Compiled and edited by Michael Krieger for The Higher Plane
Listening to South Florida based rapper, SIN, takes me back to a time when it was the artist’s goal to connect with their fans through personal stories and emotions. It also takes me back to my more formative years in university when several of my close friends from the Northeast started introducing me to some of their local talent. What I liked about the style of rappers from the Northeast was that their music was mainly comprised of straight-forward storytelling with few wasted bars. And while some may find their choice of production a bit more soulful and boom-bap than what is considered hot for radio today, that type of production is perfectly complimentary with their rhyming style.
When I stumbled upon SIN through his manager, Ashley Outrageous, I took a liking not only his Northeastern style, but the comprehensive execution of his most recent project, The Third Lifetime EP. Not only are his raps relatable, but where most rappers today are trying to do too much, SIN essentially proved that by keeping things simple an artist’s authenticity can still be given the proper amount of opportunity to shine.
Special thank you to SIN and Ashley for being so prompt in their response. Enjoy!
THP: Fill our readers in about who SIN is and how you got involved doing this music thing.
SIN: What’s going on? My name is SIN. I got really involved with music around the age of 14 or 15, around my high school days. I don’t come from the cliche family background of musicians. Yet, I’ve always had a passion for hip-hop. I started off in high school cafeterias with the freestyle cyphers. I would spit the same verses over and over. It was kinda funny, but the feedback was great! They told me I had the voice, and the “flow” for it. So, I ran with it and never looked back. I’m fortunate for the turnout.
THP: From listening to your four official releases, you have a very Northeastern, almost Boston like, style in both rhyme patterns and beat selection. Do any of your roots trace back to that area? Then just touch on some of your musical influences in general.
SIN: Yeah man, GO REDSOX!! But yes, I’m a New England guy. I was originally born in South Providence, Rhode Island. I’ve been living in Florida since I was in middle school, so I’m well adapted to the palm trees and unwanted tans [laughs]. As far as influences go, I’m all over the place: Jay-Z of course, Amy Winehouse, Nas, JDilla, Ghostface, Biggie, Nature and Johnny Cash. Yes, the old country singer Johnny Cash. I have an old soul.
THP: Your most recent release was titled, The Third Lifetime EP. Talk about the concept and meaning behind the title of that record.
SIN: The Third Lifetime EP is literally me in a nutshell. Just like I explained on the synopsis [see below].
I feel that as a valid listener, it is important to relate with an artist on a personal level. That’s why I always say “Live through your Music!” Prior to me releasing The Third Lifetime EP, I went through two stages as far as my process on making music goes. I’m still growing as an artist. This is my Third Lifetime.
THP: Your first three releases were consistent in that they were all 13 tracks or less, and many of those tracks were only two verses. Then, you dropped The Third Lifetime EP that clocks in at 8 tracks. Was it a conscious decision to make a more concise record, or something that happened organically? Just talk about the thought process behind the length of both your releases and individual songs.
SIN: Well, that decision was made by my manager Ashley Outrageous and I. We figured since it was my first official EP, we didn’t want to over saturate the listeners so we kept it short and sweet.
Personally, I’m also a believer that shorter projects hold more of an impact than long ones, but that’s just me. Stuck In Nowhere was a tape based on how I was feeling at the time. I went through a really dark phase last winter. Because music is therapeutic to me, I figured that it’ll be necessary to get over that phase by releasing emotion through the entire project. Go listen to the record “Inspired” [see below], and you’ll see exactly where I’m coming from.
THP: I thoroughly enjoyed The Third Lifetime EP. It sounds fuller sonically than your previous releases while your writing and delivery have evolved nicely as well. What message where you trying to deliver to your fans with this release, and how much do you feel you have evolved as an artist from when you first started?
SIN: Thanks a lot. Glad you noticed progression. The message that I’m really trying to send out is that it doesn’t hurt to be YOURSELF. A lot of rappers tend to think that they need to look, act and speak like a “rapper,” but I’m oblivious to all of the above.
