Versatile Los Angeles rapper TalentDisplay has a unique approach to hip hop that incorporates the influence of his home town of Brooklyn with the fresh sounds of his current west coast surroundings. TalentDisplay blasted on to the music scene in 2006 with his self-titled multi-lingual single. Since then, he has worked with superstar artists Fredro Starr and Ca$his, collaborated on pop, rap and R & B tracks while working at Paramount and released several solo projects.
In 2010, TalentDisplay released the Limited Edition Street Album “Between Scenarios.” On the heals of his success with “Between Scenarios,” TD released “Purple Yellow (Lakers’ Anthem)” a tribute to the L.A. Basketball team. The track became an instant classic and has been viewed by tens of thousands of people on YouTube.
TalentDisplay has an endless amount of skills in his arsenal and in 2013, he used his business ingenuity to open the independent music label Verbal Vision in Los Angeles. TalentDisplay confidently fuses old influences into his raw, modern sound, taking rap to a new intoxicating level. His music is hard with beats that will get everyone moving in the club. He has a vast frame of reference that he expertly wields making mention of diverse cultural icons like Curtiss King Tut and Johnny Depp in just one verse.
TalentDisplay is currently working on several projects both underground and mainstream and he uses the love and support of his fans as inspiration to create compelling and catchy Mixtapes, Albums and EPs. Here is an exclusive interview with the artist and label owner.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
TalentDisplay: I have been in the music industry since 2005-2006. It started with just free styling in parking lots and with friends having fun, which I had then converted to writings because I love the method of expression and just art and its many forms. Writing is truly my way of portraying a specific type of art, one which I feel I am great with. I mean… I am pretty good at it [laughs].
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
TalentDisplay: My musical influences are definitely very diverse. I mean… the greats of course like Em, Pac, BIG, NaS and Jay Z as well as others such as 50 [Cent], Onyx, OutKast, Atmosphere, Fabolous, SPM, Scarface, Jadakiss, [lil] Wayne, Ludacris and many, many more that’s just off the top.
3. Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
TalentDisplay: I am currently listening to… um… that Fredro Starr, that new Lloyd Banks mixtape, my own project “Keep Pushing No Matter What” as I am getting its track listing together, The [Magna Carta] Holy Grail album, the new Drake, some RA The Rugged Man and the new MMLP2 by Em mainly. Honestly, I know it sounds a bit cliché, but I would love to collab with some crazy features like I would love to have a track with Eminem and Adele, I would love a NaS and Leona Lewis collaboration or even a track with TalentDisplay featuring Redman and DJ Quik… yeah… that would be DOPE
4. Tell us something about your time at Paramount?
TalentDisplay: It was brief due to politics, but amazing nonetheless. I was working with this producer who was really good and had the access to all the Paramount Studios. I was a ghostwriter who did the writing for different artists and groups of his in different genres while he produced them. I recorded a few tracks and literally sacrificed my publishing and my pay grade on those because I wanted to “earn my stripes” if you will. I more than earned them… and when it was time to provide the stripes and such, they were not even close to being provided. Overall, working out of some of the studios I have, definitely made me learn a lot and added to my diversity working with many engineers with different approach and structure to how they mix and edit things. I wish that producer all the best.
5. Why and how did the independent label Verbal Vision LLC in Los Angeles come about?
TalentDisplay: Myself and my partner whom I consider my brother before anything, shout out to my fam J.V, have been through ups and downs in this crazy world, let alone in the music industry. He actually taught me how to freestyle a long time ago and one time, literally when we had these upsettingly empty pockets, we told each other that we will form a label together and combine our forces. We always wanted to create something together and it just seemed to be the perfect fit, especially since he is a genius man, no lie, he is like a “Will Hunting” [haha]. Also, instead of directly signing with a major, we may want to become a subsidiary to one of the giants such as Interscope, if the paper is “as nice as Kobe Bryant with the fase away”and there is a proper marketing and execution of everything of course.
6. Tell us about the creation, recording, and production of your latest project “Keep Pushing No Matter What”?
TalentDisplay: KPNMW was created in sections. That was because it was initially two EPs. One, I titled “Keep Pushing” and took a more of an underground approach with while the other I titled “No Matter What”, which had a mainstream angle to it. Later on during the recording process, I decided to combine the songs and create a solid LP with diversity between each and every song instead. “Keep Pushing No Matter What” really translates a crazy year in special ways within the project, taking your ear on a journey; the reason why I combined them as well as the title is because one became the “ying” to the other’s “yang”. See.. it’s “Keep Pushing, No Matter What” OR “No Matter What, Keep Pushing”. I placed these words in a repetitive way within an infinity sign for the front cover of the project. I cannot wait for the people to experience and listen to it. I truly hope they enjoy my first Verbal Vision release, the project will be free with the option to support by paying whatever amount. The production is diverse. I got ID Labs on there who produced a lot of stuff for Wiz Khalifa, Furman who is one of my international connects, the guy is a beast! Superstar O who is on the boards for the single, and who had produced for Chris Brown and many great artists. I also got Anno Domini who produced various tracks on KPNMW and many other great producers on there. The recording was all done with my right hand Da Prophet who some know as “YDP”. Our chemistry is one of a kind, very special, real and organic. Always fun and creative. Kept the features to a minimum, but I do got Ca$his on there for my street single, I also got one of the greatest artists I have had the pleasure of working with on various occasions, my family T.o.B. Got my bro bro Wave Bloom on there, Lace Dosia and more.
