HighTyde: CONCRETE Interview

Independent hip-hop star HighTyde is winning people over on and off the microphone. Producer/DJ Prezidential Poe says he was starting to hate the direction hip-hop was headed until he heard the Battle Creek, MI native’s ‘The Newtyded States of America’ album. “He made me fall back in love with hip-hop,” Poe says. “I’m excited for ‘The Newtyded States of America’ sequel, and I’m very honored to be involved with the making of and promotion of the LP.”

Signed to Word/Warner Bros until 2004, HighTyde departed the label for the assumption of total control of his career direction. Gifted on the microphone and in areas such as marketing and promotion, HighTyde has turned heads regionally and nationally with his music, work ethic, and annual ‘Project Cypher’ charity concert series.

CONCRETE: You’re coming off your second annual ‘Project Cypher’ charity concert, which received an astounding amount of press. You’ve got a ton of momentum, all of it attributed to your hard work and hustle. What have you been able to accomplish independently that you likely would not have with Warner Bros.?

HighTyde: I think specifically with any sort of contractual requirement you’re always at the mercy of someone higher up. Independently, I’ve been able to grow and expand my brand not only at my own pace, but at my own discretion. I think so many artists get this notion that if you’re not signed you’re not a big deal, but it couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Being independent has allowed me to make connections, and look into business ventures that personally interest me. Just recently, Prezidential Poe and myself became the Missing Linx.

CONCRETE: Tell us what that is.

HighTyde: Basically we’re a promotional team, we’re confidence builders, we connect artists with other artists, and we promote albums; we are the middlemen who arrange connections and push artistry to the fans. There’s no contractual obligations, we just look for strong team players who are willing to put in work and not only promote themselves, but the other artists that we work with. We know that artists struggle to be heard, artists can’t afford beats or studio time, so we provide connections. All we ask in return is everyone promote not only themselves but the other artists that we work with to really build that community feeling. Not only is it a pay it forward situation for us, but we get to teach a younger generation of artists how to be able to stand on their own feet and brand themselves by connecting them with not only other artists, but graphic designers, photographers, other promoters… Basically, anything that will help them become self-substantial in the long run.

CONCRETE: HighTyde, you’ve had a substantial run. Because of your successes, people look to you for direction. As an MC why is symbolism so important?

HighTyde: Symbolism is just such a strong word in the hip-hop culture. It’s the very essence of not only the person or MC you are, but the visions that you display on record. When you think of the words “icon” or “idol”, you think of someone that stands for something, no matter what the message. If you look up to and respect an artist, you know they stand for something, and that’s why symbolism is so relevant. I’ve seen so many artists over my life with no direction, no real goals in sight, and I sit back and think, “They aren’t standing for anything, there’s no movement behind them.” And as a fan, it’s hard for me to get behind someone that isn’t inspiring me.

CONCRETE: Since we’re talking symbolism, is your album ‘Two Dates and a Dash’ more about what you’ve left after you’ve passed on than what impressions you make now?

HighTyde: I believe ‘Two Dates and a Dash’ is really a combination of both. It’s very symbolic of the time period after we pass and the impression and legacy that we leave behind. When we leave this earth, all we’re remembered by is our headstone that reads “birthdate – passing date”. And I started to look at this scenario and say to myself, “Why are people’s lives, their legacies,
being represented by a simple dash?”

CONCRETE: That’s an excellent question. Our lives are loaded with details.

HighTyde: People lead such rich and interesting lives, and to me the dash just never represented the struggles, the pain, or the joys that we all go through in life. So I wanted to be able to leave my lasting impression on this album. I wanted to take people on a journey and fill in that dash, so people truly understood what it was like from the day I was born until the day I passed away. In fact, one album alone will never be able to encompass all the highs and lows, but it’s a good jumping off point. And I feel its very representative of where I came from, who I am, and where I’m going.

CONCRETE: What symbolic point, what impression are you looking to make with ‘The NewTyded States of America’ album series?

HighTyde: Jumping from ‘Two Dates and a Dash’ into ‘The NewTyded States of America’ was basically my way of welcoming people into a whole new world of hip-hop culture. It’s that “feel good” feeling of community and openness to express ourselves without restriction. These are the same traits I apply to my ‘Project Cypher’ concert event every year. Your gender doesn’t matter, your height, your weight, your age, your skill level, your sexual preference, and your ethnicity doesn’t matter. Call it what you will, but it’s basically my “call to arms”. I’m proudly stating, “Come join me in a world where we can all work together cohesively. We can combine our efforts and do what one man alone can’t do.” And this series is definitely a journey for me, as it’s a planned trilogy with the sequel coming October 2015, and the final chapter coming in 2016. |