ToteKing on His Career, Writing and Surviving The Rap Game | Red Bull Music Academy


Let’s welcome my brother ToteKing. It’s a pleasure to have you here, I know many know you
through your music, your work with your group,
your many records, I think you’re one of the most
prolific writers in Spain. But for those who don’t know you,
tell them a little. OK, brother. Hello, everyone! If I can go backwards in time, the first thing that comes to mind
is La Alta Escuela. But as we’re talking about beginnings
and how everything started, I’ll reveal some things
about who introduced me to rap, because it wasn’t La Alta Escuela. I was a metal head from Sevilla,
a guy who listened to rock, with my long hair. And perhaps in 1993 or ’94
Rage Against the Machine released their album, their first LP. And so I saw that those two worlds,
metal and rap, could be combined and co-exist. And in a good way. Up until that album,
I’d never heard rap. The only connection I had to rap
was what I heard from a guy, called Paco Carreño,
who’s my buddy since forever, and was a neighbor of mine. I saw that guy wearing Jordans,
with shaved legs. I remember those details,
a kid with shaved legs, you know? It wasn’t a common sight. I had long hair
and played basketball. It turns out I was better at it
than Paco, he was just starting. He arrived with his Jordan shorts,
his shaved legs, his sneakers, his faded shaved hairstyle. I got there with my mane
in a ponytail. I’d listened to
the Rage Against the Machine album, around ’93 or ’94, as I was saying. I’m not sure what year it was,
but around that. And one day, playing in the school,
we jumped the fence to play in the neighborhood school. We jumped a fence, threw the ball
over it and played basketball there. My friend Paco asked me to teach him
to do a left-handed layup, because it was his weak hand. And I spent all afternoon
teaching him how to do it. I played a little better by then. And in return he invited me
to his house, as he wanted to show me
his rap collection. So the first thing he played for me,
and it blew my mind, was a demo tape very few people know. I don’t know if Baghira knows it, it’s from a Sevillan group
called K.B. Posse. K.B. Posse was Sevillan old school
by definition, along with Draches. Those groups existed
before SFDK, for example. It blew my mind,
because I got to his house and he had like a TDK tape collection,
all recorded. And he had things like Das EFX,
he had Public Enemy, EPMD. Every tape had its label,
with lyrics. And I, with my long hair. So, from that day on Paco
and I started to share. I taught him rock and metal stuff,
and he taught me rap stuff. And joking around one day he brought
a radio with an auxiliary port, and he connected a tiny mic
with a really short cable that he’d bought
in the neighborhood store. And he connected it
to the auxiliary port. And he’d gotten a KRS-One tape, and he’d used
the last free beat in the tape with the “MC’s Act
Like They Don’t Know” song, so he’d loop that ending by hand, from one tape to the other and he’d get a minute
worth of instrumental. There were times
when it didn’t fall right and it didn’t keep time, because
he hadn’t cut and pasted it right. We started to fool around
with the tiny mic. Without knowing what we were doing,
we’d take the mic and see a Snoop Dogg video,
or an MTV video, and then we’d try to rap,
saying anything into the mic. A little of everything. Of course
he was better at it than me, he got it better,
I didn’t know what I was doing. Well, ’93 or ’94.
By ’95 I’d cut my hair. By ’96 I’d bought rapper clothes
and shaved my legs. Paco came to play for my team. He played for a local team
and I took him to a more serious team,
in which I played. From that day on we were inseparable.
Now he lives in New York. I don’t see him anymore because
he’s abroad, but we’re always in touch. He was
the first person I rapped with or tried to rap, at least. Picture that, the first time
I tried to write something with him, joking around,
was perhaps in ’95 or ’94. In ’96 I think
I met Juaninacka in college. And in ’96 or ’97 Juaninacka
and his friends from Coria told me they had a group
called La Alta Escuela, and that I should join. And I did, fooling around,
it was all a joke, we didn’t really know
what we were doing, you know? It was intuition. Juaninacka
was the only one I remember as a person who knew how to rap well. Do you remember the first song,
or the first verse you thought you knew
what you were doing, and would say, “OK, this is it?” I marked those memories down. What pushed me, because with Paco
I knew the history, I started to get a little into rap.
Fooling around, playing, right? But then I saw Juani rap a song.
That one never came out, it’s all in our La Alta Escuela demo, that’s called “El Rey De La Línea”
and talked about buses. Because our life back then
was buses all day, because the people
in La Alta Escuela lived in Coria. To go to Coria I had to take
two buses, a city transit bus… Baghira knows what I’m talking about
because he lives in Lora del Río. And I had to travel for… I lost about an hour
going to rehearsals with them. I remember Juani
talking about that bus in that line, in that rap he had,
the “El Rey De La Línea” one. When I heard that rap, I said,
“OK, now this is getting serious.” So, from then on,
my whole life revolved around writing lyrics that came close
to Juani’s worst. And so I learned to rap,
because I was next to a guy who was, and is,
a Spanish rap legend. Hey, you say you discovered
Das EFX, KRS-One, etc. with your friend, right? I remember one of your first songs, well, one of the first I knew,
at least, that got here, that referenced some characters like indie, indie rap
from the West Coast, and things like that. And I sensed that
some of the tracks you chose, I don’t know if you got involved
in making them, kind of had that vibe, didn’t they? Was that music influential to you?
What did you listen to back then? What references did you take? What kind of music
were you more into? In the time of La Alta Escuela,
besides learning to rap with them, the thing is, the three of them,
Juanma, Juani and Randy, one of the amazing things
I learned in Sevilla was that they had more music living in a small town,
and knew more of rap than the people I knew in Sevilla. And that got out when La Alta Escuela
joined with SFDK, and we would hang in a park,
rapping with Zatu and the people
from La Gota que Colma. Juani and Randy were
more knowledgeable about music than anyone else. So I remember that time when everything was in New York,
everything was on the East Coast. And Juani brought an album
he’d bought, a Southern Record,
as we used to buy from a store called Southern Records. It’s in Madrid, and we had to buy
the records through a catalog, that is, through the mail. And many times you didn’t know
what you were buying. You know? Kind of randomly. To check out its sound,
because you knew that one had collaborated
with that other one. So, you had Loud Records, because you knew that label
worked with talented people, right? So Juani brought
the first Xzibit album. And it was like,
“Man, that’s not New York, that’s much fresher, more musical,
but at the same time it’s so rapper!” So, as a result of that Xzibit album, I think it was called Paparazzi,
or not, that was the song. I don’t remember how the album
with the song “Paparazzi” was called. We started after that LP,
I fell in love with that sound. I like New York,
because nowadays I like everything, because everything is more open
and there’s a thousand things. But at that time I discovered
Lootpack, Wildchild, Madlib. I discovered people
who did freestyle, who called themselves
Freestyle Fellowship. Yes, Styles of Beyond, who were the kids from Reseda.
El Ríu, right. I loved those people
because they gave me ideas and ways of rapping. I took
many of those styles for myself. From those days, from those kids,
because New York was very loud and I didn’t do well.
