Known as one of the hottest artists to hit the battle scene in years, Iron Solomon is making moves and heading for radio stations near you! From demolishing Jin in a 3 round battle to murdering tracks alongside of living legend DMC this cat is making his way up from the underground. Currently preparing to follow up his dope mixtape Redrum Radio with a debut album entitled Monster, Iron Solomon is in full effect. Continue reading to see what else is in store for the rest of 2012.
Hip-Hop Digital: What’s good? How’s life treating you?
Iron Solomon: Life is great. A lot of hard work, but it’s all moving toward achieving goals that have been on my bucket list since diapers. Ha!
Hip-Hop Digital: You’re known widely for being the champion of the battle circuit, and it’s common knowledge most “artists” don’t want to invest in their own careers. What made you invest your prize money into your own projects, including the creation of your studio?
Iron Solomon: If you believe in yourself and really are committed to making an impact with your music you absolutely have to invest in your own career. I’m such a fucking fan of all music and hip-hop in particular, and creating music is one of the most excited and fulfilling things in the world, so putting money towards the tools I need to make music the way I want to make it is a no-brainer for me. I like to create from the ground up, and have everything I need to make the sounds I want to hear, so buying equipment is like collecting toys or sneakers for me. Now that I’m writing video treatments, designing artwork, and exercising all those extra creative muscles, I just love to see ideas come to fruition. Having an amazing piece of music or a video that is compelling feels really valuable to me, much more so than a piece of jewelry or any other frivolous thing I might spend my money on.
Hip-Hop Digital: You’ve already released the first two singles off of your upcoming album Monster. The Empire with Talib Kweli and Breathe both display true hip-hop lyricism with some intense production. Will the vibe of these songs set the tone of the entire project?
Iron Solomon: I like that description, “intense production,” ha! Yeah, I’d say they’re fairly representative of the sound on the album, but at the same time, every song has a unique and different feel to it. I tried to really create a well-rounded project and touch on a lot of aspects of my personality and my life. There are celebratory songs, aggressive songs, sentimental, introspective songs, and some straight bragging MC bullshit of course. I produced or co-produced every song on the album along with my brother from another Isaiah, so there’s a real sense of continuity in the sound, but we try to push the envelope and really be creative in making each song different. We wrote a lot of string and horn parts and brought in live orchestral sections to play out some of these parts. It was really an amazing process. The dopest thing about Hip-Hop to me is the collage element, so songs like the ones you mentioned that bring together so many different sounds from different genres are definitely representative of the aesthetic that I love. With the writing I really aim to create something that can be digested on multiple levels. I want the flow and the tone to be catchy and appealing, I want the words to make sense on a surface level and be evocative and compelling, and I always want to bury really ill, well thought out wordplay that’s like a little treat or an inside joke for the 2.67% of music listeners like myself that really live for that shit.
Hip-Hop Digital: Currently you’re working on your debut album, Monster. What kind of vibe can we expect from this project? Will it be similar to your previous project, Redrum Radio?
Iron Solomon: With “Redrum Radio” I wanted to create a specific vibe like the old-school mixtapes I used to buy on Canal Street as a kid, well-blended, with radio freestyles, SFX, all that good stuff that kept a mixtape raw but cohesive. Having highly produced, well-mixed songs juxtaposed with the dirty radio recordings is an ill aesthetic to me. It was really dope to create those interludes with the old-school radio drops and all that. The “Monster” album is much more personal and well-rounded than “Redrum Radio.” Where “Redrum” showcased the ignorant dopeness of just straight rapping, “Monster” is more oriented around songs with topics, concepts, specific moods or emotions. This album will give people more of a window into who I am as a person and an artist. There are songs for every side of the bed you might wake up on. I produced a bunch of joints on “Redrum” but “Monster” really showcases my vision as a producer.
Hip-Hop Digital: Who are some of the artists and producers you’ll be collaborating with on this album?
Iron Solomon: On both “Redrum Radio” and “Monster” I wanted to keep the production in house. I produced or co-produced pretty much every song on the album along with Isaiah. I got one 2 joints produced or co-produced by my man Gordon Voidwell and another joint produced by my man Kassa Overall. These are some of my closest friends and favorite musicians, producers & artists. It’s really important to me to showcase my own vision and include the people around me who really inform and strengthen that aesthetic. I also always want to shed light on great talent, it ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none! Ha! As far as features, between the main album tracks and the bonus cuts I have Talib Kweli, Paul Wall, DMC, Novel, Cassidy, Isaiah, Jean Grae & Gordon Voidwell.
