Sev Statik - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman
I was first introduced to Sev Statik in 2002 through his debut LP Speak Life. Sev's strong delivery and conceptual talent immediately grabbed my attention, as did the album's outstanding production. Three years later, The Tunnel Rats and Deep Space 5 crew member is back with his sophomore release Slow Burn. Like his debut, the album successfully delivers the everyday struggles of an underground emcee, as well as life lessons and well-conceived conceptual material. Sev took some time out to speak with MVRemix about his new album as well as his history in this game.
MVRemix: What was it like growing up in Albany over the years?
Sev: I didn’t know anything else so it was great. I always had good friends and good times. Albany isn’t that big, but I didn’t know that growing up. I thought we were NYC up until I was like 10.
MVRemix: What were you like growing up?
Sev: I was always into something, but martial arts was my thing. Well, watching it on T.V. was my thing. When I was 13 I went to one class for martial arts and it was boring. If it wasn’t showing me how to “shadow kick” or the “shaolin whisper death blow” on the first day, I was too advanced for it (I thought so anyway). Me and the homies would dress up like ninjas on some hide-n-seek missions and swore to God we were real assassins. I didn’t get into trouble much I kept busy with building forts in the next door neighbor’s yard and taking my bike apart all day. These days, I couldn’t change a flat tire to save my life.
MVRemix: What is your first memory of Hip Hop?
Sev: When I was real young I used to put graffiti on paper and put it up on my bedroom walls. I would copy art I saw on the street and put it to paper. Graf was the only piece of hip hop around my way at the time. I saw the art before I heard it. I’d have to say my best memory of hip hop for me was seeing DJ Swan get live on the turntables at this block party. There was this emcee on the mic who had a cast on his arm and he was freestyling over these beats. And dude was droppin’ science too. That was the catapult for me into what I’m doing now. I have no idea what them cats are doing now, but if I ever see them fools I would definitely let them know they had a big impact on me and my participation in hip hop culture.
MVRemix: What was the one album you constantly listened to as a kid?
Sev: Like everyone else I listened to different music growing up, but the album that got the most plays was definitely Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid In Full”. I had the “My Melody” single on cassette from a college radio dub. This record set the tone for me in hip hop. Rakim was definitely the standard, to me, as far as emcees went.
MVRemix: How did you first get into rhyming?
Sev: After I saw homeboy at the block party drop that freestyle on the mic I was a student ever since. I listened to every rhyme pattern from emcees like Rakim, KRS, JustIce, Freestyle Fellowship, etc. Everyone was a teacher to me. I heard how they did it and started to freestyle. Nothing I did back then was written. I had no idea they wrote down their raps until later on. I thought it was all off the head because that’s what I first saw at parties and on the street.
MVRemix: How did you start to make a name for yourself locally?
Sev: I bombarded every empty space in the Albany NY area with stickers and flyers to promote myself. I did as many shows as I could with every genre of music out there. When there wasn’t a show to be on I went to the venues and booked my own shows. I pushed out a few bootleg mixtapes with me rhyming over other beats so fools were already familiar with the name. Plus, I already had relationships with most DJ’s and emcees in the area so I was already engrained into the “scene” a bit. So, when neighborhood or city events took place they would already have an understanding of who to call for a performance if they wanted hip hop. I was the first hip hop artist on the cover
of Metroland Magazine here in Albany NY back in ’93. Ten Years later, 2003, I got the cover again with my crew Pitch Control Music for the same work and love I’ve put into the scene.
MVRemix: Tell us how your career progressed from there. Including how you hooked up with Tunnel Rats and Deep Space 5.
