A.S: It is definitely an honor to be able to build with one of my favorite emcees, Giano! You know I saw once that you loved sour patch kids. How often do you eat them?
G: Thanks for this opportunity to answer interview questions. It’s an honor to be referred to as one of someone’s favorite emcees, let alone a dope emcee in her own right! Sour patch kids are the joint, but I don’t eat them as often as I used to. Still luv them, but I’ve actually transitioned to fruit roll-ups lol.
A.S: Why thank you! LOL!! I’m pretty sure Fruit Rollups are healthier as well! Some may not know that you are a vegetarian. What changes have you noticed in your health since converting and are you ever tempted to eat meat?
G: Well, I don’t know that I’ve seen a tremendous difference. I’ve always been into keeping myself healthy,exercising, and all that. Being vegetarian has probably kept me from eating poorly cooked meat lol. I genuinely don’t miss eating meat. However, for a trial period, I’ve recently added lean meat to my diet.
A.S: Ok, Gotcha. I think the key is “All things in moderation". What other practices do you regularly participate in that contribute to overall good physical and mental health?
G: I exercise regularly. Definitely a favorite past-time of mine. My diet is (for the most part) dairy-free although I do like pizza and ice cream occasionally. I try to get as much good sleep as possible. Many people are not aware that good sleep (at least 6 hours)burns a lot of fat, especially combined with consistent exercise.
A.S: I actually didn’t know that. So instead of going to the gym tomorrow, I’m gonna go to sleep, lol! So currently you hold the roles of producer, student, engineer, emcee and mentor. Which of those roles do you find the most enjoyment?
G: It changes daily. I’m developing new music so I’m in producer mode. I’m an artist, engineer,and student everyday and I mentor at least half the days of the week. This week, I most enjoy being a student and emcee.
A.S: Wow, you are truly an example role model for the young, urban community. Have you faced any adversities as an Afro-Latino pursuing your doctorate degree?
G: Not at all. I am in an online program, which has cross-cultural and cross-functional teams. There is also heavy emphasis on success in distributed and virtual teams, which environment inherently fosters diversity. I am fortunate to have never really experienced any severe racial or ethnic prejudice during any level of school. The most I’ve experienced was in grade school. Some of my Black friends would say “oh, so you’re not really black” and some of my Latino friends would ask “so are you sure you’re 100% Hispanic?” lol. There was no conflict though. I’m 100% both, which makes for quite a rich experience.
A.S: Great viewpoint! You just recently released an awesome project titled B-Sides and Remixes Vol II. When creating that project, what is it that you wanted instilled in your listeners? What did you want us to take from it?
G: Thanks for the compliment! I really enjoyed making this album. The point of this album was to make a coolin’ out album. I want listeners to be able to listen to the album actively (analyzing lyrics and musical nuances) as well as passively(background, driving music).
A.S: Oh yea most def. I feel you achieved that. Your lyrics definitely causes one to think deeply and analytically. One of the tracks on B-sides is titled “Spirit vs. Flesh” and you begin each verse speaking of an “experience”. What type of experience were you referring to and how does it correlate with the title?
G: “Spirit vs. Flesh” on B-Sides2 is a remix of the original, which appears on my first album, R.O.M. 7. The original song focuses on the experiences and struggles as a Christian. The remix focuses on the experiences as a Christian who is also a recording artist. So the spirit is in conflict with the flesh.
A.S: For those that don't know, Sivion not only spit the second verse on that track, but he plays the sax on it as well. The beat was produced by Symbolyc One aka S1. Which track on B-sides means the most to you?
G: I’d have to say “In Hindsight”. It’s the song that puts everything into perspective in my life, as a man, Christian, and artist.
A.S: Word. That is a dope track. I find it interesting that you related that song to your Christian walk. You actually speak on the situation of Jesus in Gethsemane from Judas’s perspective as if you are Judas. Can you give us some insight as to why you related yourself to Judas?
G: Thanks! Well, “In Hindsight” is a little more layered. It actually speaks from the perspective of all the disciples. If anyone, who is familiar with the story, follows the lyrics it can be seen how each disciple’s flaws is portrayed. The narrative ends at Judas because it was his betrayal that delivered the final blow sending Jesus to be crucified. It’s from this joint perspective that I see my life personified from their specific experiences in the lyrics of the song.
A.S: Wow, that is truly intricate. At times we betray, deny, disobey and forget about Jesus just like the disciples, so that is an awesome analogy. Let's talk about a few prominent topics. How do you view the recent controversy surrounding Lecrae’s song titled “Church Clothes”?
G: Honestly, I wonder why it’s even a controversy lol. I like the song. And I really don’t see myself applying for the CHH police department any time soon lol. Lecrae is in a rare position. Hopefully he and Reach can open more doors for this subculture we call Christian Hip Hop.
A.S: Lol at CHH police!!! Do you think that Lecrae and other artists are getting a lot of heat because of situations like Eddie Long and other Christian leaders that fell?
