Meet Atlanta rapper Issa, an accomplished lyricist formerly signed to RCA records, now represented by fast growing independent record label, Good Life Music Group. With an impressive following of hardcore fans on social media, Issa has been grinding it out on the underground scene nurturing his talent to perfection since just eight years old. Here, in an exclusive interview with The IMC magazine we learn more about who Issa is, what his story is about, and why we should be listening to him.
IMC: Who is Issa, and why should we be paying attention to you?
I: I’m a Young Prophet. My name means Jesus in Arabic. People should pay attention because I am the voice of this generation in all aspects. I represent and speak on subjects that relate to the oppression of our people.
IMC: How would you describe your music?
I: My music is versatile, I almost feel like I can’t be placed in any particular genre because I branch off into many lanes, but I’m starting off with a style I call “Trap Conscious,” so if you had to place me somewhere, it would be around that kind of sound.
IMC: Where do you draw your inspiration?
I: My first musical inspiration came from my Grandfather and my Stepfather who are both musicians. My Stepfather is someone I always speak of because he taught me how to rap when I was eight years old. The first time I was introduced to music though was through my grandfather who kept me in the studio with him when I was two. He said that he would sit me on top of the speakers and never let me down all day (the studio was in our basement). He said eventually I never wanted to leave the basement and I would cry whenever I had to LOL. When I was young and first introduced to Hip Hop I was a big DMX fan. Lil Wayne was and still is my favorite rapper; I would say he’s like the Jay-Z of my generation he laid out the platform for a lot of styles you hear in Hip Hop today. I also get a lot of spiritual inspiration From Bob Marley, and Muhammad Ali.
IMC: How would you say your environment has shaped your music and your sound?
I: I have experience and seen things with my own eyes on the streets, but because of my Mother I never had to be in the streets and participate in the negativity of it all. This is why I can speak on these subjects so fluently because I have seen it firsthand. We did struggle when I was growing up moving place to place due to financial difficulties but my mother never let me feel it, so I never had to result to the streets and anything illegal.
IMC: Tell us about your musical journey, when did you start rapping? What was your motivation? What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
I: I started rapping when I was eight my stepfather wrote me my first rhyme and said he knew I was a natural when he had me record a verse. He said after that he decided that he would put everything he had and knew into me. My motivation comes from God. I enjoy being able to move people and put people in different elements with my voice. I think that having a voice that people gravitate to is a gift and people with a voice should use their voice to inform and inspire. That’s exactly what I’m doing.
IMC: What has been one of the most memorable events you’ve experienced on this journey thus far?
I: Everyday is memorable for me everyday is different and I learn something new everyday, so it’s hard to point out the most memorable moments in my life. I do put all the important events in my life in my music because I feel that’s important for people to know.
IMC: Talk to me about your latest music video Makaveli, where did the idea to do a TUPAC tribute come from and what does Makaveli mean to you?
I: The inspiration for “Makaveli” of course came from Tupac. Tupac’s ability to speak to and for the oppressed (the streets) reminded me of myself and that’s where the connection between me and PAC came from. Makaveli is me giving people exactly what they want due to a bigger goal and plan. This is my break-through record.
IMC: Your earlier single Whips & Chains was very deep in terms of subject matter and racial tensions in America. How can you go from that to something more playful like Makaveli?
I: Me jumping from Whips and Chains into Makaveli was planned strategically. I wanted to let people know that no matter what I am about to say or do I am not a slave to it. Meaning I’m completely conscious of everything. I understand that they give us money, jewelry, cars and so on because most of us can’t see pass that. I also wanted to let my original fans know that my music will always carry a message. Everybody just has to keep watching to see what my plan holds.
IMC: What is your passion, what motivates you every day to do what you do because this business can be very tough?
I: My passion is music. My motivation comes from the understanding of who I am and what I represent to the world.
IMC: What advice would you give to anyone trying to come out as an artist, what are the pros and cons?
I: I would say to believe in yourself and believe in something bigger than yourself and you won’t lose.
IMC: Where can we find out more about you?
I: My Instagram and Twitter is @issaiam.