franks

Most people would say that the time for true lyricism in hip-hop has passed. The purpose for hip-hip has always been to tell a story, and in the mainstream, those stories have lately become endless narratives of drugs, promiscuous sex, and copious amounts of money.

Being the platform that we are, we take it upon ourselves to bring to light the keepers of the original flames of hip-hop. Stevie Franks, an artist from Lawnside, NJ, chooses to embrace the process of storytelling in his lyrics, while still telling us that there’s room for the “alternative” new style that has begun to dominate the genre.

Currently, Stevie Franks is promoting his latest project release, Morals Over Money hosted by the homies TracQaeda, available now on iTunes. In an exclusive interview, Franks spoke with us about his experience growing up in a historically-rich African American town, the important resurgence of New Jersey rap, and his own style, known as “self motivational therapeutic rap.”

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DTS MEDIA: Who is Stevie Franks the artist?
Stevie Franks (SF): [I’m] just a regular guy from “around the way” who’s been multiple trials and tribulations and fazes that have lead him up to the person that he is today. When I make music I just want the fans to feel something, make their brain work a little and at the same time entertain them. If I had to give myself a style it would be “Self-motivational therapeutic reality rap”. Basically I’m going you my inner thoughts and pains. Telling you what I’ve learned, experienced and seen in my life and hope that you get something from it. Maybe even motivate you. My music is also therapy to myself and even my listener. But I also have that side where I can just be a “verbal murderer” and give you punchline after punchline to entertain the listener. That’s why I don’t want people to put me in a box. That’s I say I’m an artist not a rapper.

Coming up in Lawnside, New Jersey has definitely influenced my music. The town has so much history involved in it with Black History and Black owned business and all black schools and all black neighborhood. I got see the better side of our people. The togetherness. But as always for some reason with African Americans it’s always that terrible “dark side of the moon.” Lawnside is different from the one I knew. When I was growing up you couldn’t walk around after I certain time of the night. There were areas where u couldn’t walk or hang around if you didn’t want any trouble. Back then everybody knew everybody so it was all love or so I thought. Everybody knew my family so I was good wherever.

How it influenced me musically [was] multiple elements. The culture of the African colors, the history, the streets, sports everything. Hip hop was just apart of black culture period so I was bound to run into it. I used to hear my neighbors bangin’ Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Onyx and everything. As a matter of fact the first time I ever heard rap with cursing in it was through my best friend Wiz and at the time he was only 5 years old. Those were the days. The first time I ever heard hip hop music was in my uncles bedroom he had multiple tapes and a huge boom box. I was allowed in his room when I still went in there. I didn’t really know what I was listening too but I knew it was love though.

DTS MEDIA: How do you think NJ rappers are perceived by the rest of the industry as opposed to rappers from other (or bigger) places?
SF: I think a lot of times Jersey rappers are overlooked but lately I’ve been seeing a change in that. I think that people are looking for something new so they are starting to embrace us. But I think because Jersey doesn’t really have much to offer as far as opportunity I think that’s why we get overlooked and over shadowed by New York and Philly depending on what part of Jersey your from. We even adopted some of New York and Philly’s lingo in our slang. But to me it’s something different about our sound depending on who you are u can’t really put a stamp or a label on us. Most people when they think of Jersey they think of Redman or Queen Latifah or Joe Budden but even those artists have their own sound to them. No one is compared to them. To me I think Jersey Rappers are the most creative. I think given the right opportunity if not takeover we could make a great impact in the industry.

DTS MEDIA: What did you want fans to feel, or know about you after listening to “Morals Over Money?” What does the album title mean to you?
SF: What I want the fans to feel after listening to “Morals Over Money” is to generally get what Stevie Franks is about. Morals Over Money IS what Stevie Franks is generally about. I wanted to make a saying that people could relate to but it represented me at the same time. The EP represented my thoughts, feelings, pain and fact. Like I said before , I say things that are more catered to the real but facts based upon self motivation, self therapy, and reality and hoping my listeners could gain something from it whether it be knowledge, therapy, information etc.

DTS MEDIA: How’d you link up with TracQaeda?
SF: Beat selection should very important to any artist that wants to have a successful body of work. I met TracQaeda at show I performed at in Atlantic City, NJ back in 2014. We met up about a year later at the studio, vibed out and the connection was there from the rip. One thing about TracQaeda I respected was their work ethic. They also had a great ear for sound and music. They understood that you had to keep it hip hop but also cater to the newer sound as well. It wasn’t really a process we just understood what we wanted and got to work. And what we wanted was a great project so I went hard with the pen and they went hard on the beats. But what most artists don’t understand when your dealing with producers you have to establish a relationship but have a certain amount of trust as well. You have to not only trust the producer and yourself but trust the connection energy that you have so the body of work can be created to its full potential. But I’m not going to lie they did have understand my style and how I reacted to things so that I wasn’t making a fool of myself on wax. Once they found my sound and right tempo it was ball game from then on in.

DTS MEDIA: How do you feel about the way mainstream rap is currently going with less-than-lyrical artists?
SF: First off I wanna say that I may not necessarily agree with all of the newer sounding artists but they serve their purpose. I don’t really think you can call that hip hop it’s more so “Alternative Rap”. And I’m not speaking for everybody but we’re talking about the “mainstream” sound. I’m not mad at them at all. I’m more so mad at these critics, bloggers, DJs and industry folk who are trying to make them the new face of hip hop music and our culture. They are apart of it but not the general face of it. That lyrically side of our culture still exists it’s just not pushed as much by the masses. You still artists like Kendrick Lamar, J Cole and even older artist like Royce Da 5’9 who are still holding it down for the lyricists and the essence of what this thing was built on. I don’t hate it at all I’m just more so mad at the masses for pushing so hard because that other side has never left.

DTS MEDIA: When did you start making music? Would there be any reason why you would stop?
SF: I started making music when I was about 12 freestylin’ with my homies around the way and started writing a short time after that. But I didn’t start recording until I was about 16. I was in rap group called C.S.O.M. (City State Of Mind). Around this time. We disbanded about a year after coming together. I’ve just been a solo artist since then.

I’d say the only reason that I would stop would have to be due to a Divine message from the most high telling me to move onto something else. But I can’t stop writing and I can’t stop wanting more from this ad the doors keep opening so Ima b goin’ hard from now until the big man upstairs tells me otherwise.

DTS MEDIA: Can you tell us what to expect next?
SF: As far as future projects I’m currently working on the album now which is going to be crazy. I don’t want to give any spoilers because I truly believe that this next project will bring me bound respect. It should probably be out sometime in 2017. As far as where you reach me for updates on shows, videos, projects, radio and news you can log onto www.steviefranks.com. Or hit me up and my social networks on FB as Stevie Franks. Twitter & Instagram. I will also be doing a college tour where I will traveling to 6 colleges and giving hip hop workshops and performances. For further info on that go into my webpage in between Mid September- November. So look out for that very soon.

Photo Cred: @God_fist

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