Credit to All Hip Hop Com
Guilty Simpson: Guilty As Charged
By Melanie Cornish
If Guilty Simpson was to stand trial, his charge would be something along the lines of providing musical connoisseurs with a USDA product. Coming out of the Motor City, which is rich in musical history yet starved of a promising economy, you can understand why for artists like Guilty, making music overrides making money. But, if you are truly talented as he is, monetary gain is inevitable.
Having been embraced by the royal family of Detroit, producers like J Dilla and Mr. Porter paid close attention to the talent that this Almighty Dreadnaughtz member oozed on the streets of the D. He captivates us with his energy, enthusiasm and his ability. And as he readies up for the late summer release of his album on Stone Throw Records, after successfully promoting The Chrome Children, fans can expect a lyrical torrent of substance laced with dexterously constructed beats from those perched on top of the production chain.
With tracks like the Dilla assisted “Clap Your Hands” and features with artists like Jaylib on his song “Strapped,” Guilty Simpson has already put himself in a league of his own, not just in his home town of Detroit but, on a nationwide level. The future is full of opportunity for him and his crew.
Being charged with providing a watered down product in Hip-Hop equates to maybe a three year stretch, but to be charged with providing and embodying the true elements of Hip-Hop which this 313 MC does, will have him facing nothing less than a life sentence. He is as his name suggests Guiltyâ€¦. as Charged.
AllHipHop.com: So what are you Guilty of?
Guilty Simpson: [Laughs] A lot of things. Well really the name Guilty crept up as when we were younger we were more or less kind of wild. Then when I just started getting into rap and I had this real aggressive style, the name Guilty came. Simpson came a little later because I heard that there was someone who had my name [Guilty] and with my last name being Simpson, I put Simpson on it to add a personal touch. The first time I said it, it just sounded like it fit. So for the last four or five years it’s had Simpson at the end. A lot of people think it is an OJ spin off but no, Simpson is my name.
AllHipHop.com: Coming out of Detroit, being such a musical city, was this what you always wanted to do?
Guilty Simpson: Not necessarily. I have always been a fan of it in my younger days, listening to NWA, Scarface, Pete Rock and CL Smooth. I had always had a fascination for it and I definitely appreciated it. Further on down the years I had friends that were into Hip-Hop whereas I was just wildin’ and living for the moment and it did actually give me a sense of belonging. I always appreciated the good music but it did take me a few years to get involved in it but once I got in and realized it was something I could do at a pretty high level, it was like a drug to me and I just couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was something that I always wanted to do, but I would say that it was something I had a fascination for and once I got into it, I knew I was supposed to be doing it.
AllHipHop.com: Detroit has such a rich culture when it comes to music. When you think back to the time where Motown was the label and then move forward to now when Hip-Hop is so prevalent there, are there any parallels between the two?
Guilty Simpson: I think there are parallels to it. Basically with the current state and financial growth in Detroit, there are only a few things you can do. The struggle is in the music and the people can hear that; the whole Motown era and I think it has come back full circle. We are still in the same situation where there isn’t anything to do here and when you hear the music, you hear Emimen, he is actually able to put his pain on paper. I do think the city and the environment in general builds a kind of hunger within the people, so no matter what you do, if you are an engineer, being from here, poverty is such a reality that if you want to accomplish your dreams, you can see poverty every day so it becomes you. It is just that hunger. If you are living in Malibu in California, being homeless is probably far from your head, but being in Detroit, the grime and the grit, being in a blue collar city, being homeless and not being able to function in an every day society is a general reality to us. It is not a far fetched thought. People are well aware, if you don’t work, you don’t eat and they are the values I was brought up with as a kid. Once I decided that rap was going to be the thing that I was going to do for the rest of m life, I knew I had to do it 100% because you see poverty every day and I think that came through during the Motown era and the rap music in general. Do it or don’t do it. If you do, put 120% in it and grind hard.
AllHipHop.com: You have quite an extensive history in Detroit; you are part of the Almighty Dreadnaughtz aren’t you?
Guilty Simpson: Yeah that’s my crew; we are in the process of working on our projects right now. But right now I am focusing on my project and they are going to be featured on a song or two on there and I have production from people that are involved in Almighty Dreadnaughtz production team. They are involved in my project but, at the same time they are well aware that when my record comes out I am always mentioning my crew in everything that I do. Shortly after my project we want to drop our records and let everyone know that my existence is with a crew too. It is all about making good music and my project should be out in August and then the Dreadnaughtz project should be out in late September, early October.
AllHipHop.com: Does it ever cause conflict within the crew when you go off and do solo stuff?
