|Next Project:||Mr. Robotic EP|
|Twitter:||Mr. Robotic on Twitter|
|Website:||Mr. Robotic's Website|
Amidst all the independent emcees who cater to a niche, “underground” audience, there are the exceptional few who are already making club and radio hits—with the right backing, they could easily shoot to the top of the Billboard charts. Bullet, the “cyborg Martian maniac” who recently wowed our readership with debut single “Mr. Robotic,” is one of these rare up-and-comers with a preternatural talent for pop songwriting as well as prodigious skills on the mic; once the rest of the industry catches onto his unique blend of futuristic pop appeal and hyperkinetic hipster-hop lyricism, Earth’s musical landscape will never be the same.
In just over a year, the Chi-town emcee has established himself as a Booth favorite, earning acclaim for high-energy, Slot A-produced tracks like “Supersonic (Pt. 1),” “Shake Yo Body,” and “Take It to the Top,” and well as more lyrically-driven cuts like “Fortune Teller.’ Fresh off the release of his Home Alone mixtape, Bullet is now preparing to take his game to the next level with his forthcoming, hotly-anticipated Mr. Robotic EP.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ Z, Bullet steps into the Booth to discuss the importance of balancing individuality with a pop-savvy sound, how he and Slot A came up with the title track and lead single off his forthcoming EP, and whether or not patience is a virtue for artists on the indie grind.
Listen to the Interview
Mr. Robotic Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an up-and-coming emcee from the Windy City whose nine Booth-approved features over the last year have helped him build up his current buzz. Fresh off the release of his Home Alone mixtape and preparing for the eventual release of his hotly-anticipated Mr. Robotic EP, please welcome my main man, Bullet!
Bullet: Greetings, Earthlings! [laughs]
DJ Booth: How you doin’, B?
Bullet: I’m doing awesome, doing awesome. Working hard as usual.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. I know that you’re always working, which is a great quality. That’s all I do also.
DJ Booth: Pretending that you are filling out a job application and not really being interviewed by me inside the Booth, give us, an abridged version of what you are all about.
Bullet: Let’s see… I’m a pop-hip-hop artist, I’m a songwriter, and I buy too many kicks! [laughs]
DJ Booth: [laughs] That’s pretty abridged! Now, as you and I both know, image is everything. So, considering your stage name is “Bullet,” how important is it for you to convey to all your listeners that your music is not at all about gun-packing, ammo-loaded violence?
Bullet: It’s very important in my opinion, image-wise. People still ask me for edited versions of my records, and I don’t curse at all. I try to take out so much stuff [to the point that] you know I’m not doin’ that. ‘Cause I feel like, my name, a rock group could have that name, and people wouldn’t think it was on some violent stuff, in my opinion.
DJ Booth: Something you’ve been trying to impress upon people is your unique style. Now, as a self-proclaimed Martian who’s orbiting the Earth to feed the masses good music, where do you see yourself fitting in amongst all of your industry peers?
Bullet: I think I have my own niche, but I also can be different in a certain aspect, but I still can fit into the genre I want to go in—like, my music still is in the theme of radio, and I think it still fits there, but I also have my own edge to it, to the point where you know it’s me, you wouldn’t think it’s anybody else.
DJ Booth: So you’re the cool kid in school who leads his own group, basically?
Bullet: Yeah, basically! [laughs]
DJ Booth: Let’s say I wanted to organize my CD collection by sounds and styles, not alphabetically. What two albums would I slide your forthcoming Mr. Robotic EP in between?
Bullet: Oh, great question!
DJ Booth: Thank you.
Bullet: I would put [it in between] Timbaland’s Shock Value and maybe N.E.R.D’s Seeinhg Sounds.
DJ Booth: Okay, so, [judging] by your answer, production style is very important—when you go about searching for a certain sound, what is the first step?
Bullet: First, I think the beat has to be different, but it still has to be able to fit. I think people go too far, tryin’ to be different, instead of finding that person who can make different stuff, but it still can be mainstream, it’s not too left or right. It has to fit—that’s what I really look for.
