Artist Spotlight: Godilla (2012)
This monthly artist’s spotlight features none other than Godilla! I am excited about this feature as I have been following this artist for quite some time. When he released his second album, Jaguar Paw, I didn’t know what to expect. But after listening to that project not so many years ago, I knew that he was about high lyrical content, boom bap beats, and an appreciation for the art of being an emcee.
HHD: Obviously you were a fan of hip hop before you were an artist, who, musically were your influences coming up?
Godilla: Yea man I was definitely listening to hip hop as a young kid and I was lucky enough to witness the classic and golden eras. I have a a lot of influences, but I would say Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Lord Finesse, The Juice Crew, The Native Tongues, Chino XL, The Whole Soul Assassin Click, The Cella Dwellas, D.I.T.C. were some of my biggest influences.
HHD: What was the point where you knew you were going to bridge the gap between just being a fan of the music to actually being an artist?
Godilla: I’d say some time in my early adolescent years I started actively writing and entering corner cyphers and closed sessions. I always felt one with the music and always wanted to participate, but didn’t really know what route I wanted to go. I wanted to be a DJ at first, but didn’t have the funds to make it happen. When I knew the reality of being a DJ wasn’t gonna happen I invested in something I could afford (pen and paper).I remember making songs off of two radios with instrumentals like Edo G’s “I got to have it”, Crooklyn Dodgers “Crooklyn”, EPMD’s “Rampage”.
HHD: Do you remember the first time you performed your music for a live audience? What was like getting on stage and performing music that you wrote?
Godilla: The first time I performed in front of a legit crowd was a MC freestyle battle around my way. My click at the time had a few members entering it and they signed me up unwillingly. I choked horribly and got stuck a few times. By the moment my time had expired I was starting to flow decent, but it was too late. It’s dope to look back at the experience, I met King Magnetic and my F-30 affiliate Aeyone at the event who I still work with. I remember rockin a Maliq Sealy jersey with the fly kango as some shorties cheered as I stepped to the mic. That shit gave me a high and rush no drug or drink could provide. I quit rhyming after the event was done due to the disappointment. Funny thing tho, on the walk home I got hit with a rush of lines and ended up writing a crazy rhyme that ended up being my go to rhyme in sessions and radio show appearances. My retirement didn’t last
long as you can see.
HHD: Describe the difference between the Godilla who wrote and recorded the album, Suprilla in 2006 to the artist you are now, preparing your fourth album for release in 2013? What’s changed for you?
Godilla: The focus there is stonger now and I’m a lot more strategic when I write my rhymes today. Not to mention I handle myself a lot better in the booth. When I did the Suprilla album with Reign Supreme were were making records from scratch with alcohol fueled inspiration.The album helped me get my foot in the door and showcase what I was bringing to the table even though I was very unpolished. Everything has changed then to now. When I was penning the Suprilla the album I was a single man who was just trying to get his shine on. Now a days I’m a family man who is doing his part to keep a certain sound alive for the culture. I have more on the line. My time is more valuable now. I have children now, so if I write a rhyme I have to make it count because that time can easily be spent with my kids.
HHD: Even though Suprilla was your first album, Jaguar Paw is the joint that I felt got your name buzzing. Tell people what went into making that album and how you feel it was received.
Godilla: Jaguar Paw is the joint that got me buzzing on a national level. To what extent I couldn’t tell ya, but I do know I got a lot of foreign support on that one. In between the Suprilla and Jaguar Paw albums I kept busy with appearances on King Magnetic’s EAG 1 and The Snowgoons Black Snow album. Those two particular albums helped me get heard so I just wanted to give an offering that the fans of that particular genre would appreciate.
There wasn’t much that went into it. I basically wrote on lunch breaks at work and while my son was taking cat naps. I think that album whether it was the artwork or sound helped give me the frame work for the stuff I do now. I’d like to think it was received well. I still get people who hit me up for copies of it to this day.My network grew due to my work ethic and it gave more options to create the particular sound I was going for. It was an honor to work with two of my favorite emcees (Ug and Mr. Voodoo) on that album as well.
HHD: As an independent artist what has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment? On the flipside, what has been the most frustrating thing to occur?
