Saukrates’ rise as a top hip hop artist was quick one with his first track “Still Caught Up” being nominated for a JUNO in 1996. He has continued to enjoy successful career on collaborations with the likes of Redman, NAS, Common, Xzibit, Nelly Furtado and many more. Like many artists he’s faced challenges to be where he is today as a Judge looking for new talent on Searchlight 2015 and releasing his newest EP Amani.
What was it like to be JUNO nominated on your first ever project?
It was a pleasantly surprising feeling. I was given the sense of encouragement and acceptance that every budding artist dreams of.
Like many artists breaking out, you’ve been through your ups and downs by being dropped by some American labels and finding success other ways. What advice would you give to budding artists to keep themselves going through a rough time?
Well, first, i requested to be released from both warner bros LA, AND def jam NY. I’ve never been dropped. So the first piece of advice would be to never let anyone or anything hold you back from sharing your craft with the world. Secondly, while continuing to “outsmart the machine”, i ask budding artists to travel and get some worldly perspective as this will help to keep you thinking outside the box.
You gave advice to up-and-comers to travel and get perspective. How do you think that your travelling experiences influenced you as an artist? And how do you think new artists could benefit from travel?
One thing would be that it helped me to get closer to the competition, to see parts of the world i hadn’t seen and maybe gain some of their perspective. In hip hop we tend to try to out-do the ones we look up to. Now, i’m no battle rapper but sharing in success is also it’s own competition. Aside from what I’ve already mentioned (about travelling) you’d be surprised how open-minded and helpful other artists and industry folk tend to be. It’s all about sharing at the end of the day.
Other than that where else do you draw your creativity from?
I listen mostly to all OTHER forms of music and mainly classic cuts from times past. I feel classic rock, reggae, classical, and jazz artists (to name a few) always kept their imaginations open and weren’t afraid to say or do something new. This helps a lot with my lyrical content and concepts.
Now that you are an established hip hop artist in Canada you have been asked to be a judge on Searchlight 2015. What kind of qualities do you look successful in candidates?
Positive attitude, good to great talent, and originality.
You’ve collaborated with lots of artists over the past 20 years. Who would you like to collaborate with next?
Raphael Saadiq, D’angelo, Kendrick Lamar, Kiesza, Dr Dre, Sam Smith, Outkast, Eric Clapton… the list goes on…
Watch Saukrates new single for “#FYEO ft. SonReal” below .
The hip hop legend performs at Revival this Sunday, April, 5th.