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Chatting with Vagabond Maurice: Hip hop artist (Includes interview)

On his new music, he said, “The music I’m creating now – with my homie and producer Brad Kemp – feels like a natural progression of my current style and sound. I’m leaning more toward a Neo-Soul type texture while staying in tune with the Jazz Hop / Boom Bap roots of the music. It’s pretty exciting.”

Regarding his songwriting inspirations, he said, “The sound of the music is definitely inspired by Nujabes and J Dilla. A lot of what people considered ‘Conscious’ Rap inspired me too, so I’m talking collectives like Native Tongues to Soulquarians in that mix. And more in the context of the songwriting, though, is steep because of my literary background. So, writers from the Harlem Renaissance like Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, and Marcus Garvey are in conversation with my development. As well as every poet on Def Poetry Jam, especially Saul Williams.”

On being a hip hop artist in this digital age, he said, “I don’t feel any sort of way with it in particular, all the artist I’ve listened to while growing up more-or-less were independent artists who hustled to get their music out there and build their own audience base. So I feel like it’s essentially the same, just finding out a better way to connect with your fanbase and blossoming from there.”

Regarding his use of technology in his daily routine, he said, “Truth be told I’ve just started getting better at using technology and social media. At first I had my qualms with the necessity of having all these social outlets in order to push the art forward, but after taking a step back and just doing simple grooming things like – following communities and artist I like that have the same interest in me – I found myself being really active in terms of using technology. In this age, I feel like up and coming artists don’t have the luxury of being ‘mysterious’ artists anymore, so I’ve been moving forward with that philosophy in mind.”

His artwork inspired by Japanese animation. “The artwork for my 3 official LP’s/albums were all done by a really dope artist and friend of mine who goes by The Kao. The concept of a mini-character of myself standing somewhere gazing out toward the distance while encapsulated in a beautiful environment actually was really inspired by the video game ‘Journey.’ In that game, they plop you right in the desert as a cloaked figure with not much direction,” he said.

“You end up scaling this sand-dune and once you reach the top the whole camera opens up, showing off this really large mountain in the distance with a column of light shooting skyward from it. I just remember that whole scene, alongside the music, was extremely powerful. So, I took that inspiration – the whole concept of having breathtaking art – and decided it’d be the direction for my album covers to stand out. So, definitely ‘Journey’ and other things like Hayao Miyazaki films,” he elaborated.

On his dream collaboration choices, he said, “With music, all the artists I’d like to collaborate with are producers. So, I’m looking at Uyama Hiroto, 9th Wonder, DJ Premier, The Alchemist, Just Blaze, or Aso, Birocratic, Kaytranada, Tom Misch. I’d also be down with Anderson Paak, Mahalia and the shea butter baby Ari Lennox. The list goes on and on.”

For young and aspiring artists, he said, “Perfect your craft. Practice. Go to open mics or seek out as many performance opportunities (free, don’t pay to play) as you can to work on not only the music but your stage presence. There are a lot of unpolished artists out here, you don’t have to be the same. Also, be authentic, it helps in the long run.”

To learn more about Vagabond Maurice, check out his official Facebook page and website.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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