It's about that time. No, not clobberin' time, but the time for another True God interview. Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Brother True about some of the things that've taken place since the last time I spoke with him in-depth. Have things changed for the #TeamDAR Aficionado with some of his new responsibilities? Ladies and gentleman, without further ado, I give you the ever-opinionated, never shy True God.
Speed on the Beat: This is the fastest I've seen actually you back at work in a while. I mean, we both are on the "oh shit, let's bounce ideas" level almost 25/8/367, but I mean actual work. What was the urgency behind 371 (Three7One)?
True God: Honestly, it was just inspiration. I finished recording Soul Revival 2 in August pretty much and right around that time was when I had my daughter taken to another state. I had nothing around me that was therapy outside of music. I was writing random verses and an idea hit me. I had been through so much over a period of time that I wanted to put it in an album. There isn't any urgency necessarily behind Three7One, but my energy just moves fast. When music connects as well as it did, I knew I had something special. So I'm releasing this classic in April. I could have done sooner since I finished recording it in December, but I had to space it out.
SOTB: On the track "Growth Over Time," you show a lot of, well, growth. Let's, for a second, compare it to another track that you did of a similar vein, "Reminisce" from your first album Soul Revival. How would you explain to someone unfamiliar to your journey how "GOT" compares to your earlier tracks?
TG: I wouldn't say "Growth Over Time" is similar to "Reminiscent" off Soul Revival 1. "Reminiscent" was more so a narration of my entire life, and while "Growth Over Time" is reflective, its also current day. I'm taking everybody through a journey, one almost of exasperation. I would say, personally, that "Growth Over Time" is better than most of the earlier tracks I did. The platform that was laid out for me to vent on and do storytelling, as well as the passion in the verses, makes it one of my favorite tracks of all time. It's 7 minutes of frustration, pain, rebirth, redemption, and it's purely soul on wax. I've always put my soul into my music, but something's different about "Growth Over Time."
SOTB: What's your opinion on hip-hop recently?
TG: I don't really have an opinion (laughs). Hip hop's pretty bland musically for the most part at the moment. 2013 was honestly a slow year despite Jay, Cole, Drake, Wale (laughs), and more releasing albums. I feel like music still lacks soul in the mainstream at least. The underground itself is doing good as far as music. Myself, my TEAMDAR squad and affiliates, other known cats like Elhzi, Blu, Phonte, Rapsody, and more always come correct on the music tip. There's not enough artistry...or should I say there's not enough respect for artistry.
SOTB: Now, you've been at this a while now. Do you ever find yourself listening back to your old music and asking "why did I do this?"
TG: Never. I had a moment of that before but now I appreciate the journey. I make amazing music. I've always been an amazing lyricist but at one point, I didn't know how to make albums and full projects, so the songs that I was doing at the time were forced even. This was like 2009-2010 and I was in an uninspired place in music and life. I don't feel bad about the music though. All a part of the journey to be the legend that's here now on his 4th album, working on his 5th.
SOTB: Tell me a bit about Old Beats Record, the new beatsmith among TEAMDAR. How'd y'all start making music?
TG: Soundcloud (laughs). I remember saying to myself that I would NEVER have one because everybody has it and then I realized I had no choice but to make one (laughs). I'm glad I did because OldBeatsRecord found me on there and we connected. I told him I'd be interested in doing work with him and this guy sent me, like, 35 beats altogether over one week. I went through a lot of them, recorded on eleven of them, and that was his contribution to Three7One. I'm working with him on the next album as well, that dude is super talented.
SOTB: Working with just one or two producers on a project, is it a good thing or a bad thing?
TG: I initially intended to work with four producers on Three7One but Slashwaterboy and Tha Understudy were AWOL this time around for whatever reason. I had amazing ideas that I shot over to them for beats and they said they were going to hook it up, it never came through. For me, I think I prefer working with one or two producers on a project, because musically its more intimate and cohesive. I can work with any producer and do great, but the team I have around me and the producers I do work with help with cohesion in the music. I can't see it being a bad thing really as long as the producers I work with give fresh perspectives each go-round.
SOTB: How have things been with Zuri [True's soon-to-be-two-year-old daughter] living out-of-state at the moment? Now, I know a lot of what's going on--at least what you feel comfortable telling, of course--but some of your fans may not.
TG: Terrible. I'm making strides in business and music, but it's terrible without her around all the time. I see her a few times a month, because I have to travel ten hours to be close to her. And every time I'm with her, life is beautiful. Her smile and her personality, her facial expressions--that princess makes my life feel worth living. So, it's tough. I miss my daughter more than anything. I was there everyday for so long and taking care of her, so I still don't know how to function without her around everyday. There's a part of me missing. My heart's not in Maryland anymore. My soul, my mind, nothing of me is in Maryland anymore. Just my physical form. Wherever Zuri is, is where my home is. The faster I'm out of Maryland and just at peace in North Carolina, the better. That's what I'm working on.
