[ BayUndaground.com ] : What's good Cin'atra? Unfortunately this interview will expose our ignorance when it comes to the Northwest scene, but oh well, we need to learn from someone haha. To start off, who's Cin'atra?
[ Cin'atra ] : I'm doing good, staying busy, working on numerous projects and businesses. Who is Cin'atra? I am a Hard Worker, Role Model, Entertainer, Artist Manager, Businessman, Entrepreneur, and Lifestyle Brand. Cin'atra has become much more than just me; it is now a company that employs people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Tell us a bit about the place you come from, what was it like growing up in Seattle?
[ Cin'atra ] : I'm from Seattle, Washington. I grew up on the Southside also known as the Southend. When I was growing up, life as a young kid seemed more laidback. I grew up poor, in a single parent home, abused and whatnot. I didn't know any different, so it was normal to me. I had my neighborhood friends that I considered my family; they brought happiness to my life.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : How did you start rapping? Where could people hear your first official appearances?
[ Cin'atra ] : I started rapping at 11 years old. I was a major fan of Hip Hop. I was a big fan of music in general. My family said that music was a part of my soul since I was a baby. I have been featured on countless compilations, my first album was a project called "It'z Official". You can check it out at www.cdbaby.com/cinatra.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Who influenced you as far as rap goes?
[ Cin'atra ] : The local artists that really inspired me were E-Dawg, Crooked Path & Silver Shadow D. When I was growing up these were the cats talking about things that I could relate to, I call it "struggle music". I respected Sir Mix-A-Lot as far as being a Hip Hop artist, but I didn't really listen to his music. He wasn't talking about things I could relate to. Other artists that inspired me were NWA, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, Kid Frost, Public Enemy, Too Short, 2Pac, Scarface, Kool G. Rap, E-40 and The Click.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : 2007 brought your sophomore solo "Rhymez Emphasizing Actual Life", on which you talk a lot about personal things. Is music your way to express? Or do you treat it more as an entertainment?
[ Cin'atra ] : "Rhymez Emphasizing Actual Life" is a very personal album for me. I definitely use music as a way to express myself. Anyone who has struggled can relate to that album. I was going through some real rough times when I did that album. And I think you can tell when you listen to it. That project was my Autobiography. That is why I named it "Rhymez Emphasizing Actual Life: (Tha AudioBiography Of David (Mr. Cin'atra) Lee)". At that time of my life, I was in a negative mind frame. I didn't really know if I was going to live or die. This album was like a musical diary that my children can listen to and learn from. The subject matter ranges from personal struggles, to my thoughts and opinions on certain life challenges with a splash of entertainment.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : You teamed up with Brent Ogee to record a Turf Grindaz duo - tell us more about this collaboration.
[ Cin'atra ] : I met Brent Ogee in 1999 when I was in another group. We were friends, but we lost contact for a few years. I moved around a lot, before we lost contact, I hooked him up with FunkDaddy. A few years go by and I see him at a festival in Everett, Washington. He was still doing music and so was I. We decided to do a group project. Brent Ogee was more on the party tip and I was the complete opposite. He was a really big fan of the hyphy movement. I am a big Bay Area music fan myself, so I thought it would be interesting and a challenge for me to do a hyphy type album. We named the group Turf Grindaz and the album "Poundin' Tha Pavement". It just fit what we were doing at the time, we met back up while we were selling CDs in the streets. We were Turf Grindaz "Poundin' Tha Pavement".
[ BayUndaground.com ] : The Turf Grindaz album features two nice Jones Soda commercials in a form of short songs - what's the background behind the whole thing?
[ Cin'atra ] : It started when I answered a craigslist ad about a commercial being filmed for the Jones Soda Company. There was a director who was shooting a commercial and he invited me to be a part of it. I told him that I do music and that my group can provide background music for the commercial. He wanted us to record three short songs for the commercial. He chose two of them and presented them to the Jones Soda Company. Needless to say, they liked the tracks, but not enough to pay for them. So we did not allow them to use the tracks, but featured them on our album. We think we did a great job on the songs and we wanted people to hear them.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : In 2011 you released a new solo "Hood Tested Gangsta Approved". What can people hear on it?
