29 January 2014
[ BayUndaground.com ] : What's good Eddie Vega, please introduce yourself to BayUndaground.com readers.
[ Eddie ] : First off let me start by thanking BayUndaground.com for letting me be part of this website and also supporting the underground music. You guys have been supporters since day one with the label I'm under and my uncle who owns it. Much love to y'all, appreciate it. My original stage name was Birdman. I now go by the name Eddie Vega. I was introduced into the music scene since I was 3 years old by my uncle Tha GrindHouse formerly known as Gemini.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Why the name Birdman? And why the name change to Eddie Vega? Was it an influence to change your stage name like your uncle who went from Gemini to Tha GrindHouse?
[ Eddie ] : I was nicknamed "Birdman" by one of my aunts. When I was an infant I would flap my arms like a bird and grew up being called that by close friends and family. As I got older and involved with music I used my alias as my stage name. At the time myspace was big and I uploaded a few songs on there. From that point it just took off creating me a local buzz. Looking back it was a cool thing to have during my high school years.
The name changed was not an influence by my uncle. It was something I feel I needed to break away from musically even though it was personal. The name Birdman was already a major household name by one of the CEO's of Cash Money Records.
Eddie is my government name. I added the Vega at the end & felt it meshed pretty good & ran with it. The nickname Birdman is a name I still carry with close friends and family.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Tell us what made you start rapping and what was your first official appearance?
[ Eddie ] : For starters just to bring everybody up to speed & paint a much clearer picture, I was raised by my grandparents & uncle. My very first appearance was at the age of 3 doing back ups when my uncle was recording raps on a tape recorder. The music I grew up listening to was Ice Cube, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, Kokane etc. Basically all the music my uncle played when I was growing up. Not to sound cliche, but I grew up being surrounded by rap music, lowriders, cars shows & local rappers around the house all the time. My uncle and a few of his friends were the only rappers in the area at the time. Not too many people were doing it back then.
My first official appearance was on the Gemini's "Casualties Of Life" album. I'm the little kid you hear talking at the end of the song "Reminiscin' 97." And on the hook to the song "End Of Days". I was also in a few shots in the documentary film my uncle made, titled "Street Connect."
[ BayUndaground.com ] : You will release a debut mixtape pretty soon, why such a long hiatus? I did not even see you in the meantime on other people's projects. Can we hear you on any already released albums?
[ Eddie ] : After High School instead of proceeding ahead with the music and fulfilling my commitment to 2Face Entertainment I got ahead of myself. Everything was going as planned, but there was some issues with family and I left California to Chicago to live with my mom. During my time in Chicago I tried to do the things I learned on 2Face Entertainment. I quickly found out things were harder than they seemed. Needless to say I quit doing music & turned my attention to the typical adolescent things. I didn't get into drugs or things like that. It was mostly going out & drinking with friends I met in Chicago. The partying lifestyle lasted awhile, but it got old pretty quick. I was raised a lot better & it seriously wasn't me.
From that point I spent most of my time at home getting back on track with music. I finally got the chance to record again after hooking up with friends who were into the music scene out there. During all that time I was involved in a relationship back in Cali. I flew back to California, settled my differences with family. And pretty much used the song I recorded in Chicago as a demo to get back on 2Face Entertainment. The song is titled "Refuse 2 Fade" & will be on my forthcoming mixtape "Terminal." It can also be heard on my ReverbNation page & the 2Face Ent. YouTube channel.
Again, the ball started to roll on 2Face Ent. Plans were being discussed, that's where the name change to Eddie Vega came into play and things really started to move forward. During that time I lost my grandmother (Tha GrindHouse aka Gemini's Mother.) She passed away on my birthday on July 25, 2011. So that there was something I had to get through emotionally & it set me back from the music.
December 2011 my girlfriend was expecting our first child. I am now a proud father of two boys. Most of my time after that was spent doing the family thing.
I'm not on any released albums at the moment. My music can be found on the internet and it's mixtape cover songs for the most part.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Why mixtape? Aren't you afraid that in the times when everybody releases mixtapes it may be treated as a half-baked product?
[ Eddie ] : There's a minor budget recording a mixtape, it's done a lot faster & allows me to introduce myself in a broad spectrum. Plus we're putting it out for free rather than spend a bigger budget to record an album & put it up for sale hoping people will purchase it without even knowing who I am. It's just a caution being taken by the label & myself. The marketing is mainly all on the label & us as the artist to push it as much as we can together as a team. I've learned that the days of pressing a thousand hard copies of an album are long gone. I'm simply coming back in with baby steps & not putting all my eggs in one basket.
