WHILE PARTS OF PITTSBURGH LIKE LAWRENCEVILLE AND EAST LIBERTY ARE STARTING TO FEEL THE EFFECTS OF GENTRIFICATION, OTHER SECTIONS ARE STILL FEELING THE SLOW BLEED OF THE ONCE VIBRANT STEEL INDUSTRY THAT HAS ALL BUT ABANDONED THE AREA.
NEIGHBORHOODS LIKE BRADDOCK AND MCKEESPORT ARE FILLED WITH EMPTY MILLS AND SHUTTERED BUSINESSES THAT CATERED TO THE WORKERS THAT INHABITED THESE BOROUGHS. THE LACK OF JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND THE BLIGHT THAT GOES ALONG WITH IT MAKE THESE PLACES THE PERFECT SOIL FOR BREEDING CRIME. IT IS ALSO THE PLACE THAT ONE OF PITTSBURGH ‘ S MOST SKILLED MCs CALLS HOME.
BORN AND RAISED IN MCKEESPORT, B WHITE WEARS HIS CITY’S NAME LIKE A MEDAL OF HONOR. OVER THE LAST DECADE B HAS BEEN BUILDING A REPUTATION OF MURDERING BEATS. WHETHER IT’S A CLASSIC EAST COAST BOOM BAP TRACK OR A CLUB BANGER, HE SHOWS NO PREJUDICE WHEN HE’S ON THE MIC.
WITH SOME PRETTY BIG MOVES ON THE HORIZON, WE SEIZED THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASK B SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT GOT HIM TO WHERE HE IS AND WHAT MIGHT BE IN STORE FOR THE FUTURE…
1. How long have you been taking mcing seriously? What’s motivated you the most to grab the mic?
I guess I’ve always been serious about making music but my mid 20s I really realized the gift I had so I gave it a run. Been running ever since. The motivation comes from hunger. Simple as that. Im hungry as ever so thats the motivation.
2. Most rappers often get pigeonholed as a street rapper/battle rapper/or lyrical rapper or whatever may be the hyped term for the moment. You have been able to avoid that by basically encompassing all of the above. What influences as a mc has impacted this?
Well of course the usual suspects Jay-Z, Scarface, Tupac & so forth were my influences because I grew up in that era. But I would say my neighborhood and the city of Pittsburgh have more influence on my music than anything or anyone ever could
3. On the production side you have worked with dudes who have made a long list of hits as well as cats who are just beginning to get some shine. Who are some producers you’d like to work with? Is there anything in particular you’re looking for when listening to some instrumentals?
When I listen for beats im really just checking for something hot. Or something with potential to be dope. I know my lyrics and style can add a whole new flip to a beat that the naked ear doesn’t hear on a “blank” canvas. As far as who I’d like to work with, I’d say whoever got heat. Im not biased at all. Famous or nameless I’ll rock with you if its good music.
4. Your catalog is one of the more consistent collections of alot of mcs putting out releases these days. Do any of your albums stick out as a favorite? Which one would you tell someone who hasn’t heard b.white to check out first?
For a first time listener I always recommend my latest work. It just seems natural. But in my opinion, “The Verdict” is my best album.
5. Any words on your next release (date/title/features)
I’ve been working alot with the New York based label Deep Concepts Media (DCM) who signed Nature and also working alot with Hubbs. New song with Nature coming soon. But im not sure on any dates or titles. In time, in time haha.
6. How has your creative process changed since you first started recording?
It’s remained pretty consistent. Write in my free time and record EVERYTHING with Big Jerm. Im just alot more confident due to my experience.
7. If you could go back 10 years what advice would you give yourself when it comes to this music business?
Don’t do it. Buy real estate instead.
ID LABS producer BIG JERM
8. Any monumental moments you’ve had from being an mc (any stand out shows/recording sessions/discussions)
My last show @ the Rex Theater. We sold it out. Everyone came. Easily my greatest moment in music. Also, I record with the best engineer in the world. It becomes normal after working with him for so long but it’s not, its a blessing. I thank Big Jerm all the time.
9. This day and age a good chunk of artists have been able to find success without a label. This also means taking on many different roles besides just being an mc. In an ideal world do you see yourself taking this route or finding a home on a proper label?
I would like sign as long as my creative control isn’t interfered with of course. Theres alot of parts of this business I dont like doing. I just want to make albums and tour. In a perfect world the label would handle the rest. But we all know that’s not the case.
10. What have you been listening to lately?
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Etta James, BB King, Bob Seger, Al Green and the list goes on. Rap, not so much. Im easily bored. I listen to Skynyrd’s “Mr. Banker” everyday. I know, im a weirdo haha.
11. Wax or flowers?
Both. I call it making a salad. The rig been dropping me lately though, so I been resting……..for now.
12. You take being from the Mon valley very seriously. ..explain to outsiders what McKeesport is like
Its a steel mill town with no steel mills. Just a fading history. It encompasses what America is turning into right under our nose. No work and alot of crime. So we get cornered into making bad decisions. Thats gonna produce grimey people, its simple. Im the epitome of the Mon Valley and I’m gonna rep that til I’m gone. It feels like my duty. In a strange way I’m proud of that.
13. Where would you be without hip hop?
I dont know. Probably exactly where I am now. But I wouldn’t have been able to do this interview and for that, thank you hip hop. Thank you too Iggy. You’re a stand up guy. Salute