THE SIX is a regular Q&A feature on 206UP with a simple format: One member of the local hip-hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.
Seattle rapper The Good Sin had a worthy showing in 2014 with the release of his third full-length album entitled Life Before. We called it one of the ten best Seattle hip-hop albums of the year for its great attention to soulful detail and emotionally insightful lyrics. Life Before felt, appropriately, lived in.
That characteristic has much to do with the MC’s ethos of quality over quantity — an increasingly rare creative approach to music these days — and a willingness to open himself up to experiences outside of the norm, both physically (he relocated from Seattle to New York City in late 2013) and internally (the album was meant to be illustrative of the MC’s emotional growth over the years).
206UP caught up with The Good Sin in our latest edition of THE SIX. Hit the jump to read on.
206UP: What was the origin of your MC name, The Good Sin?
The Good Sin: I was originally going by SinSeer; [that] was my nickname amongst my crew of family and friends. But when I started releasing music I realized there were already people going by that, so I had to come up with something new. I can’t remember how The Good Sin came to mind but it immediately stood out to me. I ran it past my best friend Dion and he told me it was terrible and to come up with something else. So I waited a month and ran it by him again. For whatever reason, he thought it was good a month later. It’s come to represent the duality in my music: the good and the bad, which I think is in all of us.
Your last two LPs could be described as “concept albums.” Talk about the inspiration and approach to crafting your latest, Life Before.
Yeah the first two were definitely concept albums. They had their own agenda, [which] had little to do with telling my story as an individual and more to do with getting a point across. Late was about living life on your [own] schedule, your time; not being held to societal standards of “You should be doing this by this age,” or, “You should own this or be married,” etc. Just finding yourself on your own time. The Story of Love x Hate was just that: a battle between good and bad, right or wrong. Life Before [is] a sneak peak into my personal life, the happenings that made me who I am, from a child up to now.
How has the move from Seattle to New York changed your music career?
I think it’s given me a greater understanding of how shady the music industry is. It’s made me more business conscious, which is a good and bad thing. A good thing because I know how to avoid the bullshit; a bad thing because being so involved in the business side can kill your creativity. You start thinking how the industry thinks, instead of just doing your thing. You start thinking about creating a certain kind of music or sound to appeal to the industry, instead of creating what comes naturally. It’s also nice to see what gets results and what doesn’t.
How have you been processing the events in Ferguson and Staten Island?
Man, it’s hit me tough, because I’ve been in those situations. I’ve had cops pull guns on me for no reason, so it’s easy for me to identify with those men. There’s this narrative that [Mike Brown and Eric Garner] were criminals or thugs, whatever term the mainstream media wants to use to dehumanize someone and justify their guilt or murder. But I’ve had cops be overly aggressive towards me and I have no criminal history. I’ve been accosted while trying to get away from trouble: standing between a cop with her gun drawn and my 13 year old cousin at a parade when we were trying to find a safe place to be after a fight broke out. So I get it. You try to explain it to people [who have] never experienced it [and] it’s rare they can truly empathize. The best way to explain how I feel is in a constant state of rage. I still smile but there’s pain behind it.
What are your thoughts on how the hip-hop community, in general, has responded to those events?
If you’re talking mainstream, I’m not expecting anyone with social clout to actually do anything. Most of these guys in rap call themselves “bosses” but someone else is still cutting their check. They all claim to be tough but most won’t risk their freedom to stand up for the people who [fill] their pockets by supporting their music. I’ve seen a couple artists protesting: J. Cole, Macklemore. David Banner has probably been one of the more vocal artist on the topic, amongst other things. But until we’re owning our own labels and distribution companies, or just have the balls to stand for something, the majority of the hip-hop community won’t do anything more than post something to their Instagram to appease their fans by acknowledging the issue. They’re cowards.
What upcoming projects can we look forward to?
I have some collaborations dropping soon, but no full project in mind. One thing I learned, business-wise, is to know your market. Right now the industry is single driven. In the past I’ve put a lot of resources into creating a full album when the demand wasn’t there to support that release. So you’ll probably hear more singles from me this year before you hear a full project. But we’ll see, that can change anytime.