Friday, February 19, 2010

Divine Seven Interview

Few emcees in Pittsburgh have the ambition shown by Divine Seven. Sev's extensive resume has earned him the credibility and respect that many artists strive for. In 2009, this multi-faceted MC released two collaborative albums and performed at more than 50 live shows. However, before growing accustomed to the spotlight, Sev had more than a decade of experience in creative writing.

Rory Webb: Prior to being one of the most recognized MC’s in Pittsburgh, Divine Seven had notebooks full of poetry. So let’s take it back to the first poem put to paper. What inspired you to begin writing?

Divine Seven: Haha! First and foremost, peace and thanks to you for the interview, good brutha! It’s funny you should ask that, though. I began writing seriously in 1997. It’s weird how it happened though because I actually awoke from my sleep in the middle of the night and just started writing. I wrote two poems that night. The first was entitled ‘I Thank Thee’. It was an ode to the Creator and I was thanking him for the gift and for guiding me through certain situations. I was impressed considering that I never seriously used that form of art as expression.

Life is what inspired me though. I came from a pretty arduous background and experienced a lot of things early in life. Throughout all of that, I was always inspired by music. I loved how an artist could arrange a song, exercise the power of speech, and really move people.

RW: Was your poetry something that you shared or kept private?

DS: In the beginning, I felt a little intrepidation about sharing some of it because it was so personal, ya know? But as time went on I felt more compelled to let it breathe because 1) I thought it was a great way to express myself creatively and 2) I was good at it! (laughs) It’s hard for a creative person to not want to express it with an intended ear, fa’real.

So yeah, I used to share it with close friends and associates. Around that time I was involved in a poetry circle (laughs) and learned how to do spoken word/freestyle. Once I did a joint for an open mic back then, I was hooked. I knew then that I was working with something.

RW: Will you explain the similarities and differences between writing lyrics to a song and writing poetry? And how has your experience in writing poetry contributed to your talent in writing songs?

DS: I used to always say that emceeing is a lot easier than writing poetry because the art and precision with words were different. With poetry, I thought that it was more meticulous because it relied solely on words. I learned to be very conceptual and creative there. I found emceeing to be easier because your personality, charisma, etc. can come out there and really connect along with the words. The impact is different.

In retrospect, I only thought writing poetry was more intricate because I haven’t yet grown into my craft.

RW: In the past year, you’ve managed to release various music projects, both as a solo artist and as part of a team. The Black Connection album had you and fellow MC Ayatollah Jaxx trading verses, while the Seven Wonders EP was fully-produced by BusCrates 16-Bit Ensemble. Can you talk about the significance of networking and collaborating with other artists in the city?

DS: It’s very important for various reasons. It’s essential to network and build with your peers. There is a very talented pool of people here. But even beyond that, it’s important to show the city and the global hip hop community that Pittsburgh artists can collaborate and contribute to each other’s successes. People ARE checking for us, ya know? We have a reputation here in the ‘Burgh of having that ‘crab in the barrel’ mentality though, ya dig?

RW: You’ve also toured an assortment of venues in the city of Pittsburgh. What goals have you set for 2010 to maintain your progression?

DS: Where do we begin? (laughs) As far as shows go, I don’t have a particular goal to attain, honestly. The shows usually just come at a steady pace. I intend to get paid for a lot more shows this year and not just do shows because they’re there. Since I came on the scene in the bottom of ’07, I’ve done over 140 shows in and outside of PA, you dig? Maybe rock bigger venues… I don’t wanna overextend my brand without adequate compensation (mo’ money).

I am, however, going to be more visible and interactive with the fans and supporters. Be it promotional campaigns, radio spots, interviews, collabs, mixtapes, whenever, wherever, whatever (Maxwell voice). (laughs)

RW: So you’ve been working on the new album, Introspect… The LP. Who have you been collaborating with and when will the people be given the opportunity to hear the album?

DS: For Introspect, I’ve worked solely with Pittsburgh talent… L. King, Steez Xtreme, J. Basement, Tabu Mahogany, and Jon Kwest. Plus my DNA fam, Nate Netro and Ayeques. I have tons of local production talent on there as well. J-Pad The Juggernaut, James Moore, Shade Cobain, Freeze, and many more have contributed to the soundscape.

The album is 85% done and should be available by the end of February, early March at latest. I’m looking to get this and all future releases in stores, too.

RW: In your opinion, what are the ingredients for a classic Divine Seven album? What have you done to strive for it?

DS: Hmmm… You would need pounds of creativity, a pinch of passion, a dash of lyricism, concepts, stories, and faith with staying in your own skin… I’ll leave it there on that… The rest of the game is to be sold.

I constantly strive for it though; I wanna make timeless music, man. I’m not comfortable with being put in boxes artistically, so when I release a project, I try to put my all into it and make sure it is distinct from my previous work. I wanna show the growth in my music. Music is life!

RW: Final comments?

DS: Most def… Be sure to cop Introspect... The LP at the top of March, coming to a store and website near you. Be on the lookout for the “Shadow Loungin’” video. Also, stay tuned for the free downloadable EP, LISTEN!!!(The DAT Turner Files) dropping on 4.12.10, as well as The Life and Times of DAT Turner... in the summer (both produced entirely by Shade Cobain). And last but not least, be on the lookout for the Seventh Entity mixtape to close the year out.

Shout outs to anyone reading this down to the letter. Peace to you as well, Rory! People like yourself help the artists on the scene tremendously with what we’re doing here, much love for that. Peace and thank you to all of my supporters and anyone who has contributed to my success. You all inspire me. Also, to my musical peers (there’s too many of y’all to name). You know who you are though. To all the college radio stations showing love, and the movements I move with… STEEL CITY, LET’S GET IT… GYEAH!!!

Divine Seven - "Sometimes," from the upcoming album Introspect

Divine Seven featuring Tabu Mahogany - "Hold On," from the upcoming album Introspect

Divine Seven & Ayatollah Jaxx as Black Connection - "Happiness"

Divine Seven & BusCrates - "Across the Waters," from the album Seven Wonders

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