As far as me and Zuri's mom? (Pauses) We're cool. Cordial. Which is surprising after the crazy spring, summer and a bit of the fall. At some point, I had to tell her "I don't hate you. I can't hate you. When I look at our child, I see us. I see the love we had. I can't hate you. And you can't hate me. When you look at her, you see me". You know, Zuri was made out of love and that's another reason why she's so precious to me. She was brought in this world through what felt like the realest love ever at the time. I always believe the only time you should bring a child into the world is when it's made out of love. Zuri is a child of love. She has love in her eyes, her soul, her heart and she's beautiful. That comes from both me and her mom. Despite our personal lives and differences, we'll always have Zuri as our greatest achievement.
SOTB: Have you had any contact with some you've had animosity with? Considering how you've constantly indicated that you're loyal to a fault, have some of these bridges been mended?
TG: Yeah. I mended a lot of fences over the year. There's a few people who I'll forever say "fuck you" when I think of them, but I'm letting them live so they should be thanking me. Outside of those few people, yeah I've made peace with a few cats. It wasn't a big thing, just sitting down like men and talking out whatever issue there was without conflict. Some of the folks I've had animosity with were like brothers to me at some point and they still are. Just because we've had issues or problems doesn't mean we can't squash that and move on like adults. That's where I am now. Even Muse, my brother and I, had an issue/misunderstanding years ago. I think we came to an understanding in recent years that he is who he is and I'm always going to be who I am. We both matured and when we hung back around each other, that same brotherly bond shit was still there. You would've thought me and this nigga had been popping bottles the last 7 years because that's how cool it was. So, mending fences and squashing issues is something I did, just so there's peace and problems can be taken care of.
SOTB: How has the radio show helped out?
TG: TEAMDAR Radio has introduced my team to a newer audience. The show, which has a variety of topics, is reaching a bigger audience than I thought possible. So, it's a great thing. It's going to help open ears and eyes more in the coming months too.
SOTB: Have you received any flack for some of your opinions? Well, I know you have, but recently (and how come)?
TG: Yeah, always. I speak truth, in aggressive ways in the midst of a passive society so I'm sure that I'll always catch flack for my opinions. Doesn't bother me man. As long as I get under your skin, touch a nerve--whether good or bad--then the mission is accomplished.
SOTB: Going back to SR1, you mention that you'd rather die before your mother. Based off everything that's gone down since 2011, how have things been with your immediate family?
TG: When I think immediate family, my moms is the only person left outside of Zuri. I have a cordial relationship with most of my family now, but my moms is everything. She's gone through a lot and she's in an assisted living home now due to having dementia. Some people wonder why I'm so open and honest via social media and music, and it's because of the fact that I know someone can relate. I've had a large group of folks tell me that they relate and I've helped them repair their family bonds so I appreciate that always. My moms is doing okay now, though. I'm just working on getting her out of MD with me. She wants to leave, too.
SOTB: You still work with cats like J Pinky and them? (Editor's Note: J Pinky and True God collaborated on several tracks in 2011)
TG: Not really. I haven't heard from them dudes in a while. I reached out here and there but people look at me like I "changed" or something. Despite how busy I am, I still reach out but people don't necessarily show the love back anymore. It is what it is though.
SOTB: Out of the Three7One tracks, which track is your favorite? I know that's one of those things that can be somewhat spoiler-filled, but (without spoiling too much), what's your favorite track?
TG: I'll give you something better--I'll give you my top five off the album.
2. "Fatherhood" (Acapella)
3. "When We Find Each Other"
4. "Moral of The Story"
5. "Addiction" (tied with "Bitter Pill")
SOTB: Will there be any more mixtapes from you?
TG: Maybe. There's a TEAMDAR project in the works--which you should know about (laughs). But solo-wise? Maybe. I might do a small one before I drop my fifth album in November.
SOTB: Ok, I've got a couple more questions. Not trying to bore you here. Earlier, you mentioned that you need to, and I'm paraphrasing here, get the fuck out of the DMV and either move out west or down south. How exactly did that really come about?
TG: Like I said, at this point, Baltimore has very little for me. Business wise, personal wise, all of that. My mother is still here but she's able to move whenever, if need be. For me, Zuri is in NC, business is in NC, I love that area. As far as what's out West? Well, I have something special out there. So, that's another option. It's just apparent that God is showing me where I need to be and where I DON'T need to be. It's time to move on.
SOTB: Something special, eh? Guess that brings me to my last question. I see that you seem to have a new "Ms. True" in your life at the moment. How's that going for you and has that motivated or influenced your music any?
TG: It's interesting. A relationship for me is not something I expected to be in. I'll be perfectly honest here: I was in a relationship for eight years, that fell apart, and I've been single for a year technically. During that year, so many women tried to claim me as their own, and I wanted NONE of them. Some of them are still trying and I haven't been an asshole about it, but I didn't and will never want them. I figured I'd be single for a long time, but my music is prophecy.
I released "When We Find Each Other," and a day later my relationship became official. We'd been talking to each other for a minute and I guess the connection just got so strong that we knew we couldn't miss out on something special. She hasn't affected my music yet, but a lot of what I said in "When We Find Each Other" fits into what we have now. It's a beautiful thing, and the relationship is different for me. It's different for her too. Hopefully this lasts for a long time. And you know me, Speed. If I'm willing to call a chick mine, she has to be special. So there it is.