Because my voice is shit. I yelled twice
and my voice was gone. And I saw people
modulating their voice, Evidence, I saw them more relaxed and thought,
“That’s what I should do.” Because I feel more comfortable here. You can notice a change in my albums. Louder albums,
and much more relaxed albums. I learned to use my voice
closer to the mic. I sang better
and it sounded prettier. Juani knew how to do that. Juani’s voice was loud
in La Alta Escuela, but if you pay attention,
later he relaxed and that was when
his rapping was enjoyable. And yeah, the West Coast hip-hop scene
blew everybody’s minds. Circling back to Seville.
You mentioned some groups, SFDK, La Gota que Colma,
when you got together back then. Do you think that established
a sound particular to Seville and eventually to Spanish rap? A sound you could identify today? Every chance I get
and to the day I die, I will say that Seville’s sound
was created by Juaninacka. I’m sorry if it’s hard to hear.
All my respect for SFDK, they did the most important job in Seville, but the greatest talent
was always Juaninacka. And that’s obvious,
I think it’s like that. Juani could write at writer level. I think Juani is a person
who wasn’t encouraged enough to write literature, because he should’ve been the one
to write literature, not others. For example,
when Juani joined the scene the little kids who were beginning
to come hang out with us had the chance to see
the Pino Montano scene, which was super authentic. What Zatu set up on the street
with his friends was unique. I hadn’t seen that
in any other neighborhood. They got a radio with batteries, people would pool their cash
to buy booze, and batteries. And we spent
the whole night rapping there. And that was something
that no one could take away from the Pino Montano
neighborhood that created that scene, because that was brutal,
in fact we all went there. Anyone who rapped in Sevilla knew
that if they wanted to know if they were good they had to go rap with the SFDK crowd in Pino Montano. It was a mandatory hang-out spot. And I remember one night there
when people started coming and they were really young kids. Jesuly hung out there, Buda,
my 16-year-old brother. My brother would come
to those cyphers with us and he’d join in,
all stammering and young. I remember Límite,
Límite’s people were kids, man. All those people had the chance
to live a very authentic thing. There was a very beautiful park
in Pino Montano, and people didn’t go there,
because the rap crowd had taken it. It was so crowded that people would take
a big detour to avoid it. And that was our park.
We were always rapping. That’s where most
of the Sevillan scene learned to rap. Interesting, interesting. So you did a sort of recounting
of the La Alta Escuela days. You released your solo album,
or your solo single, and you also had a project
with your brother, right? So you can that say
you’ve been in a group, you’ve been in a duo
and you’ve gone solo. Where do you feel more comfortable? Well, as you mentioned
the project with my brother, I’ll tell you briefly
what happened there. After the La Alta Escuela record, which I deeply regret, because basically
everything I rapped there sucks, and I didn’t know,
I didn’t, I told you. I’d just started rapping
with my buddy Paco, I had had long hair for three years. I was doing my thing back then. After the La Alta Escuela record, the LP didn’t work out,
there wasn’t a concert scene, either, and there were four groups. I remember at that time you saw Mucho Muchacho,
you saw Violadores del Verso, SFDK, CPW and that was it. There wasn’t a scene,
so we gave like… La Alta Escuela gave like 6 concerts. The group broke up and I did a demo. I recorded that demo
with Jefe de la M, whom I’d met, he was Zatu’s friend. And he proposed doing a demo
to me and we did. I made like 15 copies of that CD, at my uncle’s place
with his CD recorder and I gave them out to my buddies. One of them gave it to Darío, who was Sergio Aguilar’s brother, a guy who had a record label
in Sevilla, the guy from Superego, damn! Well, exactly, so this guy called me and offered a record deal
for two or three albums. What was happening with my brother? I had a room at my parents’ house, I shared a room, we slept in twin beds
with my brother, in a tiny room. I spent all day with my brother. And like I told you,
my brother came to the cyphers and rapped with us, so it caught me off guard. We did freestyle at home
and we rapped, it was impossible to have privacy. My brother would get up and he was the first
to claim the computer. Go into Napster, download music,
write fast, then if one of us was writing
the other one would hear him. Or leave the room. So one day I was listening
and I was like, “My brother’s a better rapper
than me, man!” I swear I felt it, “This guy
is at my level already. This son of a bitch is great!” So I had the record deal, and I thought,
“Why release a solo album, if I just started.
I have my brother right here, who’s rapping with me everyday.” And I say, “OK!
Let’s record an album.” So I called the label and said,
instead of ToteKing we’ll be ToteKing and Shotta. And we made “Tu Madre Es Una Foca”,
just like that, an album. The lyrics came super easily because we wrote them together
in our room. And then, to answer your question,
because I’m rambling, after that LP,
as my brother is a mess and it’s very hard to work
with him on tour, because little brothers are a hassle, and on the road, well,
we got mad really quickly. He wouldn’t arrive in time
to rehearsals, or he’d be stoned. One day he wouldn’t show up. He pulled three or four like that
and I’m a strict guy, I like order. If I arrange a time
I want it to be respected, I’m obsessive like that. So he screwed me over twice
and I said, “OK, that’s it, I’m out.” I did “Música Para Enfermos”
and I started to do it alone. Afterwards we did the “Héroe” album, he comes with me on tour,
we’re always together, we rap together all the time. But I wouldn’t know
which feels more comfortable. I can say that doing an album
alone is a real pain. To make 15 songs by yourself,
the choruses, decide the collabs, every damned lyric,
first bit, second bit. It’s a hassle. People are smarter nowadays, they do a song here, a song there,
and they have a good time. Exactly. And about that, you say it’s very hard. Not harder, but trickier, right?
More work. Doing it alone, in general. But what’s up
with the creative process? Somehow you have more control. You do whatever you want
in your solo album, right? Could you share with us
Tote’s creative process? How does he write a song? Well, I’d thought
about doing something, showing you an interesting thing. As I always held rock in my heart and I never left metal, in the La Alta Escuela times… Well I’ll tell this story because it’s one of the things
Juani did, and that we did together
and it was really fun. At that time there weren’t
any beats like today. What was a beat? I get online or I can ask a producer. But nowadays
if you don’t want to ask a producer you go online,
look for this or that beat, and there are thousands.
To have a beat back then on a CD,
was a really unusual thing. So, for example, I remember
many La Alta Escuela lyrics were written by rapping over rap songs. So we’d take
a Smoothe Da Hustler song, as I loved that album of his,
the Murdafest. And over that song we knew our buddy Moro had done a beat for us
that was around 90 bpm. Intuitively we looked
for an American song that we’d love, and we’d rap over the guy. At home. And it was a pain
because you had to write trying to ignore
the other dude rapping. Juani, me, and Juanma,
wrote many of those lyrics over American rap songs
with the guy singing. Afterwards it would come and you went
to the beat they’d given you. And sometimes it wasn’t
so close and it was a pain. Sometimes it would fit
and sometimes another thing happened that I love in music,
and that is randomness. And I discovered that in those times, and to this day
I still work like that. I love the first feeling
a beat gives you. But a half hour later
I hate it already. I need to hold onto
the first two hours of being in contact with a beat. An instrumental I love arrives and I can’t be working on it for 3 months,
because I start to hate it. Even if I wrote
something good for it. So I always try to write
with another beat, and then I go to the beat
I’m actually using. So, for example, I’d take, I’d grab from my record collection,
the ones I had, rock albums mostly,
that had leftover loops. And for example
this group called Kyuss, that I’ve liked all my life, this record is from ’95, I wrote “Matemáticas” with this. And afterwards I went
to the beat Hozone gave me. But I wrote it to that other beat. There were people who told me,
“This is too heavy.” But it was a different style to what
I’d find in the instrumental later. And it would open my mind.
