Buzz Artist: OnCue

My friend CJ Luzi put me up on OnCue, with whom he will be working on an upcoming project sampling various indie and rock songs for a mixtape. To prepare you for that eventual release, I encourage you to check out OnCue's current mixtape Cueyfornication, on which he spits over beats based on Red Hot Chili Peppers samples, sponsored by IllRoots and The Press Play Show.
You can find it on DatPiff, the largest mixtape download site, by clicking [here]. Mixtape heavyweights Mick Boogie and Terry Urban are already involved with both projects, making Cuey a great bet to make it big in the near future, receiving coverage from major hip-hop blogs including The Smoking Section and 2DopeBoyz. Check out my exclusive interview:

  • What got you into hip-hop in general and sample-based productions specifically?
  • Started when I was really young. I have a brother that is 7 years older than myself. When I was roughly 3 or 4 years old, he brought home old rap cassettes (Run DMC, Keith Sweat, Kriss Kross, O.P.P. etc.) And my love, started there. The "sample-based" part of your question, came out of the idea to put out an alternative/indie/electro sounded project mixed with hip-hop, at cost and time efficiency. All of my mixtapes, are/tend to be sample-based projects, but albums, EPs and singles coming soon, will be 100% original.
  • Do you find yourself pigeonholed into a certain style/persona as a white rapper from Connecticut?
  • I did once, but I grew out of it. Prior to Cueyfornication I made straight, well generic sounding hip-hop. It wasn't until I did a song called "Inhale, Exhale" [off of 2008's Elevator Muzik] that made it all click. Guitars, pianos, and I started to sing, and now we have what you -- now probably you know me as.
  • How did you get 'discovered' by big names like Mick Boogie and Terry Urban?
  • Mick, Terry and I have a mutual friend Christopher Truth. Short and simple, Mick and Terry heard the aforementioned "Inhale, Exhale" and loved it. I also do graphic design on the side, and us 3 tend to help each other out, favor for a favor. I owe those guys alot, they definitely have alot to do with the some-what still building name that I have today.
  • How much of an advantage is it as an artist to be able to do your own graphic design work?
  • I love it. I love being creative, that's what I believe I was put on this earth to be -- is creative. It helps me shape the sound of my music, the marketing, the image -- that I myself want to really convey to the fans, listeners, bloggers, DJ's, etc. Plus, design has helped push my career along as perfect as it can be. It puts my music in hands in times when people in high places would be quick to turn the cheek, before they take a listen.
  • Which artist(s), past or present, do you identify most strongly with?
  • Good question, wow -- real good question. I was thinking about this the other day. I have this idea I want to be the next Billy Joel. The guy had soul, and heart -- and was one of the few musicians who you could always hear that he was pouring his heart and soul into every note, and lyric he wrote. A few other musicians I admire are Ben Gibbard, Hov, Kanye, Big. But back to Ben real quick, Death Cab and Postal Service changed my life -- "Give Up" and "Transatlanticism" are probably 2 of my top 3 albums ever made.
  • How important do you think the live show is to hip-hop music?
  • Now? More than ever. As the music business revenue is rapidly declining, CD sales are in the tank -- ringtones are getting bootlegged -- live shows are the main avenue for profit in today's music business.
  • Why did you choose to make the move to Brooklyn and how has it influenced your style?
  • The move to Brooklyn was a mixture of things. I felt as if I was growing tired of my home. I felt back in CT I didn't really fit in, musically. Plus once I did a self evaluation I realized more of the people I work with are located in the NYC area, and on top of that my management just opened a brand new recording studio in Brooklyn as well, it was a no brainer. In addition, Brooklyn really helped me finish writing all the songs for "Cuey Sings the Blues". Being in NYC helps you see things with a pair of glasses you almost thought you never had. I made sure the production sounded bigger. I made sure the lyrics pierced the heart of the listener, yet broad and generic but original at the same time. You see so many faces in this city each day, and I wanted to try my hardest to reach everyone I cross paths with.
  • Judging by the various artists sampled on "Cuey Sings the Blues", you have broad taste in music. What was the selection process like? How did you narrow it down to the current list of artists/songs to be sampled?
  • The artists and songs were chosen by myself, my producers CJ Luzi and Chanes, and curated by my manager, Mick, Terry and Chris. Most of the songs were songs I loved growing up, and once I went on this adventure to flip any song I wanted in the genres, I dove right in with the producers. Besides Chanes and CJ, I also worked with Remot, Emay & my dude AJ on this project. CJ Luzi and Emay did a bunch, Chanes did a few and Remot and AJ did a joint each.
  • How did you meet CJ Luzi, and what motivated you to choose so many tracks from such a relatively unknown producer after working with bigger names in the past?
  • When CJ and myself were first starting out we kinda clicked over the internet. He'd send beats, I'd send songs back. From there we grew a real friendship, and a great working relationship. CJ did the biggest bulk of production on Cuey Sings the Blues. But overall, the project will be awesome. I'm biting my tongue severely right now because I tend to hype every new project (as I should) -- but this one is on a different level. I'll be quiet and let the music speak for itself when it's released.

Sampling RHCP for a concept mixtape might seem like a gimmick, but for a rapper who claims to want to be the next Billy Joel and cites Ben Gibbard's writing for The Postal Service's Give Up and Death Cab's Transatlanticism as life-changing, the relationship with rock music obviously goes far deeper. Cuey's rhymes are not to be underestimated either, so be on the lookout for his live show and more music in the coming months.

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