What up People, It’s ya boy Trav Dave starting off the new year with new energy. I’m back with my interview series and up 1st is my man LowKey from UHTN (You Heard That New). This brother has played a key part in this hop-hip culture breaking artists and putting us up on the new. Let’s get into this interview with the man himself.
I see you got your Bachelor’s Degree from Howard University. Can you tell us about your experience there and in particular the hip-hop scene?
You know what’s funny? I can’t vividly remember the hip-hop scene at the time, but what brought everyone’s attention to the different types of hip-hop was Howard Homecoming. From the LaTex (Louisana-Texas), the Go-Go clubs and bands, The Yardfest itself… all that stuff brought your musical awareness to a different level. You could literally cling to your favorite type of hip-hop, whether or not you were from that specific area or not. The best part about that is bringing what you discovered from your roommate who might be from Chicago and then bring it back to New Jersey. It was dope.
Myspace was my 1st introduction to blogs as far as hip-hop goes. What outlets do you use to hear new music before you started your own blog?
My outlets to hear new music before the blogs were strictly the mixtapes and mixshows on HOT 97 in NYC. Once the online space became dominant, the mixtape DJ became more of a force to fuck with. The resources of the internet weren’t as prominent back when I was coming up in high school so the only way you could really discover someone new was hearing them on the “Monday Night Mixtape” with DJ Clue or “The Drama Hour” with DJ Kay Slay. And if you missed those nights, I would just take my ass down to the flea market and cop the weekly tapes. Those times were glorious because you had NO idea what that tracklisting would hold. You didn’t have the information for the lead “leak” or the artwork. You took in the entire package of said tape. The DJ’s beefing, the artist beefing… all that fun stuff. I wasn’t a street kid nor was I connected to them so every new tape or mixshow there’s something new you’re hearing about. You also can’t forget about The Source magazine, XXL, Vibe, Blaze. It was limited resoruces to discover some of the artsts that are on fire today, but the presentation was dope.
While doing your own blog, you also were employed at BET. Can you tell us about that experience?
Working at BET opened my eyes to being a REAL journalist and how tedious it is to do your job right. As a blogger, I was just writing my highly colorful opinion without anyone spell checking or anything and hitting publish. Simple. Working at BET? Fact checks, copy edits, rewrites… all of the things you learned as a JOURNALIST in school. Funny thing with me is that I NEVER went to school for journalism, I went for radio. I was never taught how to write news stories or anything like that so I was learning along the way from Kim Osorio, Carl Chery and Andreas Hale, all of whom are HIGHLY respected individuals in the field. I wouldn’t take back my time with them for NOTHING. I also learned the corporate part, some of it, of hip-hop; the politics that a lot of people don’t see. Not my favorite part at all, but I had to understand it was a business.
2 part question – What was the 1st exclusive song you had from a big name artist and what was the 1st leak you had were an artist caught feelings?
Not to sound like an asshole, but man I had sooooooooooooooooooo many exclusive joints I cant even remember. I can, however, tell you two vital moments that made folks pay attention to who I was as a blogger. First situation was when I got hold of a Game/Lil Wayne track that NO ONE had. This was back in 2007 when blogs JUST popped. The track was called Lyrical Homicide. Now at this time I was chasing NahRight everyday. Just praying I would post something before him. Well the day finally had came and I caught a “link back” from the OG. That’s when I knew I kind of arrived on the scene. I was like a year or two in he game but that moment let me know the OG was watching me closely. Second moment was receiving a shoutout from Miss Info LIVE on HOT 97 during her “Drama Report. Someone recorded it for me and I played it for my mom. She flipped theeeeeeeee fuck out. Oh, the song I gave her was from a guy named JAY Z. Lol. I don’t really recall anyone catching feelings off my leaks, but sometimes they would request would I take it down and would send me the updated version. That’s how I built A LOT of my relationships with labels, managers and artists.
We are both from the mixtape era days of Clue and Envy etc. Do you believe that blogs killed the mixtape DJ?
Oh hell yes, we definitely killed the mixtape DJ. And I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way because at times, and I won’t name names at all, some of those mixtape DJs would give US songs so we could take the hit from the labels and artists THEN they would put it on their tapes or play it on their mixshows lol. At that time I didn’t give two shits because I was working at a hotel in Jersey so no one was going to ever see me. But again, that’s how I built relationships with DJ Envy, DJ Big Mike, The Empire, Tapemasters Inc and a plethora of others. Fun times back then. Those were the times of AIM transfers, but that’s another interview. But yeah, to answer your question… blogs killed the mixtape DJ. I think there was just toooo much music coming out at one point, well there still is but from more famous artists back then, that they just simply couldn’t keep up. Some artists wanted instant gratification and that’s what you got from the blogs because you could see the response right in front of you.
With blogs breaking artists more than ever, Can you name any artist that you broke that ended up blowing up?
Troy Ave. Him and Hovain won’t tell you ANY different. Shouts to OnSmash and I for leading that movement though.
You’re in a coalition with other websites under the name of New Music Cartel. Can you explain to the people what exactly that is.
Just a group of hip-hop knuckleheads that came together because we all had exclusives to share. Funny thing is, we’re all experts in areas OUTSIDE of blogging. You’ll soon see that this coming year.
You’re also hosting shows. What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen, or that happened while you were hosting an event?
Craziest thing I’ve seen while hosting? Drake causing a stampede/riot during a surprise performance at Howard Homecoming. At first it was scary as shit because I knew he was coming out, just didn’t know when or from what direction, but when he did? That crowd LOST it. I saw a couple people get squished so I got worried for a quick second but Drake paused his verse for a second so everyone was safe. Very dope of him. Craziest thing to happen TO me? Crowd surfing while hosting a Ab Soul show at Webster Hall. My man Meka did it before and wanted me to try it. Like usual, I was a bit drunk but when he told me do it? I sobered up quicker than a DWI stop (not that I know what that’s like or anything). Once he pushed me out into the crowd it was one of the best things I’ve done in my life.
Last question. A new year is here. What are a few of your goals this year with the site and the whole brand?
With the site? Hand it down to my youngins who have the same passion I had when I first started blogging. For me and my brand? I’m going to put out a project via iTunes solely produced by ONE producer. Keep taking HennyPalooza around the world with my nigga Kam and the HP team. Everything else will fall into place as GOD sees fit.
I just want to thank you man for taking time out of your day to do this. Truly one of my favorite sites that I go to everyday. Please let the people know how they can contact you about the site or hosting.
@lowkeyuhtn or by email at Lkuhtn@gmail.com
Any shout outs?
My Family. If you just asked yourself, “Am I part of his family?” You’re not. Sorry.