So many of the songs, when I thought, “Why would I rap
with an American bothering me?” I would go and pick out
Rage Against the Machine loops and ask some producer
to duplicate them for me. I would take loops from Kyuss, I would take loops from other songs,
written with different music, so I wouldn’t get tired
of the instrumental I’d use later. And I also like the feeling
of writing with something else, and change the rap later
to a new beat. Many of my songs
didn’t get written with those beats. “Bartleby”, from my last album,
Lebron, that I think is one of the best songs
I’ve ever written, it’s written with an instrumental
no one would imagine. – I mean, it sucks, it’s lousy.
– Which is it? One Rune gave me,
he didn’t even like it, he told me, “That one?” And I said, “It makes me
feel like writing.” So the first thing
that inspires me to write, I grab on it fast. Even if it’s a damn piano
someone played. I grab onto that and then I record
the acapella with another beat. And I like randomness, the feeling of putting
the acapella over another beat. To see what happens, because randomness
gives us great things in music. Another thing I love. Another anecdote
related to randomness, in another setting, with producers. For example, with a random guy
like Hozone, we discovered a thing that I love,
which I haven’t done again, because many people don’t want to. Hozone would program some drums,
he had the drums already in place, and they would form a loop,
and then he’d put the bass in, and we’d have drums and a bass. There are many people
who don’t like to do that, I love it. He had a folder
with many samples ready to use. People usually like to work by ear,
with what goes together, and I said, “No, I’ll try something,
leave the drums loop with the bass playing,
we’ll drag random samples over it and see what happens.” A Camarón sample,
three guitar players and a singer. “Let’s see what happens.” Sometimes it didn’t fit,
it was out of tune. Out. You discard them,
but sometimes something would happen. Sometimes some vocals would fit and you wouldn’t have
put them there, producing. But randomly that works with people
who have samples already chopped. And have a library, and have
a sample folder at the ready. But I’m passionate about randomness,
in music and in art in general. Sometimes things
you didn’t look for happen and it’s even more interesting. When you record a song, are you one of those
who records a demo and then works at it,
thinks it through? O do you prefer the first time
to just leave it untouched? I go with the first thing, I leave my raps as they are
even if they’re saturated, and so they remain. – It’s too hard to go back…
– No, no, no. I never record a song twice. People say, “No, but you can
record it better.” No, no, no. Once I recorded it,
I won’t do it again. That’s my opinion. If it’s a dud, so be it. And if there’s a part
where you were louder and the signal got saturated,
it stays. Baghira hates me for it. Have you ever thought
about forming a rock band, or rapping with a band? Like Rage, or something like that. Sure, we’ve done it. But enough so it can be
its own project going forwards? I thought about that many times,
but it’s complicated, because what you get out
of working with a band is not as stimulating for writing. – Why?
– Because the band, in my opinion, is great for direct sound,
it gains value playing what it already has, live. I’ve done it this year. The festivals I have this year,
in the summer, I’m doing like four of them
with a band. And of course, the band does covers, and occasionally
we also improvise some bits, but it has to be a limited thing,
when the band is covering your song or better yet,
when they fatten your beat, it rocks and the feeling of playing
with a band is incredible. That’s incredible. But when you lock yourself
in the studio with a band, to create,
it doesn’t rock. I don’t like it. I can’t write with a band,
because everything is too raw. You lock yourself with some drums,
a bass, a guitar, and they play like 3 tunes. Besides, the bands work
with the concept of demos, of, “We’ll work this over later.”
“OK, but I need something that gets me hard now,
or I can’t write.” I can’t write
with some guitar riff there. Then, it’s interesting
because I latch onto a sample of some producer and I ask him,
“Loop this for me,” and it’s an ugly, crude piano. But that does give me
something to write on. Other times the band
doesn’t have that. I couldn’t get that feeling
with a band yet. And for example,
now you’re telling me that you’ll be in festivals
with a band, is it a band
that’s covering your songs, in the same style
as the instrumentals? Or could it have
a more rock-like vibe? Sometimes they recreate songs
that have that vibe already, like “Mentiras”, that’s perfect
because it’s a rock sample. And other times
they simply make arrangement over beats my DJ gives them,
but sometimes what we do is take Jimi Hendrix classics,
or good rock songs that we like
and I adapt my raps over them, like I did with “Matemáticas”
and the Kyuss song. And then it’s really cool.
At the show it’s cool, and I think it’s a format
in which a band works. And going back to the scene,
I saw that you recently did a collab with these guys… Waor? Yeah, a duo. And I’ve seen
that MC duos are a thing again. In some of your songs you say
that Spanish rap is dead, or that it’s dying,
or you nod to that idea. Is that simply wordplay? Or do you really think
that a time has come in which it’s stuck? And if so, why? Well, I don’t think it’s dead. I don’t remember, I was thinking
where I could’ve said that, but yeah. I don’t think it’s dead,
but I do think, and this is
a reflection pertinent around the world, and it’s not only about rap
but every genre that’s come out and everything they call urban music. What I do believe is
that the scales were too uneven and that we live in a time
that’s the opposite of before. We had a time in which,
it’s true that it was a lot, rappers told tales, and talked
about semi-intellectual concepts, rap songs that were about things,
had a topic, and now we’ve gone over
to the opposite side. You only hear stupid things
at all times. And in every genre. I’m interested in literature,
I’m interested in art, I read. And when I see people
using such poor language I get bored. But it’s not that I think it’s wrong, perhaps I’m the problem,
I’m 40 years old, and I’m no longer in tune
with the kids. I want to say that before,
everything made you think, and now everything
is for dancing and having sex. I think music is a huge spectrum, with thousands of things
in the middle. They can’t be all lyrics for thinking
and pondering life and reflecting, or all things for smoking
and sniffing and having sex. I mean, between those two things
there are a million others. And millions of people
want to hear them. I don’t know,
it’s all stupid, everywhere. It’s all nonsense. And it’s a shame.
But I don’t think that it’s just rap, it’s in general,
every genre of music. For example you mentioned
that you’re 40 now, right? And you say that perhaps it’s that,
” I’m 40 years old.” You’re one of the few MCs
that are still active or relevant. Do you think that has to do with it?