7. Although you are obviously competent in all, what do you consider yourself as most? A lyricist, rapper or businessman?
TalentDisplay: Wow… what a question.. I guess an artist. I feel like that is what I am the greatest at being an artist. Every option you have brought up in your question definitely associates itself with being a rapper. I think that being lyrical has to come to play if you are a good rapper and I love how much I have sharpened my skills with being a good businessman. My brother J.V though, he is “the business” man, he is truly one of the best in the world at that, in various avenues, just incredible. I truly find myself blessed.
8. On which of your songs on KPNMW do you think you delivered your personal best performance, from an emotional and technical point of view?
TalentDisplay: That is so hard to answer! [Laughs]. Probably on the song “Gotta Get Away” I just think there were a lot of transitions and they were executed to perfection over an incredible instrumental. I think that may be the best. To each his own, so it’s always going to change.
9. Which ingredient do you think defines you as special and unique as a performing artist?
TalentDisplay: I think the fact that I am extremely diverse with my songs and that I do not “look” like a rapper [laughs].
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?
TalentDisplay: Joy. Because, that is what I get out of being able to do what I love and how it has become somewhat of a therapeutic thing, I think it all leads to Joy. Even without a penny to my name and worse, I was able to write a 16 [bar verse] that was able to make me smile in one way or another.
11. Which aspect of being an independent artist, label owner and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
TalentDisplay: What excites me the most is seeing peoples’ reaction when they are not ready to see me drop some dope lines and their reaction, it’s the best! [laughs] What discourages me the most is being dependant on others in this business sometimes. I hate when people lag on execution or are unprofessional, misinterpreting the industry because of an image it portrays.
12. Tell us something about your songwriting process. What usually comes first the lyrics or the beats?
TalentDisplay: You know… that totally depends. Sometimes, a good beat will bring the lyrics out of you, but sometimes, the lyrics just start off with a line I wrote on my phone or something. I will turn that to a whole verse which I will then look for a beat that captures the theme of it and cut or add words to it.
13. How involved are you in any of the the recording, producing, mastering and marketing processes of your music. Do you outsource any of these processes?
TalentDisplay: As far as recording, I will usually sit there after I have laid out the vocals and go over everything while the engineer does his thing with it. Producing the beats physically I do not, but I know how to explain what I would want from a beat and have co-produced before. I am always “hands on”when it comes to my work, Also an A & R and executive produced projects that were not even involving me as an artist. Mastering I let the guys do their thing then I listen to it and see if I need more clarity, etc. Because I am a label owner, I definitely stay on top of these things. I do outsource all the time, I like to blend creative juices. Matter of fact, I also outsource OJ. [laughs]
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?
TalentDisplay: The best piece of advice would be to not look at success in the music industry as a “dream”, but rather as a “mission”and I am happy I have followed that outline. One thing I did not follow and wish I have was the buzz that was created off a song I uploaded on YouTube I have titled “Purple Yellow (Lakers Anthem). That song generated hundreds of thousands of views and is currently at around 600,000 plays without a visual video. Granted, it was an ode to the Lakers and the beat was not mine, but the buzz off that song would have helped advance specific promotions far faster. I definitely should have released another track or a link to take you to another track I could have marketed.
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…)?
TalentDisplay: I would love to have a world tour in place with proper promotion behind it. I would care if it was all free, or if merch was allowed to be sold even. At least at this time.
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?
TalentDisplay: I call that “The question” [laughs]. Look, at the end of the day, social media was where I first started buzzing. The internet and the websites are here to stay and if they are used as a tool in a proper way then they can be great. Sometimes we accidentally live vicariously through them and we as human beings are having the social networks take the “social” out of the “network” and I think that is the worst thing
17. What are you hoping to achieve under the Verbal Vision LLC umbrella ?
TalentDisplay: I hope we achieve the pinnacle of success and have fun doing what we love. I want Verbal Vision to be able to help others grow in the future and I want it to be taking specific paths towards elevating success for us and whomever we partner up with. We plan on Verbal Vision being involved in more than just entertainment. Our company, Verbal Vision, was built with an entrepreneurial mind state. We discuss reaching nine figures and other things that to most seem unfathomable and we do, sincerely and truly feel that we will reach the summit of success, incorporating happiness and loyalty with genuine love and care for what we do with Verbal Vision and VerbalVisionOnline.com.
18. You mix and match various styles, but which of your songs best describes the sound and style you ultimately prefer and why?
TalentDisplay: I mix and match, living up to my name. There isn’t one song describing my sound or a preference I have. I just approach each song wanting to make really great music.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist and label, in your quest to achieve your goals and wider spread success?
TalentDisplay: As far as a label, being an independent one as well as new would be just having those who listen to us really see what on the horizon. Sometimes people judge you by your looks in this game. The biggest barrier as an artist I cannot think of, but when I will attend to it, expect it to be broken. [said in a very serious manner]
20. What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
TalentDisplay: I am never willing to sell my soul or screw my partner out of money, ever. You can quote me on that, if we made 100 mil tomorrow, he can have it all. Loyalty and my beliefs in the one above are things I will never sacrifice.
21. Can you tell us about any new projects or ideas you will be working on in the near future?
TalentDisplay: What to come will be on told on VerbalVisionOnline.com and TalentDisplay.com .. As of right now, we are fully focused on “Keep Pushing No Matter What”, thank you.
OFFICIAL LINKS & WEBSITES: