Last week, we
, the up-and-coming duo who hooked up with DJBooth to bring fans
. For the 18th installment in our
exclusive interview series
, we're taking listeners up-close and personal with
, the Jersey-based rapper who brought us such reader-acclaimed cuts as "
" and "
Born to Jamaican parents in the UK, Cymarshall Law spent his early childhood in Europe before moving to the U.S. at the age of nine. When he was in seventh grade, his older brother (and current partner), emcee
, encouraged him to hone his skills on the mic, but it wasn't till 2000, when he was forced to drop out of college due to lack of funds, that he began to seriously pursue a career in rap. In the decade since, Cymarshall's launched his own label (
), dropped numerous solo and collaborative projects, and toured across North America and Europe. Now, the emcee's getting ready for the January 19, release of his
EP. Also coming in 2010 are a collaborative full-length with production team
Freedom Express Line
) and a new album with Skit Slam as duo
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exclusive, five-question interview
below, Cymarshall Law gives us the inside scoop on how his diverse background has influenced his work, the surprising inspiration behind his stage name, and how you can tell whether or not an artist has "soul."
Cymarshall Law sounds like a character in a sci-fi movie. I have to ask, what's the story behind the name?
Cymarshall Law: Haha. Yeah, well when I first began MCing and needed a stage name it was at the same time Playstation came out and I was whooping everyone in
with a character named Marshall Law. The name just stuck out to me and also I thought about the meaning of Martial Law, I'd be like the Martial Law of hip-hop , then I added on the Cy to the beginning because my real name is Cymar; it's original, my Pops invented it, so that's where you get Cymarshall Law from.....no capital m in the name, just Cymarshall Law.
You were born in the UK to Jamaican parents. How have those international roots influenced your music?
Cymarshall Law: Most Jamaican music artists have electrifying presence on stage and on record and that's always in the back of my head when I write, record and perform. It's given me a unique style because although I have a JA background and was born in the UK, I spent most of my life growing up in New Jersey, so I have a mixture of all styles, plus my own families personal flavor.
On your last DJBooth track, "Harder Than Thou," it sounded like you were getting a lot off your chest. Do you feel like you've had to overcome a lot of obstacles? If so, what?
Cymarshall Law: There are so many things I would really have to write a book. It was a battle to get noticed because the the industry is over-saturated with artists, to get noticed you have to be doing something different, be in your own lane and not be afraid to bring out your personality onstage. When you do that you'll get resistance from a lot of people because they won't understand it or hate it because you're not the same. I had to stick to my guns, and when you do that people start to realize you are the real thing. Then, after that some people you thought were down maybe become envious of your success, some people who you wished believed in you don't and it hurts. People will try to hold you back so that their people can shine - the game can get crazy. And then there are let downs in your personal life; could be the bills coming in, a family member is sick or in trouble, and it takes away from what your trying to do. But I love making music and that's why I'm here. I want to let everyone know I see what's going on even if I don't speak on it all the time. I do this for me and for all of you.
You talk a lot about the importance of "soul." How can you tell when an artist has soul?
Cymarshall Law: Well, I think every person has a soul, it's just whether or not as an artist you're able to bring yours out through the music so people can hear it and feel it. What you are listening for and feeling for is truth.
Cymarshall Law: I have my project the
Creator's Kid EP
coming out Jan 19. It's me showing off my creativity and what i think the game is missing. Then after that I have my album
Freedom Express Line
which I've done with Swedish production team
. This may be my personal favorite of all the solo albums I've made so far. Then my group with my brother
, we got
coming, also with the Beatnikz. This album I think is incredible, it really steps things up. So all that plus more coming in 2010. I'm looking forward to showing off what we have created! Thanks for the support. Much respect, peace and success.