While the world may have its racial differences, hip-hop seems to be blind to race, color and creed, leaving its door open for all to come in, with endless possibilities for anything magical to be created.
Originally from Newington, Connecticut, OnCue fell in love with hip-hop at a very young age, thanks to his older brother who introduced him to the genre.
“I’ve been listening to hip-hop since I was around 3 or 4. It was just a lot of random stuff back then as a kid that made me fall in love with hip-hop, such as Method Man and Kris Kross. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony was actually the very first CD I bought. But there was no one specific artist that inspired me to start writing rap records, I just fell love with the music and culture since I was a little kid. I was a white kid, in the average normal suburbs and it was kind of a backwards, but I was blessed to have an older brother who had good taste in music.”
While coming from a white background, OnCue did however face some hardships with trying to emerge himself in the industry. The 27-year-old artist mentioned some hesitance before actually committing himself to become a rapper.
“It’s so crazy because I started so young. I wrote my first raps before Eminem even came out. I wrote my first rap when I was 9 and always hid it from my parents and brother just because I thought that at this moment, there was so much back lash from Vanilla Ice in ‘97, ‘98, and around the time when Biggie and Pac passed, there was even more back lash on white rappers. But when Em came along, he kind of made me feel like okay, maybe I’m not insane, maybe I can do this. And then when Kanye came out, I felt like oh, I think there is a place for me. I say that because before Kanye came along, it was all gangster, drug and street rap, and then when he came in the game, he kind of made it okay to be yourself.”
While Eminem and Kanye gave him that drive to pursue his dreams, when asked, “If you had to choose someone to listen to your last piece of work, who would it be and why?”, OnCue responds, “I would have to go with Kanye. Ye cares about every last detail and I am the very same way…In fact, I was hype and freaking out that someone from Good Music was listening to my shit. Obviously I work with Just, but when I found College Dropout, that’s when my soul really connected with something”.
While OnCue had some reservations with bringing his raps to the light during his childhood, all his efforts would soon pay off. Before moving to New York and becoming the artist he is today, his formal introduction into the industry wasn’t planned, it just happened. Upon finding a craft in graphic designs, he used that skill as a means to network and build relations with figures in the industry. After one of OnCue’s graphic designs clients played his beginning records to producer, Just Blaze, it marked the beginning of his and Just Blaze’s collaborations. It was almost as if fate took its course for the two to meet. From that point forward, OnCue only went up.
OnCue’s music has definitely shown the evolution of his life and growth. He released Angry Young Man in 2014, but spent three years working on it prior to the release. The young artist described AYM as a mere description of everything he was going through at that time of his life.
“I was angry at the past, angry at my present and angry about my future because I was dealing with a lot of shit, from dealing with my father’s drug addiction, my brother’s issue with alcohol, my breakup, and I just put it in those 12 songs. Instead of running with the drugs and alcohol, I buried myself in music. It’s where I found peace. The track, “Broken Language” specifically was about a girl I was with for years, and once my career took a turn, it was that moment where I actually became a man and made that decision that changed me forever. I did not want to say goodbye at all, but sometimes you have to make decisions for the long run. I had always been this voice of uplifting and reason, and trying to find the silver lining in things and that was really what it was about. I had to get this out emotionally and that was Angry Young Man.”
In regards to the latest EP he dropped, You Knew All Along, OnCue says, “I am just kind of giving you myself. Its not like you are going to be able to necessarily find OnCue’s voice, metaphorically speaking in someone else because I am telling my story and no one else’s. So even in the new material, You Knew All Along, was kind of fun, but it wasn’t really planned, it more so just happened. I had some records sitting in the stash, “3AM” and “Boy On The Come Up”, along with some other records I made throughout the year and basically complied them together”
In transition, Perfectly, Tragically Flawed is a more thought out, short album of me accepting who I am, growing from those growing pains, moving through heart breaks, dealing with domestic issues and all the other bullshit I had to deal with in AYM. I now have such a different perspective, because once you really hit rock bottom, anything but rock bottom is amazing. I really hit rock bottom making AYM. I went through heavy depression and after the break up, I just couldn’t deal with it. While I was simultaneously trying to work on my first project with Just Blaze, depression really got to me, certain things fell out around me in terms of my team and I mean I was really in a dark place. I was waiting on iTunes royalty checks just to buy food, a couple hundred dollar checks just to literally put food in my belly. But now, everything is really starting to look up. Life isn’t perfect but I understand that now”.
While OnCue’s life took a 360-degree spin for the best, the color of his skin was something he had no control over. “Being white in hip hop, I would be a liar to say that it does not have some benefits, but obviously on the other hand, it has been it uphill battle. Like I know I have fans that only listen to white rappers, saying things like OnCue, G-Eazy and MGK are like the dopest, and then its like, is that all you listen to? Like it is bizarre. But then on the other hand its kind of hard to get respect. More or less it’s difficult to be a white rapper. There is an uphill battle when you are trying to actually be taken seriously within the culture. But in this day in age, living with the internet, blogs, and other media outlets including SoundCloud YouTube and Spotify, there are all these counter cultures of white rap, which kind of exist outside of the culture. There is a subculture inside of the culture, which G-Eazy blew up within, and then next thing you know, he has a huge record in the country and a lot of people within hip hop are confused because a lot of times, when you are trying to make the uphill battle as a white guy and gain respect from a predominantly black art form, its totally difficult.”
Understanding that OnCue’s music has shown a true evolution of his life, he said, “I get bored easily, so AYM is very sonically and lyrically heavy and super experimental. The newer stuff is a little bit lighter, very much trap drone kid and very much what OnCue would sound like in 2016, 2017 without really losing that experimental and adventurous side… I just want to fuck shit up, but right now I am really enjoying the music that I am currently working on and I’ve never felt so proud”.
Perfectly, Tragically Flawed is expected to be released next month in February, but OnCue hopes that from his music his audience understands that everyone has issues.
Credit: Zuliesuivie Ball