Gifted in full music production, independent business ownership, and finally finishing what he started back in 1989 with a passion for Hip Hop music — now is the time for Indeanel to share his life stories and lessons with anyone willing to listen. Fresh off the release of his mixtape, “Social Conservative: Absolute,” Indeanel is slowly but confidently making strides to leave his mark on Hip Hop. Still representing the east coast sound but definitely loving every other dynamic to Hip Hop from various coasts, he is the embodiment of rawness, consciousness, and style on a lyrical platform.
1. How did you come up with your stage name?
The name “Indeanel” was something that just came to me. I began experimenting with the spelling and how it would appear, which led to its present distinction. “Inde” has many etymological variations, but the one that grabbed my attention was the Latvian meaning, “poison, venom”. “Anel” has a lot of meanings as well in different cultures, but from my research — it is a unisex name in the Latin, which means “promise”. I thought about traditional Hip Hop and how words like “ill,” “sick,” and “wicked” got thrown around a lot, and lyrically I wanted to “promise” to bring the “venom”. The whole experience of understanding why and how that name popped up out of thin air was pretty dope.
2. So being you are from both H-Town and Va, which place do you really represent as an artist?
I’ve been living in Texas since 1995. My father retired from the Army and moved down to Texas with the majority of my family to take on a new job. I had moved around most of my earlier years growing up, but we all ended up staying in Texas. VA is where I fell in love with Hip Hop (1992-1995), living there a second time around…as a civilian instead of an Army brat. My siblings and I were thrust-ed into VA public schools at the height of D.C. being the murder capital of the world. North VA was a hotspot for drugs, shootings, and a flow of crime. So, with Hip Hop music in a very influential and powerful period of time, I soaked up that culture and that energy. It saved me from getting lost in all of the things I just mentioned. I sold my first original recorded demo tape to middle schoolers in 1992. They loved it! A lot of my friends were from Brooklyn and Queens, Newark, and Philly. I was also cool with the local NOVA Go-Go music heads. Living in VA when Ilmatic, What’s the 411?, Strictly for My N.I.G.G.A.Z, 19 Naughty III, Ready to Die, The Chronic, and other classics dropped…I was in heaven. Alexandria, VA will always have my loyalty. I’ve just never connected with the Houston scene as an artist, but I definitely have love for it. I worked with a lot of Houston area artists, and they definitely had their own style and flavor. Nevertheless, VA is my heart, as well as the entire DMV as a whole.
3. We first heard you on Spitfire Volume 2 (Hosted by Treach), and your song really stood out. It sounded very much like a Pac record but with your own twist. When you penned that record what was going through your mind and do you think Hip Hop as a whole needs to get back to these records with substance?
I followed Tupac’s career during his years with Digital Underground and then onto his first debut. My mixtape song, “Social Conservative: Absolute” on Spitfire Vol. 2 was not intentionally penned to sound anything like Pac, but I refuse to be an artist that denies the impact this man has had on my ability to write songs with substance and passion. Treach impacted me with his delivery, strong use of literary elements and devices throughout his verses, and the ability to bring an anthemic vibe to a very robust Hip Hop industry.
My father passed away in July of 2013, and I lost a person extremely close to my heart. My mother lost her best friend of 50 years, and my siblings were just as devastated as I was. I began to re-evaluate my life, mortality, and my overall purpose. Using modern political terminology for subliminal messaging, being socially conservative was my way of expressing a love for being more cognizant of who I am as a man and what I’m doing with my life at this point. I reached out to my default programming, Hip Hop…and it reached back and helped me get through my madness.
Now, in regard to what Hip Hop needs to get back to and the state that it is currently in, Treach said it best in the 2014 BET Cypher, “Now here’s a true statement, half of the Hip in Hip Hop needs a hip replacement!” My goodness…that’s exactly how I feel. Hip Hop isn’t dead, but it is definitely not at optimal health so yeah, we have to get back to records with substance. The veterans and offspring of the veterans have to save Hip Hop or we’ll lose it forever.
4. So we know about you turning down a deal with a major record label in the 90’s. Do you regret that decision today, also can you tell us what made you turn it down in the first place?
