I video chatted with Aris from his apartment in Chicago, while he played with his adorable dog, a small, energetic, Lhasa Apso/Poodle mix named Nala. The Slum Village album from the group of the same name played in the background.
Q : So to start, how long have you been doing music? And did you start off in the Chicago area?
A : I started off in the Chicago area. And I started taking it seriously within the last two years. I’m the type of person that believes strongly in the creative process. So I may make a song and wait an entire year for the next one.
Q : Alright, you know I'm always telling you how happy your music feels. How do you stay in that headspace as an artist?
A : It's because it's genuinely me. That's the type of person I am. I've always been a glass half full kind of person. I heard this old saying, “you bring about what you think about.” It's kind of a law of attraction thing. The things you think about, you pretty much will them into existence.
Q : Within the hip hop genre, we know the stereotype, right or wrong, is that it's more negative than positive. From imagery to lyrics that's always a criticism. What do you say to people that look at your undeniably positive and upbeat music as a rarity in hip hop?
A : I'd like to tell them that it's not a rarity. But the stereotype is a selling point. People like vulgarity. Think about this, If I donate $500 to make sure someone doesn't get evicted it'll probably never make the news. But if I slap that person I'll be on the news as a villain within that same day. You also have people where their goal is to sell positivity. And they'll push it on you. Literally start preaching to you and nobody wants to be preached to. If you're that type of person you have to sell not tell otherwise its gimmicky.
Q : Do you remember the first lines you ever wrote?
A : No. It was probably a battle rap bar. Probably something stupid about chopping somebodys body up. Or one of those “I don't know how to rap'' lines. Like, “my name is V yadda yadda.” [laughs] Like you invited all of us here we know what your name is. I wouldn't be surprised if it was something like that.
Q : What plans do you have for the year music wise?
A : Well what I would like to do is put a 7 track ep out for the summer with funk rap beats. And I also want to do a full length project. I may even do a two part project. I'm not sure yet.
Q : Has the pandemic affected you as an artist?
A : I think the only thing it did was make me more focused if anything. I know a lot of artists struggled. But for me it was the opposite. I even learned how to cook. I've always been a pretty good cook but now I'm way better. I even have two cookbooks. There was a 7 month span where I wasn't working. And I could have easily been like everyone else and complained like “oh I can't go here. I can't do this”. But instead I learned cooking. I worked on music. So that's what I did. I finished the album and I learned how to cook.
Q : How would you want your work to influence the community?
A : You said you felt happy when you listened to it. That's one of the things. When I make music how I look at it, it's not only the topic that's important. It's how you feel when you listen to it. that's what's important. How you feel is very important.
Q : I know you also took part in demonstrations this year for BLM. What part does activism play in your life?
A : I'm a firm believer in being the change you want to see. There was so much negative media surrounding the protests. But I was like, I know for a fact there are people doing positive things. So I said I'm gonna go. There were people who'd never been to a protest but somehow knew everything about it. Funny how that works. So I made sure I was out there.
Q : What are your thoughts on the indie underground hip hop scene in Chicago and Chicagoland?
A : I think it's wavy. And the reason why is, I feel like there's a renaissance happening. We’re doing a lot of things to help each other. The previous generation had a more crab in a barrel mentality. But this generation is more about helping each other and I love it
Q : What are your favorite parts about being an artist? Give me your top 3 things.
A : The 1 thing is, I am a natural creator and I love that. Also I like the energy that it brings. The energy is nice, it's euphoric I think. It's not just a job you know? Number 3, I love the impact it has on people. The way you can communicate with people through music. I love that. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback. But probably my favorite comment was “Thank you for making music.” It was so simple but it meant so much to me. It didn't have to be any explanation for it. I knew that she knew, and we both knew, that it wasn’t so much about me as an artist. It was about the music. The music is what matters. Some people have to be more than the music. Not me. I don't have to be the coolest or the most fashionable. It's just “do you like the music or do you not like it?” That's it.
Q : What are the top 5 albums that inspired you the most as an artist?
A : This is really tough, because I listen to so much different music. But right now I'm gonna just list albums that made me want to rap more. Blueprint 2 Jay Z, The College Dropout Kanye West, Room For Squares John Mayer, Fly Or Die by Nerd, Brandun Deshay Volume 2. He’s my best friend. We were just casually making music. But when he made Volume 2 I was like “Wow, we can actually do this. We can actually make some good music.”
Q : How do you maintain the overall positive vibe in your music?
A : I feel like all the things I talk about are all me. So it's easy for me to relate to and write that way. It's all me. I don't have to try too hard to be positive because it’s who I am spiritually.
Q : Do you see yourself dabbling in any other mediums as an artist or are you completely music centered?
A : If I did it would have to be a situation where someone was inviting in to do it. Like I have this one friend who wants to start a black metal band and I'm like “cool we can do a black metal band.” I even have another friend that wanted me to hop on a country song with them. When I was in college I would actually get paid to write R&B songs and metal songs. That's how I made extra money.
Q : What's your overall goal with your music? What are you looking to accomplish?
A : If I can make music and be comfortable that's all I want. I just want to bring joy into the world. I don't have to be a millionaire or the most famous. If I can be comfortable and make music that's ok with me. For me its peace over profit.
Q : Last question. If you could say anything to a child or young teen looking to do music like you what would you say?
A : Do not let people talk you out of your dreams. There's a reason why I say that. I remember back in highschool I wanted to make more music. But people would make me feel insecure about it. They would say things like “oh so gangsta gangsta”. And I would think “why Is this all you think about when it comes to rap music? Is that what you expect of me? like what are your thoughts on artistry? I can't just be an artist?” And I almost let those people talk me out of my dreams. When people do that, it lets you know they dont take you seriously. But what I found out later was, they were just comparing me to themselves. Like, “well there's nothing special about me, so why would there be something special about you?” It's hard for them to see you as more than what they think they know about you. They're making you feel insecure because they're insecure. They may not even realize it. But my success should not make you feel uncomfortable, people thinking I'm special should not make you feel uncomfortable.
Twitter/IG : @ArisPisHere
Facebook : Darius Aris P Voss
Facebook Fan Page : Aris P