The DMV has uncoiled several talented artists in recent years, most notably DC’s Wale. With the already open, there are some artist in the region like Napoleon Da Legend prepared to blow the door off its hinges.
Coming out of the nation’s capitol, Da Legend’s talented flow and wordplay can be appreciated in an era where bubble gum rap reigns supreme. Although the emcee hasn’t been exposed to a large base of Hip-Hop fans yet, he music is sure to catch their attention in due time.
“Reality rap” is what you’ll hear from Napoleon – it’s what he stands for. We took out some time to interview the lyricist about his developing buzz, musical style and his royal cloth. Hip Hop Ruckus has already featured Da Legend’s two leak off his upcoming project Veni Vidi Vici Part 2, and now we officially introduce you to Napoleon Da Legend.
HHR: You have had a great following online within the past month, why you think people have responded to your music with such excitement?
Napoleon Da Legend: It’s been a crazy, eventful month for Napoleon Da Legend to say the least. The leak of Veni Vidi Vici Part 2 all across the net and the blogosphere was like the catalyst to the whole thing. The track seems to be resonating with a lot of folks out there. It’s a totally different energy, sort of like a counter-current to the current trends of the time. I wasn’t referencing any style or swag from nowhere. I felt as though I was a lost king living in the gutter. I ain’t got no fancy car or crib or none of that. All I got is this voice, this flow and passion for this rap shit. So I just let them have it in a raw manner. I guess it struck a cord with many out there and word just got around.
HHR: What do you expect to get from music lovers once they find out the man behind the music, especially when they see you rocking the Napoleon’s royal jacket?
Napoleon Da Legend: It’s like the Titanic hitting the tip of the iceberg with the arrogant captain thinking the ship was truly unsinkable you know what I mean. Try to follow my flow on this. The current status quo is like the Titanic, and V.V.V part 2 was that little iceberg tip barely emerging from the water. Whatever lies beneath is unseen by the naked eye. You got to use your third one for that. I feel as though, this is an epilogue, a welcoming or commencement of sorts for NDL. After the epilogue comes the intro, then the different chapters. This is my story, my experience, which is about to unfold for the world to see. That jacket is vintage Napoleon. Napoleon I, the emperor, was a brutal and great conqueror, who went from the apex of ruler ship to being exiled where his days ended. Napoleon Da Legend’s objective is to rewrite history and conquer through the ears of my listeners with powerful musical vibes. Khalil Gibran said “that history repeats itself due to human ignorance,” I peeped game and time will tell what life holds for me.
HHR: The industry is oversaturated to the point where labels have a harder time finding which artist are actually serious about their craft and worth an investment. Can you honestly say you’re worth a labels time?
Napoleon Da Legend: I agree that the music game is oversaturated. We are in the “YouTube” era where it’s as easy as ever to get that 5 minutes of fame. Whatever you do nowadays, whatever your craft is, you have to really bring something unique and special to the table to leave a durable and long-lasting impression on the population. I believe a lot of artists are “serious” about what they do and really believe in their heart that they got it. The industry made it so; they are so focused on pleasing the label or trying to figure out what labels are looking for that they are losing their very identities in the mix. I believe the true power lies, and has always been, in the hands of the people. If the people feel you, they will come out and show you love – they will go out and buy your album or download your music. At that point, what choice does a label have? Have the labels forgotten that without the people, they is no music business, there are no shows, no listeners, no fans? The power lies with the people. I care about the people and not a label. I don’t rap for the promoters, the club owners, the program directors, the A&Rs or the CEOs. I rap for the people! Point blank!
HHR: Musically, I would like you to describe yourself to a fan that’s taking time to hear you for the first time?
Napoleon Da Legend: I don’t do gangster rap, I don’t do crunk rap, I don’t do conscious rap, I do reality rap. My rap stems from real shit, real emotion, real feeling. It’s both the ugly and the beautiful. My a.k.a. is the Grimy Gentleman. You couldn’t recognize the beauty without there being ugly. I give it to you straight. I don’t do anything predictable either. So just cause you hear me on a record that has a certain style don’t necessarily means that’s all you’ll get from me. I take leaps of faith every time I step to that mic.
HHR: Now each and every artist usually has a strong movement whether it’s a team to come along or a indie label. What’s good with the team behind NDL, do you have plans on running your own indie label or crew to take along with you?
Napoleon Da Legend: My team is strong and far reaching homie. We’re everywhere. It’s bigger than just the D.M.V., although that’s the epicenter – shout out to Haiti on that note, help out if you can. We got people waving the NDL flag all over the map. They are not necessarily music orientated either. Although I got a conglomerate of rappers that ride with me and we call ourselves Black Money. We’re printing our own paper, and it’s going to be worth whatever we tell you its worth [laughs]. I want to build Boys and Girls Clubs in Africa, and other impoverished countries such as Haiti one day. I like that concept and I think the children would benefit from having that. It would educate them and keep them out of trouble. I learned to play hoops at a community center around the way myself and I kept that with me. Seeing that happen would put a smile on my face.
HHR: One song online that’s gained great buzz was “Bomaye.” What’s the history behind the song and the recording process behind it?
Napoleon Da Legend: “Bomaye” is the next leak after VVV part 2. For those that don’t know, when Mohamed Ali fought Foreman in Zaire back in the day, he was looked at as a hero or savior for the African people out there, because of what he stood for and his boxing prowess. When he was going by, people would yell out their support by saying “Ali Bomaye,” which I believe translates as “Ali Kill em” in reference to his opponent. When I heard that beat, that’s just how I felt, like I was stepping in the arena or octagon you feel me. So I just went in like that. I envisioned a huge coliseum with people stomping their feet and clapping their hands yelling the famous Queen song “We will, we will, rock you!” From then on, I just let it do what it do like my man Ray Charles would say.
HHR: As an artist that upcoming what’s your honest opinion on the current state of hip-hop and how you feel about the new artist breaking in the game lately, any likes or dislikes?
Napoleon Da Legend: I haven’t paid close attention to the state of Hip-Hop for a while. I was caught in my own life roller-coaster, trying to keep myself afloat. Honestly, the current state of Hip-Hop is like the last presidential election. The Republican party and whoever was representing it seemed so out of touch with the average citizen that they got smashed. I feel like Hip-Hop, which originally was a music from the soul, from the street, for the people, evolved into a money-making machine. Like Skynet in Terminator, it took a life of its own, and exists for itself. It doesn’t quite serve the needs of the youth and the people like it used to. I used to learn real game from Hip-Hop growing up. It used to get me by during my hardest times. Nowadays, it’s hard for me to relate, feel like I’m from another world or something. Where did the heart go? Now I don’t want to generalize and say everybody is doing that, because many artists are staying true and really doing their thing. But most of what exposed on a broad scale is Skynet. Where’s Sarah Conner?
HHR: Each artist has strengths when it comes to creating music. On the Hip-Hop side you have emcees that can rock club bangers, dope lyricism is another strong aspect and some can make R&B Hip-Hop classics? Are you a little bit of all or you specialize in one very strong?
Napoleon Da Legend: I specialize in torching the beat. As long as I feel it, that’s all I need. It would be boring for me to just do one thing. The end of segregation taught us that diversity was a beautiful thing. So I keep my styles diverse to the end. I got shit to say, the beat is the vehicle. Blessings to all living things, let’s stop killing each other. To all my sufferers stay strong. Love is love.