DJ Booth: Well, if what you’re doing is different but not too far different, I think it’s working.
Bullet: Right! [laughs] Yes, sir.
DJ Booth: For the most part, rap artists absolutely hate to be associated with the word “pop,” and in your introductory question you actually called yourself a “pop/rap artist.” In several conversations that you and I have had off the mic, you’ve made it abundantly clear that this is actually your aim, you’re not at all afraid of this word. Please divulge and explain exactly what you mean, because, for the most part, people think the word “pop” is, like, a death sentence!
Bullet: Right! [laughs] First off, people forget that “pop” means “popular.” I’m not an underground artist—I make popular music. That’s what I’m trying to do, that’s what I want to do. I think the reason why people don’t like the word “pop” associated with rap is because of how pop music ends up corny. My thing is, I’m doin’ me, and it’s not corny at all—I can actually rap, I can actually make melodies, I can actually make hooks that fit into mainstream radio, that hit Top 40 stations, rhythmic radio, and all of that. So why would I sell myself short, just sayin’, “I’m the best lyricist ever!” Why do that when I can also songwrite? And then, on top of that, you have a better chance making records and then letting people know you can rap, instead of proving to other people, “Oh, I can rap,” and then trying to make a single. It’ll be so hard to do the “Oh, I’m the best lyricist in the world,” and then try to make a single after that—it’s super-hard to do that.
DJ Booth: You’re right about that. Two names that immediately come to mind when I think of rap and pop are Kanye West and Eminem. And, between the two of them, they’ve probably sold in excess of 50, 60, maybe 70 million copies. So I think it’s worked out for them quite nicely—nothing to be afraid of.
Bullet: Right, not at all. [laughs].
DJ Booth: The feature that has received the most love from our readers here at DJBooth.net is your current single, “Mr. Robotic,” which certainly has that popular appeal. Explain how you and your man, Slot A, went about crafting this unique piece of ear candy.
Bullet: [Slot A] usually sends me snippets of beats when he’s done making them, and I was working on the project that used to be The Lost Jabbawockee, but we changed the name and stuff, and I wasn’t gonna ask him for that beat, ‘cause I want him to be able to sell beats. I was really taking a [liking] to B.o.B, so I asked somebody who knew people in his crew to see how much it would cost me to see if I could get him on a record, and I knew I couldn’t do it, so I was like, “Skip it, I’ll do it myself.” I asked Slot to finish making the beat, but make sure he made a lot of switches, ‘cause I was listening to Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around,” and, you know, when the beat switches up to a whole ‘nother song, it just takes the song to another level, and I was like, “‘Mr. Robotic’ needs to do this.” People always get into it, whenever a beat swtiches. He finished the beat, I was in my bed, chillin’, and it was like three in the morning. I had my microphone that was hooked up to the laptop, and I just started hummin’ this melody. It was super-rough, and I sent it back to Slot, and he was like, “Hm… this could work.” And then we took it to the studio, I did the same thing, and the engineer, Steve, put his magic on it, and that’s my record now! [laughs]
DJ Booth: I have to admit something: every time I listen to the record, my head bobs up and down uncontrollably. To this point I’ve stayed injury-free, but, should I need to call up my chiropractor, are you willing to cover my copay?
Bullet: Yes, I am, definitely!
DJ Booth: Okay, because eventually, from what I understand, this could lead to serious upper back and neck damage. And if you get a hit single out of it, and a record deal, but I have medical bills out the ass, I don’t think that’s fair!
Bullet: [laughs] Nah, you’re my man, so I’m definitely good for that.
DJ Booth: I appreciate it.
Bullet: You have to promise to come to a show!
DJ Booth: It’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. While constantly recording new material, and in hot pursuit of the next best opportunity, you’re also enrolled at Chicago’s Columbia College. Studying in school and creating music by themselves are challenging endeavors. You’re managing to do both—how’s it working out?