Sev: I started DS5 in late ‘96 with Manchild and Listener. We put out a piece of wax with 4 songs on it and that was our first crew release. I became a Tunnel Rat that same year after a meeting w/ the CEO of TR’s, Dax Reynosa. After forming DS5 and becoming part of TR’s my music career got very serious as a solo artist. I was in another group just before that, but it fell apart as things do. I started to deal with other people that were hungry to get their music out so, I invested a lot of time into both Tunnel Rats and Deepspace5. I’ve gotten reviews in every magazine out there, did a few notable collabs
with a few more notable producers and I feel good about where I’ve been and where I’m at now. Everything I went through was worth it. Word up.
MVRemix: You dropped two EP's before your debut full length album, Speak Life.
So tell us about those.
Sev: I was in a 3 man group from ‘93-’96 we released 2 albums on cassette and CD. When we parted ways I took all the verses I wrote and put together about 8 songs to shop as a demo. From that EP I met up with some people in the industry and online; from there I wrote all new material and released “The Point Man EP” later that same year which got reviews in URB, Blaze, 4080 and Stress magazine.
MVRemix: With your album debut in ‘02, Speak Life, were you happy on how the album came out and was received?
Sev: At the time I was excited to have the album done and out. This was the 2nd album I recorded with that same name. I recorded the first Speak Life album in LA back in 1999, but none of the songs were released to us, Tunnel Rats. We were dealing with a company that was shady and we couldn’t grab up anything we had done. Business fell through so I had to write more songs for a new album. I would’ve just used the lyrics from the last album, but I didn’t keep any of the raps or get a chance to memorize any songs. It was such a short time to do the record I would read the lyrics out my notebook as I recorded. But when the next Speak Life LP actually did come out on Uprok/EMI in Nov. 2002 I wasn’t that amped about the song list or some of the songs they chose to leave off of the record. But it was a record available nationally and we, Tunnel Rats, had a video rotating on MTV2 so I just took advantage of the opportunity to let people know about the record and my music. Also with production from Dert, DJ Cheapshot and Dave Santos I was treated to the best of the freshest beats.
MVRemix: How do you think you have progressed from Speak Life to your new LP Slow Burn?
Sev: I’ve learned a lot more about how to push a record. I’ve learned never leave it up to the label to promote you. Not that I sat back and let them do all the work, but I thought the effort on my part would have been doubled or at least matched by the label for Speak Life. It wasn’t. Lyrically speaking, Slow Burn is way more personal than Speak Life was. I had a good time recording both records.
MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title Slow Burn?
Sev: It has a lot to do with how God has been working on me throughout my life. There hasn’t been a second in time where God isn’t dealing with me. From me doing music, to being a father, an emcee. Life is always about growth, of course, and I’m here
taking it one rhyme, one day and one trial at a time. I’m not the artist to be a “flash in the pan” either, word up. I’m here paying dues everyday for a higher purpose. I’m not trying to push my art down people’s throats, no rush for me to reach the world and get a head of myself. Go to fast and you might lose pace… so, I take it slow to cook all the way through, nahmean.
MVRemix: For fans who haven't heard it, what types of concepts, issues and songs can they expect to hear on Slow Burn?
Sev: Straight boom bap, for real! Songs about being honest with yourself and embracing that ugliness we all have inside and touching lives to bring about change in your own life and maybe someone else’s. I speak on hip hop and the many changes it’s been through that have affected all of us. I have a few stories about being an independent emcee inspired by them 66 books. I speak on forgiveness, my walk with Christ, being married, kids, my art, my urge to do full time music etc. I’ve been inspired by more than a few things in life and I share all of that throughout the record. There’s a lot of wordplay, word equations and analogies that might go over some heads, but a strong listener will catch it. And the beats? Forget about it. Not many albums out now can compare to the production on this joint.
MVRemix: So, who handled the production on the album and who’s the female on the Well Traveled joint?
Sev: Oh word, Explicit is my only vocal feature. I met her at Scribble Jam, but I got at her when I heard her on the Mass Reality mixtape. She blew me away with how brutally honest she was with her raps. Strong delivery, great voice and she’s a very passionate woman. And I got production from Shawn J. Period, Joey Beats, Relic, JB!!, PJ Katz, Tony Stone and more… this record is dope. Any hip hop head will feel this joint and the response has been great. Big ups to the all the sevstatikfanatiks!