I was 17 at the time and finishing up my junior year in high school in Texas. I was one of the most ambitious self-produced, self-operating rapper/producer/studio owner cats in the area. I was producing and working with over 24 different local artists and small rap groups, as well as R&B and some Rock. I lived my craft yo…I just went to high school because it was something I had to do. To flashback a bit, the first time I ever attempted to get in the music industry was in the early 1990’s (5th grade) when I contacted Sista Souljah’s lawyer from Pittsburgh, PA. I saw her number in the j-card of Sista Souljah’s cassette tape and called her. She asked me if I had a “demo,” and I was like “Huh? What’s that?” That’s when I started my journey of learning about the industry and getting in the game. I started rapping over Jazz beats by the late great Joe Sample (“Spellbound” 1989) and other artists like Spyro Gyra (“Catching the Sun” 1980). By 7th grade, I was self-taught in the piano and track layering with two tape decks, a DJ mixer, and some Radio Shack headphones and microphones. I remember typing up letters to Flavor Unit and joining Queen Latifah’s fan club to show my support to what was being done out there. I wanted so badly to be part of that era and movement. The kids rocking the mic at that time were Da Youngstas, Chi Ali, Shaheim, Kris Kross, Illegal, and a few other young groups.
All of that led up to when I was in Texas by early 1995 and got better equipment (analog). I wasn’t a computer software junkie like I am, and many others are now. I was programming drum machines, keyboards, and working on a 4-track recorder before eventually moving up to a mini-disc 44.1k 4-track recording device. I was mastering my craft in all areas and began to call record labels directly…requesting to speak to their A&R reps. I connected with Elektra, Atlantic, Sony/MJJ, Arista, Jive/BMG, MCA/Universal, and some other labels at the time. I began to make a solid connection with an A&R who worked closely with the label’s marketing division and I would just blow up this guy’s office phone right after school and peruse his mind about the music industry. I asked all sorts of questions and would share new music over the phone. He would coach me and give me tips on ways to improve the song structure to industry standards. Finally, he heard something he liked and requested for me to send him a demo to let another A&R guy (who made the decisions around there) hear it. As a young rapper, the guy said I wasn’t ready and needed more development. As a producer and performer, they wanted me. The A&R I had been conversing with for months each day after school finally offered me a deal to come to NY and sign with the label. I expressed that I was crazy pumped about that opportunity but had to get the okay from my parents. My mom spoke with this A&R and turned him down. She stated she intended to send me to college. The A&R really tried to convince my mom to get me out to NY, but she wasn’t budging. My hopes and dreams were dashed to pieces, but everything happens for a reason. That refusal from my mom led me to a chance encounter with DJ Premier!
5. Are you able to say which record label it was that you turned down?
I was offered a deal by MCA/Universal through an A&R named Mr. Bradshaw. I’ve reconnected with Mr. Bradshaw in the past year, and he’s really doing well with himself post-major label retirement. At the time, my rap name was “Exodus,” but I shifted that name to my production alias now, as “Exodus de Alexandria”. I never brought up our more than a decade old connection because I was just leaving the past in the past. He probably dealt with so many artists at the time, I doubt he remembers that brief moment of interest in my music. However, I always wonder how my music career would’ve gone had I made it to NY and did something out there. I so badly wanted to work with Big Pun and the Terror Squad and countless other acts.
6. Almost every track we heard from you has a message and a smooth flow. One of the ones that really kept our ear open was “Start Brand New”. In that song you spit, “Black men looking like fools with gold ropes and slave trends”. Can you go deeper on that line and speak about what troubles you with today’s Hip Hop?
That song right there was my soul being poured out as a sort of proclamation of my feelings toward this love of mine. I remember an interview Tupac had with Tabitha Soren of MTV not long after he was released from Dannemora Clinton Correctional Facility (Riker’s Island), and at one point she asked him about the use of the N-word in his songs in comparison to his reaction of being called the N-word in prison by whites. He said “Ni-ggeeeerrrs are the ones on the rope hangin’ on the thing. Ni-gggggaaaaaz is the ones WITH gold ropes hanging out at clubs.” That resonated with me over the years, as I was doing my best to understand why this word still had such power in our community.
Back in the day, the energy of rocking’ jewels was on a different wavelength. If you wore jewels, it was a calling card to indicate status, respect, wealth, and even the connection of respect to traditional African kings and queens that were laced in diamonds and gold. Black men in 2015 wear it simply because it is fashionable and could care less about what some of those medallions symbolized. We went from shackles around our necks, wrists, and ankles to gold ropes. Aesthetically, that looks great! However, this new generation has become slaves to materialism.
