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Insight - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman  

Insight: Mr. Complex


Insight is a complicated man. As a child growing up in Boston, Insight got involved in the wrong crowd and was faced with the harsh realities of the streets. His involvement with the streets ran deeper than any fake rap façade or gangster story. Through his trials and tribulations Insight was forced to constantly move, thus affecting his life in more ways than one. Insight soon formed a complex, in which he was afraid to leave his house in fear of the streets catching up to him. Insight would stay in his house for weeks at a time, which ended up as a blessing in disguise. With an abundant amount of time on his hands, Insight constantly worked on his music. The rest you can say is history. Insight has grown to become one of Boston's best emcees, and with his debut album "Blast Radius", he has proved that you will be hard pressed to find a better lyricist in this game. Insight took some time to speak with MVRemix about his new album, as well as his troubles growing up as a kid.

MVRemix: I know that you were born in St. Thomas, and then you moved around a lot. So can you tell us what it was like growing up and moving all around?

Insight: I moved to Boston when I was five, and when I was younger we always traveled, as I also lived in Cali and Germany for a couple of years. But Boston was pretty bad, so when I was younger I got into a whole bunch of stuff, which is basically because of the area I lived in. I was pretty much forced out of my local area to live in other places. Because I had got into some DRAMA! So I started doing Hip Hop in Cali, and when I came back to Boston that is pretty much what I did. Cause I wasn't too keen on going outside and dealing with the problems out there. So I just grew up in a way that I didn't want to go into situations where there was a lot of people. Because there was just drama. People I got involved with….well, I don't even want to go into what happened, but I had people looking for me and I didn't even know who they were. So I would be in situations where if there was a lot of people, I would stay away from it. I would always avoid places where a lot of people would be. I was always trying to get away from situations where there would be a lot of people around the places that I lived. I developed a complex, based on that.

Plus, the problems that I had with some of my family was pretty intense. I did a lot on my own at a very young age. So the complex that developed was, I would stay in rooms for like hours. Its just a complex that instead of going out, I would just stay in and seclude. It developed into this thing that at least I was being productive, because now I could get a lot of things done. But people would look at it like it was problematic, or that I had a problem. But I look at it like, "Ok, I found something to do". And I knew I had a complex, but it’s a positive one for me. So I am trying to deal with that now and look back on some of the things that I had to deal with growing up. And trying to understand that at the same time and become a little bit more outgoing. But its weird, because I am a sociable person, but I just don't have a problem with staying inside for long extended periods of time. I could be inside for a week and it would not be a hard thing for me. But now at least I can admit it, because before I wouldn't.

MVRemix: You said you had people looking for you, and I know you don't want to get into the details. But how did that calm down? Did it just settle down after time?

Insight: Well, two of the people died. So yeah, there was a lot of drama. If I was going to be anything at that young age, I could have been rapping about the streets and what happened to me. Because I was in direct situations where I directly did things and ended up in places. But for me I feel that if you are so street, than you would know that its something that scares you. You would not want to bring that out and tell your kids about that. You don't want to go through it, so why would you exemplify it and focus on that. I learned that I never want to be surrounded by any negative situation because my own family died. Members died directly related to situations involving that. And other people died because they died. And because of that I had to leave where I was, and that completely changed everything. I couldn't go out to a party, or go walk around. Little things would become big problems, like walking to the bus stop. I never looked at it like I had to mention any of that in my rhymes.

So I pretty much stayed inside for years. I say for a good 10 years my self sacrifice was not going to parties or big events where people were. Yeah, I was anti-social for years, but that helped me dive into my art more. And when I was younger I started painting and drawing, and that was before music. So I got the same satisfaction by doing music. So it was cool because you can spend hours and hours making a painting more detailed, and you can do the same thing with music. So things just died down because I stayed away and created my own world inside of my room. Like with music, you can create a world in order to get away from all of that. And you can do that with any form of multimedia. You can create and put your whole expression and frame of mind into something and people can look at that, so you are creating a world. So by doing that and physically traveling away from where I was to live in other situations was another way I got away. And in Boston I'm known for never staying in one place, I have always traveled. Even when I was here, I would only live in a place for six months. And for quite some time I never knew what that was, but now I know that I have a complex. And now because of that I realize that I don't have a problem with staying in a place, my problem is with my complex. I may have to physically start fresh somewhere else because of the things that happened and the memories that are stimulated based off the places that I go.

