An Interview With: meetVoutside
meetVoutisde is an up-and-coming East Coast MC. I recently sat down and talked with V about his childhood in Boston, early hip hop inspirations and even his current endeavors as a student at Umass Dartmouth. I found that V is an artist wise beyond his years, and, like me, he tends to appreciate the little things in life. Let’s head into Tha Village….
What is your first memory of hip hop?
“Well, there’s two distinct memories. First is my dad. Sitting in the BMW. Bumping Eric B. & Rakim, KRS-One. A lot of KRS-One. Just feeling the vibes – the leather seats, and thinking my dad was the shit.
The second is being in my uncle’s truck. Him throwing on instrumentals – freestyling over them. Over DMX. I was mad young – it’s one of those hazy memories.”
You grew up in Boston. Could you tell me what that was like?
“I lived in Roxbury from when I was born to up until the end of high school. My mom is from the islands. Dad grew up in Ruggles. Inner city Boston. They were together for a brief period of time and they split up. They kinda had two different views of how the city is. My dad was one of those people who said: ‘you’re not going to learn if you don’t do it. Don’t move blindly. Think about everything you do. Not gonna learn anything sitting in the house’ – like that.
My mom wanted me to stay inside more and read. When we would walk through the Boston Commons she would point out to me how a lot of people didn’t look at the flowers. The natural beauty. She made me look more at the little things. Slowed things down for me. That’s a lot of who I am today. I love to read, I love nature.
And then around freshmen year of college is when I moved to Field’s Corner. My grandmother had always lived in Field’s Corner – that was just the base of the family. A lot of my family is from Barbados too. That’s where they live.”
Did you go to Barbados when you were younger? Was the culture in your house growing up?
“Yeah I’ve gone down there a lot. It’s a hell of a time. Especially late July, early August when the Crop Over festival is. And I spent a lot of time growing up with my Mom. Food was always the best – all the seasoning. Plantains. Chicken. All good.
A lot of music too – a lot of reggae. That kind of stuff. Even now I prefer more upbeat music. I listen to reggae, Creole music – just everything. I have friends from Africa and there. They put me onto a couple songs. Personally I don’t know how to search for them, the artists. Only the people from there really know the bangers. I’m thankful for a lot of that.”
What type of influence did hip hop have in your young life? Was it also a big factor?
“Hip hop was definitely a major factor. When I first started out writing– in around first or second grade – a lot of it was swear words. Cause a lot of the music I had heard prior to that had swears in most of the songs. And I went to a Catholic School. When they found them all they weren’t happy (laughs).
That’s when I found A Tribe Called Quest…you know what I mean? I wanted to do that. This shit’s on.”
Yeah, De La, Jungle Brothers – I’m gonna be mad at myself if I forget this…uh…Native Tongues!
“All that. As a kid, it’s about the learning process for every human being. You just copy what you see successful. I kinda knew I wanted to do music and to my understanding this is what good music is right now. And you get that self-awareness.”
Were there any others besides the Native Tongues Posse that showed you a different perspective?
“Nas. My dad showed me Nas. That was a big factor. This could be age nine or ten. Fourth grade maybe. First song I heard in my mind right now is ‘If I Ruled the World.’ ”
“It showed me there was so much more. He’s literary putting words together – I see mental pictures. I feel good listening to this. I wanna listen to this shit all the time. It pushed me to the direction where I was like ‘aight, now I wanna say some shit.’ That’s when writing gets hard. I need a vocabulary. I’m in fourth grade. It wasn’t extensive.
After Nas, it was Jay. Jay taught me that if I work hard enough and out-hustle everybody, you can get the biggest empire.”
I think Jay showed everybody that you can make amazing music, but then you can have this business side that just benefits you. Your name is on the building.
“Jay made it possible. He made it possible in the sense that it’s no longer just ‘you gotta be raw talent.’ It’s like ‘there’s a business to this and all it takes is enough effort.’
And then Kanye came out.”
Dude…’05 Kanye. I’ll break it down real quick. You’re 22 right?
“Yeah I’m 22.”
Word, I’m 23. You know, man. It was Jay, then Kanye, then ’08 Wayne took over. That was it. Then T.I. dropped Paper Trail. And after in ’09 Drake had So Far Gone. Cudi dropped too. That’s when the culture kind of shifted to me.
“Facts. Kanye showed everybody it’s okay to be different. Wearing pants you wanna wear.”