Today’s Hip Hop is diseased, and the cancer that is killing this culture is sheer ignorance and a lack of knowledge. I operate a recording studio in my home and work with local artists again like I used to back in high school…this time with much better equipment. I get sooo many young rappers that show up and have not a clue who Treach or Kool G. Rap, Rah Digga, Mobb Deep, or Special Ed and EPMD are! I’m like “Yo, do you know who Big Daddy Kane is? Big Pun? Big L? SCARFACE?!” They’re clueless…I’m like “Holy…!” What rock have these kids been living under for the past 15 years?! They think Drake, K.Dot, J. Cole, Rozay, Tunechi, and Nicki Minaj are the greatest to ever do it. They know Eminem and love him, but yeah…Em is just…well, Em. I’m just insulted by the lack of Hip Hop history going on here in 2015. An entire generation is devoid of knowledge about the art form they are trying to make a living off of. If you were to quiz the majority of new-“new” school rappers on Hip Hop, they would fail miserably. The veterans are not getting the love and respect owed to them. They built this!
7. What else is in the works? Any shows, mixtapes, albums, etc.?
Houston is one of the most difficult cities to make it in, as well as Texas as a whole. So, going the online route and trying to reach as many people as I can is the way to go. I wish I could land some gigs at The House of Blues, Club Limelight, Warehouse Live, and other places, but Houston rap dominates the region. No matter what, I’m going to try though. I’m considering dropping another mixtape for 2015, while I continue working on new songs for my debut album, “Things Are Different: When Hip Hop Wasn’t Silenced”. If I can land some more features on mixtapes being released during 2015, I think I could potentially generate enough buzz to get a decent following to support what I’m trying to do. I like what David Banner said in an interview not too long ago, “The game has to have balance…if everyone is coming out all conscious, then I’m coming out gangsta!” I get what he was saying though…there has to be an equilibrium here. I’m trying to help bring that. I’m working on treatments for two of my current mixtape songs, “Social Conservative: Absolute” and “No More Suicide” for some really thought-provoking music videos. Aside from that, I’m steady grinding and paying the rest of my dues until the good Lord favors what I’m doing.
8. You had a chance to meet DJ Premier! Can you explain to our readers what that was like and to this day how did it help shape you into the artist you are?
Well, Premo’s family is from Houston and was working at Prairie View A&M University alongside my father who also worked there. After my mom shattered my dreams of going to NY and being this big rapper and producer, she reached out Premo’s parents who lived right down the road. Premier was in town for Christmas, and my mom brought me over to his parents’ house to meet him. I was like “GTFOH! DJ Premier!” I was a huge Gang Starr fan growing up and DJ Premier’s beats are literally like no other. The way he blends, scratches, and just captivates the original record with a break beat and accompanying instruments is sheer genius!
So, he talked openly about his time in NY upon arriving and doing what he had to do to make it in the Belly of the Beast. He admitted that he did some “not so good things” to survive. While listening to him talk, I glanced around the room and saw plaques that said “Do The Right Thing” and “Gang Starr,” and I’m just like “Yo, this is unbelievable!” After he shared his experiences and life lessons about the music industry at the time, I asked him if he’d be willing to listen to my “demo”…Sista Souljah flashbacks. I was on my EPMD tip, “pleeeease listen to my demo” lol! He was mad cool…we walked out to his pop’s Cadillac and popped the cassette in. He was noddin’ to the beats and was asking me questions like, “Yo, who is your favorite groups right now?” I was like “Naughty, Wu-Tang, you and Guru, ‘Pac…” He nodded in acknowledgement and approval. He gave me advice on the beat making process, mixing, mastering, and things that at the time were way beyond me. His willingness to just take time out and give a young artist a chance to be heard was selfless and kind. It changed everything for me. I felt like I did more than exist as just one of the many “rappers” out there trying to turn their dreams into a reality; I actually had somewhat of a blueprint and something solid to go off of. I’ll never forget that little investment he poured into me.