I hope once the listener listens to the first track on the mixtape they'll quickly figure out there is no filter & it's far from a half baked product. Again, 2Face Entertainment is aiming to change the game in making this mixtape sound like an actual album. Making the listener forget "it's just a mixtape". That is the the plan.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Why 2Face Ent.? How do you feel about being on it so far?
[ Eddie ] : The way I see it, it's a label that doesn't tell anybody that they're gonna make them the hottest artist in the area. And for me, myself seeing how things are run, it's a label that doesn't sell you a dream. Throughout the years I've been involved with music I myself have been one of those people that wanted so much out of it. Expecting things to be done right away without having the time to think and listen to the right people. And for that I have tasted failure. It's been a lesson learned. Everything I've seen so far since the start of label in 1999 has always made some type of impact. What I mean by "impact" is that locally it's always been successful. We as artists are taken care of. One of the first things 2Face Ent. pushes is owning our publishings. There have been a lot of artist who I've seen were given their publishings by 2Face Entertainment. Some of them we haven't heard from musically since they left or were let go, but I can almost bet they still have no idea what great gift was given to them on this label as far as being an artist goes.
We as artists are involved hands on. At first I had the attitude like the label should be taking care of some of the things. Like I was doing it all & the label was doing nothing. I didn't understand. To paint a better picture & I've seen a lot of artists do this as well. I was like the Karate Kid in the original movie with Mr. Miyagi. In the end, the label teaches you not to be a lazy artist. And to be an aware / cautious artist.
Other labels charge a big fee, stamp their logo on your product and make all these promises, take a percentage from you & most artist are just happy to be a part of something. Never really understanding how it all works.
At a very young age hanging around my uncle, who owns 2Face Entertainment, I was out meeting artist like, Roger Troutman R.I.P. (of Zapp & sang the hook on 2Pac's "California Love"), Spice 1, Ray Manzarek R.I.P. (of the 60's rock band, "The Doors") and many more. It wasn't like we went to a show & left afterwards. We always met the artist after the show & let it be known 2Face Entertainment was present.
And what other underground label in the area will guide you to own your own publishings and you can leave with them if you decide to depart the label? It doesn't get much better than that in my opinion.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Okay, let's get back to actual music, what can people hear on the album? Why should we look out for it?
[ Eddie ] : This is my first solo project so of course I need to do things the right way and give it my 100%. I look at it this way, your first impression is always your last. In my humble opinion it's not just a mixtape, it's my testimony. I'm truly expressing how I feel on this mixtape. From how I see the game today, to the rappers who put too much on it, to getting lyrical & on to the heartfelt tracks where I show a different side all together. Cliche? Perhaps, but I'll let the listener be the judge.
As far as features go, it's no surprise my uncle (Tha GrindHouse) is on a few tracks.
The freshman class introduced on the project consists of a former classmate of mine who goes by the name Cas. Cas is the lyrical punchline guy on the roster. A hip hop element much needed in this day & age. I personally feel he's one of the artists who is bringing back that old lyrical flow we so dearly miss in today's rap music.
Da MackGician is an artist who's been around since day one, but has yet to be properly introduced. I remember being a little kid & my uncle & him recording raps into a karaoke machine. His abstract flow brings a new twist / flavor to the table.
Lady Melodic, the Queen amongst Kings. She's bringing a complete different angle to the label. I'll keep that under wraps & let either her or my uncle discuss her project.
Ghetto Ballin' Entertainment artist Dan Grand aka Doom the OriGinal steps in to bless a track. I grew up listening to his music & hanging around him back when he was on 2Face Ent. It's a true honor to have him on my first solo project.
Free agent artist Cisko Price is also on this. Cisko released his album, "Table Manners" through a joint venture deal with 2Face Ent. & Ghetto Ballin' Ent. back in 2011. He's always been a good dude. Glad to have him on this as well.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : "Terminal", an evocative cover - is there a reason for such a title?
[ Eddie ] : Terminal is the definition of my mother. As a child growing up there was things I didn't know about my parents. I'm not taking the Eminem approach, but I am venting on this project in a harsh demeanor.
My mother is heartless. Very envious and because she suffered throughout her life, she feels everybody should suffer to appreciate things. I don't know about anybody else, but I think that's sick. As a father myself now, I can't see myself feeling that way towards my children or anybody else for that matter. It's common sense to want our kids to have better than what we had, right? So, unlike the sperm donor who made me & who I never met & the lady labeled my biological mother, I'm going to be here for my kids. I'm not going to brag about being a proud father or grandfather later on in life, when they're old enough to work so I can leech off them. And still have the audacity to be hateful towards the ones who filled both her & the sperm donor's shoes when it came to being a parent.
