I got the chance to sit and speak with the NJ native on his music, goals and personal life.
Angelo’s talents have brought him far in a short amount of time. The rapper/producer has been on the radar of many critics this year and has a new project coming up next spring. The 21-year-old’s freshman project ‘House of Diamonds’ was produced entirely by him and was filled with many influences. I got the chance to speak with him on his creative process, his influences and some of the goals he has been set for himself in order to allow his music to prosper. Angelo is ready to present the world with a project that he has put a lot of hard work and soul into and hearing him speak about it only justified his passion for his craft. You can read our conversation and watch a video to his song ‘Eve’ below.
Can I have a bit of background info? Where are you from?
I was born in Baltimore but I was raised in Jersey. I’m from West Orange – there are like four towns called the oranges- So it’s like Orange, South Orange, East Orange and I live in the West. I’ve lived there till this day.
When did your interest in music begin? When did you start your career?
I was 12 when I first started getting into it, but I started playing drums at around 8 or 9. It was more percussive stuff, not too many melodies. I could make beats on a drum pad at around 8 or 9 and just took it from there. I did it in school and had friends outside of school that also did it.
Who would you say influenced you the most when you were younger?
It was a mix of both sides. My mom would have the De La Soul albums and the Tribe albums. She was also into a lot of world sounding stuff. It was never just one genre, it was all over the place. She had so many CDs. My dad had the Method Man album, the Notorious B.I.G. album, the Tupac album. That’s where I got the rap from. I couldn’t listen to it at first since he didn’t want me listening to it, but I was like 9 years old trying to climb to the top shelf to try to get to it and listen to it.
How long have you been pursuing your music as a career officially?
I guess when I signed with Immaculate, so like 2015. 2015 is when I started getting recognition, getting more comfortable with my sound. I started the House of Diamonds project then. That’s when I can say I officially started, but I’ve been rapping since like 2010. I’ve been doing it for like 7 years.
Now that you’re in the game, getting yourself out there, how do you balance rapping and producing? Do you do it together or is it more of a separate thing?
It can fit together. I can make a beat and know how I wanna go on it or I can rap and know what I want the beat to sound like. I can use one to make the other. Right now, for example, I just finished a new album so I’ve just been making beats for a bunch of people. Just tryna get better at making beats, just focusing on one thing. It is a balance, but it just feels like one thing right now.
You gave us some info on your rapper influences, but who are some producers that you look up to?
I like Soundwave, Timbaland. I was reading a story on how Timbaland can hear frequencies, so he doesn’t need an EQ, he can pick sounds that fit, and he had all those Aaliyah and Justin Timberlake tracks. Kanye West. I have way more producer influences than rap influences.
Can you give me some background on what steps you take to make a song?
Usually, when I go into making a song I’ll start with the beat. I produce all my own shit so I’ll start with the beat and then I’ll kinda just hum stuff and I’ll put it in a voice memo. All the tracks I have out have a voice memo with nonsense humming on them. Then I go in, do the first draft and send it to my manager. We work on my executive production, so he gets really involved in that. He’ll be like oh you should change this, this and this. Sometimes I’ll only change a few things and it’ll be near ready, other times I’ll redo the whole thing. Whether it makes the album or not is up to what fits and what doesn’t. I’ll play 2k before I start a beat just to be relaxed. I’ll watch some TV or have a movie on in the background while I produce, make a soundtrack to what I’m watching.
As far as your beats, are you selfish with your beats? Do you have a balance between what beats you sell and what beats you keep?
I mean it’s hard. That’s the bad part about rapping and producing, you make something really good and no matter how good someone else may sound on it you always want to keep it. Lately, I’ve been better at trying to pitch things instead of doing it myself because I can make something better for myself and this suits one person.
As far as your new project, is there a sort of overall theme?
Well, the new project deals with depression, anxiety, and paranoia. The goal is for people to have something they can listen to and have help when they are going through whatever they are going through. I just don’t want anyone to feel as alone as I felt.
How long did it take to actually produce it?
That was a yearlong process. Then I went to North Carolina for a month and did the rest. A lot of people think I did it in a month, but it’s impossible to do that. Unless you’re a known name that can make a project in 28 days and it sounds amazing. I had to take a lot of time with production and refining the songs into solid drafts.
Is there one specific song on the album you want to shine?
We picked out the singles and one of the songs already has a video ready to go. We are drafting another one and then we might do something a little special in the future. We’re gonna have promo looking good for this album.
I see you have a new look, this platinum blonde look going on. What does this change mean, what does it signify?
Anybody who knows me from like me growing up or like West Orange before I did this, I never did some shit like this. I’ve never in my life taken a big leap like this. Mike had hit me up and he was like yo, take a leap, just dye your hair. So me and my friend dyed my hair, it was a bit more yellow than this but it’s been washed out.
In the near future, besides your project, what are some goals you’re setting for yourself? What do you have planned for you to help progress your art?
It’s a lot of shit that has nothing to do with music. I wanna get my sleep schedule back. I wanna get my diet back. I need to try to improve my health because working on this album, staying up till 7am working on shit, sleeping in till 4 pm, is not healthy. Since the only time I’m up is at night, I’m eating at night and it’s not good. I feel like if I wanna push further, I have to set myself right first. Then I can talk about what I was going through and not what I am going through. I’ll try and work on myself and then focus on working on the music.
Who’s one artist you definitely want to work with in the future?
Frank Ocean. If I could have one feature and then was not allowed to feature anyone else ever, I would need Frank on a record. He’s my favorite artist of all time. Old, new, out of everyone that has ever lived. Frank Ocean is my favorite because his song writing is crazy, his ear for music is crazy. His voice is so unique.