I’m back on the SoundChex after a little sabbatical, with another exciting indie artist from my home town.
I want to introduce all of you to independent hip hop artist, StupidBarz.
Born and raised in Elyria, Ohio, Stephen ‘StupidBarz’ Jones is a up and coming rapper that is ready to take rap music to a new level.
One of my biggest issues with some of today’s hip hop music is the re-emergence of gangsta rap. As one who lived through the deaths of two of the games’ greatest, Pac and Biggie, I don’t see how that type of music is productive.
Why are record labels pouring millions into this stuff? Is this really what this generation has to say and wants to hear? To answer these questions, I had to speak to a voice from this generation and find out why this particular style is re-emerging. Does this generation understand or can it at all relate to what we experienced during the tumultuous time of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry of the 90’s?
While StupidBarz music may not be PG-13 or Rated G, what I like about him and his music is his heart. Something the media swears this generation doesn’t have. In this interview, not only will you get to know him as an artist, but also as a valid voice of this generation. Listen to his music and what he has to say, and maybe some of the presuppositions you had about this generation and the fate of hip hop music as a whole will change.
SoundChex: How did you get the name StupidBarz?
StupidBarz: One day I was rapping with one of my people’s and we was just choppin it up and rapping in a circle or whatever, and one of the dudes said, ‘man, your bars are stupid!’ And that’s what everybody else was saying too, so I just said I might as well just call myself StupidBarz then; since everybody think I got stupid bars. So that’s how the name came about.
SoundChex: How long have you been rapping?
StupidBarz: Since I was sixteen. My brother, he used to rap on a tape player. And I used to sit there and be like, man I think I can do that-but I was always too young. So finally, when I turned 16, I tried it out and I was good at it. And everybody was telling me to keep doing my thing and I would get better, so that’s what I did.
SoundChex: Tell us about your music.
StupidBarz: My music is mostly hip hop, but I do all different types of genres so that people can feel me. You know, some people don’t like that throw your hands up type of music so I’ll make a different type of song, like with an R&B vibe, telling them about my life so they too can feel me. I want to attract a wide variety of people so I create different sounds to get different people to see my point of view. But my favorite genre is hip hop.
SoundChex: If you had to compare your sound or your style to anybody in the mainstream game, who would it be?
StupidBarz: That’s a problem, cause I don’t want to compare myself to anybody else. I want to have my own style. Everybody is doing that now-they trying to sound like Lil Wayne, or somebody else and I’m trying to sound like me. I’m trying to bring something new to the table.
SoundChex: As a child of the 90’s, I grew up with the whole East Coast/West Coast rivalry. It was a crazy time in music, especially after the death of two of the greatest rappers of all time resulting from it. One of the things I notice is that a lot of young rappers today are bringing back that same type of thug/gangsta rap that I grew up with. I know where it was coming from in my generation, but what is your generation trying to say? Why do you think the thug/gangsta rap style making a come back?
StupidBarz: Well my thing is that the way I think my generation is, some of the music I totally don’t agree with. You know you got people out there just rhyming to rhyme, which is cool but if you going to do that, it needs to make sense. Back in the day, when people rhymed it made sense. I think my generation needs to sit down and think about what we are actually writing and trying to say.
You know all of this, ‘I’m gonna drive by your house and kill your momma’ stuff, is ok if you free styling, but if you sitting down and writing this kind of stuff, it’s crazy. That’s not being lyrical or original. I just wish everybody would stay in they own lane; make sure you rapping about what you actually do. Make sure you getting that money you talking about in your raps, cause when you rapping and people see you coming out your house and be like, ‘hey, that’s StupidBarz, he said he got a thousand cars…why is he walking?’ [Laughs] I mean, that just doesn’t make any sense! So when I’m rapping, I just rap about what I do and what I’ve been through and how I actually live, and that’s what I think my generation needs to do. Just calm down and keep it smooth because all that stuff about fighting in the club and shootin’ folks up, been there and done that. It’s time for something different.
SoundChex: So do you think that gangsta rap is going to become the norm again in hip hop?
StupidBarz: It seems like everybody is stuck on it, but honestly, I think it’s time for a change or a movement. That’s why my team and I came up with a movement called the Wild Life.
SoundChex: What’s the Wild Life Movement about?
StupidBarz: Basically it is a group of rappers from all over that came into an agreement to rap only about what we do, none of this phony nonsense out here that a lot of other people are doing. You know, all this money, and all this and doing that; that’s not real. We want people to see us as real people doing real everyday stuff that they can relate to. Basically, we just keeping it real.
SoundChex: Speaking of keeping it real, one of your cousins was shot and killed a couple of years ago and you wrote a song about it. Tell us about that.