MVRemix: What is your main goal with this album?
Sev: I just want heads to peep out the art. And if you’re a head who really appreciates lyrics and solid beats, Slow Burn will not disappoint, straight up. There’s a lot of new heads who don’t know me, so I want them to try something new as opposed to what’s being shoved in their face 24/7 by every website and magazine. I don’t sound like anyone out there, that’s not on some ego junk that’s on some I bring it from the heart – a lot of artists miss that connection.
MVRemix: What has been the biggest headache you have had to deal with in this Hip Hop game?
Sev: The frustration of reading weak reviews on dope records. Whatever happened to listening to a record for more than 2 days after it’s released?! I’ve read a few reviews out there on myself and other artists, and I thought the reviewer missed the “meat” of the album. And these reviews are on so called “underground” sites. I’ve never had a bad or a “thumbs down” type of review, but I think the reviewers should put more time into reviewing records and be a little more creative. I’ve seen a few plagiarized lines from critics and I expect them to be just as creative with the review as the art they’re expecting to review. That has been a huge headache and disappointment to see reviews that don’t live up to how dope a record is. Every artist I’ve ever talked to feels the same way.
MVRemix: I read that you are married and have three kids. So what is it like trying to be a family man and a Hip Hop artist at the same time?
Sev: I address that on Slow Burn in the 2nd verse of Wasted Tears. I see it like this music is just a bi-product of my life. It comes naturally. The responsibility of being a husband and a father is sometimes overwhelming with the schedules and all that. I wish everything was as easy as hip hop, but what’s worth having is worth dieing for. My family is my first priority. Period! Being an emcee is great, I get to share my music with my kids, my fans and my friends… I think I have the best of all worlds because I can face every one of them and know they know I never fell off or compromised my beliefs to live this culture. I’ve seen other artists who go on tour and leave their kids for weeks at a time throughout the year, on the same tour I turned down, and the void in their kids lives is too big to try and fill later on. I don’t wanna miss the small things that my kids accomplish. Word up. God gave me these seeds to nurture’em, not leave’em to be a “rock star” for 25 minutes a night. No price, no amount of fame or cd sales can replace missed birthdays, first steps or first words. Some cats would be like “I gotta make that scrilla”, I’m like “get a real job” because hip hop has no insurance plan. That’s just me, so. Some cats can do it and will be alright with it. I look at it differently
MVRemix: Do people at your regular job know who Sev Statik is?
Sev: Very few. I mean, I work at the Dept of Defense so there’s not many here that listen to hip hop anyway. For the most part I keep the music away from work. Personal junk gets in the way at any job, but I don’t hide my dedication to my faith. They all know I’m a believer in Christ.
MVRemix: What else do you have going on in the future?
Sev: I have an EP coming out later this year with production by Jack of All Trades for the Tunnel Rat 7 series. Working on my next full-length album exclusively produced by DJ Dust (DS5/MarsILL) titled Back to Dust. I just finished an album to be released exclusively online this summer called the Sliver LP. So, I’m busy with music, no doubt, but I got some plans with my 518 Pitch Control Music family to take our art worldwide. We just secured online distribution to every music download store like iTunes, Napster etc. It’s all love that’s why it’s easy for us to share.
MVRemix: Any last words, shout outs, or plugs?
Sev: Check me out at www.sevstatik.com I got free downloads there and a bunch of merchandise in the store to peep out. Isaiah 43:1. peep it. That’s why I do what I do.
Big ups to Low Key for the interview. Thank you, bro.
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"I’ve learned a lot more about how to push a record. I’ve learned never leave it up to the label to promote you. Not that I sat back and let them do all the work, but I thought the effort on my part would have been doubled or at least matched by the label..."