With a name like Immaculate, you better be good. Lucky for Canadians who come to check out Tech N9ne, Animal Nation and Immaculate on The Strangeulation Canadian Tour 2014, they have a lot to look forward to from the opener who lives up to the name.
We interviewed Immaculate to find out what his sound is all about, why he jumped on The Strangeulation Canadian Tour and what fans can expect from his set. The Canadian emcee broke it down for us in our Strange Music Exclusive interview.
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been writing raps and rhyming and involved in hip hop for close to 11 years now. It started back in high school with poetry for me. That was the one thing in high school I was easily good at. I guess the creative side of my brain was stronger and so that’s what I gravitated towards. I had this really wicked teacher in high school, she was actually a sub, but she knew I was getting into hip hop and she actually allowed me to do my essays for English as rap songs. So I presented those to the class and she just gave me As for everything I did because she thought it was so cool. She was one of the big inspirations early on to transform poetry and creative writing in general into raps. That’s where it started.
The name Immaculate, that happened because once I started I was like “Hey, I need to pick a name.” I flipped open a dictionary – it was the first place I thought to go – and it was literally the first word I saw. I liked the way it sounded and just went with it. I’ve tried to change it over the years, just something more creative or clever, but it just stuck and that’s what people around here and my fans know me as now, so I just went with it. It’s just kind of been a lot of learning the hard way up until the last two years when I really got some good business knowledge and backbone. I got somebody in my life who really knew what they were doing and has guided my career, so the last two years I’ve done five times more than I did the previous nine. It’s been a good ride.
So the name came before the style. Have you tried to live up that name and how do you do so?
That’s interesting that you say that because when people think of the word Immaculate or look at the definition: “flawless or without stain,” that’s definitely not how I see myself and I didn’t pick it because of the definition, but like you just said, it almost gives me something to live up to so I’m always working towards becoming the name I gave myself. I don’t really believe in perfection so it’s more about never being able to achieve it but always striving to and I think that kind of worked out cool. I also found a definition for the word “immaculate” that said “free of mental pollution,” and I kind of use that if people ask me about the definition itself. So yeah that’s kind of how I spin off the name.
That’s dope. What are some of your influences and how would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
My influences range. It definitely started with a couple artists. I’m the type of person that when I get into an artist I dig and I find everything they’ve done, I read about them, I listen to everything religiously, almost to the point where I need to take a break. So a couple early influences for me: one of the biggest was Jedi Mind Tricks. From there it branched out to Army of the Pharoahs. But Vinnie was definitely one of the lyricists I was really inspired by.
Being a Canadian, Classified is also one of the guys. I just really respected his grind and work ethic, touring across the country relentlessly. I’ve now opened for him and have done four shows for him. I’ve hung out with him a bit so he’s kind of stayed one of my Canadian idols so to speak.
So those two and then the next step was Atmosphere and a lot of the Rhymesayers guys. MURS was in there as well. I’d say honestly the next step was Tech. He became a big influence for me and I started to incorporate double time. I found out I could do double time and the chopper style. He was the one person that really stood out to me. The first song I ever heard was “Einstein” on Anghellic in 2001. I was 14 years old and my best friend at the time was playing it and I was just blown away. I was still kind of being introduced to rap at that time and I just thought he was out of this world so I was instantly a fan.
If I were to tell someone who’s never heard me I’d say I’m a poetic. I kind of strive for that. I’m a storyteller with the ability to have a dynamic flow and switch it up and deliver something hard hitting.
Out of everything you’ve recorded, what are some of your more quintessential tracks?
If you were going to play Tech’s audience a couple songs I would definitely recommend the one that I have the double time flow and the more dynamic structure, because that’s something I admire so much about Tech’s ability to write, it’s the structure and the way he can switch. So off my latest album Solitude the song “Automatic” features an artist out of Arizona Cryptic Wisdom. That one I would say would be one for sure. Also “Counting Wolves” and I have a music video for that one. Probably my favorite song and music video I’ve ever done.
“Destructive Behavior” won me an international song contest with a producer over in Finland. That song is one of my favorites to perform. People just seem to respond the best to that. It’s got a heavy beat and is a mix of double time flow and just kind of regular to the beat. Honestly those three songs are the first that I would show people.
What made you want to hop on the Canadian tour with Tech N9ne?
