By Alex P80 Parks
Repping Queens, NY, The Artivist pulls some unique samples to create beautifully-arranged compositions that complement some of the underground’s most prolific emcees. Often favoring delicate loops and melodic arrangements, the young producer utilizes that juxtaposition of his production coupled with raw rhymes. Just earlier this year, The Artivist garnered some increased visibility from his beat on El Camino’s introduction (“Davis St”) off of his Don’t Eat the Fruit LP.
As one of the hottest spitters over the past few years, Brooklyn’s Rome Streetz embodies the true NY sound. He spits with bravado and uses plenty of witty wordplay in his visceral rhymes. With his latest effort, Joyeria, he’s paired with frequent collaborator and fellow New Yorker, The Artivist. A true vinyl digger known for his mining of obscure gems, The Artivist has crafted a unique soundscape for Rome Streetz to continue to shine on.
Deeply Rooted Hiphop got a chance to catch up with The Artivist and build with him about this latest project, his thoughts on the indie/underground scene and more.
DRHH: What was the genesis of you and Rome collaborating?
Artivist: “I initially started working with Rome after I uploaded some beats on YouTube, around 2012-2013. He reached out to me for some joints and it turned out he was also living in Queens at the time. Even back then Rome was spitting over Dilla, Madlib, Doom instrumentals so I instantly gravitated towards his sound. I gradually started pulling up to the studio with Rome just soaking up game and learning shit. Couldn’t even get into shows and venues for a minute just being underage, haha.”
DRHH: Do you pride yourself in your digging?
Artivist: “I definitely pride myself in being able to dig for records. All of my favorite producers dig, and even prior to making beats I was collecting records, hitting up thrift stores, garage sales on Craigslist, eBay. I dig online too, wherever I can find dope shit, I would say about 75% of the samples on Joyeria came off vinyl.”
DRHH: You incorporated more percussion and “bigger” samples than you have in the past. Is that a conscious decision? Are you utilizing more in your beats or is it the samples you are finding are more rich and full? I feel like your shit has really elevated, especially with this album..
Artivist: “As far as incorporating more drums I would say it all just happened organically, I saw the beats Rome would would gravitate to and kept that in consideration while more joints were being completed.”
The Artivist’s production really shines on Joyeria. He provides the blaring horns, which transform into an elevating violin loop on “Run da Jewels.” On “Snow Beach,” the beat switches up from chopped soul vocals to a gorgeous clarinet loop that dances up into the heavens. The vintage Italian organ loop comes in on “Formation of Mental Objects.” On “Alpha Bay,” The Artivist veers away from his lush loops and takes it back with thumping drums, subtle piano notes and simple effects. On “Heat Economics” he keeps it static with an emotive high synth tone throughout the track. “Part of my Religion” finds the producer in his comfort zone, with ambling orchestral loops, rising after a few bars. “N.A.S.” shows the producer’s ability to create beats with a mix of elements and effects to provide some nostalgia with rising strings delivering slight tension paired with digital effects and a wobbly, bouncing bass groove. The Artivist channels his ominous boom-bap predecessors on “Vagabonds Don’t Die” with tense loops that build and then ultimately deliver with tumbling pianos. The album closes out with the mandolin and solo piano pairing on “Santeria,” creating a slightly poignant mood without despair.
DRHH: Speaking on specific joints, were there any loops u plucked and arranged and thought, “boom this shit is it!”
Artivist: “As far as joints which I instantly knew this is it, there was a good majority. Run Da Jewelz, Discretion, Snow Beach, Die 4 U to name a few, off top”
DRHH: When you were making these beats were you doing it with Rome in mind from the jump? Or were you just developing beats and he happened to choose these?
Artivist: “Really both bro. There were certain beats I made with Rome in mind specifically, and there were beats he had some input on as far as I want a beat switch here, or an overall aura in regards to sample selection. There’s a joint he incorporated a sample into. And then there was also joints that I cooked which I played him and he was rocking with.”
DRHH: As a young man, not too far removed from all the influences of mainstream and pop culture of many of your peers, how did you develop this sound/ on this path, as opposed to doing trap beats and catering to the masses? How were you musically influenced to create in this lane?
Artivist: My earliest recollection of being conscious of the music I was listening to was probably around 6-7 years old. I grew up with an older brother, after his passing his possessions remained in the house Including cd booklets and albums. I always gravitated towards that sound and I started going back in time and doing some history. I remember when 50 cent dropped ‘Get Rich Or Die Trying’ and that was a big deal, we took a lotta pride in it because he was from around the way. By the time I got to middle school, Young Money was the wave, I remember hating that shit from the start. I was that annoying ass kid like “nah that ain’t real rap”. I was aware of how the music that was being spoon-fed to my generation was dumbing down more and more. I grew out of hating ass mentality and grew to accept that shit was changing but it didn’t influence what I was listening to or what I would start creating. My biggest influences musically now are the same musical influences I had at 10 years old, I credit a lot of that to the internet. If you wanted to find dope music you could find find dope music. This hip hop shit is deeply rooted not polluted.”
DRHH: Haha- well put.. What are your thoughts on this current renaissance happening in the underground/ independent hip hop scene?
Artivist: “The renaissance taking place is a great thing, people are tapped into what’s going on and it’s only a matter of time until it trickles through and reaches an even larger audience. It shows that there isn’t a need to compromise your sound as an artist to reach the masses. The independent blueprint is alive and well.”
That independent blueprint is evident in the works of artists like The Artivist and Rome Streetz. And with projects like this, fans of hip hop will no doubt continue to gravitate towards that pure blueprint. The Artivist doesn’t disappoint on the boards on Joyeria, as he carefully crafts arrangements with melodic loops and often elegant samples to complement Rome’s gritty NY sound.
Cop Rome Streetz x Artivist Joyeria here: