Today marks the release of Hopie Spitshard’s solo debut album The Diamond Dame. The Diamond Dame is 13 original tracks written by Hopie and produced by 6Fingers and features Del the Funky Homosapien, Bambu (Native Guns), Topkat, EyeASage, Kid Static and Smigg Dirtee! The album is great and the ladies and I have been listening to it on repeat at M.I.S.S. Crew HQ. Last week we had the chance to sit down with Hopie to talk about her influences, how she got her start and what it’s like to be a woman rapping in a male-dominated industry.
When did you start rapping and how did you realize you were an MC?
Well I first started rapping at age 11. I wrote my first rap, but it was really bad. Haha. But it all started at Great America – they used to have a karaoke booth where they would record you and give you a tape. So it was three of my friends, we go to Great America, and of course we do TLC “Waterfall” where I’m Left-eye. The rest of it sounded like crap, but when I came on I sounded exactly like her. So I was all, “Oh Shit, maybe I could be a rapper.” Ever since then, I’ve just been writing.
Read the rest of the interview and get an exclusive free download after the jump . . .
What is the whole process of promoting your own album, as a young, unsigned artist? How do you let everyone know more about you?
Myspace! Myspace is probably the best thing that has ever happened to my career music-wise. Then there are the shows that I do. I got lucky and work with a lot of artists who have a big fan bases. Right now, I have no idea how I’m doing it, but its happening. Everything is falling into pocket. Stars are just aligning.
Do you want to be indie all throughout your career or do you want to get signed?
I want to get signed if I get an awesome deal in front of me. But I think things are working out just as they are.
We also see that you are part of URB’s Next 1000. How did that happen?
I have no idea. They just sent me a message and I swear to God I was running up and down my hallway like 4 times. I remember, last year I was in the studio picking up a copy of URB and Kid Sister was on the front. My producer says, “You gotta get in this magazine,” and I’m all, ” Uh…ok no problem!” Haha, and next thing you know, it happened!!! It was really crazy.
What track on the album is most personal for you?
Hopie Smile – It’s a song for my dad. I had a really rough childhood and I never talk about it, especially with him. So for me to write that track, it was really hard. Its actually really funny because…ok…so I never talk about it or would tell my dad about my feelings. So Father’s Day comes around, I’m broke, and I tell him I wrote him a song. So I’m all, “Here dad, listen to this track.” I put it on and I go to my room because I can’t sit there when he’s listening to it. So I’m listening to it from afar until it stops. Then I go outside and he’s just watching TV! I asked what happened and, my dad who’s this old Filipino guy, says, “I didn’t understand it . . . what was it about?” I was like, “OMG!!!!” Haha. But Hopie Smile is a track for my dad. It’s the most personal to me. So one day I’ll transcribe it and give him a copy.
The beats on your album are very different and give off that old school 1920’s silent movie feel. Do you play a role in making the beats?
No. I just tell my producer what kinds of things I’m into that week. Cuz we have weekly sessions, “Oh I watched this movie, or I’ve really been listening to this artist.” So by that he just picks my brain and incorporates all that. Every beat he throws me, I write a verse even if I hate it. I’ll write and spit it in the lab. If it meshes well then we’ll continue and I’ll write another verse. It would be different verses per beat, which takes some time.
In your album, there are a lot of great artists you’re working with. How did all of these partnerships come about?
Well EyeASage and I were roommates. She’s actually my best friend’s cousin so I’ve known her forever. When we were living in the same house together, she was working on her mix tape and I was working on my album. So it just fell in pocket.
And then she, of course, got with Bambu, who is like my big brother in rap.
With Del The Funky Homosapien, my producer sent him a Myspace message and he just got back to me. Which is so awesome because I didn’t think you could do that with such a great artist like Del. I thought you would have to deal with his manager and everything. So he just text messaged me and was all, “Lets do it!” When he released the “11th Hour” in March, he had an in-store performance at Rasputin. So I just met up with him and he just gave me a CD with the vocals. And I gave him a video game and said ‘Thanks’ haha. I GAVE HIM A VIDEO GAME!!!! Haha. So we were just communicating back and forth for a while, but mostly not about music. Mostly about video games and Japanese food!!! Haha. It’s weird, but he’s such an awesome dude
Did you get any advice from him?