That perhaps music is like that, because there aren’t any
more people doing things like this? Doing things like mine? No, I mean, things
in a broader spectrum of topics. Maybe I’m wrong, and there are more people
your age or from your generation. But I don’t think many of them
are creating things. Why? Man, it’s a fact of life, in music,
in art in general, you have to die, and new people have to come in. And if you don’t accept that
you have a problem. I tell you,
I don’t think that it’s so much because there aren’t many people
from my generation saying things, or because
there are too many new people. I don’t think that it’s an
“old people or young people” problem. I think it’s a problem
regarding general poverty, all around the world,
at such high levels, that the intellectual level
is underground. I mean, the songs,
to give you an example, many hits that people
all around the world listen to, are so poorly written
and have grammatical errors, and they use only three words, man! I mean, a song
that’s a bridge and a chorus, because they’re not songs,
they repeat bridge and chorus, and then it’s over. In my time,
at least, there were rappers, or people who threw text there. Nowadays the credit
would have to go to the producer. Nowadays it shouldn’t be
the singer’s song, it should be the producer’s song, because the ones doing things
on top of that are speakers. Today we live a generation
of people who just speak. They shout a couple sentences
over a beat, “Give credit to the producer!” “You’re a clown
who just shouts some words.” Do you get where I’m going with this? In those couple sentences
there are 20 grammatical errors! You’re using
your damn language wrong! I don’t understand
what you’re saying! Of course, that’s my problem,
I’m interested in other things. I come from listening to Juaninacka,
that was like reading a poem. It was like looking at a painting. So, I don’t think it’s an age thing. I think everyone’s impoverished,
worldwide, and that people sing
about stupid bullshit. And what does ToteKing
listen to nowadays? Let’s say, current music. I listen to the guy I think is
the best writer in Spain right now, and he’s called Dheformer. He’s a kid from Cádiz,
and he’s got talent. Pure talent. It’s amazing,
I wish people could see him, but the guy is so authentic
that he hides away. And he doesn’t show up, he just
shows up when he feels like it. But I’d love for people
to see him do freestyle. I mean, it’s a sight. Truly, there will come a day when someone sees
that gaditano doing freestyle. I did a four track EP with him. One of the best experiences I had
with music. And it’s undoubtedly
the best connection I felt with someone younger
in my life. In which I felt younger,
more like rapping, like 20 years ago. Dheformer was recording in my studio
one of the verses, and I had recorded two verses
and he had just one. And it was really cool! He improvised
the whole second one. 16 bars in one go, ad-libbed. But recorded for work,
not just to hang out. I’d never seen that before. Dheformer, in my opinion,
is the guy who writes best, unfortunately the music he makes is in a context that doesn’t fit
with what’s popular now, and obviously he isn’t so well known. I don’t have doubts, in fact I’d say that I don’t want to listen
to anyone else but him. And outside of Spain? I have a problem with the outside. The American school,
which is the one I like the most, because I can listen to people
from London, I can like Skepta songs, or the Foreign Beggars,
I can like Sofiane songs, from France,
or any other rapper from there, but I grew up with the American scene
and I still listen to it. And there’s one weird thing,
the rappers that I like the most who say the smartest things
and whose songs are more my speed are really violent. But I tolerate them
because it’s more like what I’m into. I like Roc Marciano,
Westside Gunn, Conway, – Gun talk.
– Right. So, gun talk all the time. They’re talking about guns
and violence, and I don’t like that, but I do like them in a musical sense
and the bars they have. They’re lyrically intelligent
and they move the thing forward. I don’t know, that’s what I feel.
I come from a time in which you sat
next to a guy like Juani and I always bring him up,
but it’s true, and Juani would rap
and you’d get up from the couch, man. You’d stand up, man,
you’d hold your head in your hands. And you wanted
to lock yourself in your room and write something like it. And now it doesn’t matter
what you write. The general feeling, what is there,
there are many things, but what I’m saying is,
it’s all the same in the end. I mean, the importance
of the bars is dead. It’s completely meaningless, it’s like, you can say anything
and they’ll look at the video. They’ll pay attention
to something else. You know? And outside of rap,
what do you listen to? Ah, outside of rap,
I’m still listening to rock. Like what? Stoner. In my metal days
I listened to several branches. I listened to death metal,
to Norwegian black metal, they’re crazy, and classic rock, because that’s what
I was born with, you know? But talking about metal rock, what’s been blowing my mind
the last 10 years is stoner and doom. Dense stuff, slow,
and it has many loops to write with. In fact,
for many of the things I write stoner is great background,
because it’s 80 bpm. Dense, and the singer waits
a whole minute before coming in, and that leaves a minute
for you to write in. That’s what I listen to most. And on the production side? You worked
with many producers in your country and from other countries,
who would you like to work with next? What would you like to try out? That’s a subject
that worries me less and less. Because there’s a feeling that you have to rap
with successful people to feel successful.
And for the last few years that hasn’t worried me at all. For instance, the most recent song
I made with someone, I did it with Waor, and that’s because he’s a kid
with whom I have improvised, in fact I think
that many of us have met. We’ve met at a concert. I finish a concert,
I like to get drunk and improvise. And being with the people there,
I’ve done it with Natos, with Waor, with people I get along with,
people I have good chemistry with. We’d see each other
in the dressing rooms, we have a very similar
way of thinking. But talking about Waor, or Dollar, I’m not interested in the part
of a person that can give you… I need to rap with people
I feel like rapping with. Even if I’m bringing him up a lot, the person that makes me write better
and motivates me is Dheformer. Afterwards you do other collabs, or I may feel like doing them. I have another side,
a more musical side. To get a guy to sing a reggae chorus
or to sing R&B or something for you, but because you’re not looking
to complement your poetry, but to embellish the song. And in that sense
I don’t turn anyone away. I’m a guy who tries everything,
I like to rap with everyone. I don’t go looking for someone
in particular either, you know? And in beat making? Is there any beat maker
you’d like to work with or any other thing you’d like to try? In truth, I don’t have any,
I haven’t been looking online for producers for years, I’ve worked with M-Phazes
from Australia. I worked with Oh No,
and that was an achievement. With how much I like people
from the West Coast, working with Oh No was amazing. I’ve always looked for people abroad
to give the music some fresh air. To not work always
with the same producers, but in truth, after 23 years
doing this, I don’t need
to go looking for anybody. I have four buddies
who send me stuff, and whoever sends me
something cool that inspires me I take it,
but I don’t have the fantasy of looking for someone anymore. What I do notice is that
a producer’s general catalog nowadays is not in harmony
with what I’m looking for. It’s very complicated,
and if I’m looking for a sample, without drums, or a thing
almost without drums, to rap, a style very like
what Roc Marciano does, you find like 3% of the producers
doing that. And you find a 98% of people
who are sending me urban music that doesn’t inspire me
to write at all. – Just 808.
– That’s right! But I don’t hate 808s at all. I love its sound,
but it has to be in a certain tone. In fact I look for beats
that are like, for example, what Pusha T is doing now.
He raps, you know. The album he made
with Kanye is great. The “Daytona” is a damn jewel. That is, for example,
what I’d look for. That would inspire me to write.