StupidBarz: My cousin, Chuck Howard Jr. was killed; actually he would be 21 today. Chuck was my blood cousin; his dad is my mom’s brother. I will never forget this day because it was horrible. I was in my room playing my Xbox when I heard my mom screaming in the other room. I ran in to her and asked her what happened, and she said nothing. So, I said ok and went back to what I was doing. When I got back, my phone was vibrating and going crazy, just blowing up. I look at my phone and I got like 10 text messages saying ‘sorry Steve, your cousin Chuck just got shot’. So I’m like, she didn’t say he died, so I’m not trippin just yet. Then, while me and my mom were talking, my grandmother called and told us he was gone. I lost it. I’m in Kentucky so I’m calling everybody back home to try to find out what happened. Later that night, I was sitting in my room by myself and I was listening to a track and I just started writing. And I felt like he was sitting right there next to me as I was writing too. And the way it was coming out, it was so beautiful. I called my cousin and asked him to get me a beat, a sentimental beat because soon as I get there, I want to record this song I just wrote. After I recorded it, I put it on MySpace and it got over a thousand hits in less than three hours. It was like everybody was feeling where I was coming from.
SoundChex: What happened to your cousin unfortunately is happening everyday. Take the Trayvonn Martin case for example. A lot of people are justifiably upset about what happened, some even wanted to take some kind of revenge. You could have taken revenge for what happened to your cousin, but you chose to write a song instead. What words of encouragement do you have for people that are in the same position you were in at that time?
StupidBarz: I’m not going to lie; the dude who supposedly shot my cousin, me and him got into a couple of fights after it happened, but I started realizing that wasn’t the route to go because somebody else is going to end up dead. It’s going to be hard because you lost someone you loved and you feel like the cops, the judge, the lawyers aren’t going to do anything about it or make it right because the person is gone, but at the same time God does not honor that type of stuff. You got to be strong, keep a positive mindset, and put your mind and your heart into what you love to do and I guarantee you will be alright. And I believe that that person you lost is going to be looking down on you and smiling, you know? Think about what that person would want you to do and where they would want you to be. Do you think they would want you in prison? There are a lot of situations that you can get yourself into, but you can also use your head at the same time.
SoundChex: Tell us about the grind. How hard is it and what keeps you motivated?
StupidBarz: Man, you definitely got to work hard at it. Some people are so quick to go on the internet, and find beats off the internet and just rap over it; in my opinion, that’s not grinding. Because it’s not your beat or your music, it’s in actuality some body else’s song. So, that’s a big no-no right there. If you want to get known, make sure you got your own music and your own beats. You gotta work hard and be willing to work with people and make connections. I go to the top sites and check out the top artists and send them messages asking to connect or collaborate; that’s the best way to make connections with people. You can’t have the attitude that I’m better than this person or I’m better than that person, no, how about we all help each other and make some real things happen. Hatin’ on each other is not going to get any of us nothing. That’s why all the beefing and stuff, I’m not on it no more. Recently, I was beefing with this one rapper and I made a song and put it on Sound Cloud. After a while, I was like look, this ain’t getting neither of us no where. I took the song off and messaged him and told him I was done with it that I liked his mixed tape and that was that. It’s easy to get caught up in it, but we definitely need to get past the childishness of it. Cause at the end of the day, it ain’t helping none of us.
SoundChex: Who does your music?
StupidBarz: My main producer’s name is Chief, out of Lorain. He’s part of the Wild Life Family, and he does all my music. He helped me out when nobody else was helping me, from day one. He’s my main dude.
SoundChex: What’s next for StupidBarz?
StupidBarz: My new mixtape should be out by the end of the summer. My current mixtape is called Welcome To The Wild Life. I’m shooting a new video soon.
Anything else you want the SoundChex to know?
StupidBarz: I just want everyone to check out my music and vibe with me. And if you don’t feel my music, that’s cool. But for everybody out there that’s feeling me, I just want to say that I appreciate all of you!
At the end of the day, you give respect where respect is due and I really respect this young man not only for sticking with what he loves to do, but also for not trying to conform to the mainstream; both of which take a lot of hard work, determination and drive. I also appreciate him taking the time to do this interview. I think my perception of this generation and the hip hop community has definitely changed as a result of it.
You can download StupidBarz music on:
Sound Cloud: http://soundcloud.com/stephen-stupidbarz-jones
Check out the video on Youtube: http://youtu.be/CQfg2S5tb6Y
You can follow StupidBarz @stupidbarz88 and on Facebook: Stephen “StupidBarz” Jones.
Until the next ChexN!