I received nothing but great feedback on this EP, and I can say that I’m comfortable with myself on top of that. No gimmicks.
I started on my first project when I was 16 to 17 years old. I released it on my 18th birthday. About five years has passed since then, and I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs and smiles and frowns. With that being said, I feel like I evolved tremendously through the years.
THP: I respect that your music is honest, and therefore, relatable. You seemingly bare your soul on almost every track. Describe your creative process for us, and why you feel it is so important to create honest music.
SIN: Alright, funny little story. Last year I developed a weird little habit. You might laugh, but I started writing a lot of my verses on my laptop in the notepad section. So I would literally hold my laptop as if it was a pizza and start recording like that.
My hand writing sucks when I’m writing music because I’m thinking too fast for my own good. So I’m sticking to my cell phone till further notice [laughs]. As far as honest music goes, every artist has to make it happen at one point or another. It shows authenticity. We love authenticity! Don’t we?!
THP: What is your favorite track off The Third Lifetime EP and why?
SIN: My favorite track off The Third Lifetime EP is “Black.” That record was produced by Wishlade. I couldn’t say no to the beat off the fact that there’s a beautiful sample of Amy Winehouse’s vocals saying “black” in the background. Everybody knows how I feel about the late great Amy, so it was a MUST to get on that record.
Most importantly, the record was dedicated to one of my closest friends Kemar Clayton. He was shot and killed August 1, 2011. We use to wear black everywhere. That’s just how we went about ours. He loved my music more than anybody. So I dedicated my entire EP to him in his name.
THP: I have to back track slightly to ask about your Day After Love record. This was a concept project that you stated was, “based on the beauty of hate and the love in it, merged into one.” Because that was a concept project based on deep emotion and seemingly relationships, was the process in creating that record different than your other three? Was it more mentally draining in any way during that process?
SIN: Funny that you say that because surprisingly The Day After Love was possibly the easiest project that I did. It came to me like water. One thing about me is that I could talk about love all day. I’m a “lover boy” in denial at heart [laughs]. So, it was far from a mental drain for me. I enjoyed every moment.
THP: Being South Florida based, how have you found the hip-hop scene down there, and has the acceptance of your music exceeded your expectations?
SIN: The hip-hop scene in South Florida is very diverse right now. So much talent going around. So many different styles. It’s definitely a beautiful thing to see and be a part of. I never really had expectations. I felt like just being heard was enough for me. I’m aware that I’m being heard a lot, especially lately. So in essence, yes, I guess I did exceed my expectations.
THP: Piggybacking off that last question, let’s talk about the overall hip-hop climate today. It is seemingly extremely saturated. How do you go about trying to differentiate yourself, and then how do you measure the success of a project?
SIN: Staying true to what you believe in is number one with me. I’m true to hip-hop not only as a brand, but as a culture. A lot of people lost touch and some people are just blind to the fact. Sales will ultimately measure the success of a any project, but I think that a project with flawless production and a solid message behind it is a great project. I’m not a “hype beast” by any measures. I’m a “realist” if anything.
THP: Let’s keep it in the moment. Let our readers know what projects from other artists you enjoyed in 2011? Outside of creating music, who are you listening to?
SIN: I got the opportunity to open up for Kendrick Lamar a few months back. Prior to me opening up, I had a debate with a few of my homies. My argument was that Section.80 was possibly the ILLEST project of 2011. Honestly, right now, on the hip-hop scene, I’m really just rocking with a lot of the Miami locals both singers and rappers. But I’m listening to a lot of Soul and Jazz now a days. So, Amy Winehouse, Dwele, John Legend, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill have been heavy on the playlist lately.
THP: What is on the horizon for SIN in terms of shows or projects for 2012? And where can the people find out more about you?
SIN: Well, I have a few shows lined up throughout Florida in February and March. As far as projects, were over here workin’ and plottin’ the next moves. For now you can visit, listentoSIN.com and my Facebook fan page where my show dates are listed and new web links are posted.