I can’t fool my own head anymore. Another thing I learned is that I can rap to any bpm. That was one of my challenges
when I was 25. I wanted to have a lyric
for every damn bpm. Because I had a fantasy,
and it’s stupid, but I have many weird obsessions. I didn’t want to be caught
with my pants down when they gave me an open mic. I guess that happens to many people
who perform freestyle. I’d say, “Shit, I need a lyric
because if one day a guy asks me to do a collab
and the DJ plays any beat, I want to have something
for that beat.” Because you can always improvise. But I wanted to have,
my goal was to have a lyric for 60 bpm,
and another for 112. I wanted to have every bpm
under my control. And that’s something
that doesn’t worry me as much, I’ve done it, it’s a past challenge. In one song, I remember you once said,
and it’s not going to be literal, you can’t do anything
without a manager, and La Mala gave you a number,
or something like that? What would the manager’s role be,
what would you look for in them? We were just talking about it,
that you just changed your manager. I’d like you to share something
with these guys, what is their role,
what should they look for? In your case you had experience
with different managers. In truth, I don’t have that much
experience, I’ve only had three. You don’t want to tell the secrets. No, no, really
there aren’t many secrets because no one can do magic,
and I guess that’s obvious, right? People don’t do magic and they won’t sell
anything you don’t have. I don’t know, maybe someone
who besides looking for shows for you and getting you money, is able to understand your song,
your music, because it’s true that
if besides being your manager, he knows what you want to say
when you write, knows where you’re going, then he knows where to put you. Or where to sell you.
Or where not to sell you, of course. Perhaps that’s important. And also if a manager is able
to get into the artistic part, not to the point of telling you,
“Don’t write this,” but that he can be honest,
like with me, I’m a savage, if it were up to me I’d only release
what I’ve recorded. I have four or five new songs
usually already recorded. I have the studio at home
and that’s what I like most about it. More than playing live,
I like to record in my studio. If I didn’t have a guy stopping me I’d be releasing songs willy-nilly, without measuring times,
without making it match anything, because I wasn’t born with that… That head for marketing
that these guys have. I don’t know how to say,
“Damn, it’s my saint, I’ll make a song about this
and release it that day.” I don’t know how to do that,
but there are people who do. So I think it’s good
to have a manager for that. You were telling us
that you started recording over that KRS track, you made a demo, La Alta Escuela, you had your solo stage,
you invited your brother. You’ve been working
in different ways. Now you’re with Sony?
No longer, right? – I left.
– OK. What could you share
about the differences, pros and cons, between being independent
and working with a corporation? Well, the only memory of Sony
is that they paid for my damn house. I mean, Sony’s only good for that. A corporation is only good
for taking their money. And people know that. A corporation
doesn’t know about your music, doesn’t care about your music,
doesn’t empathize, they’re geniuses of protocol. They’ll give you a good hug,
they’ll take you out to eat fancy, they’ll put you
in one hell of a recording studio. They’ll say, “Why don’t you
collaborate with this person, it could turn out great.”
And they’ll move you around. But afterwards, in the end, everything that results from that,
or nearly everything, is laminated. My worse records
resulted from being with Sony. My worse records, but the ones
that gave me the most money. I bought a house cash
with that money. But my music started to die
when I started to work with them. Because it’s all bureaucracy. If you want to buy a beat you have to
go through a hundred departments. If you have to collaborate
with others you have to sign
a copyright waiver form. Everything is a hassle. Everything is shit. The best is working with
less resources but less problems. I was recording
my first music video with Sony, and they made you change the shot because your sneakers
were in the frame! A sneakers’ label. “No, they aren’t paying for it.” And what do I care if they’re paying,
damn, I want the sneakers in. Anyways, the shot is great,
I don’t want to change it. Or they’d shoot a take on the street,
and you’d have to ask for permission to every person in the frame, or take them out of focus,
because they could sue. I mean, it’s a huge hassle. Sony screwed my creativity. I think my worst album
is El Lado Oscuro De Gandhi. It was the first one I did with Sony. Afterwards, with time I can see
that 78 is also a weak record. And Lebron turned out cool,
I’d put that in my top three, but because I already knew
how it worked by then. I’d put up with so much bullshit
since I started there. Everything’s so slow,
it’s exhausting. You don’t feel like writing anymore
because it’s a bureaucratic mess. They do give out forward payments…
That was the only good thing. Hey, if you say those albums
you released with Sony were your least favorite ones, what would be Tote’s favorite album? What’s the album you’d say,
“This one represents me?” I could delete my entire discography and this would be the one
with which I feel more comfortable. Well, I wouldn’t erase it, I would keep three albums, Un Tipo Cualquiera,
T.O.T.E. and Lebron. But if I had to keep just one, even if it’s not the sound
that I like most, today the sound I identify with most
is the one in Lebron. The newest one.
I wrote it recently, too, and the productions are current,
I like them better. But being honest with the feeling, Un Tipo Cualquiera
is my best album. And that’s basically
because I’d left my parents’ house, I’d started earning a little money with Música Para Enfermos
and Tu Madre Es Una Foca. I had some money, enough
to pay rent at a friend’s house. So I left to live in Granada with him
for a year. It’s my friend Paco. Precisely the one
who got me into rap. He studied in Granada
and I went with him. And alongside Paco, who was my buddy
with whom I started out, I made the record
I’m most fond of today. I lived in a tiny rented room, in a run-down house in Granada,
an old building for rent, and I ate rice with tomatoes
all day long, and everything was writing. And it was the first time
I was out of my parents’ house. I could play really loud music, write with the beats
at maximum volume, feel free. And that record, I remember it
from that year in Granada, when that was all I did. I’d get up, write,
leave some bars there go out to the street
with my buddy, eat a shawarma, turn back, go for a walk. I was truly free,
and that record is special to me. The truth is, time passes,
and there are things I don’t like so much
about it anymore, but it is the most special one. And if you had to pick a song? Which song would represent you? “Bartleby,” I guess. “Bartleby & Co.” yeah. It’s the one that better represents
what’s inside me. In which I was better able
to express things. Perhaps there are smarter bars
and funnier ones, or more original ones in other songs. But this one has something special, I don’t know, it could be the best. The structure reminds me most of
how it would be to write an article or an opinion piece for a paper. Hell, look, it’s a small bit
and a pretty text that reads great. If you’d take out the music
and read it, you’d go, “OK, this text is cool.” On its own, without the beat. Lastly, something you’d like to share
with these guys? Well, I won’t teach you anything, on the contrary, I’d have to learn,
and it’s what I do. I’m still in the music scene
to spy on what they do. And besides if we’re in this context
in which they do free, OK then, I’ll shut up,
these people rock, because they work
with something that’s very attuned to what I like
and that’s intelligence in music. And to have those bars
you have to be smart. They’re much more in tune
with what I hear, with what I like than the stupid music
I was talking about before, that I personally find boring. So I can’t tell you much, but I could say that,
to give an example, that trick I have of writing
with other kinds of loops, it works for me personally,
I think it’s cool, if someone wants to try it out
they’ll see, writing with other stuff,
getting out of the genre, breaking down the genre is cool,
to come back to it later on. Writing with completely
different things and coming back to see what happens
when you use a rap beat. Or, also, I don’t know… I won’t say to anyone
don’t get into this or that, because if you’re 20
it’d be normal to want it. But it is true that time will pass. And you have to be careful
about the things you record, because 20 years go by and you think,
“Shit, what did I say here.” I regret some sexist things I said,
they’re embarrassing. Or I regret some cheeky lyrics, almost capitalist lyrics,
and very ugly, you know? And that gets recorded. I’d think twice about it. Besides that,
I can’t think of anything else. Let’s give it up
for my brother, ToteKing, I think it was a really good talk. Let’s move on to a Q&A. So, ready, point, shoot. Do we have someone over there? From the standpoint
of commitment with art, in your case, with writing,
like a painter with their painting, I’ve always had mixed feelings, between a commitment with your art
that you so love and not wanting to give out
certain information, a certain inner shadow
that you perhaps have, because it isn’t necessary
or because you don’t dare to face it. I don’t know,
some do it and some don’t. I guess there’s stuff, that even if it could inspire you
for a good song, because it’s something really moving
that you carry inside, I guess you won’t do it, or you will, you spit everything out
and that’s it, it’s done? That’s a good question, because they’re feelings
that hurt me everyday. For instance,
I wrote “Bartleby” with a pain and a feeling I had,
it’s not a pose. This has been happening to me
since the time… I’m talking a lot about him,
but it’s true. From Juani’s time, because I never
saw myself at his level. In fact I live thinking
that I made it this far, maybe if we could talk
about getting a little further, than the person
who should have done it. I always think about that. When you express things that hurt afterwards it’s recorded
and it comes back, It brings it back to mind. So I express it,
but then I’m reminded of it. And many times I’ve had to use that. There are people who never use that.
