on the flip side, the public schools and the parties don’t have those strict racial divides (which have a lot more to do with a division based on economic status than just race).

DW: How has that segregation affected you/your music?
CS: Like I mentioned in the other question, I was able to see several different sides of Oakland. I grew up in a mostly white neighborhood, called Adams Point. But I also spent a lot of my life going to Mosswood Park for after school care and summer camp, where people from the other parts of Oakland would come. Add that to the fact I went to Oakland Tech, and my lady was from deep East Oakland and I began to experience a lot of different sides of Oakland, and I try to show that balance and that diversity within my music.

DW: What made you decide to do a tribute tape for your first project?
CS: I decided to do the Forever Be Hip-Hop as my first project because Common’s music was very influential on me as an artist, but even beyond that, as a person. He even inspired the second part of my emcee name, “Soulo”. I also wanted to do something creative, to sort of grab people’s attention like “hey, I’m new, but I think I have something to offer”.

DW: How did you choose beats from “Finding Forever” and “Be” instead of “One Day It’ll all Make Sense” or Like “Water For Chocolate”?
CS: Just to be clear, I think “Like Water For Chocolate” might be my favorite album, but I chose “Finding Forever” and “Be” because those were the only albums of his that I could find the instrumentals too, haha. And then, once I came up with the title, I was like “this is perfect”, so I stopped looking for any other beats of his.

DW: You have a song about your daughter on the mixtape as well as a conversation with her at the end, how has your family impacted you/your music?
CS: It has a big impact on my music. Like I mentioned earlier, one of the things that is mandatory in my music is honesty. I’m not a rapper with a fabricated or well-crafted image, I’m me. So with that, I talk about things in my life, my family being one of them.

DW: This could technically be seen as soft/vulnerable. How do you think hip-hop handles emotion and/or weakness, both as a music genre and also as a culture?
CS: Hmm, this is a good question. I think as a music genre, we are making some strides to breaking the stereotype (that stretches beyond just hip-hop, but for males in general) that we have to be super tough, and never cry or show our feelings. As a culture, I’m not really sure. Our society has big problems with accepting homosexuality, so I think part of the problem also stems from the anxiety of males who are straight not wanting to be seen as emotional or weak because often times people will equate that with being gay. Hence things like “no homo” or “pause” after saying something like “I love you man”.

DW: Any last remarks?
CS: Thank you for this interview, I appreciate it very much. I hope you check out the music, and let me know what you think, whether it is positive or negative. I appreciate all criticism. You can check my music out at http://clifsoulo.bandcamp.com and my blog at http://whoisclifsoulo.blogspot.com.

Posted in: Interviews