This week, Shane interviewed Question, a blind producer and Drill artist from Atlanta. They talked about how Question got started making his music, his first group Blakout Productions, and then, how he brought people together to create Blind and Famous. Be ready for a conversation filled with music, doing your own thing, and finding ways of bringing out what’s inside, even in the face of obstacles.
You can listen to the whole interview by clicking here. Don’t miss the end of the interview though, there’s a bonus waiting for y’all!
Shane: How are you?
Question: Yo, chillin man, happy to be on the platform. Shout out to Supersense, happy to be here. How are you?
Shane: Doing really well, this is fun. I’ve been working technical support all day, so this is a fun change.
Question: Good vibes.
Shane: We’ve been friends for what, 9 years? We have a lot to talk about in half an hour. Let’s start with what you do.
Question: I am a rap artist and producer. I produce in a few genres and try to mold a few genres together when I try to make rap music. Currently, I am the face of Drill music for the southern regions of America. I have to shout out everyone from the UK Drill scene, and the late great Pop Smoke. Rest in peace.
Shane: Yes, sir.
Question: If you study modern rap, you’ve heard of Drill, and I’m now working on my debut album.
Shane: That’s going to be sick, I’m excited to check that out. What’s your background? You said you blend a few genres together?
Question: Yeah, I am a mixed kid. I’m 24, and I’m living life like a rapper: just chillin, and lovin’. I’m a modern hippy from Atlanta, and I’ve always been a musician. I was rapping at the age of 5, and I was making beats in people’s studios. My mom always kept me around the local people. She knew a lot of different rappers. When I was 12, I was making beats on a school laptop with a screen reader. I started from there.
Shane: So, you knew people in the rap scene when you were a kid?
Question: Local people, yeah. A lot of talented friends that she knew from those white college girl parties. She went to Georgia Southern, where a lot of rappers went. They were all making music around me. She was seeing Common, Outcast, a lot of people at concerts when I was born.
Shane: And you started on drums, didn’t you?
Question: Technically, I started as a DJ. I had a toy when I was two, called a see and say. You could spin the thing around, and I would DJ with it like it was a turntable. I took a few drum lessons when I was 4 or 5, but I mostly ended up jamming with the instructor. I would go to the music store, and the best thing I got out of it was exploring all of the different instruments and equipment. I had a natural love for drums and percussion, and honestly, that helps me a lot now in my forms of creation. I need that to compose rap cadences.
Shane: Exactly, that’s how you get powerful, impactful cadences to lock in with the instrumental.
Question: Yeah, you can use any beat that you rap on to determine what cadence you come with. Some people have distinct flows they use a lot of the time, and some people have multiple, but you can have infinite flows if your cadence follows how the beat changes. That’s a secret for y’all.
Shane: Absolutely. So how did you go from that background as a DJ and percussionist to becoming a producer? Because let me tell the people, it takes a lot of drive to be making beats on a school laptop.
Question: Yeah bro, I was using the sound recorder app. I had my iPod, hooked a line-in cable up to it, took some sounds from the beginning of other beats, and mixed them together. I took the Beethoven clip from Windows XP Sample Music, sped it up, and made beats out of it. That was 2007 times. So, I got there by studying. From 2000 to then, I was growing up. I went to an elementary school where everyone knew me as a rapper and DJ and a social, outspoken kid. I knew that’s what I always wanted to do. I was in a rap group by the age of 10; by the time I was in fifth grade, we won a talent show with a studio session. Man, managers tried to break us up. They were telling my mom I was the star of the group, and my bro’s mom that he was the star of the group, so it didn’t really work out. It was some reality TV shit. The thing that’s messed up was that I seemed to be the one who took most of the situations the most seriously. I would stay in the studio as a kid because that’s what was fun for me. I love video games, I used to skate a lot and play outside a lot, but the music never bored me. It was never a chore to slave over a song for hours. I didn’t even realize that It was trash in the beginning because I was so happy to be getting what was in my head out. When you start, your music won’t always sound how you think it does. Still, it’s a crazy feeling to have something that you conceived from your mind come out and be tangible for other people to enjoy and comment on. It’s just wild. That’s the closest thing to magic that you can get.
Shane: As a musician, that speaks to me. I completely agree. Music is the most unique and universal form of expression.
Question: Absolutely! Music is the universal language, bro. If you go to a different country, and a pianist is playing some emotional vibes, you know what he’s feeling. You feel it.
