Honestly, how many rappers admit to being educated? Let's take it a little further. How many rappers embrace their Christian upbringing?
5th Child, a 20-year-old public-relations student at Loyola University in New Orleans, is not one to deny who he really is. He doesn't hide behind a "gangsta" persona. He doesn't rap for street credibility. If you're searching for platinum chains and such, you will be looking for a lifetime because he doesn't look the way many people think hip-hop looks, and he's on a mission to preserve what hip-hop should sound like.
I got a chance to sit down with 5th Child to discuss his two albums, "The Birth" and "True Love," along with his take on hip-hop.
What makes you hip-hop?
I try to embody the values that hip-hop presented when it first began. I rebel against what's normal, against what is popular. There are southern hip-hop artists out there who choose to make the records that will be played on the radio. It's an easier route to make songs they will play in the clubs.
I have had the privilege of listening to some beats that you made yourself. Are you a rapper that produces or a producer that raps?
Eventually, I want to be a producer because I see so much room for growth in the industry. I want the opportunity to do different types of music as a producer. I want to make music that hasn't been heard before. Plus, I want to feed my family. Producers are eating bigger meals than rappers are. Hit-makers get paid upfront.
How long have you been writing/rapping?
I wrote my first verse when I was 11. "It's the SLB scratchin' rhymes like a flea … the short smooth brotha coming up to your knee." Corny, I know. At the time, I thought it was the sickest line out there! I used to take my composition book everywhere. I wrote every day. I would listen to Jay-Z, Mobb Deep and Black Eyed Peas songs and write a verse imagining I was being featured on those songs.
Speaking of other artists, what artists do you admire? If 5th Child was on an island, who would be on your iPod?
Common, Outkast and Jay-Z. I wouldn't need any other songs but the ones they have made.
I have both of your LPs, "The Birth" and "True Love." Out of those two albums, what is the song that incorporates everything that 5th Child stands for?
"Born Again" on "The Birth" came easy to me. That was the first time I did not write just to have another song on my album. I wasn't trying to make a song that people would listen to. I just sat down and started praying and the lyrics flowed. I was led to write for the first time. I also had a line that was written on the song "True Love" that said, "They say we write best in our times of pain, but we're killin' ourselves to make 'em feel it and we're dyin' in vain." I think that explains what rappers are going through right now. There are so many rappers who are true hip-hop artists that compromise their talent to make money and be successful instead of staying true to themselves. After the song is released, it's just another song. The next song will come on after, and then people will listen to that. Rappers are basically writing for nothing if it has no substance.
You're so right. If you make a song that's "rotation worthy" and one that can be played in clubs, you've made it! Look at songs like "Chicken Noodle Soup," "Zoom" and "Walk it Out." It's not what most people consider hip-hop, but songs with dance beats are almost guaranteed success. Why haven't you gone that route?
A lot of people don't know this, but I have done that. Before I released any of my albums, me and my brother put out "Dirty Trilogy" on cassette tapes as a joke. It had three tapes to it. There was "Dirty Demo," "Dirty Living" and "Dirty Habits." We were playing around, but people loved it. They were like, "Why won't y'all release them." We were like, "… Because."
What makes you different than everyone else in the hip-hop section of a record store?
My independence sets me apart. I'm not going to put my tracks and lyrics in the hands of someone else to market and do with it what they please. I am the guy looking over everyone's shoulder to see exactly what they are doing with my stuff.
(5th Child stops talking and thinks for a second.) You want to know something? I don't care if I'm ever signed to a major record label. I'm going to always write, man. I mean, I want to make money, but I want to be the reason I have money.
Where did the name 5th Child come from?
That's not the first name I came up with. I was Adolf Spitler but that wasn't a good look when it came down to putting albums in record stores. I thought a problem would've come from that. When I battled David Banner at Seven*Studioz, I was Adolf Spitler. I had to change it. I found out when I was a teenager that before my mom had me, there was another baby that was called to rest. I wanted to recognize that child as one of my siblings so instead of being the fourth child, I saw myself as the fifth. That name also symbolized that someone was sacrificed for me to be here. I am here for a reason. It's a reminder that I have a purpose.
What are you doing now?
I am working on my third album. I am trying to improve my production skills, and working at Extreme Entertainment in New Orleans is helping me do that as well as learn the ins and outs of the business aspect of things. The label I work for just got signed to Universal Records, so I'm now able to see what it's like to do a real music video.
Where will 5th Child be five years from now?
I'll have my degree in public relations and music business. I'll be starting a family. I'm not going to be stupid about it and say, "Man I want to be a rapper for the rest of my life." I want to own a production company and maybe start developing other young artists. I have a backup plan. If rapping isn't feeding the family, I want to do PR for a non-profit organization or a record label.
OK, final question. Nas said hip-hop was dead. He's started a dialogue that is much needed. Some agree, and some are furious that he would say that. Do you think hip-hop is dead?
I thought for a little while that it was, but I stepped back and saw that for every "Chicken Noodle Soup" (DJ Webster and Young B.) there is a "Daydreamin" (Lupe Fiasco). A lot of southern rappers are stepping up. I can see the growth.
For more information about 5th Child, check his Myspace page for info, or to purchase music, see his CDBaby page.
i am Totally digging this dude's sound and message.
looks like 5th child has a new fan (clears throat and points to tracy)
Love it. Thanks for the heads up. You know you are contributing to the time suckage of a writer. I'm loving this music!
..i mean casey...sorry case!