Born and raised in the blazing streets of Arizona Serge Dog is one of the freshest and realist rappers coming up in the industry today. Being Chicano and being raised in a border town Serge Dog grew to be very passionate about representing his “raza”. Since the age of thirteen he starting writing poems that eventually lead him into creating his own music. Proud to be from Arizona “Grand Canyon State” and the Southwest, Serge tries to bring his individuality to the game and still represent for his state. Focusing on lyrics, catchy hooks, and everything that Hip-Hop use to be about is what Serge is trying to bring back to the game. Recently in an exclusive interview with Jamsphere, the indie music magazine, Serge Dog told Rick Jamm his thoughts on the game and his new album, “Beyond Expectation.”
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
SERGE DOG: I have been a rapper since I was about 12 or 13. I’m going to be 24 pretty soon so it’s been a while. I always wrote poetry as a kid in school and finally one summer vacation my cousin and I started writing together and actually making songs for my other cousin’s car club. We made them a little anthem song and I just fell in love with making music so I never stopped.
2. Who were the first influences on your music and style?
SERGE DOG: I use to listen to a lot of “chicano rap” when I was younger so I was influenced with that style of music for a while, but then I just started listening to hip-hop and couldn’t get enough of it. Ice Cube is one of my greatest influences, because he is so versatile. He was always raw with his music and spoke his mind.
3. In your opinion who is the most influential and successful artist in your genre today and why?
SERGE DOG: I would have to say Jay-Z none the less, because he’s been doing this for so long and even though he’s getting older he still makes way better music than most of these new cats that are coming up now. He’s always got something up his sleeve that can make a hit record at any time.
4. Describe the first piece of equipment, hardware or software, needed to produce your creations that you actually purchased with your own money.
SERGE DOG: Well obviously you need some kind of studio, so the first things I ever invested in were recording software, a mixer and a mic. Once you go deeper into the game you see that you really do have to waste money to make money. This is an expensive business and a lot of people come into it blind and don’t realize it till they get the bill.
5. Do you think music today is enjoyed more for the beats or for the lyrical flow and content?
SERGE DOG: I wish more people would pay attention to lyrics, but honestly these days’ people rely more on the beat. All they do is listen to a catchy beat and a catchy hook. Some people do pay attention to lyrics though and it’s good to get some feedback from them because then you can find out if they really do like your flow, word play or metaphors so you can advance and keep working on your technique.
6. Which famous song describes best what you’d like SERGE DOG productions to ultimately sound like?
SERGE DOG: Notorious B.I.G- Sky’s The Limit
7. If you had the chance to work with established artists or producers, with whom would you like to collaborate in future?
SERGE DOG: If I could ever work with Eminem on anything that would be one of the greatest days of my life. I look up to this man a lot because he’s done it all and is really the best all around.
8. Which of your original compositions is your personal favorite, and why?
SERGE DOG: So far I would have to say it’s my song “Draw The Line ft. Jspirit” because when I wrote that song it was something real coming out of me. It was all this emotion that I had from a situation I was going through that I just had to get out. What I like most about it though is that everyone hears this song and can immediately relate to it. This is the kind of music I want to continue making. The kind that connects me to all my fans, because they know where I’m coming from.
9. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making your music the way it is?
SERGE DOG: open-mindess. A lot of rappers don’t like to experiment with different genres or styles and I love to. I’m very versatile at writing music so anything I’m asked to feature on or write to is like a challenge for me that I know I can beat.
10. Tell us about your latest album, “Beyond Expectation.” Who did you work with and what are expecting to achieve with it?
SERGE DOG: My latest album is my second solo album so far. I feel like this one shows people that I’m a versatile artist and that I can literally go beyond people’s expectations. I don’t like to be labeled as an artist who is only good at making one style of music I want to show that I can adapt to any style and make it sound good. I worked with a lot of independent artist like myself on this album who are very talented. I worked with Adrian Crush, Jspirit, S-Co, Big D, Mav of Sol-Camp, Daphya and many more.
