BY: GABY MORENO
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
I am hyped to share this interview I did with Rob Markman. Most may know him as the Head of Artist Relations from Genius, but he is also an emcee and a humble human being! Rob was kind enough to answer some interview questions. Today he dropped his second project, “It’s Too Late At The Wake“! I am excited for everyone to hear it. He was gracious enough to let me listen to it prior to its release and it is an amazing inspirational album!
As I have said before it is no secret Rob is my favorite journalist. He conducts the best interviews in my opinion. He asks questions no other journalist has asked an artist and is very knowledgeable of who he is interviewing. He is one of my inspirations as to why I decided to do the journalism thing! I love Hip Hop and what best way to contribute to the culture than to write about it. Very excited and honored Rob gave me the opportunity to interview him! Without further a do please read below to get a glimpse of who Rob Markman is and learn more about his new project.
Please introduce yourself to those who might not know who you are.
My name is Rob Markman, I’m justa guy from Brooklyn who loves hip-hop.
How did your journey in journalism and music happen? Did you face obstacles, if so what were they if you can share it with us.
I started as freelance journalist writing album reviews for Complex, The Source, Vibe and XXL. An old friend took a chance on me, gave me my first assignment and I kept building from there. I faced a lot of obstacles when I first started. In the beginning I worked full-time in a mailroom for a woman’s clothing company and I freelanced as a writer. It was hard to convince people that I could do more than mailroom work. Originally a lot of people didn’t see my vision, so that got frustrating. And then when I finally got my first full-time writing job at a magazine, I was making less money then I was making in the mailroom. My son was a baby at the time, so it was tough. But it worked out in the end.
How do you juggle your journalistic career, rap career and family?
It’s hard to juggle it all, family is the most important off top. If my fam isn’t taken care of, then I can’t concentrate on music or my work at Genius. So I take care of home first, after that I just use all of my time to pour into my passion and my passionate about Genius and my music, so that fuels my drive.
How has working for Genius as Head of Artist Relations been for you?
Genius has been amazing. I’ve been there for just about four years and it feels like the dream job. I really believe in what we are building and the team that I work with over there is just so talented. Together we’ve pulled off some amazing things, from our daily content to live events with artists like Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and 2 Chainz. Some days I step back like, “Damn, we did that.”
Where did your passion for pursuing your dreams come from? As well as advocating for others to do the same?
As a kid I had a vivid imagination, I would day dream a lot. I used to day dream about having a record deal, performing on stage and just contributing to hip-hop. I always knew I had something to offer. I have always been the type to go out there and get what I want. When I was young my thing was sneakers, I always wanted a pair of Jordans and my parents just wouldn’t get ’em for me. I remember one time the bought me a pair of LA Gears and I would get teased about ’em. By the time I turned 13 I was determined to get a pair of Jordans, so I got a little part-time job in a comic book store and saved up until I got those Jordans. I’ve been working ever since then. After the comic book store it was a pizza shop, after that I worked at a call center, then the mailroom. Long story short is, once I got my first job, I never asked my parents to buy me anything again, because I knew I could get it on my own if I worked hard enough. I think we’re all capable, so I just want to speak it into existence for people. To be in a position to inspire people is the best part of all of this.
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for people who might be lost on their path to find out what their dreams are? As well as advice for those working 9 to 5 jobs who might be afraid to seek their true calling.
Well first of all you have to figure out what your dream is, and you have to make sure it’s your dream. Don’t be a rapper because you think that’s the thing to do. You have to ask yourself: “Do I really love it? Am I willing to put the work in to go and get it?” The problem is a lot of people only think about the end result, but are you willing to take the long, road to get there? So you have to figure out your own dream, and be willing to make all of the sacrifice to get it.
Some people will tell you that you’ll never get to your dreams if you have a 9 to 5, and I don’t believe that one bit. You can chase your dreams and still handle your responsibility, but you have to be willing to sacrifice something. So you don’t have to quit your 9 to 5, but you may have to sacrifice sleep or you may have to sacrifice playing PS4 every night. You can’t be afraid, and you can’t be lazy and you have to believe in yourself or no one will.
