World famous rapper, producer, writer and philanthropist Incwell has been through more things in his life than most, which is probably why his music touches each and every person that listens to it. His father was murdered when he was just 5-years-old and since then Incwell has worked hard to achieve his goals and get away from the drug and “gangster” life that surrounded him in his childhood. Fast forward to today, Incwell is now married, has 3 children, and has a successful career in music, which allows him to give back to the homeless youth in various areas he travels. His latest single, Fly Now, has been viewed and listened to by thousands globally and is creating a buzz for what the future awaits from this inspiring and “out-of-the-box” thinking musician.
The Levity Ball sat down with Mr. Incwell to learn more about the man behind the music & words, and the truth/struggles that most musicians go through on their road to success…
How did you become interested in becoming a musician, and how old were you when you started?
I think I always had a affinity for music. When I was young my grandfather used to play his records for me. I definitely inherited his diverse taste in music. He got me into everything from the Beatles to Warren Zevon. As I got older I lost sight of my love for music because I was so focused on sports throughout my high school career. However, that passion still burned deep. I always enjoyed writing whether short stories or lyrics. I would say I started making my own music and writing my own lyrics around the age of 13, but it wasn’t until I was about 18-19 years old that I truly put my blood, sweat, and tears into it.
What has been the hardest thing to overcome in the music industry since you started?
I think the toughest thing to overcome in this industry is the industry itself. It’s so cut throat that hardly anybody is willing to take a risk on something different. So it has created an industry of carbon copies and very little originality. The irony is original artists should flourish in such an environment, but to digress, originality is no longer rewarded, and rarely appreciated. But I made up my mind a long time ago that I was gonna make the type of music that made me happy. I often think to myself if the Beatles ever worried about making a “club banger.” I’m guessing they didn’t. Sure, they probably simplified some of their music but it was still “their” music. When you go in to the creative process with the thought of making a “commercially” viable song in the back of your head, your product has already been compromised. This is solely my opinion, of course. The ultimate challenge is juggling the business and maintaining the purity of your art, if that is what he/she chooses.
Who are your biggest influences in music?
I have a lot of different influences so it’s hard to name them all: Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Steely Dan, Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Nas, Mos Def, Al Green, Citizen Cope, Local Natives, Prince, Pop Etc.(formally – The Morning Benders), Kanye, Jay Z, The Roots, Jill Scott, D’angelo, and Marvin Gaye.
Who was your role model growing up?
My role model without question is my beautiful Grandmother. She raised me with an unflinching love and humility. I can not put into words what she has meant to me and our entire family. I never had to look further than her to find strength and poise.
Which other artist have you enjoyed working with the most so far?
I think my favorite artists to work with have been some lesser known but DOPE local artists. Sleepwalker, Tarina, Tony Coffey, Captain ERK, PDP, Twink, Alison Carney, Reesa Renee, and Kyonte. I definitely left a lot of people off the list but the local talent in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia is amazing. We just all have such a naturally dope rapport.
Where do you see yourself in a year from now?
In a year from now I want Incwell to be a household name. I want Incwell to be a brand. I’m a writer first and I feel like I have a lot to offer aside from the obvious, my music.
How do you define hip-hop and rap music these days, and where do you feel you fit into that definition?
Hip-Hop nowadays is a bit of an enigma. It’s a lot of knock and a little bit content. It’s certainly more of an acquired taste for my generation of hip-hop lovers. It’s evolved and regressed at the same time, it’s a major paradox. I think there’s so much division in hip-hop right now as far as the mainstream and the underground secular. To be honest I’m not sure where I fit in because I almost don’t feel like just a “hip-hop” artist. One thing about this industry is initially, you have to pick a lane. So for now, my lane will be a hip-hop artist… I will wear the term loosely.
How has being from Maryland influenced your overall sound and lyrics?
I think the environment has definitely had an influence on sound as well as my psyche. This area is a true melting pot. So I’ve had the luxury of mingling with different people of different cultures from all over the world. DC is a transient city as well. Having such a plethora of perspectives and experiences has helped me add depth to my music and writing.
What tips would you give young artists coming up or what do you wish someone would have told you when you first started out in the music industry?
I would tell young artists to just be themselves. Be strong and be assertive. To chase after their dreams until they run out of breath. There’s more than on way to skin a cat. A million and one needle-point expressions, but none would suffice to prepare them for the road ahead. Sometimes, we just have to walk through the fire and there’s no way around it. Be ready to work your butt off.
If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
I think I’m still doing it actually. Writing books and screenplays. I’d also do a lot more golfing and fishing! Those two activities so relaxing. I’d also like to make my own scotch. Scotch, scotch, scotch, I love scotch. Is that illegal? lol
Any last words for our Levity Ball readers? Or maybe you have a secret you can share with us exclusively?
Thank you all for taking the time to check me out. I’m always on Twitter (@incwell) and I talk to everyone, I’m not a snob! Thanks to The Levity Ball as well, I appreciate the thought provoking questions!