Loyal-T fka Sleepy Santino

20 December 2010

[ ] : What's good Loyal-T? Shed a little light on who you are, where you are from and what you do.

[ Loyal-T ] : I own Heat Street Records, was born in San Francisco, raised in the city as well as South City and at the present time I reside in the North Bay. My only interest is to put my full 100% effort as well as heart and soul into whatever I do whether it be music or not and see where that takes me.

[ ] : Back in the days you were known as Sleepy Santino or Yung Xcell when it came to producing. Today you're Loyal-T. Tell us what made you change your rap name.

[ Loyal-T ] : I was known before I did anything major with music as Sleepy, so Sleepy Santino was just a way to differentiate myself from others. Yung Xcell was just a producing alias I used 'cause at first I was just a producer and didn't really focus on rapping as much. It's probably obvious but I flip flop on shit a lot as far as what I want to do, but in the end I created Santino; I've created Yung Xcell; they are just names. I can create Loyal-T as well. The most important factor is the quality of the music and my music and what I want to do with it is different from when I dropped 2 projects as Sleepy Santino, so it's 2010 and time for a clean slate. Also with those 2 first projects I don't feel I was as consistent quality wise as you need to be. I want every track you ever hear from me to be a solid well thought-out effort not just something that is thrown out there. From this point my main focus is to make good music and be as consistent with that as I am capable of.

[ ] : Let's move back even further. How did you begin the adventure with music business? Did you record anything before "Norte 4 Life"? What was your first official appearance as a rap artist ?

[ Loyal-T ] : Music is a passion of mine whether I'm recording my own or not. For most people it's not if they like music, it's what music they like. I myself like all music that is creative and done well, but what made me try recording my own music was the feeling that I have something to offer to music. I feel like I am capable of inspiring others the way other artists have inspired me. I started writing lyrics when I was around 10-11; basically just imitating the styles of other rappers and first got in the studio when I was 15. I think I recorded like 7 tracks, made a CD, sold a few at school - same shit a lot of artists have done starting out, but what doing that does is make you want to improve on, 'cause a song in your mind will always sound better than when it is actually recorded. Once you record and listen to the actual product you realize how far you are from where your music needs to be. I recorded another album when I was 17. That was 17 tracks, but nothing worth listening to today, but my first appearance on something that actually sold in stores was "Norte 4 Life".

[ ] : What do you think about "Norte 4 Life" from the perspective of time?

[ Loyal-T ] : I think it was exactly what I intended it be at that time. I didn't really write gangbanging type of tracks before that album, but I intended that album to be along the lines of a GUN and it came out similar to that. You can't try to make GUN and come out sounding like Jay-Z, so with all music the inspiration and goal of your music is where your music will go. For those that were fans of homeboy music, of GUN, Darkroom, Woodie, etc. they were the market for it and those that weren't fans of that weren't feelin' it. It is what it is. The beats were kind of thrown together, but I was young, I think 19 when I made that and I didn't really have nobody tellin' me whether it sounded right or not and I just put it out by me and another homie.

[ ] : Your debut album was a typical gang banging type of project while nowadays you record more universal music. Tell us what made you change your style.

[ Loyal-T ] : I always make what fits me. The music I make today is what representative of the music that inspires me and what I like. Today I am trying to be an artist more than I have ever before. I am older with a family and talking about what I am going through and knowing that there are others that relate to those same things. What I want to be now is different from what I wanted to be before; where before it was more just representing for the homies and making something they could slap in the car or whatever. I'm trying to be as flawless as possible; bar for bar, beat for beat, hook for hook, track for track. If you heard anything I made before this album with Quinn, listen to this album, 'cause this is my true starting point and from here it's sky high.

[ ] : What can rap fans hear on the compilation "The Northern Lifestyle" you've presented? How was it acclaimed? Are you happy with the album?

[ Loyal-T ] : Just like "Norte 4 Life" it is what is. I'm not really happy with it, but I did the best with what I was trying to accomplish and the budget I had. There are some solid tracks on there and for those that like homeboy rap it's worth picking up. It's on iTunes and CD Baby right now and I will be putting it back in stores in the near future. From what people have told me they were feelin' it; that's all I can ask for. I never heard anything negative about it. It allowed me to network a little and there are some solid homies that contributed to that and I'm appreciative of that.