They don’t show it. It’s pretty, it’s cool, or you’re using it to monetize it,
that could also be the case. These are questions I pose myself,
they come back after you recorded it. In the moment I knew
I was writing out of a real feeling, but I’m exposing myself. I always have this feeling,
I think about quitting. Because of many problems
I’ve had when my voice didn’t last when performing live,
until I learned to tame it. Or when I saw I was getting further
than other people that I considered better than me. So, the idea of
quitting isn’t a pose. It’s always been with me, and those who know me,
my partner, my close friends, they know, I’ve told them many times, “Man, I think I should quit,
I’m not a good enough rapper.” Which means I’ve put myself out
in that song. And I don’t regret releasing it,
it’s cool, because it’s true that you never forget that. There are days when I get up,
I’m washing my hands and I think, “I’m so embarrassed,
I went all in in this song, I told everything.” And of course,
many people don’t know you, and there are people who’ll say,
“What a douche, look what he’s talking about
just to sell or to make some noise.” I can rest easy in that sense,
I know I didn’t do it for that. But it is true
that those inner shadows, when you express them,
it depends on how you do it. Some people don’t do it right. It’s hard,
I don’t like that stuff at all. I mean,
I can’t stand cheap triteness. If you’re pulling that,
do it in style. But it’s a good question,
I don’t know if it makes up for it. If you have something inside
and you express it, man! You should first do it
in a cool style, rapping, and then, it’ll come back. It’ll come back to your mind
once and again. You’re giving away
super personal information. And if you go out
and someone recognizes you, you’re thinking, “Damn, they heard
what I said in the song.” In this case, it’s not so intimate. Some people put themselves
much more out there. And, damn, it’s a serious debate. Another question over there? No? You were talking about feelings,
that’s where it all comes from, where inspiration is born.
But after all these years, I’ve listened to you
for 15 years now, and there is some more time
before that, at least 10 years, I remember that
in Un Tipo Cualquiera you talked about having rapped
for around 10 years. How do you find the motivation
to say, “I’ll do another album, I’ll lock myself in and work.”
Or perhaps it’s that, does the whole process
of making the album fulfill you more than the final product? I found a balance, and I said, “OK, when I have
something real to tell, I’ll have it, and I’ll hold onto it.” When I didn’t, I showed off with style, very much
like a person doing free. Besides, I’ve always been
on that vibe, I like to do free, as an amateur,
but I’ve always done it. And what’s cool about rap
is that it gives space for that. For example, one of my last singles,
“Mira Cómo Tiemblan”. It’s absolutely worthless.
It’s connected phrases, which I had
a hell of a time recording. Relaxed, it’s simply going at it, writing smart bars,
put them here and there, it’s just fun work, sport,
like when you go to the gym. Right, so it’s cool
that rap music allows that. Because some other genres
are always about feelings. “That woman hurt me, this or that…” Rap allows for imagination. So I grab on to that, and I hope for something serious
to come along. Why do I like this Lebron album? Unfortunately I lost my father
2 or 3 years ago, and I put that feeling in a song. And I feel very proud
of the way I was able to face that in a song,
because it was very hard. Going back to your question, I’ll talk about how I lost my buddy,
who was my best friend and guide. Putting that in a song,
it gives you a serious feeling, but it’s a cool feeling, too. That’s why
I can keep recording albums, because in the “Lebron” album,
for example, it’s 50-50, songs that have meaning
and are made of feelings, and songs that are just fun and bars. I guess the day
there’s nothing left to tell inside and everything is dumb,
I’ll think about it. Also the good thing
is that what motivates me to keep working in music is the fact that I don’t have to
do albums any more. The truth is, I’m learning about that from you, about how music works now, because it makes it easy.
Because I have to do 15 songs now, what do I talk about now, man? I’ve talked about everything. I don’t know how many records I did,
I don’t even remember. So, that’s the good thing
about doing a song here and there. I’m not burdened
by having to do so much. Well, thank you. What I wanted to say was,
don’t you see, in that creativity, the pressure to say,
“No, I won’t do this because it’s mainstream or whatever”?
What you said about Dheformer, that he gets on the internet
and doesn’t leave home. “I wish he was more mainstream!” Maybe it wouldn’t
be Dheformer anymore, He wouldn’t do drum-less songs.
And that’s cool too. What we look for is to keep doing
what we want at every turn, because afterwards it’ll be cool
to watch that past evolution. So, it’s good
not to give into the pressure. Of course,
but your profile is different. Because I was talking
about lyrical idiocy… Of course, you’re in a perfect point,
you make music. Yeah, but we respect the format,
anyway. No, but in that format
we can talk about the issue too, because in the urban music format, well, “urban music”,
yeah let’s call it whatever, there are many smart people. Many. Big Sean does some raps
that blow your mind! I don’t know, Eminem… The song “No Favors” comes to mind,
by Eminem with Big Sean. That’s current and it rocks,
4 minutes of rapping each! And it’s on the damn radio. My question is,
why adapt to the damn radio, to the format,
if we can do more modern music? The trendiest, newest things,
but with something surprising. Why do we always have to sing
about the same thing, man? There are more things to talk about,
and people doing it. The last LP by Royce da 5’9″
was awesome. In that LP he sings,
raps, and it has feeling, it has meaning, and it’s smarter.
I was talking about that, but it’s true
that I don’t agree with saying, “No, no, I’m underground,
I won’t do that,” because it’s true that you don’t know
what could happen, for example, if Dheformer
got put into a modern beat. And I know that he would crush it.
But Kendrick is an example, Kendrick is giving
an example worldwide. Kendrick, hot damn! We have much to talk about. I don’t know. Besides, as an artist,
that thing I told you I had, I wanted to have a rap for every bpm,
to defend myself from anything. Later on I knew I couldn’t do
everything perfectly, but at least I tried. I could have a song that talked
about a relationship failing, another that was only bars,
another about hate, another about money. A spectrum. Because today many artists
don’t have a spectrum. Their albums are about one subject,
once and again, and it’s the same, and the next person does the same,
in exactly the same way. So, my idea is to go that way.
