Who is Innocent? Innocent ? is one the most underrated but hardest working artists in hip hop! He’s been putting out music for over a decade. My first article with Weekly Rap Gods “The Building Blocks of Boom Bap” featured Innocent? as an artist to look out for. He has been dropping dope music and intriguing visuals for some time now. The Brooklyn native of Afro-Latino descent represents the culture to the fullest. Innocent? comes with that laid back vibe that’ll body you and your whole squad. His name is definitely tricky. His work ethic is unparalleled. He has collaborated with some of the most legendary people in hip hop. Innocent?’s catalogue is insane! He is a humble guy who motivates and encourages other hip hop artist to be great as well. It’s time people acknowledged his genius. Check out this interview and get familiar with a hip hop legend in the making.
Who are your musical influences?
Majority of the hip hop artists from 1987- late 90’s. I can’t really single out individuals because they all had an influence on my style, flow, and delivery.
When did you start rapping?
I started rappin’ mid 90’s on some freestyle, top of the dome shit. Hip hop is how I express myself, whether it’s anger, happiness, or sadness. So it became a passion. I’m not much of a talker, but when you put me in front of a microphone, I have plenty to say. And I say it with a lot of emotion.
What hip hop albums/artists inspired you and why?
Jungle Brothers, Rakim, Brand Nubian, Wu-Tang Clan, Fabolous, NWA, Black Moon, Nas and so many more I could name have inspired me. JBs for their style and beats, Rakim for his delivery and knowledge, Wu-Tang was just all around hardcore, Fab for the witty punchlines, style, and ability to project a dope visual with his words. Black Moon became dope to me ever since their first single. What’s crazy is I lived down the hall from General 5 (5 FT) for a minute, so Buckshot and the crew came through the P’s on the regular. To think about it, that was epic. Nas was just lyrically ahead of everybody’s time. He was a big inspiration as far as me making songs with concepts.
What’s your process for creating and recording music?
I used to write to any instrumental, but now I vibe off the beat first and just go in according to the feeling I get. I get bored listening to my own music because I have it on repeat all the time. It’s a must I keep creating new material.
Tell us how you felt the first time you did a show?
If I remember correctly, my first show was at New Rochelle college. And I was mad nervous. There was a few of my labelmates from Uppakhut Ent. who rocked out that day.
What advice do you have for aspiring rappers?
The main advice I have for emerging artists is to stay focused on exactly what their goal is in the game, and be able to afford everything they do. It’s gonna cost some bread to properly do things. Don’t expect handouts from anyone.
Name your top 5 MCs.
It’s very hard to name my top 5 artists, but to keep it simple: Rakim, Jadakiss, Black Thought, Kool G Rap, Jay Z, and I gotta add Nas without a question.
Name some of the artists you’ve collaborated with.
I’ve worked with Sadat X, Smif N Wessun, Fab 5 Freddy, Roc Marciano, Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order), Royal Flush, Tragedy Khadafi, Jase (Soul 4 Real), Heltah Skeltah (The late great Sean Price & Rockness Monsta) , Shabaam Sahdeeq, Fame (MOP), El Da Sensei, Fantom (Haas G), Joe Fatal, Ralph McDaniels, Black Rob, Nems, Nutso, Spit Gemz, etc.
How did it feel working with such heavy hitters in the industry?
It was so dope working with some of the legends I grew up listening to and watching on TV. A feeling of accomplishment. I must say that I’ve learned something from each and every artist I’ve worked with. I choose the people I wanna work with, so it makes the experience memorable from the gate. I don’t work with any and everybody. There’s a purpose for everything I do musically.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
I would like to work with Method Man, Rihanna, Havoc, Black Moon, Raekwon, Dre, Lauren Hill, Bruno Mars, Rakim, Diddy, and the list goes on.
What do you think of the current state of hip hop?
The current state of hip hop is going through a transitional phase. I don’t feel it’s gonna be a permanent change, so I really don’t stress over it. I just stay doing what I know and love. While everyone is figuring out these new fashion trends, music etc, I’ll continue working on perfecting my content and being a better overall artist. Things always comes back around full circle. I’ll be here in the cut waiting.
You have a large catalogue. How do you keep your content fresh and consistently coming?
I try not to think about the music I’ve previously done. When I get new tracks, I let the vibe motivate my writing. Trying not to repeat things can be challenging, but I don’t worry too much. I guess that’s a gift in itself. Lol. I love shooting new visuals so my videos will always be fresh. Every song paints a different picture so you’ll get to see a variety of new vids every project. I stay consistent because I listen and watch my own material constantly. It gets to the point that I get tired of listening to the same stuff, so I need to record new music. Same with videos. I can’t keep looking at the same vids over and over.
Tell us about your projects.
Right now I have 4 projects out in the world. The first release was “Love It Or Hate It“, which is a double album that’s on iTunes. It consists of 30 songs that is split in half to make up a “Love It” side and a “Hate It” side. I have the “Whip Appeal” album out on Bandcamp, which was fully produced by Stan Da Man. I have the “Escape 2 Alcatraz” album out on CD Baby, Spotify, and almost all digital media outlets. That album was fully produced by Alcatraz Ed. I recently released my third and final installment to “The Reign” project on DatPiff (The Reign Vol. 1, 2 & 3). I have a couple of other projects in the works as we speak. Stay tuned. You’ll hear production from some dope producers and features from some elite artists. My projects get put together based on how I receive my beats. For example: if I get an email from Stan, Ed & Cool FD, I’ll see how they sound when recorded then decide if they go together or not. If they do, that may begin a project or at least I know I have them in the cut. If they don’t, I dig in the archive for other songs produced by these guys and just categorize them by producer. So you’d get a project fully produced by…
What can we look forward to from Innocent this year?
This year I’m going to let the listeners and lookers get to know me better on a personal level. I’m gonna step out of the darkness and give them ME. I think it’s overdue for a connection to the people who want good music and support good music. Especially my fans. I have some great material that I’m putting out so stay tuned!
Stakes is high rap battle. You can select 6 MCs (dead or alive ). Who are you choosing for the win?
Sean Price (RIP), 2Pac (RIP), Kool G Rap, Jadakiss, Raekwon , and Lil Wayne 🤷🏽♂️. I know that one is gonna ruffle some feathers, but oh well. Lol. He’s nice.
Any words for your fans?
I love hip hop. I may not be the best, but I’m better than the rest. I respect my fellow artists, and I do music people can relate to. You may not like every song, but believe me, you will relate in some shape or form. I appreciate the true supporters of the culture, and will continue to deliver the best ME that I can. I’m here to stay. Thank you Weekly Rap Gods.
Innocent? just gave us the scoop on a new project dropping titled “Graduation” on June 26th! The project will consist of 6 songs with a feature from Her Story and production from Stan the Man, Alcatraz Ed, Eyedee, and emerging producer JewelsPolaar! This project will reflect a more intimate side of Innocent?. He has transitioned to a point in his life where he is happy and ready to lay it all out in his music.
Weekly Rap Gods salutes Innocent? and we look forward to seeing him get his just due!
UPDATE: Innocent? recently released his latest album “GRADUATION” — Available at: http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/innocent46