Shane: And if it’s on a scale that you know, you’ll be able to play with him. It’s that natural. So anyway, making beats when you were 12, you had the motivation. What was the progression from there; how did you start moving up?
Question: From before that point, I knew that I always wanted to perform on stages and play in studios with people I heard on the radio. I did anything that I felt would take me toward that point. I was making beats, making songs, and collaborating with people on or above my level. I worked with people below me, too, if I felt I could lend something to them or I had faith in them. It’s good to give back. That led to me getting more connections and knowing how to network. I was learning what other people did, telling them what I do, and figuring out how we could benefit each other. That’s one of the most important things in music. Your business is equally, if not more important than your talent.
Shane: Absolutely, you have to market yourself to everyone.
Question: Yup. You don’t want to be annoying about it, like, don’t bother people running to catch a flight. But if you notice they do the type of trade that you do, slide in and be confident. It’s all about your presentation and first impression. Confidence is key.
Shane: Thank you for coming to Question’s Ted Talk, exclusively on Supersense.
Question: So, around that time, I had a production team called Blakout. I built it with a lot of my friends. We were at the school for the blind in Georgia, and we were looking for a way to brand ourselves. I was the only one who was making beats, but my brother Michael was playing ideas on keys. But I wanted everyone to get credit, and we started taking it seriously. We were getting money together, we began selling beats that way. People started knowing that brand, so we started making a name on the internet. Everyone in the blind community knew the Blakout brand, so I got a couple of other producers in the community to work with us. That’s how I got into EDM and so many other rappers in Europe.
Shane: So, you’re talking about the new genres you were learning. So tell me, as you grow as a listener and become more aware of other genres, how does that impact the music you make?
Question: Sometimes heavily, other times, subtly. If I like something a lot, I quietly start to study it and create it and tap into it. Eventually, if I have a platform, I spread it and bring it to the light. I feel like human beings are a lot more alike than different, so my goal is to get many new things together.
Shane: I love that means of accidentally finding a music style that you love through another unrelated music genre. That’s how I found dubstep when I was a kid.
Question: What song introduced you to dubstep?
Shane: There was a band called Pierce the Veil, I would call them an emo punk rock band, and they had a breakdown in one of their most popular songs called King for a Day. It was influenced by EDM, like with dubstep effects on the guitar. So I started looking up interviews about that song and what influenced them.
Question: Wow, this guy is a true music head. He went and looked up interviews on the exact song. That’s dope, bro, I respect you for that.
Shane: I appreciate it, man. The reason it’s funny to me is because I didn’t even like rock back then. I was so into underground rap, and everything else was soft to me. I didn’t like much rock, even though it’s my favorite genre now. I thought it was crazy that the rap artists hadn’t broken through into EDM yet, but the rock artist did.
Question: Yeah, a lot of people were slow to embrace EDM in rap. They saw it with a lot of resemblance to pop, so it was labeled as crossover music by underground music. They didn’t fuck with dubstep too heavy at first until dubstep artists started featuring rappers and made it work. Then you started seeing Lil John with DJ Snake and set a precedent so guys like Marshmallow can make a song with JuiceWRLD, and it is dope.
Shane: So, you said something earlier, and I want to go back to it. You were talking about how you were trying to hold Blakout together as a team. It was about the collective we. Tell me about the importance of that.
Question: Yeah, your team is very important. You are only as good as your team. I feel like every successful person has a team somewhere, whether you see them or not. It’s important that they’re there. You have balance and cause and effect. They won’t be there for you if you aren’t there for them. You have to listen to them and show them your love. It’s putting more like minds on a case because more minds are better than one. It’s paramount to success. You can’t do much alone. Humans are not meant to live alone. We have ideas, and we think in language. We want to share what we create with people.
Shane: Absolutely, thank you for elaborating on that for me. Tell me, then, about your current team. Years after Blackout, you have a new group of people. Tell me about them.
Question: It’s a new life, man. So much is going on right now. Thank god, truly. I’m able to put out music, and I’m building a following. My team is now called Blind and Famous. It consists of myself and five other people that are all equally talented. My bro Damasta, who I’ve known the longest. He’s like melodic trap. He sings a lot, but its very rap influenced, and his music is dope. He has a very distinct brand, you can pick it out. His melodies are crazy. There’s MattMac, who is an artist and producer out of Canada. He comes from a smaller reservation community where his culture is kind of isolated. They don’t always get a lot of media that the rest of the world sees. This is good in some ways because they’re allowed to maintain their own culture and traditions. Matt has the ability to be connected with us, so he’s been leading his culture musically. He’s bringing his own sound and culture to trap, and has been dropping songs in the indigenous hot 100 countdown up there on the radio. He’s really on top of it right now. Find Matt Mack on all streaming platforms.