9. You have been grinding for a while in this game. In 2015, what is your goal?
Yeah, I’ve been at this thing for over 20 years, with a lot of that time being spent developing my skills, honing my craft, and being the very best I could possibly be at this. From 1999 to 2004, I took time away from Hip Hop music as a whole. I was in college from ’98 to ’01, and then after that I was working full-time as a school teacher…still am. I gave my life to the Lord, cut out the weed smoke, drinking, and self-defeating mentality I often battled with. I had to take all that I learned in my earlier years and find myself again. I remember nearly dying of alcohol poisoning at the age of 17 in Summer of ’97. After Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace were snatched away from us, by the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was burned out. Hip Hop went into sort of a new but confusing direction, and I was just trying to find my place again. By 2006, I began working with artist from different genres just to see if I still had the passion to make quality music. After my dad passed away in July 2013, my passion to write, rhyme, record, produce, and jump back in this with a renewed energy occurred…leading me to this point right now. 2015 is going to be the year that people finally discover what I’m capable of doing. I promise to bring that venom, that rawness, and that thought-provoking music. I’m dropping an album hopefully before June 2015 and two music videos within the next month or so. I gotta leave more behind than a mixtape. I always dreamed of making it to the Grammys to win an award in some category, but now I’m happy just to have a renewed passion for music.
10. Unlike most rappers you graduated from college and used your degree to help form your label, Trialcase Records. How has graduating college given you an upper hand with your label and can you tell us about the label roster and whats up next from your company?
I received my undergraduate degree in English back in December 2001, and then in December of 2013, I acquired my Masters in Business Administration. It was the MBA that reminded me of my knowledge of the music industry at such an early age and what I could do with it at my present age. The degree shifted my mind from artist to businessman because as I was told decades ago, “the industry is 90% business and 10% fun.” When I put MBA beside my government name, I get a certain level respect that others might not get…again that’s presumptive. Here’s another flashback: I remember cursing out Tim “Buttnaked” Patterson at Epic/Sony who was head of A&R over there for a time because he wasn’t giving me a chance. I ended up calling him back and apologizing a day later lol. Here was this guy who helped put on some of the biggest acts in the game telling me that he wasn’t feeling my style and suggesting I go to No Limit Records, and I just spazzed out on duke. Hindsight is 20/20.
I had Trialcase Records going as early as 1996, just not official. I finally made it into a reality last year in March. I studied up on mechanicals, 360s, royalties, points, publishing, copyrights, trademarks, and other important music industry knowledge just to stay abreast and sharp. The roster consists of my close high school friend Kwest, who is a traditional Hip Hop artist like myself. I also work with a very good friend of mine, Beloved, who sings and writes Christian/Gospel music and does motivational speaking. Then there’s Henry Bliley who I assist in his pursuit to make authentic Rock music. These artists are not officially signed to my label; however they are my inner circle.
Aside from those artists, I have three aliases I assume to help connect to different genres. Exodus de Alexandria is my producer name that I use when being credited for work I’ve done on any music project as a producer. I released my first Electronic/Downtempo album in September 2012. I also sing as well and devoted a huge portion of my time and talent to God by releasing a very personal and heartfelt musical letter as artist, Aloysious, with an album released in March 2013. I do all Hip Hop under the name Indeanel. The reason for doing this is so that I’m not crowding everything under one mantle and forcing people to listen to all of it at once. MF Doom of KMD did the same thing, as well as countless others who do that to break into other genres.
What’s next for Trialcase Records, LLC., is hopefully a distribution deal, a strong marketing push, and some blessings from above with this music. I would like to get some music in TV/film, break into acting, knock out at least one major motion picture music score, and land some voice acting roles with animated films. But at the core of it all is my passion for Hip Hop. If I can just use the music to awaken some minds, it would be phenomenal for me and others in my circle.
11. It was cool chopping it up with you bro, in closing let our readers know where to check you out and whatever else you want to let them know. Also thanks for keeping real hip hop alive with the substance, we need that nowadays! (plug links, etc)
Most definitely bro, I appreciate the opportunity to share my history, passion for Hip Hop, and future plans with MTK. I just want to let the readers know that Hip Hop is not dead. It needs listeners, artists, writers, and Hip Hop conservationists. We have to protect and preserve this wonderful thing that was birthed out of the South Bronx and has spilled over into nations all over the world. We have to continue throwing our hands up at the parties, shouting out “Hip Hop Hooray!” and keep breathing life into this culture. Hip Hop is not just music, it is the positive and safe haven for our children who need to escape the nightmares of urban warfare going on in our streets. It is something for everyone that needs a voice and is tired of being shut up by the corrupt powers that seek to silence the masses. We have to keep DJ’ing, break dancing, beat boxing, rhyming, graffitiing, and spreading the knowledge of this culture. I want to once again shout out Tha Advocate, the DMV area, and H-Town. Let’s keep real Hip Hop alive and well. Peace & Love!