WOW! What a fresh ass album “The King Shall Prosper” you have to showcase to all of us underground heads! Big Les,a it’s really refreshing to know you’re a dope up and comer in the game today holding the indie/underground Hip Hop torch nice and high! For the music junkies who don’t know who you are, let them know? Where are you from? How did you become a Hip Hop artist?
What’s up! I’m Big Les, a rapper from the forgotten borough, Staten Island (Shaolin), New York. I’ve been rapping since I was 6 which was in the second grade. It was always a dope ass genre for me. Honestly though, I’m not even gonna hold you, I was in love with wrestling and magic when I was a lil fledgling as well. And my goal was to be a professional wrestler with the side of being a magician, but rapping was always there for me. However, childhood dreams don’t necessarily mean they’ll come true. I ended up falling deep into hip-hop music. As you grow older, you sorta grow to the maturity where you set realistic goals and my realistic goal was to be a rapper with a backup plan (even though I’d still pursue a backup plan being a famous rapper or not). I was always a poet in my mind and at heart and I loved writing so it was easier for me to delve into rapping. My main influence that got me into the game was definitely Marshall Bruce Mathers III a.k.a Slim Shady a.k.a Ken Kaniff a.k.a B-Rabbit a.k.a one of the greatest rappers ever, Eminem. And after Em, that’s when my whole life started to change.
Where does your artist name Big Les derive from?
It’s actually a weird story kinda, but it just shows how much our generation differs. I was probably one of the last rappers to actually use a name such as “Big Les” because now our generation has rappers like “Lil Toothpaste” and “Lil Jackass”. Hahah, but anyways, it was a day with my old homies and I. We had a group chat and basically we were making a bonafide rap group. It could have gotten places, in my opinion. I believed in it a lot. So going back to the group chat thing, we needed rap names. Before that, we were going by our governments, but we just wanted to feel like those famous rappers. A couple of us came up with names and then I joined the group later on a couple of days later. They told me to choose a name and I was thinking of different shit. I thought about Pun and L. They were artists ahead of their time, both taken away too early. I personally love their music as a true hip-hop head. I thought of the idea for “Big” for the first part of the name. And I was just thinking of things that went along with “Big”. I settled for Les as those are the first three letters of my government name, Leslie.
We recently conducted a review on your new album “The King Shall Prosper”, and Kevin, one of our main contributors really covered your album well! Please give us a brief background story on the creative process behind this body of work! Also, what’s the idea behind the album artwork cover?
Thanks to Kevin again for the review! So first off, I had been teasing the album for about a year and a half. Before it was an album, it was actually just going to be a mixtape. Just a bunch of songs thrown together and put up on Soundcloud, DatPiff, and MyMixtapez. I was going to use popular and original beats and spit over it which is kind of like a Lil Wayne – Dedication type mixtape (this idea hasn’t been ruled out yet though, so stay tuned). And I projected it to be released the summer of 2017. I had never got around to get good songs for it in my opinion and then I said December 2017. I was really pushing for that time, but I did not want to rush it. I ended up saying to myself that it had to be released in December 2017, but I also missed that time. I was dropping singles on a regular basis on SoundCloud and elsewhere just to keep some fire burning underneath the album until it dropped. I came up with the time in the summer of 2018 because I was annoying myself that I couldn’t get it done. And then my creative juices started to run wild and there the album was.
My main idea for the album was to have half the album be on some trap-esque (while maintaining a lyrical standpoint) type stuff while the other half would be on a more boom-bap type, softened side. If the album was going to be called “The King Shall Prosper”, isn’t it only right if I prove it? I took flows and beats similar to the new generation loves to listen to and make to create that first half. I was basically trying to say, “Oh that’s what you guys are doing? Let me see that for a second and show y’all how I can flip it.” So I just took what they do and made it better in a sense. The half and half album concept is mainly up for interpretation. It was just representing two different sides of the king because it’s all about perspectives like what you see and/or think and what you like to hear. For example: on the outside of the king’s crown may be shiny gold with diamond-encrusted ruby jewels. However, on the inside, you can see the “Made in China” imprint or it might be the Burger King crown. You never know. And the title is just my declaration that, not right now, but sooner or later, the king (me) shall prosper and
Lastly, for the album cover, my manager/videographer/director/vrother created it. He had originally put “The King Shall Prosper” in different languages, but the distributor wouldn’t allow it so I took out the different languages and ended up putting a picture of myself. I changed the color of it and had blown the picture up. I wanted to catch people’s eyes and so they can be like, “What the hell is that?”