[ Cin'atra ] : People can expect to hear a well rounded West Coast rap album. From track 1 to track 20, all killers, no fillers. We have been missing real rap albums. Everybody is flooding the market with mixtapes or mix CDs. I want people to be able to know what a real rap album sounds like. This is an authentic representation of West Coast Hip Hop, at its finest. I got a lot of flack for staying true to my West Coast roots and not switching up. This project is considered among many to be "critically acclaimed", meaning I didn't get the best reviews on "Hood Tested, Gangsta Approved", but it was my most successful project to this day. I was featured on Seattle's Major TV New Station Q13 Fox, I won The "Best Rapper In Washington Award" at The 2011 West Coast Music Awards and many other great opportunities.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : What are the major differences between the "Hood Tested, Gangsta Approved" and "Rhymez Emphasizing Actual Life" albums?
[ Cin'atra ] : "Rhymez Emphasizing Actual Life" is a more personal album. I touched on some pretty heavy subject matter. "Rhymez Emphasing Actual Life" was a deeper and darker Cin'atra. I was in a very dark place when I was writing that album. "Hood Tested, Gangsta Approved" was really more of a celebration type album. That project was really about me overcoming my struggles and being able to celebrate my achievements and success. I look at writing an album somewhat as if I am writing a book or a screenplay. I don't want to give you the same material, each project has to have its own life, personality and feel.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Why did you come up with "Da Mobsta" after your name Cin'atra? I'm asking, because the music you bring is not strictly "mob type" as back in the days.
[ Cin'atra ] : Actually "Da Mobsta" is a title that I got from my friend. His name is Big Charge, a real Southside O.G., respected in the streets. He gave me that name as a sign of respect. So I took it as a badge of honor. And Cin'atra Da Mobsta sounds good as well.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Your music is in many ways similar to what can be heard on northern California scene. Is there sort of a Bay Area - Northwest connection or just West Coast rap shares common vibes wherever you go?
[ Cin'atra ] : The Northwest & Northern Cali have a lot in common in many ways. Our region has been very supportive of the Bay. A lot of our producers have provided music for some great Bay Area artists. I would say that Northwest and Northern Cali have the same sound. We have helped shape that sound. In fact my producer, FunkDaddy, has worked with some of the Bay's iconic forefathers such as E-40, Mac Dre, N2Deep etc.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Tell us more about the Northwest rap scene, who are the local key factors?
[ Cin'atra ] : I would definitely have to say Macklemore, we have Clem Rishad, William Jordon, Sky Movement as well as Leezy Soprano and his YLife Movement. I work with an amazing rap label called Nu Empire and Boss Life which consists of Starr, Stuey Newton and WatchYaTone. These are the artists to really watch out for in the Northwest.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : So who do you see among aspiring, promising artists?
[ Cin'atra ] : I know that there are some real talents out here. I'll tell you what local artists that I think can have a good impact in the game. I like Young Hype, Lareezy and Jay Key.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : What's the reason for lack of exposure? I mean Northwest receives even less attention than Bay Area rap as far as media or regular fans are concerned.
[ Cin'atra ] : I think it is due to the lack of real unity in our hip hop community. We have a lot of talent out here from production to performing. But we lack knowledge, information, the know-how. A lot of the artists are trying to mimic what they see on BET or MTV2. A lot of the artists don't have the commitment to lay the groundwork for success.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : What are your plans for the nearby future?
[ Cin'atra ] : I have retired from rapping and I now manage artists under Deep Groove Management. My company Cin'atra Beverages, LLC. has recently released our first signature premium liquor "Cin'atra Gold Filtered Vodka" in Washington State. We entered our vodka in the "2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition" and won a Silver Medal. We competed with over 1400 different vodkas from over 60 different countries. It was a great accomplishment for my team and we are very proud.
Me and my business partner recently relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. We are in the process of setting up our Cin'atra Swag Shop, a store that provides Silk Screening, Vinyl Wraps, Stitching for apparel. It was currently based in Everett, Washington, but we feel like Phoenix, Arizona was a better fit for our company.
My main goal is to set up successful businesses and be able to provide real opportunities for Northwest artists. We have so much original talent that will blow your mind. We just need the right situation to get us to that national level. I want to thank you and BayUndaground.com for always supporting me. I want to thank all my fans, supporters, friends, and family.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : I didn't know you were such a businessman: beverages, clothing lines. That Cin'atra Vodka is a drink or a vodka? Can you share some details? Flavors?
[ Cin'atra ] : We have an actual Vodka that is in stores in Washington State. I never really considered myself a rapper, I'm more of a businessman. Our first line of vodka isn't an actual flavor. We do have a flavored line that will come out in the distant future. We will keep you updated. For more information about my "Cin'atra Gold Filtered Vodka", you can log onto www.cinatrabeverages.com
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Thanks for the interview, mayn.