Give us a breakdown of who Collect is and what he stands for?
Collect: I’m a humble hard working man. I’m a leader, I’m a teacher, as well as a scholar. I’m into making good music. As a child I never wanted to be a rapper, I’ve always had a love for music, but I never thought that I would grow up to be a recording artist. I always wanted to grow up and run a record company. But now I’m into music from the business stand point as well as the artistic aspect.
You originally started rapping as part of a group called “Darringer” do you feel your time here helped form you into the artist you are today?
Collect: Absolutely, if it weren’t for the time that I spent as part of the group Darringer, there would be no Collect today. Like I said, I never wanted to make music. My cousin started rapping before I did. I used to help him come up with songs and lyrics. I’d tell him, “Yeah, that would sound clean if you said it like this”. It was then that I realized that I had a gift for writing lyrics. It took me a while to nail down my delivery though. I would make songs that had good lyrics but I didn’t know how to spit it right. As the youngest member of my label at that time, I spent a lot of time studying from the older cats around me. Everything was real. We weren’t just talking about selling drugs and carrying guns, we really were. That whole experience changed the course of my life. I love it!
Why did you change your name? you were originally known as “Cash the Collector”?
Collect: I decided to change my name because “Cash the Collector” sounded somewhat juvenile to me. I wanted a name that I could keep forever, something that I would grow out of. A name I could take with me around the world. Plus Cash the Collector sounded too similar to a lot of other rappers. So I dropped the “Cash the” and decided to rock with Collect.
Unlike a lot of rappers your musical calling came later in life, what was it that triggered the want to rap and succeed at it?
Collect: I’ve actually always had a love for music. As a child I played the Violin, Saxophone, and Clarinet. I always knew I would end up involved with music, I just didn’t think I would be rapping. Once I started making music, I kept challenging myself to make better music. I was never happy with my music because I knew I had way more potential, I just didn’t know how to tap into it. Now I’ve figured it out.
Your debut album “Blood, Sweat, Cry Later” was dropped by yourself right? Why did you never release it?
Collect: I don’t know, it was kind of weird. It was like… I had been rapping and making songs, but I didn’t really know how to create an album, as opposed to just 15 songs on a CD. So I didn’t think that it really represented what I was trying to be. I also had other technical issues with computers and hard drives, I lost the masters to the majority of the album and was forced to start over from scratch. I still have all of the old songs. I’ll probably release it on the Internet once I blow up, so my fans can see who I was before I became a star.
You have toured with some big names too right? Tell us about that?
Collect: Yes ma’am. I’ve toured with a lot of artists. I could sit here for 24 hours and tell you about all the different artist I’ve toured with and worked with. But that will have to be the next interview. Lol. But yeah, I’ve worked with pretty much every major artist here in the US. Ciara, Lil Jon, The Ying Yang Twins, Chris Brown, Lil Bow Wow, John Legend, Akon, I mean, I could literally sit here for an hour and tell you all the major artist I’ve worked with. Put it like this, pretty much the only people I’ve never worked with would be Jay-Z and 50 Cent because they’re a little harder to get with. But it’s cool though, because a lot of times I have the chance to work with artists before anyone really knows who they are, or before they really blow up. I’m getting pretty good at knowing who’s going to be a mega star and who’s going to be a one hit wonder.
Tell us about the “Buffalo Soldier” release?
Collect: Buffalo Soldier, is crazy. The title of the album comes from the black slaves who were given the opportunity to fight for their country and ultimately fight for their freedom. That’s what this album means to me, it’s the fight for my freedom. Not so much as the vibe of the album, but my mind state when recording it. I’ve got pretty much all the well-known artists from the Bay Area on my album, and the production is crazy. The crazy part is I’m still getting better. The artist I am today is only a shadow of the artist to come. I have a lot more that I want to do with my music. I’m on some revolutionary shit right now. In the future I plan to make music that’s more uplifting to my people, society and the world in general. Like a new age Bob Marley, I’m trying to pick up where Tupac left off.
You used to work in The Ambassador Lounge a club owned by E-40, what experiences did you gain from your time there?
Collect: Working at the Ambassadors Lounge was a good look for me. It gave me the ability to be in the limelight on a weekly basis. My T.V. show aired on the screens inside the club so I was always in there infront of a camera. Plus every major artist from all over the country would come through there on a weekly basis, so I was always seen with someone famous. A lot of people didn’t know me, they just knew whoever he is, he’s connected. I would always be there with whoever the weekly performer was. I’d be in VIP popping bottles and rubbing elbows. I’d say it was a pivotal point in my career.
What was it like touring for the And 1 mix-tape three years running?
Collect: And 1 was another good look for me. Though I’ve stopped touring with them (This year was the first year that I didn’t do it) I think that And 1 is dope. Those guys are amazing athletes. I was able to get to know a lot of those guys personally. Those guys are shitting on a lot of the guys in the NBA they just play a different kind of game you know what I mean?
They say you are ahead of your time, do you feel you are ahead of the rest musically?
Collect: I’m not a cocky guy, but I’m not modest either. I’ve always been ahead of my time. I’m still not really making the music that I want to make. I’m making the music that people want to hear. But soon enough I will be making the music that I want to make and that’s when I’ll set my mark as a legend in this game, God willing. It’s crazy though because a lot of the music that is on Buffalo Soldier was actually recorded like four plus years ago. And it’s still current, that’s how I know that I make good music, because only timeless music last forever. I refuse to be a fad. I want to make music that people will still be listening to 25 years from now. So to answer your question yes I am ahead of my time.
Who influences your style?
Collect: I’ve had a lot of influences in my music. I listen to a lot of different music, from all different genres, I grew up listening to Snoop, E-40, Tupac, Bone Thugs N Harmony and Outkast. As I grew older I got really into Jay-Z, I think he’s a lyrical genius. As far as now a day’s, I make sure that I can swing in the same ring as Lil Wayne, Lupe Fiasco, and Kanye West (oh yea, and Nas). I think those guys are Dope, I cant wait to do a song with any one of them.
What other projects are you currently working on?
Collect: Right now, I’m trying to master the mixtape game. My goal is to be able to put out a mixtape every month with a different concept. This month is Lil Wayne, so I’m putting out a mixtape with songs full of all me and Lil Wayne. Next month will have a different concept.
Collect: Shot out to the UK, and shot out to you for having me. I’m trying to get out there ASAP. Lets set something up.
Oh yea, shot out to all my myspace fans, anyone who reads this come holla at me. Myspace.com/therealcollect.
Interview for British Hip Hop courtesy of Underground Promotion UK.