We noticed you have a great tone, style and originality behind this album. How do you manage to stay creatively dope and maintain pushing dope material? As you know, the majority of rappers can’t stay consistent on an album.
You need to have a dire passion in something first and foremost. People like to just drop anything and get tight when people trash it. If you have a couple of friends, tell them to be honest. Have them take a listen and give genuine feedback. For me, that’s how I consistently improved my craft and still do. I always ask my fam how they feel about a song. I literally have like two albums worth of songs that I haven’t dropped yet and probably never will. Just because you make a song, it doesn’t mean it needs to drop. Shelve it. Personally, it allows me to grow to be a better artist. That’s how I stay creatively dope and always try to switch up what I’m doing so people can’t get bored.
Consistency is key and everyone wants to be a rapper until they see the work you need to put in. Literally you cannot just be a rapper. In this day and age, if you don’t have a team, then you have yourself and the internet. UTILIZE THESE THINGS. If you cannot afford a PR, be your own PR. Even though I hate to admit it, that’s why there are rappers like 6ix9ine out there. He personally utilized social media to be his own PR and created buzz by going out all over and showing he does not care about anything. It might not portray him in real life, but it’s why he’s successful. While being signed to a label like Dreamville would fulfill my dreams because I love Cole and Dreamville, you don’t always need a label to be successful.
Being an indie artist, how do you feel about having the power in your hands, not having to rely on a label or company to push your music?
I love having this power in my hands. It truly feels amazing at the time right now. While being signed to a label like Dreamville would fulfill my dreams because I love Cole and Dreamville, you don’t always need a label to be successful. You can pretty much do anything without having a higher power controlling your every move. While it’s not every label that treats their artists as industry slaves, it’s still a tough game. At the end of the day, they have to make their money somehow. Even though my music is distributed through a distributor, I’m not legally bound to some contract and can do whatever I want, release what I want, whenever I want, and how much I want.
How does social media play a role in the brand Big Les? How are fans / supporters helping your movement?
Social media plays a huge role in the Big Les brand. I always tell people who if you don’t have a good brand, don’t expect your fans to grow. Yes, you can buy followers, but is your engagement organic? Are people engaging in your posts? What are you doing for improving your brand?
I’m constantly looking for ways to build my fanbase. I usually just network with people like friends of friends and put them on to my music. My supporters are definitely huge additions to the movement. Everything is just gonna take time, but I’m alright with that.
With this being an underground hip hop site, we always ask this important question. What is your definition of “underground hip hop”?
My true definition of “underground hip-hop” is kind of biased since I grew up listening to some amazing underground rappers like MF DOOM, Immortal Technique, etc., but it just makes me truly understand what it is. Underground hip-hop to me is music and/or artists that aren’t mainstream. I see a lot of these artists that have 100 radio hits saying how they’re underground. You ARE NOT underground if your music has been all over the radio, etc. Immortal Technique has made songs that has millions of streams and all of that, but he hasn’t been mainstream. I’m not gonna name any names on who are mainstream artists claiming to be underground, but I’ll leave it at that, hahah.
Where can people find your music? Drop all the vital links.
This is extensive, but y’all really need to see everything:
Lastly, and shout out?
I won’t shout out everybody because I’ll save that for my Grammy speech, hahah, but I’ll make it quick. Shout out to all my Day1 supporters and everyone that comes after. I got a special love for everyone. Shoutout to my family who are also all my supporters. My management team are full of people (Yao Evu da manager and videographer, Sami for being a personal PR, etc.) that are basically family to me. And last but not least, thank you and shoutout to UGHHBlog for giving me the opportunity to shine here for y’all. Hopefully I attracted and will continue to attract some new and curious listeners that I’ll try my hardest to gain the support of. If this is your first time hearing about me, I promise it won’t be the last.