Hip-Hop Digital: You’ve worked with some pretty heavy names in the game from DMC to Talib Kweli. Who do you believe has been, creatively, one of your best collaborative experiences?
Iron Solomon: Working with the people you mentioned was definitely amazing. I’ve been a fan of both of those artists for my whole life, so it was definitely an awesome moment. DMC was super humble and energetic, he is so generous with his time and energy you can’t help but feel inspired to be in his presence. Kweli is one of the hardest working people I’ve been around, period. I was in the studio with him and Jean Grae, and he went from laying his verse, to directing his bassist on how he wanted him to play on the song, then all the sudden was he nowhere to be found. I see on Twitter that he’s playing in a softball game with the Beastie Boys! This is all while the studio is buzzing with people working on his project, talk about multi-tasking. Shit was really hilarious, and he came right back when the game was done and kept working. Incredible. Overall, my best collaborative experiences have been and continues to be with my Royal Family, the people I mentioned earlier. Isaiah, Gordon Voidwell, Kassa Overall, Tecla, Vanguard, Webbafied, all these people continue to inspire me and push me to create better music. There are million more I could mention, but on this album they had some of the strongest presence.
Hip-Hop Digital: Can you describe what a day in the studio is like with Iron Solomon the artist?
Iron Solomon: If I’m on my own there’s probably a good amount of greenery in the air. I have some red-lights in my home studio so I might have that kinda vibe going on. Lots of water. I have a shitload of half-formed ideas, or notes on beats and songs I want to make, so I might go through all those and see what catches me or inspires me. Or I might go through the playlist of all the beats I have from myself and my crew and see if I get inspired to write something. I also have a lot of songs that are pretty far along but still need work, so I might tweek some sounds, add some layers, record some vocals, or just clean up the audio, do some mixing and get shit sounding right. When we were working on “Monster” we had some days where we brought in musicians or went to outside studios to work with larger groups. We recorded string and horn sections including Tuba, Trombones, Trumpets, Cellos and Violins. Also, I have a piano in my home studio but its an upright and doesn’t hold its tuning that well. I love the sound of it for certain types of songs but for some parts on “Monster” we needed to go to a spot that had a grand piano with pristine tuning. My man Sullivan Fortner is an amazing piano player who tours with some serious Jazz legends and I needed his keys to sound right!! Otherwise I’m in the studio with Isaiah a lot. He and I have a great collaborative process, we are really willing to try anything and really push the envelope. Isaiah is an amazing producer and musician and we really each have strengths that balance each other out. I know when we work together we’ll make something timeless and classic, while still being edgy and futuristic. We’ve been working on his solo debut recently and the songs are incredible. I’m not really a singer by trade so getting to work with Isaiah on his songs is dope. I love being able to have a hand in producing and writing for an artist that is doing something out of the box and different from what I do. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by what Isaiah has to offer. I’m also working with Gordon Voidwell, Kassa Overall and Tecla in an ongoing way, so they might be at my studio, or I might go link up with them. We might just kick around ideas or work on something specific. Everybody in my crew has a really strong vision of what they want to create, so we all know how to fit each other in to the music in just the right way.
Hip-Hop Digital: As far as 2012, what else should we be on the lookout for? Can we expect any new battles this year?
Iron Solomon: I have so many songs in the stash! I got two more mixtapes that I’d like to release this year depending how things go. I’ll definitely be dropping the “Redrum Radio, Vol. 2,” and another project called “Killer” that’s an all original free mixtape with some pretty dope concepts behind it. I got a good amount of the follow up album to “Monster” but I don’t think that’ll be til early 2013. As far as the battles, I will NEVER retire!!! I’ll always step back in the ring when it makes sense, so you never know, we may see something new this year. I also know a lot of people that got battles I did in the stash that no one’s ever seen, so I’m really trying to liberate those for the fans.
Hip-Hop Digital: Before we let you go, where is the best place for fans & supports to stay current on all things Iron Solomon? We’d also like to thank you for taking the time out to speak with us over here at Hip-Hop Digital.
Iron Solomon: Yo!!! It’s been my pleasure to build with y’all. Great questions. I really appreciate the support and I definitely love what y’all are doing so keep up the good work. People can hit me up on twitter.com/ironsolomon, I try to respond to everyone and really engage with people, that’s what its all about. My other sites are: facebook.com/ironsolomon ; youtube.com/ironsolomontv and www.ironsolomon.com.