Rapper, producer and indie label boss Ande Bishop may have only released his debut EP Ocean$ a few months ago but he’s already making big waves in hip-hop – he’s been regarded by many as “one to watch” from the new wave of Southern artists, and has fans in the shape of MTV and Rick Ross. We heard from the man himself about how his career is going from strength to strength.
How’s everything going? How has 2015 been so far?
It's honestly been far and away more productive than I imagined at about halfway through 2015. My debut project from May, OCEAN$ did amazing things for our brand, and I'm already in the early preparation stages for my next projects, which will be released this summer as well.
How did you get started in music?
Londn Blue, he's who I started our indie company with, and he called on me to co-produce and market his first project False Hope last summer, and we haven't looked back since.
Why did you decide to make the move from producing to releasing your own music at this point in time?
The main reason was Londn was the only other artist on the label at the turn of the year, and I was just sitting on some stuff I felt could continue to gain recognition for American Roulette while he was preparing his follow up. I released a few singles of my own. I honestly didn't feel like I was ready yet but the reception was truly amazing, and I never looked back.
Tell us the story behind your debut track ’50 Centences’. What is it about 50 Cent that you find inspiring?
I'm more a fan of 50 as a businessman than I am of his music, and he's an all-time great rapper in my eyes. The track was originally given to Londn by Donato. But he wasn't really feeling it, so he passed it over to me. Londn was working on a track called ‘20/20’, where he flipped '20' over and over. I was so inspired by it,I decided to do it with '50'. A lot of people may think he got that idea from me cause my track dropped first, but it's actually vice-versa. But to expound upon the 50 Cent question, just the way he built his brand G-Unit to being one of the most successful labels in rap history is inspiring. If we can have a fraction of that success with American Roulette, we did something right.
Who else would you say your influences are?
Easily number one would be Tupac. Aside from him the usual suspects; Ludacris, Fabolous, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Kid Cudi, Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco, too many to name honestly.
Rick Ross shared the stream of ‘OLDJAYZVIDEOS’ on his own SoundCloud page, that must have been an exciting moment right?
Yeah, pretty crazy. I've always been a huge fan of Ross, his album God Forgives, I Don't is one of my favourite rap albums of my entire life. Ever since he dropped that he's been in my top three favourite rappers, so any acknowledgement of my music by him is gratifying.
How did you come to sign to Seven 13 Entertainment?
The head of their company Tony Bucher reached out to us last summer right after we released False Hope, and we've been in constant contact since then. He's a huge supporter of both Londn Blue and myself. We almost signed to release a joint album between me and Londn called Proud Americans, which we still may do. But the dopest thing about them is how much success they've had as an indie, and how they've helped us build our brand up ten-fold since we've signed. Definitely the best business decision we've made so far, aligning with Seven13.
Your debut EP Ocean$ was released back in May and it’s blown up. Did you expect this kind of reaction?
Honestly no, I was so nervous the day it came out it's almost comical now that it's over with. But so many people purchased and reached out to me, I felt like I didn't even deserve the praise. But now that the hype has mellowed out, I'm ready to come back with an even better project.
What was the creative process behind the EP?
I just locked myself in my studio and produced the best music I could. It was my first project so I didn't have any real direction, just trying to create great, meaningful music. I definitely feel like I succeeded, and I'm blessed that it came out how it did.
If you had to direct someone to one track of yours that encapsulates your style, which track would it be?
As far as tracks I've released so far, I'd say 'VegasEveryWeekend'. That's my personal favourite of any song I've put out, aside from that, 'Strictly 4 My F.R.I.E.N.D.Z.'. But I have a track on one of my upcoming projects called 'AtlantaEveryWeekend', which is a continuation of Vegas, it's dope.
You’ve also jumped in on the label side with American Roulette Records. Is having that kind of freedom important to you?
Definitely, we move however we want. We fund and employ ourselves, so we can do whatever we feel is best long-term, and not just what'll make money today.
What else can we expect from the label this year?
We have at least four concrete releases getting ready to roll out for 2015. I'm releasing two more: Imaginaryplayer and Herfavoritecolor. Tajee is recording ‘Jrug Lorde’ as we speak, and Play Pendergrass has a project called ‘Love Journeys’ he's about to record.
Is this the start of an Ande Bishop empire?
American Roulette as a brand is my life's purpose, I feel like. The brand is bigger than any artist we have, including myself. Hopefully it's the start of a Roulette Records empire.
You’ve said in previous interviews that you are keeping all the self-produced material for your album, why is that?
I want my first full-length album to be produced in-house, by Londn Blue and myself. I feel like I make my best music over his production, so I'm gonna do an entire album of our own production.
What are you listening to right now?
At this exact moment in time, ‘Running’ by J. Cole. But lately I've been on To Pimp A Butterfly, Musiq Soulchild's AIJUSWANNASING, and Dom Kennedy's From The Westside with Love II.
What’s the first record you bought?
With my own money, Fabolous' Ghetto Fabolous. It came out the day before my 13th birthday. I'll never forget, it dropped on September 11th terrorist attacks, and I bought it the day after on my birthday, September 12th.
What does the future hold for you?
Who knows? I feel like if I keep investing in myself, I'll inevitably see more success. I want to drop at least three more projects this year, including the two I have coming this summer.
Your house is on fire and you have time to grab one possession, what do you save?
My iMac definitely. It has all of our recording software, beats, and music. I can replace anything else.
If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what would it be and why?
I'm sure everyone says money, so I won't say that. Probably water so I can finally learn how to swim.
Ocean$ is available here. Follow Ande on Twitter.