The cover art is saying "I'm tired of it all. And getting rid of everybody who I feel has brought or tried to bring me misery." I'm saying what I truly feel in the music. It comes with no filter & I don't come equipped with brakes this time around.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : So, this mixtape is more personal than expected. Sounds like you put the same amount of work an artist would working on an actual album.
[ Eddie ] : Yes indeed. It's far from a half baked product.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : So would this mixtape in a sense be your point of view to your uncle's album, "Casualties of Life?" An angle that was not captured on his album? Unbeknownst to him?
[ Eddie ] : There are parts that capture that timeline if you've followed & really felt his album you'll know & have a better understanding. It'd be more of trivia to know, but I'm really coming in on my own lane. You will still understand it without having to go back into archives to get what's happening on "Terminal".
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Where will it be available? Both hard and digital copies? By the way, do you think that music will go almost 100% digital pretty soon?
[ Eddie ] : It will be a limited release of hard copies. The majority of the music sold today is through digital. I do believe there will be a point not too far away where cd's will be obsolete.
The mixtape will be available on DatPiff.com. And perhaps a few other digital download sites.
The hard copies are for those that perhaps want them signed or at an event. More for those I come across in person. And for those that just feel they need the physical copy to feel complete. For those that maybe want to go old school I will personally post mail them. All they have to do to request that is, message me on my Facebook account. Or hit up my management email.
One of the cool things about the hard copy is that BayUndaground.com is advertised on the cd print. Thought I let you guys know that.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : We definitely appreciate that. What's the 831 area code rap scene at the moment? Is it hard to bubble? Or possibly in the digital era it doesn't really matter where you're from?
[ Eddie ] : I've taken notice that the rap scene in the 831 has slowed down tremendously. A lot of artists go unheard of now a days because they're releasing digital singles rather than full / hard copy albums. A lot of people have also quit doing music. Some new comers are still doing it old school. They press a lot of hard copies & putting them on consignment in local stores. Be it the swap meets, the liquor stores etc. The bad part is that they pretty much just sit there because for one, nobody outside some close friends or family are purchasing them.
In the end it's not much different than the way it's always been. Like my uncle says, "If the music is really that great it'll get to where it needs to go." The bottom line is how good the music is.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Does that mean the label feels they don't have to push the music 100%?
[ Eddie ] : Not at all, it means we continue to move forward. If we feel we have a strong record we push it, but it makes no sense to stop what we are doing & waste time just focused on one record. If you play a record somewhere and it really catches attention, word of mouth will push it. That's where the state of hip hop has come to again. We're back to the basics. Some say if you truly got it you will shine, but that's not the case anymore due to the internet being so saturated. There is a lot talent out there and equal if not more whack material, so we sometimes go unnoticed. We can go out on low budget tours etc., but I've learned we're only hot for that night if the material does not catch the full attention of the audience.
We keep moving forward building catalog.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Mixtape is usually a first step before something major - what is that major thing in your case? When are you planning to come out with a regular solo?
[ Eddie ] : I don't want to make promises & make it sound like I already have something on deck. I have a few new records recorded, but we just never were they'll up, so I won't say there is something major to follow. Or that I'm working on a solo album at this time.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Going further, what are your plans for upcoming years? Do you treat music seriously, do you plan to wrap your life around it or is it more like a side hobby, getting something off your chest from time to time?
[ Eddie ] : Now that I'm a father there are things I finally accomplished that I couldn't do at the time. Being that I had so many personal issues in my life. I finally did what I wanted to do. Not only in music, but in my personal life as well.
I'm pretty much going to settle down for a lil bit. Still do music, but never leave the booth until I'm ready to walk away from it.
Music is something I take very serious. I've been doing this for 18 years and I'm not the kind of person that demands the respect for the years I've put in. There's one thing I learned is that respect is not given, it's earned. Music will always be a factor and be a big part of me forever. Just as being a father/husband to my family.
As far as getting things off my chest goes. I think this mixtape has already done that for me.
[ BayUndaground.com ] : Anything else you'd like to add before we go?
[ Eddie ] : I'd like to, again, thank BayUndaground.com for giving me this interview and supporting the underground movement. HipHopBling.com for their sponsorship & tremendous support as well. Ghetto Ballin' Entertainment for being a part of the 2Face Ent. extended family.
2Face Entertainment for everything they do for us, not only as artist, but as friends & family. And everybody in the underground music scene. Because we are all struggling artist trying to make it.
One love to all!