I also eliminated everyone that I knew in certain periods of time. I just started fresh when I moved. So a lot of circles of friends that I have are not the same, except for a handful. It was also a hard thing with Hip Hop, because my complex even went as deep to not being able to keep friends. I see certain things and I would immediately not deal with them. I would not want to deal with shady people and stuff like that. Which is ironic, because a lot of people in the music industry are shady and sketchy. And I don't like surrounding myself around those people. I really believe in having people around you that you can trust. Collaborating in music you deal with people that are cool with you, but not as a friend. They are just there because they are trying to get somewhere, and they don't take time to actually build that relationship, or there are other intentions. I mean, its cool if cats do that, but it takes the essence out of everything. Like now I pretty much stand by that code. Whoever I meet, I don't have the intention of meeting them because, "Oh, I have to get to know them because they run this thing", or whatever. And some people think like that, or are raised like that, like. I think the people that do that lack something. So I feel satisfied that I have come to that point, because everyone I am around now are just authentic people.

And that is the best way to look at it, especially going into a rap group or whatever. Because that way you can build off of it in the future and you can go out and perform them songs and be cool with that person. But with some cats everything is just a business move, and its not real. And the emotional essence is missing. So when I listen to a lot of collaborations I sense, "Ok, these two got up, but they are not really cool, and it doesn't seem like anything special, and you would never see them do that song live".

MVRemix: How old were you when you started rhyming in Cali?

Insight: I was going to school in Cali in '91. I think right there it was crazy because I had a lot of friends I went to school with at Sea Side High School. So we were just in a room together and we were like, "Let's start a rap group". (Laughter) It was crazy though, because I went there from the East, and I already had rhymes, but I would never finish them. I would always have little rhymes and beat tapes, so when I went out there it was weird to hear cats out there sound like the East Coast, because it was completely divided. So I was the kid from Boston, who came to school in the middle of the year, but it was cool. And then when I moved backed to Boston, I continued doing music and I lost contact with everyone from Cali.

But Boston is cool now though. However, before, in my local area, it wasn't cool. The problem with it, which I thought was kind of wack was, one street is here and one block away, that street is against this street. That is how Boston was, but you had to walk past both streets to go to the store. I lived in an area where there were four different streets who all had beef with each other. And you are automatically going to be associated with someone by just standing at the bus stop in one place, so you walk over here and you have beef.

MVRemix: Lets talk about the new album "Blast Radius". What do you want to accomplish with it?

Insight: With this album I was just trying to make one consistent sound all the way through. I wasn't trying to make any ground breaking new Hip Hop type things, because I feel a lot of people forgot about the fundamentals of Hip Hop. And I seen some of the reviews and cats say, "Oh, this is '92/'93 Hip Hop". And I thought about that and I feel like, "Ok, that’s cool, because I really don't like Hip Hop from now". That is my favorite era right there from '92-'94. So I feel lucky, because the cats growing up now, what the hell do they have to listen to? Half the shit that is out, for those cats to get inspired, doesn't even want to make me rhyme. So I am looking at it like, you also have cats who make beats, and their beats are mad sloppy and its not really refined. And cats who are way ahead of me and get more publicity get all the props, but I think that their technique is not refined still. So I really really spend time tweaking everything with the equipment that I have. Because that is another thing, because cats may have a good studio or a good budget, but I still don't think they technically take shit to the next level to make things sound precise. If I had a budget that a lot of cats had, I would make sure that shit would sound even better.