Guilty Simpson: Of course, I have sensed a change in things but, I think they are well aware of all the time that we have put in, if someone has an opportunity to do something, then people should support it. That is what brotherhood is. They are also well aware that whatever opportunities I am brought into I couldn’t do anything but help them. Initially when things started happening I was pulled away from my comfort zone of being around them every day to the point to where I can’t spend as much time and dedicate as much time as I used to. It made some people have to step up and work harder in certain situations but I think in hindsight it made the crew a lot stronger. They support what I do and they know any opportunity I get is beneficial for everybody. I can do it without my crew, but I definitely wouldn’t do it because they work hard and they support me. Everything I do is for them and they support me 100% just as I would with them if they were in this situation.
AllHipHop.com: Was being part of a crew something that you needed to be as you evolved into an artist?
Guilty Simpson: Yes most definitely as your crew gives you an identity. My crew makes up a huge part of who I am before the world even acknowledged Guilt Simpson as an exceptional rapper, or MC, my crew before then had that faith in me. They put me in that position to be heard. So when I look at that I always remain humble about my situation but at the same time I am well aware that this is what I am supposed to be doing. We have a whole lot to say and I am one of the first to be put into that position but it is all for the crew. I am not making strides just for myself, it is for everybody. I think as long as you have that embedded in my brain as every time I am in the city I am with my crew. They know where my heart is and what I am doing this for. It will give them a voice to be heard.
AllHipHop.com: Does Detroit move as a unit like it appears to do?
Guilty Simpson: We have segregatism within Detroit too, but at the same time, in the position that I am in I have been able to work with pretty much everybody and there is a lot of different circles. I can basically say I am an Ambassador when it comes to crews, so I don’t have to deal with a lot of things that other people in the city might have to deal with. You know I am locked in with a circle of people who are leaders of their crew. So regardless of if this rapper doesn’t like me, I have an understanding with his boss and those are the people I deal with more or less. It is not as unified as I would like it but when I look at a lot of other situations, where you have this rapper in this rapper in this city talking about another rapper that is in the same city an sometimes the same neighborhood as him but we haven’t taken it to that level and I am definitely thankful for that. At the same time I feel we could be more organized but I think success will bring that. It is aspiring to be a certain type of rapper but it is harder for people to listen to what I say and the guidance that I have and take that seriously. But the strides I am taking, the more wind I am getting behind me and the more they will take what I say that much more serious because at the same time, until I really get out there and put my first record out and see how people really accept me and what people really think, I just focus on the people who want to work and have the same goals as me. Those are the people I deal with and they are pretty influential people in the city, so I don’t have to deal with a lot of the confusion that a lot of other people in the city have to deal with.
AllHipHop.com: You were brought to Stone Throw Records by J Dilla (RIP). Just how influential was he to you as a person and as an artist?
Guilty Simpson: Well, honestly before I met Dilla he was a huge inspiration and you know because I had studied his music and I was aware of the different things he had done in the industry. After I met him and we had that bond and we developed a friendship, he was a huge part of way I do what I do. He was one of the first people that I could look at who had been in the industry and had saw different things to come back and say to me that he had that faith in me and was confident that I could make songs onto the level as most of the MCs out there. he could feel that confidence in me to keep my fire going. I have a couple of other people that have helped me, Mr. Porter, Kon Artist from D12, he is executive producer on my record and he has stood out to me. He has some crazy stuff on my record. They were very influential in my career as they had been to the other side and worked with this person and that person and for them to come in with a long list of people who wanted to work with them and come back to the city to work with me, who was just a hungry guy from the city, that helped my confidence level. That let me know it was what I was supposed to be doing. I owe so much to those two guys; words can’t even describe how influential those two are. Not to take away from Dilla at all, that is my heart right there and that is a large part of why I do what I do right now.
AllHipHop.com: You say on your joint “Jungle Love” â€˜real n**as don’t need sponsorship’ in regards to co-signing. You really think that?
Guilty Simpson: Oh yeah because even though those two people influenced me and they have co-signed what I have done because they have been in Detroit and seen the work that I have done. Denaun Porter I connected with after show that we did; Jay Dilla I connected with after an Open-Mic that Dilla went to. Just for me to stand my ground and let my talent speak for me, these people gravitated towards me and had that confidence in me. That lets me know that I have to be my own man before I can reach out to either or of those people to give me validity in the game. Them coming into my cipher and helping me out makes me stronger, but it all boils down to I only have me and I have to be able to hold my own because like I said Dilla passed and Kon Artist is a member of D12 and there are a lot of times when I am going to be in a certain situation and there is only me. I don’t have those two people to fall back on that’s what it is. I don’t really care what squad you with/a real ni**a don’t need sponsorship, as a you have to be your own man and that is what I am doing.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think it takes in today’s environment to be a good artist?
