“YOUNG BLACK & AMAZING” by Shane Graham
I sat down with rising Indie Hip/Hop star Energe in, what I must confess, to be my first interview with a Hip/Hop artist. Needless to say I was nervous. But my nerves were put at ease as soon as Energe assured me that the honor was all his being my first interviewee.
Where did you get your name Energe?
I grew up poor on the Southside of Chicago and we could barely afford the basic things. My mom bought me a dollar store deodorant that I couldn’t even use, that’s how much I didn’t like it. (Laughs). I walked around with a towel and soap instead of using that stuff. The deodorant was called Energy. I carried it around as a reminder of not wanting to go back to that way of life. And eventually my friend suggested I drop the “y”.
You mentioned being from Chicago. Has being from there influenced your career or style?
No. I feel like anywhere I would still be an artist. I’ve been a lot of places and there is no place like Chicago. Every area of Chicago is literally individually packaged. North side, South side, where ever, there is no place like the other. Everybody is different, they all got their own SWAG, and I hate that using that word, but it’s the truth.
Your label is “YBA” and “100”, and of course YBA stands for “Young, Black, and Amazing.” What inspired you for that name?
That’s just me. I heard it in a song and I felt like that song was or me, it just spoke to me. I also wanted to make one thing clear: the whole color thing doesn’t mean much to me. Anybody can be YBA, it doesn’t matter what color you are. The idea behind YBA is to be greater.
And the idea behind “100”?
To be true…100 percent
How long have you been recording hip/hop?
I’ve had a lot of different walk in music. I can write music, with notation. I started writing music, lyrics, when I was 7 years old.
Perhaps the better question is how long have you been singing? Or even just in music?
Pretty much my whole life. My mom was a teacher, she taught me to read when I was 4 and I never stopped. My parents played music around me all the time country, gospel all kinds.
Who? Could you mention a few names?
My dad played a lot of Randy Travis. Also Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Tupac, Biggy. The one who got me into performing, in a way, was Lil Wayne. I mimicked him. You can hear the Wayne influence in everything I do. I digested so much Wayne, it got to a point where I had to give him a break. I looked back in college and saw that I had over 500 Lil Wayne songs. But I love all music. I’ll listen to anything. I only listen to tracks, I hear the words more than the music.
Who would be your dream collaboration to work with?
My dream person is Rick Rubin. Just because of so much shit I’ve seen, I feel like I could skip so many levels and get to his level if I worked with him. In terms of right now and in a studio, my dream would be me Rick Rubin, the chick who plays base for Beyonce (Divinity Roxx), Diplo, and Dr Dre.
Can you imagine how crazy that would be if Dre and Diplo worked together?
That would be amazing. There are those who say Hip/Hop and rap is just guns, drugs, and money. Now obviously those are people who don’t understand the art behind it, but my question for you is how would you get someone to understand the art behind hip/hop? I would explain to that person that hip/hop is like different eyes, seeing different things. That ‘guns, drugs and whatever’, that just happens to be part of the artist’s life, that’s where they come from. You can’t sing about what you don’t know. I understand it, and know it because that was my life. It’s just different from, say, R&B and Country. They are singing about love and other things that they knw. That’s all we as artists can do. Then I would play ‘Song Cry’ by Jay-Z. I think that would make them understand the artistic side behind Hip/Hop.
What would you say is the high point of your career so far?
My highpoint thus far was playing at (SXSW) South by Southwest 3 years in a row, even though I chose not to last year. And when I opened with Big K.R.I.T.
Why didn’t you play last year?
I feel like the festival has changed and that people have been come for different reasons. I still went to the last one, but I went more as an observer and I wanted to see how people are reacting to certain things, what are they spending their money on you know……..
What’s the best decision you’ve made?
To never give up. It’s tough being an artist. Finding something that is true to you and you’re not accepted, but I’m just glad I decided to never give up. To stay true to 100.
The Hip/Hop Blog Pigeons and Planes described you as “effortlessly amazing.” What does that do for you to read that and be called that?
I can’t lie, I never really took that in. I just kept moving. I’m thankful that they said that, but I read it and moved on. I feel like that’s happened too much to people, they get big heads and egos. The praise shouldn’t be why you’re doing it. I spend hours in the studio to give music to the people.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
Shout out to Shadowbox for giving me this opportunity, and to my fans for supporting, those who have been there from the beginning and new. Also for everyone giving me the material to write about. Thank you.
Throughout the interview I had been referring to Energe by his birth name because I thought calling someone by their stage name was something that had to be earned. But Energe claimed quite the contrary. He asked that I call him “E” or Energe because only those closest to him get to call him by his given name. That shows me how truly he is dedicated, not to just his craft of Hip/Hop, but to the world of music as well.
HEAD OVER TO SHADOWBOX TV TO WATCH ENERGE. AS OF 11/1/15 PLEASE HEAD TO SHADOWBOX COLLECTIVE TO SHOP ENERGE. JUST CLICK THE BOXER OF CHOICE AND ENJOY. MANY THANKS FOR READING!
BOXER / EXPOSE
ENERGE MUSIC / SOCIAL
AUTHOR: Shane Graham
PRODUCTION: aWMfilms / Will Moore /
PHOTOGRAPHY / STYLING: Rashad
SXSW (sxsw.com / @sxsw)
BIG K.R.I.T. (@youngkrizzle / Facebook-BigKritMusic)
PIGEONS AND PLANES: (pigeonsandplanes.com / @pigsandplans)
SHADOWBOX MVMNT / BOXER EXPOSE