“It’s Too Late At The Wake” is your second project. It is a follow up to your “Write to Dream” EP. I watched an interview where you mentioned this project is a continuation of the same concept to follow your dreams. How would you say this album is different from your last?
It’s Too Late at the Wake is just musically better to Write to Dream in my opinion. I learned a lot making the first project and I became a better artist because of it. This album is lyrically better, musically better and I just feel like it’s going to touch people in a different way. There is a lot more passion on this album and a lot more energy. My first project was cool, but I’m not just happy to be here, I belong in this position and this album proves it.
In your first song off the new album you rap, “Some people only reach out when it’s time for a rollout”. I am paraphrasing. As someone who works in the music industry, how do you deal with people who might not have the best intentions? How do you know how to separate the people that truly support you from people who are just looking for a handout? I ask this because you are one of the few journalists who tends to have always positive things to say about artists and can tell you love what you do and show love to all.
Yeah, the first song is called “It’s Too Late” and that was me just venting about all the things that went on since dropping Write to Dream. So that line “Everybody calls me bro now/ But only reach out when it’s time for their rollout,” it’s just the nature of the business. I’m ok with people reaching out when it’s time to drop their album, that’s the business I’m in and I LOVE my job. But all I’m saying is let’s be clear about what it is. Let’s work when it’s time to work, but don’t be on some phony shit. I always try to be honest with everyone I’m dealing with in this business. If some one else has different intentions that’s on them. If I notice that someone isn’t being straight up, then I deal with that relationship accordingly — we’ll work together when it makes sense, and when it doesn’t make sense, we won’t work together.
You have Styles P featured on this album. Which is an amazing feature! In your previous album you did not have big name features. How did this collaboration happen? Who would you love to collaborate with in the near future? Or do want to follow what J. Cole does and have no features?
Styles P is one of the dopest MCs ever. he’s so honest in his music and he communicates pain so poetically. He’s a stone cold killer lyrically too, he’ll murder a verse so calmly. I was honored that he was down to work with me on “Next Check.” One day he DM’d me and said if I ever needed him for a verse, just hit him up. A few weeks passed and I recorded “Next Check” and thought he’d sound ill on it, I sent him the verse and he sent it right back. The Cris Streetz added his verse and the song was done.
I have some collaborations I’m excited about on It’s Too Late at the Wake, me and Punch have a song with The Ichiban Don which is fire. Those are my real friends. I have JNYR, Yuri Koller and Komi on some hooks too. In the future though, I don’t know if you’ll see any big name features from me. If you do see it, then know it happened super organically. I’m not good at asking for features, I dunno it just doesn’t work out for me. I don’t think it’s in the cards. When it comes to working with singers and people on hooks, sure — because I can’t sing, so sometimes you need people to bring a vibe that you can’t bring. But when it comes to rap features, I can rap, so I’ll handle the verses on my songs.
What inspires your lyrics? What is your writing process like when you are creating an album or EP? For instance do you write to a beat or do the lyrics come first?
I get inspired by stories that happened in my real life. Everything on my songs comes from my real life. Even a song like “Raheem’s Funeral” — yes I used the movie “Juice” as a metaphor, but the actual verse of that song comes from a real life situation. I was at a funeral from someone that I loved very much and one of the people responsible for his murder was in the room with us. It was a terrible feeling. I always knew I was going to write about that, but it took me years. I always write to a beat, but a lot of the times I already have the concept to the song before I have the beat. At that point it’s just about finding the beat that matches the mood of the story I want to tell.
What would you like your listeners to take away from this new album?
When people listen to It’s Too Late at the Wake I want them to get inspired and do that thing they always dreamed of doing, because one day we’re all going to end up in that casket and then it’s too late. The second thing I want people to take away from the album is to show love to your people. We see it all the time on social media, the timeline will just clown someone or hate on them wth no regards to their feelings and then when that person passes away the same people are the first ones to throw up an Rest In Peace post. That’s terrible, if you love them show them that love while they’re still alive. Give them the flowers while they can still smell ’em.