Not with the sound. In fact, I’m a consumer
of music, I tell you. My advantage is
that I come from metal, from jazz, from all kinds of music in my family, and today I consume
anything that’s well made, anything I like, in any format. How do you think trap
and rap can coexist and find middle ground? What I mean is,
it’s like taking a trap track a violent one, with 808s, but that says something insightful. Do you think there could be
such a perfect connection? Because I loved that in Spain,
brother! It blew my mind! It’s not that I love rap
or anything, but, hell! They are not musically different. Not putting limits on oneself.
What do you think? I’m with you, with your speech.
I’m a hundred percent with you. I’ll give you an example of that.
A violent track, a lyrical track. Look, Neutro Shorty,
the freestyle he did with TCM. It’s the best I’ve heard in Spanish, doing what you say, trap. I don’t really know what is trap
and what isn’t anymore. It gives it a modern rap sound. That’s what Neutro Shorty does there.
It’s spectacular. I think I’ve never heard a rap
that good on a beat like that. And what you say,
that’s what I’d love. For there to be options.
I want there to be options. What you said,
that’s truly having options, options for people
who are singing pop, that’s music to be ignored,
to do the dishes with, or to dance, or have it playing
in the background. Something for a little company,
to go to the gym and have it there. And for there to be space for people
who want to make lyrical stuff. It’s true, as well, I said it before,
that we already have 20 years of lyrical stuff. It was time already
for dancing and fooling around. Because Spanish rap around me
was all “boom!”, you know, there was no music,
no fooling around. It was time already. But now we’ve made a complete turn,
we’re on the opposite pole. So it’s cool
that there are people like that. And man, I experienced
what you tell me about Chile. I went to Caupolicán to sing, and when I rapped something a little
more modern, songs from T.O.T.E., Ahora Vivo De Esto and so on,
people turned their backs on me. There were people in Caupolicán
I’ll never forget. I’d never been scorned like that. I was rapping and there were people
talking in groups, rapping among themselves,
with their backs to me. Sure, and because it was
Ahora Vivo De Esto, the beat was a bit modern for 2008. – But it wasn’t like the beat was…
– Obviously. Of course, it’s like you say,
and I agree, it should be that way. The same thing happens in Chile, if I put on, for example,
an ad on YouTube, or I started to work with Vevo,
they would tell me, “You’re a phony.” You know? But for example
in Spain I was on YouTube and suddenly
there was an ad of some rap, Natos y Waor, and I’d go, “Yeah!” It’s so good that anyone
who puts on YouTube, instead of any ad they could get rap
and maybe they’ll like it. Maybe they’re not rappers. I think it’s the next step
so that rap can keep growing. Because the same rappers
make it stagnant and don’t let it grow,
don’t let it become big. And rap is going to get better
when you get it into other contexts. Just like if I try something
with a rock band, or if a guy gets a rap
into another kind of music. It makes you rap differently. It’s not the same to rap
90 bpm boom bap, than rapping 90 bpm of a song
that bounces and plays at half-time. They’re nothing alike, you have to take it differently.
Not even the lyrics fit. Those kinds of beats
force you to get in differently. That’s good for rap. Can you still be hungry
if your belly is full? You know? I mean, you’ve accomplished so much,
is it just inertia? Because, personally,
I sometimes go to places excited, but I have to say
there’s a high percentage that’s just inertia, you know? And I know that a year ago
I would’ve been really excited. If I tell you “Bartleby” is true,
it’s because it’s really true. That’s another reason I’ve thought
about quitting many times, because I think, “Why, dude?”
I have my life sorted out. I don’t live like Gianluca Vacchi,
but I live well. Then you say, “What for,
I have a bunch of albums, I’ve collaborated with everyone, I’ve played on every damn festival
multiple times.” I’ve felt this a thousand times. In fact,
being from the generation I am, I’ve thought many times,
“It’s time, dude.” I want to leave,
and for it to be other people’s turn. Not having to go again to Viña,
or that other festival. What I personally find motivating,
and you said it in the coolest way, “with the belly full,”
what I find motivating is exactly the same as what makes me
continue going to the gym. I’m 40 years old, but I like
looking at myself in the mirror, seeing myself fit, training,
saying, “I’m cool.” It’s the same,
I see rap just like that. I like to say, “I’m not going to
be able to write better than that.” But a day comes,
and you get up in the morning, “I feel like writing,
I don’t know if I’ve eaten well, or gotten a good night’s sleep,
today I want to get into the studio.” You do it, and it was 3 months
since you last did. That day you create something.
But it’s not ambition anymore. Not at all, it’s just inertia. Inertia, the same thing
that gets me to train. Another thing. People are cowards. People don’t create to make music.
They create because, “I’m going to make a song with you,
you have 500,000 followers.” “I’m doing a song with you, because both our hypes combined
make this much.” And people say,
“Hey, I released a song.” For example, in my case,
“Mira Cómo Tiemblan”, is close to a million now. Waor and Dollar’s, more modern,
doesn’t have even half that. What would many people I know do?
“Do that, that works for him.” Music dies. Bravery dies. If everything was like that,
nothing would be new. The guy who spoke before, from Chile.
In Chile I listened to Ceaese. I liked it a lot, man. He’s brave for Chile’s scene. Ceaese is one of the few rappers… Who raps
and takes you to another place. Utopic, for example. If you’re always afraid
and pleasing whoever follows you, which in the end is money, because everything’s money,
fame and so on. Then music would never do anything. But afterwards, for example, I think, my favorite Spanish rap album,
the album that marked me the most, the one I learned the most from,
and will learn the most from, after Juaninacka, for example, right? Another icon of mine, Sólo los Solo,
Todo El Mundo Lo Sabe. An album you can put on today
and it’s marvelous. It’s perfect, beautiful. And it was made in a time
every rapper talked, no one danced, everything
was boombox, moving your head. It was Sólo los Solo dancing,
putting amazing stuff out there. It was lyrically rich,
musically great. If they hadn’t opened that door,
what would’ve happened? Where would we be? You have to be brave, and right now I understand that digital platforms
give a lot of money, and doing collaborations
with people lifts you up. But, dude, where is the desire
to do music with others? And what you said before, too, I know that, for example,
if after T.O.T.E., I had gone back to the format
from Un Tipo Cualquiera, what’s more
if I’d repeated Un Tipo Cualquiera, like many artists we know,
and we all know who they are, they know they have a hit
and repeat that style, five or six albums of the same stuff. We all know who we’re talking about,
and it’s shameful. It’s all the same. I won’t,
dude, I prefer to eat less. I prefer to play less,
and for my cachet to be smaller. T.O.T.E. is a great album,
and Un Tipo Cualquiera too. But I’m not going back.
One shouldn’t go back. Sólo los Solo didn’t,
and if they didn’t, I won’t either. Why do you think the song
with Orozco was a front? Because I convinced him
of that song in particular, because I told him,
“If we make a song, dude, I come from rock,
let’s do rock, not pop.” And he agreed. We met up,
and he’s a beautiful person. I had a great time with him
and his people. And damn, I saw him playing guitar,
I saw him singing, I went to one of his gigs.
He gave a really amazing concert, I’d love to have lungs like his. We made the song using a rock format.