So overall I was trying to make a well polished Hip Hop album that I would buy now. So I guess "Blast Radius" picks up where some of those albums left off and went in the wrong direction. Its not like I'm creating a new trend, as I believe there should be more albums that follow in this path of just making good Hip Hop. Especially in regards to coming up with new topics and not rapping about shit that everybody else is rapping about. I think if a lot of cats did that, Hip Hop would be better. So I am not trying to fit into any categories with this album or sound old school or new school, I just sound like the shit I like. I made an album that I would buy. But I think this album pretty much displays my abilities and I stick to subjects that I researched, so the songs have information but I still display dexterity with the lyrics. So older and younger people can check this album and get something out of it. Because older audiences always get underestimate.

MVRemix: Yeah, exactly.

Insight: And then you have the "mainstream" audience, and the artists that try and pitch music to them will say that you should make things for a 6 year old to understand. And that's wack! Because if you watch Def Poetry Jam, you have these artists doing Hip Hop. They are doing Hip Hop concepts, but they are not really emcees. But they are getting respect for having these deep concepts in their poetry, when you can take Hip Hop to that level, and if you did on a mainstream level, Hip Hop would be better too. The lyrics would be more on point and the concepts would be deep. But I see Hip Hop getting taking advantage of, because they try to make it like Hip Hop is only for young audiences and its ignorant. And by doing that, they don't realize the potential and how far Hip Hop can go. I just think cats need to recognize that you have no categories and no limits when you are doing an album.

MVRemix: I was reading that when you make a track you do all of the work yourself. You don't even use an engineer. So do you think being able to do everything yourself gives you an advantage?

Insight: The thing is, I would like to use an engineer. And I also do my own website, so I would like to have a web designer as well. So I am constantly looking for people to put in that circle that I can keep there. But the thing is, those people are not there yet. I want to have an engineer, but I want to have the same one all the time. I don't want to have to switch. The problem is finding someone you can rely on and that is going to put as much into it as you.

When I started doing my own thing, cats used to say that I wasn't able to. Cats would be like, "Man, you can't make your beats and rhyme, you need a producer". Then it was like, "Man, you can't scratch you need to find a DJ". Then in '99 it was, "You need a web designer". So if I had enough money I would be able to get all those things, but I don't have dough like that. I quit my job as an electrician, so I couldn't pay anybody to do anything and I wanted it right, so I did it on my own. So I haven't found anybody who I can sit in the studio with for hours and have faith in at the same time. I don't know if it is going to come, but I don’t want it to affect my productivity. Because overall, fun has to supersede everything. I am not a cat that ever had enough money to do anything. I always had to do without. I was homeless for awhile, so that right there let me know that other people may have more money or better situations, but I ain't never gonna end up that way again. So I always gotta do the best with what I can and what I have. Because that is Hip Hop. Hip Hop is not sitting in the studio with an infinite budget tweaking a snare drum I got off of some drum CD. So I don't have any support, I am doing it all on my own. My family is all somewhere else, and that is just the reality of the situation.

MVRemix: Besides the album what other future plans do you have?

Insight: I am starting my own label, and I am releasing music from this new group that is on the album, "Midnight Shipment". Its one dude Dagger from Electric, this other guy Adad, then a DJ and me. So that is one project. But pretty much I am trying to stay on tour, as I have been on tour since April. Right now I am trying to stay on tour and make sure I stay as visible as possible. Because the live show is a place where I can set myself apart from everyone else. People can see how much I put into the music and lyrics. Regardless of who tries to front and whatnot, when I do it live, it just smashes all of that. You can't say shit when they see how many hours you have put into it live. But that’s pretty much it.

MVRemix: Any last words?

Insight: No matter what anybody hears or says, I am going to keep on doing things. And for anybody trying to do anything, succeed and set goals and realize that success is when you accept where you are. But you still have to stay motivated and surround yourself with positive people to help you reach new levels. So stay positive and fuck the bullshit.

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"I pretty much stayed inside for years. I say for a good 10 years my self sacrifice was not going to parties or big events where people were. Yeah, I was anti-social for years, but that helped me dive into my art more."