[ ] : What do you think about the contemporary homeboy rap scene? How does it differ from the oldshool one from Darkroom Familia and Woodie's times?

[ Loyal-T ] : I think it is a reflection of rap music in general. Artists need to slow down and make 1 good track instead of 100 bullshit tracks and be music motivated and not money motivated. Woodie was a perfectionist with his music and when he came out with something you knew he put his 100 percent effort into and it wasn't no bullshit and for any artist that should be the case, but more often than not that's not the case. Darkroom was the first to do it and they had Dogday behind them, but their quality has suffered lately, but what you need is artists that are detail oriented about quality from the sound to the cover to the beats and lyrics. From what I've heard recently Big Tone and Sav It Out as well as Big Rhino are two that stand out. Homeboy rap is good as long you have artists like that putting out projects.

[ ] : And what about the South San Francisco scene?

[ Loyal-T ] : There isn't a lot I've heard out of South City lately. I remember both Klump and Rell Dert from growin' up out there and Klump definitely has bars but I haven't heard much recently and Redrum has potential as a horrorcore artist, but yeah I'm always open to anything comin' out of there, especially the east, 'cause I spent a lot of time in that neighborhood but I haven't heard much.

[ ] : Tell us about the latest project with San Quinn. When is it coming out? What can we expect to hear on it?

[ Loyal-T ] : You can expect to hear a solid project with well thought-out concepts speaking on life from our perspective. We touch on fake friends("Heartless"), never giving up ("Never Say Die"), pain, the state of the world, raising a family, struggling ("Cry No More"); there's a lot of shit we touchin' on on there. It drops on January 11, 2011 at Rasputins, Dimples, Amoeba, Streetlight, iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Bandcamp. It's actually on Cd Baby and Bandcamp right now; probably will be on iTunes soon as well. Going to work it out of state as well in Independent, Zia, Silver Platter and more; just might not be there right on the 11th, we'll see. You can hear 3 of the tracks at my MySpace and follow me on Twitter as I put updates on there.

[ ] : Did you record the album along with San Quinn in the studio or did you simply buy his verses?

[ Loyal-T ] : Yeah me and Quinn did the whole thing out at Infinite Studios.

[ ] : What was it like working with such veteran as Quinn? How did you two hook up?

[ Loyal-T ] : First off it's an honor, because I've been a fan of his music since I was 11, so it's been a long time coming, but working with a great artist can only make you better, so anytime you get on a track with a great artist it's always a good thing, 'cause it raises the level of what you do. I got at him originally through his manager and they were open to it from the start and when they heard the direction of it they felt it would sell. We actually recorded it in 2009, but for numerous reasons it got delayed.

[ ] : Tell us about your collaboration with Michael Marshall. We've already heard him sing on hooks on "The Northern Lifestyle" and now we'll hear him on 5 hooks on "Never Say Die". Do you consider recording a full length duet album with Mike?

[ Loyal-T ] : I love doing anything with Mike, because he is a true artist who is talented both with the vocals to the hooks that he writes. Not many can sing like him and of those that can not many can write a hook like he can; most want to rely on you to write them a hook, so he can take whatever concept you have and make a hit. I've considered doing an album with him, I guess we'll just have to see whether we go in that direction. I'm sure it would sound right; just the demand would have to be there to make it happen.

[ ] : Except for the "Never Say Die" official release date what are your other plans for the 2011?

[ Loyal-T ] : I'm just really open to whatever. I want to get everything rolling with this one and take it from there. I might do a couple videos to this one, maybe tour a little bit, we'll see, it really depends. I'm taking it one step at a time, but you could see more music later in the year from me. At the moment though I'm just pushing this "Never Say Die". I've got a "Never Say Die" clothing line I'm messin' with too. If anybody wants to get at me hit me on MySpace or Twitter, I'm always open to working with great artists that are serious about their music and thank you BayUndaground for the opportunity to be heard and let people know about this project with Quinn, it is well worth your money.

Support Loyal-T and purchase his projects on iTunes and cd Baby.
Also visit his MySpace page.