I was trying to get advice from him. He was saying how people have this perception of what he’s supposed to be and that a lot of people think he’s deviating from the true Del sound. But he says to always do “YOU” because you’re gonna progress as an artist. You’re going to change and you have to be ready to accept criticism for progressing and changing. Some people will be like ‘Hopie Purists’ and will ask, “How come this doesn’t sound like the Hopie from Diamond Dame?” But you have to be able to evolve as an artist. So that is all the advice I got from him and tips on how to beat video games. Haha!
What is the game?
Taking a step back and looking at Hip Hop in general. How do you feel about it today?
I love a lot of it and hate a lot of it.
What do you love?
I love the new Nas album, the new Del album, Outkast-almost everything they do is super, awesomely dope to me.
What are you not loving?
I’m not loving a lot of women in rap right now. But I’m talking about women in videos, how they’re referred to in the songs, the misogyny, how they’re being perceived in the Hip Hop world right now.
Do you think that is a part of your mission then, to help change the views of women in Hip Hop?
I feel like that is my big goal and I wrote about it in SuperNova. But the next album, I feel, would be geared more toward that goal. This album, right now, I feel like I didn’t put it out there that much as I would like. I didn’t want to be too preachy. But this album is definitely my fun album.
What are your views on Hyphy?
I like to get hyphy. Haha. But I think the Bay Area is done with Hyphy right now. I think I am too.
Who are you most inspired by, as far as other MC’s?
I listen to a lot of Biggie and Andre 3000. As far as female MC’s, Lauryn Hill and MC Lyte.
Do you think there is a special role for Filipino’s in Hip Hop?
I think we fit because . . . Hip Hop is the voice of the Oppressed. It’s the culture of the people who don’t normally have a voice elsewhere in media. So taking that in, Filipino’s really have a sad history and many people don’t know much about it. So it’s another way for us to express ourselves and I think we fit perfectly. We have a really unique experience in it and I really feel it has to be voiced.
How did you get your album on Itunes?
My producer, 6Fingers, the brains behind all the projects.
How did you guys get together?
He went to one of my shows and asked me to come up to his studio. So I go to Vallejo, and he has this track for me, “Whats the Hustle”, which is the last bonus track on the album. And then I just kept coming back. It went from a collaboration, to my solo song, and then it blew up into an album.
How long have you been working with him?
Less than a year. But a year now! We work well together. He’s a genius.
So you’re currently in Law School. Do your Law and Music worlds ever collide?
I try to keep it separate, but they collide. It’s really weird because sometimes clients want to go to my shows and classmates find me on Myspace. They’re all, “So you’re a rapper?” and I’m all, “NO!!! Don’t say that.” Haha. It’s just different because the legal world has an expectation and rap doesn’t really fit there. It’s hard to reconcile and now they collide. It’s like one whole half of my life that I try to keep out of my music. Maybe next album, I want to touch more topics than what I did. I want to get deeper and talk about a lot of more stuff. I have a lot of stuff to say. But I don’t want to come off too preachy. And scattered, like oh I’m gonna address misogyny, Filipino culture, the law. . . etc. I just wanted to do a FUN album first.
Do you have a lot of performances coming up?
Yeah!!! I just had two this past Sunday, which were Streets of Gold and at night I made an appearance at The Cellar. Then on the 17th, I have an album release party at Etiquette Lounge, which I will also be performing at.
The Diamond Dame is available at Ameoba Records, Rasputin and is coming soon to iTunes and CD Baby. As a special treat for M.I.S.S. Crew readers, we have the Yummy track off of The Diamond Dame available for free download here! Enjoy!
- Hopie Spitshard’s “Diamond Dame” Coming Soon!
- The Music Link List – 2.02.2011
- The Music Link List – 09/15/2011
- The Music Link List – 1.12.2010
- We Got The Beat: ThruYou, Kutiman Mixes YouTube