11. What aspect of the music making process excites you most, and what aspect discourages you the most?
SERGE DOG: The part that excites me the most is actually getting in the studio and laying down the track, because when you write it you have it set in your mind that this is how the song will be, but then you get in the studio and your producer hears something that you didn’t and you start collaborating and adding to it and it’s just an exciting process. Anything is possible once you get in there and you never know what the final cut will actually come out to be. The most discouraging moment is when you finally finish whatever you’ve been working so hard on and nobody seems to like it. You let people get a sample of it to get different opinions and sometimes they just shoot down the song. It sucks but it’s also a good thing in a way because you’re getting honest opinions and you’re not putting out a record that nobody is going to like.
12. How involved are you in the recording, producing, mastering and other processes needed to produce and market your music, and do you outsource any part of this process?
SERGE DOG: I’m always in the studio with producers, when they are mixing and mastering my material because they like to feedback from me on what I’m feeling and what I’m not. I’m very picky on quality of my records. My producers always say “its quality over quantity” and I agree one hundred percent with them on that. I would rather release one great album than 12 crappy sounding mixtapes.
13. Do you think the advent of internet and all the new technology, has helped your music and independent musicians in general, or do you think it just creates a mass of mediocre “bedroom artists” from where it becomes difficult to distinguish yourself from the rest?
SERGE DOG: The internet has always helped me with my promotion and networking. I don’t worry about being labeled a “bedroom artist”, because my quality is greater than some other artist and I try to make everything sound as professional as I can.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far. And one you didn’t follow, but now know you should have?
SERGE DOG: Best advice was “know the difference between constructive criticism and just being trashed on”. Some artist are way to sensitive when it comes to people judging them or their music. I always try to keep an open mind and hear people out whether the feedback is good or bad. You can learn more from people when you actually take time to listen other than just getting mad and sending everybody to hell. One I didn’t follow but should have is “if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is”. I learned this the hard way by dealing with some janky promoters back in the day, but I learned from my mistakes and know better now.
15. As an independent artist, which is the one factor you currently desire most (increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, club performances etc…)?
SERGE DOG: I would say at this point in time it would be more media exposure and performances. I would really like to get my name out there more and expand my fan base, so that more people can hear my music. I would also really like to get on a tour soon so I can travel and see different places around the world while doing what I love to do.
16. How do you distribute and promote your music (Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Your own Website, YouTube etc…) and why do you use that particular platform?
SERGE DOG: I use iTunes and other online music stores to actually sell my music, but my main pages where I actually promote would have to be my social network accounts. Facebook, Twitter and Reverbnation. I also like making music videos so my fans can not only hear my music but also get some kind of picture towards something I was talking about in my song. I get a lot of feedback on my music from my fans on my YouTube channel.
17. How do you handle criticism? Who has been your worst critic, if any?
SERGE DOG: I would say that I handle it very well. I’m not a stubborn person I’m always open to hearing what people have to say. My worst critic would have to be myself. There are times when I put too much pressure on myself just because I want to do my best.
18. Is going platinum or winning a Grammy important you and where would you like to see your career within 5 years?
SERGE DOG: These things are important to me. I hope and pray that one day I go big enough that I can really have a chance at accomplishing those goals. Five years from now I would like to see myself signed to a label and touring around the globe.
19. What in your opinion is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself, has to face and overcome, to gain any commercial success today?
SERGE DOG: I think the biggest barrier is not standing out from other artist. There are plenty of good rappers or song writers out there, but you have to find your own thing that separates you from the rest. I’m still growing as an artist and feel like I’m close to finding my own style but have not fully gotten there yet.
20. If you were not a music artist, what would you be doing right now?
SERGE DOG: Honestly I would probably be an actor. Acting is another passion of mine that I would like to one day try and see if that’s something else I would be good at.
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