Bullet: It’s goin’ good! I’m actually part-time now, ‘cause I travel more. But I think, without Columbia, I wouldn’t be where I’m at, honestly, ‘cause I met so many people there—like, 90 percent of my friends are in the industry—all because of Columbia. And I made sure, when I was a freshman, that I hung out with the older crowd, the juniors and seniors, ‘cause those were the ones that were on their way, and most of them are my best friends now. And then, on top of that, I went to school for music business, so I know this business like the back of my hand. I can’t get messed around in no way; I know it. [laughs]
DJ Booth: Have any of your records been penned while sitting in a lecture hall?
Bullet: Yes. I keep my laptop, and I always write my verses on Notepad.
DJ Booth: Do you ever walk down to your teacher at the end of that lecture and say, “Thank you,” and he says, “Uh, what are you thanking me for?” [and you say], “I got some of the best writing I’ve ever done today, in your class?”
Bullet: [laughs] Yeah, maybe I should start thankin’ them!
DJ Booth: Absolutely! When you get it on an album, you should include them in the publishing.
Bullet: That’s what I think I’m gonna do.
DJ Booth: Now, moving forward, obviously, your goal has to be getting together with some sort of label who sees your direction and wants to roll with you, allowing you to do what you and not what they want. What would be your ideal situation?
Bullet: Hm, let’s see… what type of label would I sign to?
DJ Booth: What would you need from any prospective label out there, in order to sufficiently and happily create music and have it released within your own rules and regulations?
Bullet: All I personally would need is a marketing budget and creative control.
DJ Booth: That’s it?
Bullet: That’s about it! [laughs]
DJ Booth: Labels, you can save yourselves lots of money; my man B has a special going on right now, it’s a limited-time-only offer! So, with a little bit of marketing expertise, a budget, and creative control, you could be on top of the industry.
Bullet: It’s really all I need. I have relationships with producers, I have everything—just give me money to market and a video and I’m good.
DJ Booth: The flip side of this all—and I want you to get serious with me—is, obviously, the way you put it seems so simple. So, how frustrating is it, up to this point, to know that, really, that’s all it’s gonna take, and it hasn’t happened yet?
Bullet: For me, it’s super-frustrating. Like, anybody who knows me knows I’m probably down every night—a tear comes out every night! I think, just the fact that I know what I’m doing, and just seeing other people who probably haven’t accomplished all that I’ve accomplished in the past two years, and they have deals and stuff, it’s heartbreaking for me personally, but I know that everything I keep getting now is always gonna add more to my résumé. There’s a reason for everything, so I stop doubting and just keep recording records.
DJ Booth: Well, as I tweet about regularly, even though I know you don’t always see eye to eye with me, patience is a virtue that you need to instill in yourself, and it’s going to come eventually. Mark my words, I’m usually never wrong—I have a good track record, ask around!
Bullet: Yeah, of course, of course! I remember, I wrote a blog on that; I received the tweets you wrote about patience. Somebody just hit me in my Honesty Box, “Just because you’re young doesn’t mean it’s just gong to fall into your lap,” or something, “You’re very talented ,” and all that. I just got super-sad about that, ‘cause it’s like, people forget, I’ve been doin’ this since I was 16! I’ve probably met [everybody] in the Chicago industry in the past four or five years! So that was my thing with the patience. ‘Cause it’s like how long is bein’ too patient? I just didn’t understand that.
DJ Booth: Well, there are several artists who are signed to several key major labels, who have been sitting on the back burner for at least a decade, so, in my eyes, you definitely have a leg up on them. And the next step is clearly to make sure that everybody and anybody knows about what you have goin’ on, so give them a website, a MySpace page, so they can find out more about you.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Well, B, it’s a pleasure to have you join me inside the DJ Booth. I know it’s been a long time comin’, so I appreciate your patience there and wish you nothing but the continued best of luck, my friend.
Bullet: Yes sir!