Question in the Form of An Answer: An Interview with Castle

In a Summer watered down with Advance Your Tax Bracket Rap, Castle has delivered Gasface for you. If you’re looking to rock some Tom Ford,what are you even doing here? If you’re wishing...
By    September 4, 2013


In a Summer watered down with Advance Your Tax Bracket Rap, Castle has delivered Gasface for you. If you’re looking to rock some Tom Ford,what are you even doing here? If you’re wishing to uppercut your boss, you’re in the right place.

Castle has found his voice on this project by rapping his stories so relatably that you can’t help but think of your own. He’s getting back to the basics by showing you what he’s trying to convey, rather than selling you on the designer du jour. He talks of the pressures of pursuing a creative career, the general ridiculousness of a 9-5, and the girls you just can’t turn down. And he does so over his own beats.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Castle recently and we talked about his family’s history in music, how hip hop can mature, and why The Punisher is that dude.- By Brad Beatson

I was talking with Zilla Rocca recently, and he let me know that your family’s got a history in music?

Yes. My pop was a rapper and my mom wrote for him. My granddad, he was a duwop singer but he was too scared to pursue the record deal. One uncle was a breakdancer, the other knew how to spin turntables. And I was there too, we were a group. My mom tells me that I was beatboxing “Fly girl” as a 1 year old, which is funny because I don’t even like that song now. But that was the shit to an infant.

Haha, why was your granddad afraid to pursue a deal?

Well, the common thought at the time was everyone was getting signed and discovered in NYC and LA (And he’s from North Carolina). So if you weren’t living there you weren’t going to pop off. Honestly, he was scared that his Aunt, who was his primary caretaker, would see him on TV and he’d get chastised for it.

You kick Gasface off with “Fool’s Errand,” which alludes to that fear of success and fear of failure. Was your granddad an inspiration?

When it was back when my dad was rapping, we were doing it for love. After my parents got older, they got more discouraged. Because, back in the 90’s, the thought was that rap was a young person’s game. When they were creeping up on 27 or 28, it started looking like, ‘why are we doing this?’ So they dropped out of it. So when they see me, 26-27-28, they’re like, ‘if you’re not trying to sell a million bajillion records, It’s pointless. They’re like what are you doing? But then I got the deal (with Mello Music Group).

Yeah, you look at rap now, and you see somebody like Danny Brown dropping ‘XXX’ (30) and he’s become somewhat of a star. It’s just not the same. Even with like, say, Jay Z, he just put out a record and he’s in his 40’s.

Right. Man, I really hope that Jay keeps putting out albums ‘til he’s 60. KRS-One will rock the microphone ‘til he’s 60. He better at least, he said he would. Hip Hop needs to mature a bit. The older they get, the better the stories get. Like, look at Tom Waits. The dude is a million years old and he’s still incredible, still entertaining. I hope they all (rappers) feel compelled to keep writing. Even if KRS-One reaches 120, I hope he’s still writing.

Absolutely, I hope so too. Take me back to the Ditch Effort days. How’d we end up at Gasface?

Well, I called it Ditch Effort because I was looking to take a little bit of a break. And in that time off, I started kicking around an idea that eventually became Gasface, called The Sushi Project. It was a lot of dusty loops, real minimal. But I felt like too many people were using that style at the time, and I’m real hard on myself, so I fell outta love with the name. I felt like everybody wants to be raw, so the whole sushi thing was kinda wack. So I kept writing for it and working on it, and then I was gonna release it for free on soundclick in 2012. And literally, just as I was uploading it to the folder Has (Has-Lo) hit me up and was like ‘Yo, what are you doing?’ So I sent it over to him and he goes, ‘Are you serious, you can’t put this out for free.’ At the time, I had such low confidence in my own ability, that Has really helped me push it forward, and ultimately helped me pitch it to labels. Then Mello Music Group bit, and I renamed it Gasface.

That’s amazing. You were about to give it away for free and now the album is a huge success. Did you have high expectations for the album?

Not at all. I don’t really have a local buzz or a video, so it was pretty crazy to me that Mello was so bought in and they loved it enough to give it such a proper release. As soon as they talked about how many vinyls they wanted to be pressed, it kind of hit me. It’s definitely exceeded expectations.

It’s an album where you’re speaking directly to the listener. I gotta ask, on some of these records, it sounds like you’ve been afflicted by the bad bitches.

Haha, I’m not talking about anyone in particular. On ‘Opium,’ it’s more of an amalgam of relationships, about lust and love. About dealing with somebody that ya have big feelings for and then they come by or give you a call and you kind of reason with yourself and you’re like ‘ehhhhhhh I guess just one more time.’ Never ending.

 You end that track with a little bit of humor as well. Actually, a lot of the tracks on the album end with little bits. You a big stand-up fan?

Oh my god, yes. Huge stand-up fan. It’s a great way for me to incorporate a lot of the–well. People don’t want to be bombarded by their issues. Like on ‘Orientation,’ I’ve got a friend of mine who isn’t that big a fan of the song, because of the content. It’s too real and it’s painful for him. So I need to approach these topics with some humor. Like I was watching some old Louis C.K. the other day, and there’s a scene where his daughter comes in and after she leaves he says “What an asshole.” It’s that thing where nobody really wants to say it, but people are thinking it, and I think it should be said.

I agree! On ‘Orientation’ you start it off with a sample from the show Better Off Ted, it’s one of the only samples I really noticed on the whole album.

Oh yeah, I mean, I love loops. If no one’s touched it then I will definitely use it. But for the most part, I’ve got to chop up a sample to make it crazy. When I first got into producing, I started chopping heavily, so it’s pretty much ingrained. The intention is definitely to create something new from the sample, but I like to keep it a little bit raw. To show the listener exactly what I’m doing, to show them how I’m making the craziest fucking thing they’ve ever heard.

You produced all of Gasface, are you producing all of you and Has-Lo’s upcoming project?

Nah we’re going tit for tat on that. I’d say about 60/40 on the production. Most of that productions done right now, and we’re sharing duties on the mic as well.

When’s that slated to drop?

Should be Q1 2014. And I’m also working on my follow-up to Gasface, working on polishing Ditch Effort.

Dope, I can’t wait. Yo, I gotta ask, why The Punisher?

Man, I just love that character. He epitomizes coolest mothafucka on the planet. I think what I like most about him is that he’s an ordinary dude and he doesn’t have any super powers. He’s not a super mega genius or like Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. He was in the military and then he came home and he hit the streets. And what’s really dope is that what he does isn’t based on revenge, he does it because he thinks it has to be done. I mean for me, I can’t see myself not rapping. For those few months after Ditch Effort, when I was fed up and I wanted to take a break, eventually I was like ‘what the hell am I doing?’ I was itching. It’s something that I have to do.


We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!