I.N.X. [Influential Nexus] is part of the Poetic Scholars, a crew out of Delaware. “Hieroglyphics” is the debut album, it’s heady and rock steady with an old school feel to it and an electro vibe present, it’s a testament of hip-hop’s diversity and staying power. Some people say that hip-hop is dead, but these new school intellectuals throw enough curve balls to keep things entertaining and interesting, while paying homage to the cats that brought them into the game.
DoK: I heard a lot of intellectual lyricism listening to “Hieroglyphics”. What influences you to write something from more of an educated perspective, especially when mainstream rappers now dumb themselves down to write about booties and parties almost exclusively?
INX: I think a lot of it has to do with my background in poetry. Before I really got heavy into rap I was a poet and that heavily metaphorical and conscious way of writing just stuck with me. I also feel that as a musician I have a responsibility to speak for my people, speak for the lower class, speak for the underprivileged and under-represented because nobody else out here is speaking for us but the musicians, the artists, and some of the people who get lucky enough to make it out. I feel like it’s my job to enhance my people’s voice, to let them know they’re not alone, and to also put things in perspective for those who don’t understand us.[youtube ER1iGT-uzD8]
DoK: How did you find yourself picking beats? What was your first impression when you vibed with a beat?
INX: My beat selection process is completely natural. Sometimes I may think up a concept and then contact one of the producers I work with to see if they can translate it into an instrumental. Other times I just stock up on beats, I’ll literally contact a producer and just be like I need some beats. I’ll gather a good amount and then just listen to them. Something will always speak to me at a specific moment and once those first 4 or 8 bars are thought up, or that hook is made I just run with it. I try to keep everything as natural as possible, which is why the beats I vibe with usually speak to my current mood when I started listening, whether I be sad, angry, or happy, the song I write will usually reflect that.
DoK: Explain your writing process as an upcoming emcee, what do you do on a mental block to push your writing skills?
INX: My writing process is really just “go with the flow.” I don’t really have a set procedure. But when I have a mental block things get a little sticky. It actually just throws my whole mood off if I go to long without writing, I feel like I’m holding too much in or I’m missing a part of myself. But I never fight it though, because I don’t believe in forcing a song. Usually if I have a block I just drown myself in art, whether it be music, paintings, videos, graffiti, whatever, I expose myself to it excessively for weeks until the block is broken. Most times than not it works. Then sometimes some shit will happen that will just inspire me to write.
DoK: What are your major influences in not only your choice of music, but life and career goals as well?
INX: Music wise I draw inspiration from everything. I feel like that’s the best way to create art, being open. It could be something as complicated as a break up to something as simple as the way the sky looked in the morning. Anything can be an artistic influence. But in terms of career goals and life I would have to say my biggest influences are my friends and family. They’re who I live for; I strive to succeed so I can do them justice and so I can make sure they eating good when I’m eating good.
DoK: What message[s] do you want to bring out in your music?
INX: That’s a tough one. I try to cover a little bit of everything in my songs. But as an artist first and foremost I want to show that it’s nothing wrong with embracing yourself. Be the person you want to be and do the shit you love doing. A lot of people gave me flak for wanting to pursue music when I first started, but at the end of the day I did it anyway because your not really living if your not doing the things you love. I also speak a lot about structural inequality and the pains of growing up in a low-income environment. We live in a society today where not much is questioned and I just want to promote independence, non-complacency, and a hunger for educating oneself literally and spiritually.
DoK: Do you feel like what your doing sets you apart from current rappers, or is it more about the potential impact for a new wave of consciousness themed emcees?
INX: Hmmm, to keep it G with you I don’t even really think about how different I am from other rappers. I really just try to do me the best I can. I draw influences from other rappers but I feel like when you get into a state of comparisons you can easily lose sight of what you really want to do. Besides listeners do enough comparing for everyone lol. And as far as the new wave of consciousness part, haha, I never really thought about it. It would be ill if I got that big and inspired an entirely new genre, but I mainly just hope that I’m as big an inspiration to people musically as my favorite rappers are to me.
DoK: What is your view on hip hop today?
INX: I think hip-hop today is in an interesting place. A lot of people like to say that it’s dying or it’s not what it used to be but I don’t believe that. That’s a very mythic past sort of statement. Bad or generic music has always been around; the only thing that’s really changed is the amount of promotion and publicity this generic music gets. But there are still an insane amount of good emcees out there, and currently a good amount are starting to get their due shine. Rappers like Kendrick Lamar and the whole TDE camp, Jon Connor, Logic, Blu, Dom Kennedy, they’re all very talented rappers who I believe are helping put the innovative emcees back at the forefront of hip-hop.
DoK: If you were a politician, what party would you be involved with?
INX: None, if I were a politician I’d probably be assassinated within the next couple days of achieving my position. I’m too liberal and if I got enough power I would turn the whole American system on its backside. The conservatives, liars, and upper class of society wouldn’t dare let me live. (Btw I’m not saying all upper class people are conservative and liars, when I say upper class I mean the powers that decide the fate of this nation and the people that support them unquestionably.)
DoK: As far as hip-hop goes, do you think it’s an art form that anyone can do? Or do you think that it takes a special lyrical ‘gift’ to really be a rap artist? I’ve heard great lyrics come from terrible rappers, and great rappers with terrible lyrics… how do you balance the two to make a total connection?
INX: I feel like hip-hop is the same as any art form. Anyone can participate, and anyone can have cool lyrics here and there. Just like anyone can draw, and anyone can draw a good picture every now and then. What truly makes you a good rapper isn’t whether or not you can spit some good lyrics, its how often you can do it. It’s the consistency that, to me, decides if you’re a rapper. My little cousin could write a hot song tomorrow, but it’d be his only hot song for a while. Whereas Nas could write a hot song tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that until he’s dead. The consistency solidifies the title.
DoK: Finally and not least, what do you say to upcoming emcees who’re trying to make their way into the rap game?
INX: First, I would say never compromise your artistic vision, for anything, if people tell you that your lyrics are to complicated then tell them get a dictionary. Only make moves you feel fit you. But you also have to be open to criticism and advice, basically be confident and open. Second, I would say not to think of the rap game as a tangible thing, it’s not a building you can walk into, and there is not set way to really do it. It’s best to create the best music you can, make the best videos you can, and promote the best you can, make wise moves, and spend wise money, and eventually you will fall into the place you dreamed of being in.
Make sure you all check out http://www.influentialnexus.com for I.N.X.’s album “Hieroglyphics” as well as some free mixtapes, singles and videos. Peace…
Well, it is great interviewing you man. Got dope stuff, hope to be hearing more from you soon bro. Peace!
By: DoK – firstname.lastname@example.org