G: Well, any time Christians make foolish decisions publicly, it reflects back on Christianity. Similar to how Islamic terrorism reflects poorly on Islam. It’s almost as if some people are waiting for Lecrae and the artists on Reach Records to do something foolish or to fail, which is unfortunate. I support what they are doing. When someone becomes a public figure like Lecrae has, everything they say or do is up for public scrutiny, which is the gift and curse of the platform. But God is on the throne and He is aware ofeverything. God will ultimately get the glory, whether man makes wise or poor decisions.
A.S: Amen. Well said. I’ve noticed that not only are we seeing division amongst the Christian community, but there has been a rise in racially motivated attacks since the Trayvon Martin murder. What is your view in that issue?
G: I think the Trayvon Martin situation is a tragedy. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know what happened for sure, but there is definitely evidence that a more thorough investigation was not done shortly after the murder. I think racial issues are always going to be an issue in the world. People like cliques. We like to single others out and have hierarchy. It’s unfortunate, and not excusable, but it’s a part of human nature. The only thing I can do, individually, is live up to the light I have been given and pray for God’s spirit to move on the hearts of all of us as we try to figure life out.
A.S: I’m saddened that this situation has caused even more racial tension than before. So many people are hoping that Zimmerman gets severe punishment such as life or the death penalty. What is your view on the death penalty?
G: I think the death penalty can be dangerous. Emotionally, there are times when I’m inclined to think that some people deserve it based on their heinous crimes. However, who am I to judge in such a manner? In the eyes of God,without Jesus’ blood covering me, I deserve the death penalty. I’ve seen some very sad documentaries about innocent people getting the death penalty and it’s disheartening. It’s hard to separate emotions from some situations we see and hear on the news. We have to be careful not to allow our emotions to drive our feelings and actions on crime and punishment.
A.S: Exactly. Sin is Sin no matter the level of intensity. Let’s head back to music. You currently have four project releases under your belt. What wisdom can you provide to the indie artist that is working on their debut project?
G: For me, it’s almost inevitable that an artist’s debut project will feature them at their rawest and most eager to get a lot off their chest. I don’t know that I necessarily discourage that. Many fans argue over whether or not their favorite artists’ first albums were their greatest because of the rawness, which can equate to a pureness or air of not being tainted by “industry”. Having said that, I think artists should be aware of the impact the first project will have on listeners.
The first impression can make or break the career. I encourage artists to be free, open-minded, and thick-skinned. During the debut is when an artist may be very sensitive because of the vulnerability and newness to their audience. However, not every reviewer, critic, or fan will agree with or appreciate what you have to say. If you know who you made the album (primarily) for, then you can take other criticism with a grain of salt. At the same time, artists should recognize that no matter how fresh the album is, there is always room to grow. So humility plays a major role, in my opinion. Sometimes listeners for whom the album was not primarily made are better able to discern “flaws” than die-hard fans and therefore, artists should be willing to accept objective criticism as well.
Additionally, artists should allow different types of music listeners to hear the album during its developmental stages. This way you get an idea of how the prospective audience will receive the music and you can make changes if necessary. Finally, don’t be an over-perfectionist. I know people whose projects will never come out because, like Dr. Dre, they are overly concerned with what people will think. Albums, just like people, are not perfect. There can be beauty in imperfection.
A.S: What do you think is the most important thing for an indie artist to know?
G: In my opinion, the most important thing for an indie artist to know is who their audience is. Without that knowledge, it can be difficult to allow one’s gift to truly shine and for people to be touched by the music.
A.S: I’m just now learning that! I agree, that is very important to know. Not only are you an emcee but you are also a producer. A lot of tracks on your earlier projects were produced by you (check out a past PNG Productionz feature here). What can we expect from PNG Productionz in the future?
G: More production. We are working on a Band Camp beat page to service other artists. We are also working on singer-songwriter Gayla Robinson’s debut album, which is acoustic/folk/soul/Americana music. It’s an incredible project in development.
A.S: Gayla is extremely unique in talent and I’m definitely looking forward to her debut project. (A sample of her music is available here). At this point are you planning for future projects from Giano or is that under wraps for right now?
G: On deck, I have my next album, Scarlet Letters, which I feel is truly my magnum opus.
A.S: I, as well as your fan base, will patiently anticipate Scarlet Letters!! This is your soapbox, what do you want the world to know?
G: I’m hardheaded, a brick, and impassive – a dichotomy of discipline and passion. My philosophy is dissing the everlasting, missing a better craftsman, created, but never asked for it. Asterisk my initials and let the math in…am I a variable, or a constant of God’s actions? Do I choose to live or die, or is it past tense? Does predestination have its grasps in?
These factions, and he’s asking, hypothesis, all of this is making me apathetic. My brain’s magnetic, but I can’t fathom it – how can so many be arguing intelligence? Or how can people be caught up in irrelevance – what if I need life, who could develop it? And who’s on their knees telling Him? We study the elements of time while the people need fellowship. – 2nd verse from “Fusion, Fellowship, Fission”, B-Sides and Remixes, Vol. 2