Godilla: The greatest sense of accomplishment are the emails that people send that are so encouraging. Whether it’s the older listeners who say my music takes them back to the golden era or the people telling me that the music helped get them a tough time. At the end of the day, music should be able to take one away to another place. The music experience should be the same as watching a movie in my opinion. So knowing that I was able to provide some type of escapism for a listener lets me know that my job was done correctly. Working with some of my personal favorite emcees is a big accomplishment for me. My parents are from Guatemala, so they never really understood the music or knew of it’s artists. My Mom did know I was huge Beatnuts fan growing up. Having her see Suprilla on a flyer with the Beatnuts and actually appreciate some of the songs I recorded before her passing is prob my biggest accomplishment though. It felt great to have her see that all the years I wrote or recorded weren’t feeding a delusion or in vein. The most frustrating part of it is seeing how the game has been diluted. Not so much in the music because I understand that music goes in cycles and there are many subgenres to the music. It’s just horrible to see that the media offers no options to what to listen to. The listener has no choices on mainstream tv or radio and has to go well out of their way to get those options. It also sucks to see so many so called emcees not pay dues. I feel like there are very few underdogs to cheer for now. Seems to be like everybody feels like they are owed things instead of earning respect from peers or fans.
HHD: This is a question I ask to everybody because I think it’s so pertinent to the scene, but what are you going to consider being ‘successful’ in being both an artist and as just being man?
Godilla: I guess considering the circumstances of the small town I was raised in and my reasons for moving the pen, I am successful. I never intended on making this a profession. It’s more of a labor of love, so knowing I worked with some respected names and built some type of following makes me feel like I’m winning. Having accomplished emcees salute and and encourage my movement makes me feel like I’m doing my part for the culture/music.
HHD: I saw in your recent video, Sleeper Picks, you had kids jumping on you back throughout the video. Are those your children? How hard is it to balance family matters with being an emcee? What kind of sacrifices are you making to be a hip hop artist?
Godilla: Yea those are my kids in the video. That’s basically how things go down in my household. Anybody who’s stepped crib could tell ya that’s how the little illa’s get down. I’m a very hands on parent meaning I stay active with them whether it’s going over homework assignments, making them home cooked meals or wrestling with them. I dedicate most my free time to them, so any time spent on a rhyme is after their time is accounted for. I sacrifice a lot to do this music. I don’t get to see my family members or friends outside this rap shit because my schedule is hectic. I sacrifice a lot of sleep and I’m sure my girlfriend hates sharing my quality free time to studios or shows.
HHD: Aside from your own music, put our readers on to some other artists in your circle that you think they should be checking for.
Godilla: King Magnetic, Adlib, The Uncanny and extended fam like Born Unique, June Marx, Tone Liv, Tug Mcraw . To be honest I could go on for days about the talent I’ve come across. S/o to all my people especially all the producers like Haze Attacks, Dj Rybe, Jbl The Titan who are all working on production albums at the moment.
HHD: I know you have an album dropping in early 2013. Tell people about that project and what your plans are regarding that and moving forward.
Godilla: I’m looking to release Altered Beast which is kinda of a sequel to Battle Beast which is for the most part a collab album. I’ve been blessed to have a strong network and when headz find out I’m working on an album they support. Most of that time that support turns into guest spots. I really enjoy collabos cuz it’s like playing a pick up game of basketball instead of just practicing jump shots. Although the two mentioned albums are collabo style albums I still plan the joints out strategically, so it’s not like I’m just lumping a bunch of songs together. I’m in the process of picking out beats for my true solo album The Human Zoo. I’m hoping to get to work on that this winter. I have the concepts to the beats already, I just have to take the time to write it. I have a few other projects on the horizon too. Hopefully they all come to light and help give people options.
HHD: Anything else you want to share with our readership?
Godilla: Thanks to anybody taking time to listen to the music, watch a video or come to a show. Nothing is unnoticed. S/o to my Freedom Union crew, RPR, Lateef @Crmn Elements, Coral Reef Clothing, BAXWAR and everybody else in my corner. More music is on it’s way. Many thanks to everybody at http://www.hiphopdependency.com for the