I heard in a previous interview that your last project was inspired by emcees like Nas, Jay-Z and Biggie. Who would you say influenced you in this project? If any come to mind.
Honestly, I was my biggest inspiration on this new album. I was solely focused on being better than I was on Write to Dream. Every song I challenged myself to get better.
Do you have any plans of going on tour with this new album? Possibility of paying the West Coast a visit?
Right now I don’t have any tour plans. I would love to perform on the West Coast, it would be a dream. My schedule has been crazy, I’m not saying a tour is out of the question, but I would just have to make it make sense. I will be performing at Rolling Loud in Miami on May 11. I can’t wait.
Any plans on releasing new music videos for any of your singles? Maybe a video for, “I Think We Lost The Culture” in the works?
I haven’t thought about the music videos yet, I’ve just been so focused on the actual music. I love “Culture,” I think I may let the fans decide which video I shoot next.
Using only 5 words, which words would you use to describe your new album?
Honest, sincere, fire, New York and hip-hop!
How do you remain humble and stay grounded?
I don’t know. I’m really just being myself. I treat people with the same respect that I’d like to receive. I’m fully confident in my abilities and I’m aware of my accomplishments, but none of that shit defines me. Ultimately I’d like to be judged on the type of man that I am, the father that I am. What does being the best rapper or the best journalist matter if you’re an asshole.
What do you feel or believe sets you apart from your peers in both the rap game and in journalism?
I guess my perspective sets me a part. I’ve been rapping since I was young. When my old boss, former XXL Editor in Chief, Datwon Thomas found out that I made music he told me that he thinks that’s why my interviews are so great, because I relate to artists in a way that most journalists can’t — and that in turn allows me to ask the right questions and get them to open up. Maybe that’s true, i don’t know. Ultimately I think it’s perspective that sets me a part though, I have a story to tell.
This is a hip hop/horror blog so I gotta ask, what is your favorite scary movie? Why?
The original “Exorcist” movie is still the scariest movie that I ever seen. Till this day it creeps me the hell out. I’ve seen spirits before and I believe that there are more than what we see. I know I sound crazy, and I know that’s just a movie, but it’s also not that far-fetched to me.
Any favorite horror soundtracks or horror-core albums?
The Halloween theme is dope. The song they used for “The Exorcist” theme is so damn creepy. And that first Gravediggaz album was dope to me.
Favorite Hip Hop album or song of all time? It can be more than one.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death is my favorite hip-hop album of all-time. Picking my favorite song is a lot tougher. Jay Z’s “Dead Presidents” is up there — part one and part two.
You are very talented. You are a journalist and an emcee. Do you see yourself conquering any other creative arenas?
Comic books. I want to write more comic books. I wrote a story of DC comics years ago and it was published. It was a Flash story and appeared in a book called Solo, issue number 10.
You are part Puerto Rican do you think it is important that there is latino representation in the Hip Hop community. If so how do you think you can help push a positive image of your culture in your music or journalism?
One of the things I hate the most is when people try to treat Latinx people like we’re outsiders in hip-hop. Hip-hop as we know it in its modern form was birthed in Bronx, New York, so you mean to tell me Latinos weren’t a part of that? Bronx is filled with Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, and it’s well documented. People like Crazy Legs, Prince Whipper Whip, Lee Quinones, Prince Markie Dee — and this is before we start talking about Fat Joe, Cypress Hill, and Big Pun. So I think it’s very important to Latinos represented in hip-hop and I’m proud to do that.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind whether as a creative or in your personal life?
I just hope when people remember me that they remember me as someone who did it right. i hope my sons will see me as a good father and a good role model. As far as how the culture sees me, I just want people to look at what I’ve done and say that I did it with love and respect. I hope that my legacy is one that can add on to hip-hop in a positive way.
Thank you Rob Markman for your time and being down to do this interview! I truly appreciate you! It is journalists and emcees like you that give us upcoming writers and lyricists the inspiration to keep going! To my readers and supporters hope you all enjoyed reading this interview. Go stream, listen or buy Rob’s new project, “It’s Too Late At The Wake” to support dope hip hop music! Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads. While you’re at it please feel free to follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!