Coleman Strickland (aka Life of Crime) is a rap artist from Detroit, MI. After preforming in talent shows all of his life, he decided in 1999 to become a songwriter like his influences; Scarface, Devin the Dude, and Fiend. Thanks to his close relationship with the streets it wasn’t hard for him to connect with audiences from the very first listen. His songs have been receiving a lot of accolades from those that understand that what he stands for is rarely seen.
A songwriter of instinct, Coleman has a flair for producing music that leaves the listener moved by the raw emotion in them. He uses life as inspiration, the booth his canvas and the mic his brush. It is this versatility that has landed his songs on top of the hip-hop charts in 2012 and landed him a distribution deal. Currently he’s working on the record label Leneage Records that he owns and that made the industry take a second look at him.
Rap music is not a new passion however: after quitting for three years, Coleman started writing songs again after he realized that he could no longer ignore his true calling. Here in an exclusive interview, he gives us some insight into his craft and thoughts.
1. How long have you been in the music game and how did you get started in the first place?
Coleman Strickland: I’ve been in the music game for about 15 years. I got started after my parents separated, music seemed to be my only outlet.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Coleman Strickland: My parents had massive amounts of old blues and jazz albums that they played while I was growing up. I can remember Sunday dinners listening to artists like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.
3. Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
Coleman Strickland: I can honestly say that I don’t listen to other artist as far as my genre is concerned. It seems like there’s no originality in todays industry but if I had the opportunity to do a collaboration it would be with Scarface.
4. Have you suffered any ‘resistance’ or skepticism from within the industry, and if so how have you handled that?
Coleman Strickland: As far as resistance goes there is a lot of it because everyone raps where I live and the fight to be heard is overwhelming. Believe it or not, the only skepticism received comes because I refuse to be just another follower. Being original is sometimes a cures as well as a blessing. I just try to ignore the negative and stay focused.
5. I could not find videos linked to your songs. But I did find your video channel on Youtube, where your last posting goes back to two years ago. Have you been disillusioned by this media? And what are your thoughts on the video media as a vehicle for music promotion anyway?
Coleman Strickland: I would love to do a video but I don’t want to just do an ordinary video. I want my viewers to leave in tears but at the same time be in amazement that someone of my background could relate to them. So until I can get my money right I stay away from videos, when I do a video your going to remember me.
6. Studio work or performing live in front of an audience, which of these do you prefer most and why?
Coleman Strickland: I love being in the studio because I’m in control of what’s happening but I also like performing so i can see what responses I get from the crowd. We all search for love I use music to get mine!
7. Tell us something about the beats and music production on your releases. Do you create them or do you work with other Producers?
Coleman Strickland: I like to work with other producers because every individual has a different personality which means each beat comes from a variety of emotions and I just feed off that.
8. On which of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from an emotional and technical point of view?
Coleman Strickland: I think that my song “I Give You Me” was one of my best performances so far. It’s just me and the music, no outside influences where involved in the production like the majority of todays artist that basicly focus on the what’s happening in the club or the streets.
Coleman Strickland: Originality
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Coleman Strickland: I think it’s10% joy, 20% anger, 15% desire, 50%passion, and 5% pride. Without these emotions I couldn’t put out the music that I do. I guess you can say that I’m well rounded.
11. Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Coleman Strickland: It excites me when I make something from the heart. I feel like each track is like an open page in a diary. What discourages me is that in todays industry you have to sound like someone that’s already out in order to be heard. I feel like the only thing that separates todays artist is there name not there music.
12. Tell us something about your songwriting process. What usually comes first the lyrics or the beats?
Coleman Strickland: With me the lyrics come first then I worry about the music.
13. How involved are you in any or all of the recording, producing, mastering, and marketing processes of your music. Do you outsource any of these processes?
Coleman Strickland: So far I’ve been doing everything on my own. Trust me it’s not by choice but you can’t force others to believe in your dreams until they come true. The only process that I do out source is the music marketing.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Coleman Strickland:My grandmother told me that I had a gift and the world needed to hear it and not to stop until they listen. As far as regrets we all have them I just don’t let them define who I am.
15. At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit the your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
Coleman Strickland: I feel that more exposure would get me where i want to be. I can relate to the average person in the streets, not all of us want to hear about the clubs and who’s twerking. I want my listeners to know that I’m just like them!
16. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Coleman Strickland: I feel that the major labels make it hard for real talent to emerge, not the artist. As far as they know it’s a requirement that you be some sort of spectacle in order to get heard. It’s a shame that if I had money I could just buy my way to the top regardless of talent. They’re just trying to survive by the only means given to them.
17. Could you tell us something about your latest single, album or mixtape release and where fans can find it?
Coleman Strickland: Well, if you’re a true music lover they can find me on Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Twitter or Facebook. Hit me up, I’ll talk back!
18. Which song (or songs) in your catalog best describes the sound and style you ultimately prefer and why?
Coleman Strickland: I would say that “I Give You Me” describes my style. I like taking to my listeners so I guess you would call it slow flow.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist and label manager, in your quest to achieve your goals and wider spread success?
Coleman Strickland: I’m trying to bring back the love of lyrics and not just the beat, but until the music labels stop this rally of club tracks and glamerizing drug dealers it’s going to be an up hill battle for those with creativity an a actual love for the music that they produce.
20. What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
Coleman Strickland: BECOME A FOLLOWER!