There’s J Mouse, who's a producer from Arizona. He’s one of our newest members. His main gigs aren’t with us, he plays steel, and bass guitar live in bands, and he’s hella talented. He’s been learning how to make Drill, R&B, all that. He’s great with chords.
There’s GF (Goldfingas). He’s a dope producer out of Virginia, and he’s probably our best keyboardist. He knows the best chords; he’s a gospel musician. He has all the crazy diminished inversions and all that shit.
And then there’s my guy Label. He’s out of Jersey, and he’s an artist, producer, radio DJ, blogger, social media expert, he’s doing it all. He’s currently on FM radio in Florida on a station called Play FM out of Gainesville. He does that out of Colorado, and it’s a dope position. He’s also dropping a lot of verses rapping.
Shane: That’s incredible. And you guys are putting out collective work, too. BNF is dropping mixtapes. Tell me more about those.
Question: We dropped BNF 2 and 3 on Christmases, and it was crazy successful. We had a really positive reception, and people thought it was dope. BNF 4 just got started, and we’re going to be dropping something before then, too, since people have been quarantined. It’s a lot of fun stuff we’ve been collaborating on to remind people that we still have music. Everyone’s also been dropping music on their own channels, be it Youtube or streaming platforms.
Shane: So, what does a BNF mixtape look like, with everyone coming together?
Question: Sometimes, we each have solo songs, or I might write a hook for J Mouse’s beat, and Damasta and label rap the verses. Or Matt and I will collaborate on a beat. We do it a lot of ways; it’s about being hands-on.
Shane: Sick man, I’m really looking forward to that, BNF4 and the Corona tapes. Bring it. You also mentioned to me that after BNF3 was released in 2019, you started work on a new album. Tell me how that’s going.
Question: To do that, we’ll walk back a little bit. In February of 2019, I was in LA right after the Grammies. I went to an event for Canadian exposure, so there was a lot of talent from up there showing love. My goal was to go there and meet somebody who could connect me to the beat battle they hold in Toronto that a lot of people watch on Youtube. I’d been studying it for years. I ended up meeting people from Canada, like this guy who held the world record for freestyling for eight hours straight, but I didn’t meet anyone who could help me with the battle. I happened to meet a guy from LA by the name of David Jackson, who I found out was managing a big producer by the name of Manny Fresh. He produced Lil Wayne and the group he came out of back in the ’90s. We talked to David, and he heard my rap. He came to Atlanta, and as soon as he listened to my beats, he called the guy from the battle. From there, I ended up doing it and placing in the top 16 out of 200 people. I lost, but I ended up working with some other people David managed that produced Nipsey Hussle, a legendary rapper out of California who got killed a while ago.
The thing in the industry is, it's better not to do paperwork unless you have to. It’s better not to sign something if nothing’s going on, know what I mean? So I took a position as an artist instead of a producer. I was given the go-ahead to do my own project. I recorded like 30 songs from a few different genres within rap and trap. We’re getting ready to pick singles and start shooting videos. It should be out early 2021.
Shane: Nice, I am really stoked for that, man. It’s going to be fantastic. So much respect.
Question: Thank you, it’s a crazy ride, and it’s a crazy process. This guy’s going to be with me, we’ll be touring in time. Just wait.
Shane: True, we’ll be having a session soon to talk about rhythm and percussion. I’m looking forward to that. So, is there anything you want to chat about before we wrap up? Where can people find you?
Question: Make sure you’re streaming everything coming out from Matt Mack. He’s dropping a story on his Youtube channel, and it basically explains him as a person through song. They’re still shooting videos, so it’s really current. There’s also a Blind and Famous playlist on Youtube.
I’m QuestionATL on almost everything, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, etc. I’m Question Official on Youtube, and I put out music there every week. I also have a monthly podcast-style blog that keeps you up to date with my life and everything going on with me. Tap in, man, stay up to date. I appreciate y’all.
Shane: Also, catch this guy every Friday night on Venom.fm at 8 Eastern. He’ll be spinning all the hits and anything else you want to hear. It’s the best.
Question: Let’s do that, man. I want to be the background to your weekend.
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