Artisan, a battle-tested, fan approved MC hailing from Las Vegas first caught our ears with his entry in the HipHopGame/WeGoinIN Digga Beat Contest, which he won. After working with Digga, appearing on 106 and Park and releasing his own music independently, Artisan finds himself in a great place to execute a 2011 takeover. Read up on the MC to find out why he’s worth following.
People who have been following HipHopGame and WeGoinIN would remember you from winning the Digga Beat Contest. Did you think you had a chance to win when you entered?
I just entered as a fan, man. Honestly, I entered as a fan of Digga and I just went in and spit.
What did it mean to you when he picked you as the winner?
Man, it definitely meant a lot. It definitely was an honor. Digga, he’s one of the big homies of the hip-hop game thing and I entered as a fan. I didn’t know if I had a chance or not. I just did it and just kept working. And then on the backside of it, I found out that I won. I was definitely excited.
You worked with him on “Til the Beat Drop.” What was it like recording that?
First of all, I got the beat and I went crazy because the beat was crazy. That beat was definitely impressive. I didn’t even have to think to do the record. It was just all natural. I felt a type of connection to the music and I just went in.
When you finished the song, were you happy with it?
Oh, definitely! I was definitely excited about that. I was ready to go on it. The song, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t let the beat down. The beat was great and I just wanted to make sure that what I did on the beat was up to par and I felt like I did that.
You’re from New York but moved out to Vegas during your teenage years. What was that move like for you?
It definitely was a blessing, man. It broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to another side of the country that I didn’t even know existed. We got a strong culture out here that people don’t know about and we’re just trying to open up everybody’s eyes to see what we’ve got going on. They only know the city for gambling but we’re trying to open up their eyes to things they don’t know about down here.
What have you been working on lately?
I’ve been working on so much. I produced my team’s project, which is Gwop Team. I’m also working on my new solo project. I don’t even have a name for it. I just do so many songs and I work so hard. Sometimes I have other people figuring out the names and what songs should go and whatnot. I just do a lot of shows and do whatever I can get my hands on, I’m in.
A project that I dropped recently, The Million View Crew, that was my latest project. It’s available on all the sites that host mixtapes. The back story to this is on one of my YouTube videos of battles, me and a guy got over a million views on one battle. That’s crazy. Nobody really does that. We got a million views in a year and we did a mixtape to commemorate that and we called it The Million View Crew. That was me and an artist named Nov.
Why do you think you got a million views on that video?
To this day I still can’t figure it out. That video gets 5,000 views a day and that’s crazy. It may get even more. To this day I still can’t figure it out. I’ve been on national TV a few times already and it seems like more people know me from that battle than from national television.
Are you able to reach the fans you need to in Vegas?
As far as reaching everybody, I feel like there’s a lot of people that feel like it can’t happen out here. I have people tell me things like if I was in a different city I would be in a different position. I feel like it’s just going to take the right person and the right timing to open it up. If I was in a different city, I would just be another pea in the pod. I wouldn’t be special. That’s why I want to get it going in this city. I want to be remembered for that. I don’t just want to be “the next artist.”
Do you have a strong network of artists in Las Vegas?
At first it was a little tougher a few years ago. Guys was more doing their own thing but now everybody’s realizing that unity is the key to a city becoming a factor. If it’s just a person, it’s only going to take that artist, but if we want to put the whole city on, it’s going to take everybody and guys are still working on that but there’s obstacles with everything. Guys are starting to work together and they’re starting to open up. Even if a person doesn’t like your music, they’re going to respect you if you work hard at it. We’re going to get the respect because we work hard.
You recently released the Below Zero mixtape. How did that project do for you?
We pushed it a lot in the streets, man. We did a lot of footwork on that and I got nothing but positive feedback on “Til the Beat Drop.” That kind of was a big record for me as far as credits and statistics go.
What’s the next step for you?
The next step for me, man, is just to keep doing more music. I’m going to keep pushing these records and really, I’m doing it out of love. I’m not doing it to become the next big act. I’m doing it out of love and if something transpires from that, then that would be a blessing. But I’m just doing it because I love to do it. I do it every day. It’s something that I love to do. I’m the producer. I’m the one-man band man.
Is it ever a challenge balancing everything like that?
Yeah. It’s a little tough, but it makes it a challenge. Right off the top, you don’t expect to drop a record and become the next big act in the world. If somebody’s playing basketball, they have to work at it. There’s a lot of guys that we know from our neighborhood that could have been Lebron James or Allen Iverson but they didn’t put in the work and they didn’t have the drive. It’s things like that.
You’ve also appeared on 106 and Park’s Freestyle Friday. What’s it like battling there?
I appeared on there once a year in ’08 and ’09 and last month I went on my full week run. I’m invited to come back to the All-Star March Madness challenge in March. It’s the biggest rush you could ever imagine! I’ve went there three years straight and March is going to be my third year straight. I appreciate them because they recognize my talent and they keep giving me an opportunity. It’s like the biggest rush ever because you know that whatever you do, you’re going to be seen by millions of people and you have to be the best every time. My first time it was big-time nerve-racking and now I’m getting more comfortable being in the circle with Terrence and Rocsi and Pro Style and actually recognizing faces and kind of getting used to them because I’ve been going there so much now. It’s like they know me. It’s definitely fun, man, and it’s definitely a blessing.
Has that been a good way to get recognized?
It’s definitely a great spot to get recognized from. All you artists out there, go appear on Freestyle Friday because everywhere I go, I’m recognized now. That plays a big part of it. That definitely plays a huge part of it. I got a lot of views and things like that. I get recognized from that. I definitely get a lot of recognition from Freestyle Friday. It seems like everywhere I go somebody recognizes me from Freestyle Friday or from my battle with Nov.
How do you think you can win in today’s game?
Just stay true to myself and just stay true to my music. I have to break the aura that they have that battle rappers can’t make records. That’s the thing they say, that battle rappers can’t make records and I think that at some point, they’re going to have to put that to rest. Battle rapping is almost like a different genre from actual music. That’s how different your mindsets have to be to do either. There are some people that can battle rap and can’t make records and there are some people who can’t battle rap and there are some people who can do both. It could work so just keep pushing.