Guilty Simpson: I think the main thing to be a good artist these days is to put the music first. That is one of the main things that I try to do. A lot of times people try to reach and they do certain songs because they feel like they need to do a club song, they might feel like they need to do a song for the ladies. But I feel that there is nothing wrong with trying those topics and wanting to do certain things but I think being true to yourself is the most important thing; as a lot of people are trying to do what was successful for the last man and in a sense the creativity of the music is dying because there is so many people reaching just to get the easy check. You know if one guys come out with a certain dance then another guy might come out and think â€˜well now I have to do a single with a dance’ and it is virtually taking away from the culture. They might reap the benefits financially but where does the responsibility to the music come in. That is the main thing. I came up in the era where whoever came out, even if they were different, it was cool to have a Will Smith in the game along with Kool G Rap, along with a Big Daddy Kane, it was ok to be different. But now people want to be a rapper from a certain region with the exact same image as another rapper that is successful from another region. I think they are trying to be successful in one vein in a sense. It is not really giving the music any room to grow, so I think that is like the biggest thing. Fall in love with making music now, don’t fall in love with cashing a check fall in love with the creative element of a good song, lyrics. Be coming up with the next shit as I think that is very important to let the game grow and be ok with being different to a certain people. I am a rapper and I don’t sell crack and I am comfortable with that. You don’t have to be a drug dealing rapper. People need to focus on what works for them and what elements they need to bring to the game and go in and do your thing that way. The old school Hip-Hop values, well one of them was like breaking a commandment. I think we need to take it back to the creative levels, stay creative and just stay true to you.
AllHipHop.com: What are you giving people with this album?
Guilty Simpson: Expect lyrics and I mean well the producers on there, you know I am going to have sweet beats as I cant go wrong with Dilla and Mr. Porter and Blak Milk and people like that. I am not using those beats as a crutch; I am trying to have my lyrics bring an element to the beat to make a good song. I think the most important thing that people should look out of is something fresh and new. I am definitely not coming from left field to the point that you will be hearing a lot of stuff you have never heard before. You are going to hear something that you might have head before but you will be hearing it in a more creative element. I think that is the biggest problem in the game right now, it just isn’t original anymore, real hip-Hop lyrics over banging beats is what I am bringing.
AllHipHop.com: Do you feel that real songs have been lost among â€˜tacky’ dances?
Guilty Simpson: Yeah, but I am not going to go out on a limb and say that Hip-Hop is dying as there are people putting out good quality joints. It is just that those people are not getting the shine and the light shone on them to the point where there music is pushed into the background. Then you have radio, where every song that comes out sounds like an extension of the last song just by a different artist. A lot of the cookie cutter music isn’t even selling a lot of units like it used to and I think that it is just leveling the playing field for a person who really wants to be creative on a record. you know you might have someone at a label that wants to do original stuff, but the cookie cutter thing is a sure fire way to make a lot of money and now they are doing the cookie cutter stuff, they are not even guaranteed money anymore, so maybe it will make the artist take a step back and take a look at themselves to get ideas to what they really want to do with their careers, rather than just going for the easy money. I think it is fair and I know some people might think that is a haters statement but I am from the underground, I always root for the underdog. Now that all these other records that are not bringing anything to the game or are not really adding anything to the game, personally I love it, because that is what you get. You can’t fool the people forever with this watered down music that’s not creative. If you are not creative it is a shame that I have to listen to someone’s song and before the video goes off I might know how to do the dance but I can’t remember one lyric in the song. You would rather go out and dance rather than do your music, be a dancer. When you pick up a Mic you have a responsibility to give the people some real lyrics and real music. I think it is time for people who come from that angle to get their shine on and I am just ecstatic to be part of that.
AllHipHop.com: What is your album called?
Guilty Simpson: I might just go ahead and call it The Verdict. Basically with the verdict my music is the evidence of what I am trying to say and what I am trying to do, where it is up to the listeners to decide what they think about it. I have a couple of titles that I am throwing around right now, but I am probably going to turn the record around in another week and a half and once I turn everything in, we will sponge everything up and I will figure out what Stone Throw picks and then I think it will be safer. Once I see what is going to be incorporated in the record it will be a little safer to come out with a title. I am more or less trying to take care of the songs and then I think the title will come to me in time. I am not trying to force a square into a circle, I just want to take care of the songs and then the title will come to me. But I am leaning towards The Verdict as that was something Dilla and I were supposed to be working on and it was something we wanted to do.
Guilty Simpson’s website is www.guiltysimpson.com
Guilty Simpson’s Myspace page is Guilty Simpson’s www.myspace.com/guiltysimpson