He listened to rock, but it wasn’t really his speed. That is, it was an oasis
in his music. His music
is really identifiable with pop. A pop I hated. It’s like you took responsibility
for his career even though what you made together
was completely different. Right, and I specially
had to take responsibility for what I’d said. Because I’m a guy
who speaks without thinking. And I’d shot pop down
since Tu Madre Es Una Foca. My brother and I hadn’t stopped. Now we’ve grown up
and we’ve finally stopped. Afterwards, with age, you learn
to tolerate everything, R&B, reggae, any music. But at first we were rappers,
we were young, and we were all about rap,
only rap, rap, rap. Of course, we hated everything else.
Of course. At that time,
after we made T.O.T.E., Orozco’s was around that time,
when I’d already taken the leap, with Ahora Vivo De Esto
and I was emboldened. But right, afterwards,
if people said, “Eh, what’s up,” yes. I wanted to disguise it,
but now I’ve the perspective of age, it’s a pain, and now you pay for it.
You have to take it. We have one over there. In my case, I come from Panama, and there’s too much
dance music over there, way too much, but there’s also rap. I read, I try to be informed
and to be a smart person, to be knowledgeable and all that. But now I’ve a band, and I do rap, but I also make dance music. More than a question
I want your opinion. Because I make dance music, but maybe many rap people
don’t like that, either. And people who like dance music don’t like that it’s a band
very much. Sometimes I make a chorus,
very silly, a very silly chorus, that doesn’t have a lot to say,
but it’s fulfilling. And at the same time
I feel I’m not doing this nor that, I’m not doing anything at all,
but it’s fulfilling, so I don’t know. I wanted an opinion about that. I don’t think, like I said before,
I think it’s clear, I’m not an authority
on the subject, really, I don’t have a clue. I used to be
a long-haired dude doing heavy, listening to Metallica,
and two years later I was rapping with a friend. I’m a guy who followed his gut
and just kept moving forwards. But my gut tells me that right now
the trend has reversed. Sometimes it’s cool
if something has content that is funny
rather than intellectual. For example,
there are people in my country like Kinder Malo and Pimp Flaco, who do modern music,
but they’re creative, and they’ve cool bars. But they have stuff
that makes you think or at least smile.
Let’s leave it at smile. Because I don’t want to seem
like the typical serious guy. “Everything has to be smart
or I can’t listen to it.” If I could dance I’d love to dance. I think there’s a place for everyone, but what’s happening now
is that everything is very idiotic. Just my opinion, OK? I don’t think I’m an authority
on the subject either, nor that anyone should listen
to what I think. It’s true what you say
about the silly chorus, but it works
and it tells you something, I agree,
because that’s the essence… Many people
want to disparage reggaeton. For example, to knock on that music, they choose The Beatles,
to appear snob. And The Beatles are the same thing! The Beatles’ songs are the same
as reggaeton songs. They’re dumb! Pop songs saying, “Let me love you,
let me love you,” and that’s it. Period. “Love me do. Love me do.” That’s it. I get it’s a silly chorus,
but well sung. And a different thing is the harmony,
the melody, the guy’s voice, pretty, sometimes the chorus is silly
but the music is amazing. That counts. You say, “Hey,
this is it, this sounds beautiful, I don’t need it to tell me a story.” I’m with all genres
and I understand it all. What I don’t like
are the extremes, you know? It bothered me in 1995,
when it was all boom bap. I saw it coming too, in fact
I used to tell my colleagues, and my brother can confirm this. I used to tell my colleagues
in 2008 or 2009, around that time, “Guys, this has to change now,
the scene needs freshening, because this is just boom bap
and people ranting. Drilling into your head
with a 24-line verse. We need someone to come,
and say three silly things.” But now it’s the other extreme. How do you think that affects
the artist and art in general, and you specifically, as ToteKing?
Or does it help? Because you always say,
“Shit! All the time, say it, say it, say it, no filter.”
You know? This is a segue from what
we were talking about, cowardice, about people who walk back
on their albums, because something has worked before and they want to keep repeating
what has worked. People know, many artists know,
we can bring to mind, anyone can bring to mind
three or four from the top of the scene, who will never get involved
in politics. They will always be
politically correct. Because they know they could
go through what I went through. For example,
with Podemos after 15-M, and Podemos started rising,
I had hopes, and like you said, I’ve no filter, I talked about it
in every damn interview, I went to the Vistalegre event, I went to that park in Madrid
where we sang, I said I would vote for them.
I was with them. I wasn’t expecting it, but Nexa, who takes care
of my social media accounts, he told me that three or four days later
my numbers were drastically down. And people were leaving me
private comments saying, “What a disappointment, what a shame,
I’m right-wing and I listen to you since I was a kid,
I’m burning your CDs.” “What’s up, you only rap for liberals,
and not for conservative people?” I didn’t say that,
I just said that I’m with them! I was brave,
and that got my numbers down. And I don’t care about social media
and those numbers. Those numbers are just numbers.
And they’re down. It was funny, though, because, right, there’s a lot of people
for whom everything is aseptic. They never get involved,
they never say anything. Your country can be putting a rapper
in jail for giving his opinion, or because an artist in Twitter
takes a dump on God, they want to take him to court,
like Willy. And people shut up. Because,
“Oh, I’m afraid to lose numbers.” “Oh, it will get my numbers down,”
Go to hell! The numbers. We’re going to die tomorrow,
dickhead. People don’t get that. Let’s hear it for Tote. Thank you, bro.

10 thoughts on “ToteKing on His Career, Writing and Surviving The Rap Game | Red Bull Music Academy”

  1. Esta puta entrevista debería ser obligatoria para la escena de rap en español hoy en día, incluyendo al público de batallas.

  2. Cuando creces con el rap del tote, se te hacen muy tontos los raperos actuales que presumen de Flow, o letras sin sentido.

  3. Yo soy de México sin embargo mi apego al rap se fortaleció cuando empecé a descubrir la escena en España. Siempre he dicho que la escena de ese lado de el mundo esta más adelantada que cualquier otra, hay tantos referentes y con tantos estilos que me encantan, a mi en lo personal me hubiera gustado nacer y criarme en españa a lado de toda esa cultura, aquí en México no me identifico, no encuentro la química con nadie de mi país, son demasiado malinchistas, demasiado envidiosos y tienen una estupida idea de clasificar entre quien es real y quien no y desafortunadamente aquí en México real es el que habla del barrio y se queda en el barrio, el que no se vende, el que no saca dinero del rap, el que le tira al gobierno y el sobre todo el que habla del barrio y la marihuana. Difícilmente encuentras a alguien que le guste hacerlo fresco jajaja no sé adoro España y si en un futuro tuviera la oportunidad de ir a España sin duda la tomaria, crecí escuchando rap de todo el mundo pero el de españa siempre me ha gustado… El maese kds, tote king, sfdk, zenit, la mala rodriguez, violadores del verso, rapsusklei, chojin, nach, capaz, jefes de la M, duo kie, el gordo master, mucho muchacho, cpv, shariff, el chico de fuego, shotta, juaninacka… pff tantos referentes y los que me faltan que si me pongo a rebuscar no termino.. solo escribí a los primeros con los que empecé a escuchar el rap Español…. máximo respeto para el hip hop en España!.
    Los invito a pasar por mi canal igual y encuentran alguna letra algún tema que les guste o les parezca atractivo, máximo respeto 🙏😎

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