This is my seventh tour in two years and touring is still relatively new to me. I just got back from Europe with the Demigodz just a month ago. That was my first experience in Europe ever and to tour with people I listened to like Army of The Pharoahs. I just love touring number one. I love being on the road and I love performing. That’s where I’m the most comfortable and I just feel like I connect the most with people that way. I like the face to face aspect. People listen to my music and I don’t know how they’re responding necessarily unless they hit me up.
Åt a show I really get to engage and interact with people and that’s what I make music for, is to get people. So when I saw this Tech N9ne tour and knew I had an opportunity to get on board, for me it was about the model he’s created with Strange Music and the independent force that it is, and I know there’s other support, but ultimately I look at it is an independent label, one that has control over what they do and say. They have an extremely dedicated fanbase and I know he’s insanely successful, but also his live performance is second to none in hip hop. I want to be as close to the best as possible and that’s why I chose to be a part of it.
When you think about being an opener for this tour what goes through your head?
Nervous (laughs). You know I watched the promo video for the Canadian Tour and looking at some of the audiences – I’ve done a couple shows with a thousand-ish people, but it gave me a crazy feeling of nervous energy and excitement. I love pushing myself. I think I do best under pressure and my goal over these next couple of months before the tour is to literally write performance songs specifically for Tech fans. So I’m just directing all my energy towards this next tour. It’s the biggest tour I’ve done as far as the draw and just the energy of the show in its entirety. I’m really excited and honestly nervous. It’s going to be really good.
You said before that you’re a fan of Tech, what about him makes you a fan?
Like I said before, with all artists that I get into I dive in. I dig and I find old stuff, new stuff. I’m watching videos, interviews if I really like them. I’m watching and looking up whatever they have. At the same time if I do that too much I need a break. With Tech I’ve gone really in hard on certain albums and back out for a bit, taking a break, and then I go back and find all the old stuff.
I just feel like the amount of music he’s put out and his work ethic has just inspired me as I learn more about the business. He’s such an intense character and a force. I really hope I get to meet him on the tour. I don’t know how he is with openers on the tour but I hope I get to meet him and see what he’s really like and get a bit of his personality out there. I think I’m just overall inspired by what he’s been able to do in the industry and the type of artist he is lyrically.
Do you have any favorite songs?
“Einstein” was the first so that one has always stuck with me as just an anthem. Off of his latest album which I just got I love the Cyphers. I love the combination of artists on the label and I just think the way he incorporates the collaborative albums really just boosts the label as a whole and just makes it so much bigger. Those collaboration songs from Strangeulation, I really love them all and I love the way they flow in and out of each other.
“So Lonely”. “Am I A Psycho” that’s how I found out about Hopsin. I’m a big fan of him. “Worldwide Choppers”. I’m inspired by so many different things at different times and he’s got a range to fit most occasions. “Promiseland” is great too.
He keeps going back to Canada and it keeps doing well. What’s his reputation like up there?
I think it’s crazy because the second that I announced that I was on board I had more buzz about that post than anything else i’ve done. It was like I was winning an award for hip hop album of the year. Everybody knows the name. Even people who aren’t in hip hop remember songs from high school or whatever and just know something about him. He’s created such a reputation and in Canada for sure. I think this is his third or fourth tour coming up here in five years if I got that correct. Everybody I’ve talked to is stoked and knows his show is crazy whether or not they’ve been to it. It’s crazy. That’s what I mean that being on this tour has been the biggest thing for me because the most people know about it and know about him and are excited about it, so it’s big.
What can fans look forward to from your live show?
The biggest thing for me is I’ve never been good at, not to say it’s gimmicks, but it’s just I’m a hardcore hip hop head. I’m a performer coming from a place of conviction and passion and I believe the words I’m saying, so when you watch me perform ultimately what i want is for the audience to feel it and to believe it and to see the sweat and intensity and energy being undeniable. That’s my performance. It’s engaging. I’ll stare fans directly in the eye and make sure that at least the people in the front row or people I can make eye contact with are feeling that deeply. That’s really it. I don’t have a gimmick. I’m not a joker. I don’t want to say I’m overly serious but I’m intense. I think that’s why Tech’s such a good fit for me because he’s an intense performer. Not to say that I can match it but I’m going to strive to match his energy and people can expect that.
Anything you want to say before we close this out?
It’s an honor. LIke I said I hope I get a moment at least with Tech to connect on a different level than just hearing his music. I understand if that doesn’t happen but I really hope to reach out to him just on a human level and see what he’s about even if just for a minute. I don’t know how that’s going to work but I’m really honored to be a part of the tour and honored to be a part of the success story. I’m just really looking forward to it.
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