“Yeah! He really brought that out. So for me it was a mix of wanting to say something from Nas, learning to hustle from Jay-Z and then knowing you can be different from Kanye. That opened up a whole new market to me. I just got outta class so business words are all in my head (laughs). But it’s a whole new market today. Everything is for the taking. I mean look at people like Lil Uzi.”
“That’s a whole new breed of hip hop from what was being accepted in the 90s.”
It’s funny, dude. It’s weird. I can be pretty old school. Atmosphere, Nas, Pharcyde – all that. That’s my bread and butter. But right now I’ve been in this Uzi binge. Post Luv is Rage 2 dropping.
“Oh, and sprinkled in between all the Nas, Jay and Kanye were these droplets of André 3000 too. I look up to him a lot. I would love to one day do a song with André 3000. He’d kill me on it but I’d love to hear it though.”
He kills everybody.
“Have you heard the ‘Solo Reprise?’ ”
Ahhh, man, that’s RhymeBeat’s number one verse from 2016.
“I still play that. Walking back at night. You feel it. One minute of pure greatness.”
When did you switch from listener to artist? When did your artistic journey start, so to speak?
“That’s perfect, because it leads into the final artist I wanted to talk about. That’s Drake. Aubrey Graham. When he came into the rap game he completely fucked up what I thought I could do. It made me realize that people were taking their honesty for vulnerability. I’m not weaker, any lesser, for giving you the real 100. The truth.”
Was that aspect of Drake emerging onto the scene the final push into you stepping in and recording?
“I can’t say that one person inspired all this. It’s a mix. That was a big one though. Just something about his music.”
Did you start rapping officially during this time though?
“Yeah, this was when I was banging out one song a day – they were all trash by the way.”
What name did you go by then?
“If I start getting into the names now it’ll take too long (laughs). I had too many.”
Is this high school?
“Yeah 8th grade, early high school.”
Where did you go for inspiration at this time?
“I really started building music off of emotions. I gotta be honest. I wasn’t a cool kid. Never was. Had braces. Double overbite. Wearing baggy clothes even though I was super skinny. Those were the emotions I started building out of.”
When did things start to click for you, both musically and in overall life?
“You know how your guidance counselors would say you kinda get a fresh start in college? That was me. I wanted to be that rap nigga on campus. That’s always kinda been in my head.
And then also, I met my bro Tré Michaels (my best friend) the first day of college. We legit didn’t separate since then. He was my roommate last year before he graduated. He came in with the same energy. He’s Boston too. We just vibed off each other. And being on my own, away from home, helped too.”
Is this when meetVoutside and Tha Village came together?
“Nah, after freshmen year – I gotta be honest with you, bro. I was in a slump. Like halfway through sophomore year. Then I started thinking about rebranding. This is when I started to think about the Tha Village. Me, Tré and my manager at the time would sit around and shoot names. Back and forth. Nothing really stuck.
It wasn’t really until junior year when it all came together. Tré and I fucked up on housing and they placed us in the freshmen quad as juniors. That dorm is where I came up with the name ‘meetVoutside.’ Then we moved into another apartment senior year near the athletic center. That’s where our first track ‘Whispers’ was born. My first song as meetVoutisde.”
What happened after that song? Did it help you guys blow up a bit?
“So, there’s a big Sigma Phi AIDS benefit they have every year on campus. They hold auditions for it. This was Tré’s senior year. And I kept pushing for us to do it. I told him: ‘I can do this once you leave, but you’re never going to have the chance to do this ever again.’ So we thought about it for a few days and then I realized we only had one more day to audition. I liked this beat we had, shoutout P. Soul, so I threw it on and ‘Whispers’ kind of flowed out. We wanted it so much I guess the words kinda wrote themselves.
They liked the song and we went and played the benefit, it sold out – like 900 people. After people kept asking us to drop the song, asking us when it was coming out.”
How did that feel?
“Yo, I’m not going to lie, it felt dope. People were calling us the ‘Whispers Kids.’
Then we dropped the track and I went and spent all my printing money on fliers for the song. Designed them, printed them and cut them out by hand. Then I slipped them under everybody’s door in every building on campus.”
For real, every building?
“For real – it took a couple days. I wake up very early naturally, like 6/7, and went out and did it. Every now and I heard people say they’d fuck with the music, and remember the flier I slipped under their door.”
I want to talk about ‘Splash’ now.
“You know the thing about ‘Splash?’ ‘Splash’ was the confidence. That was my confidence showing. That’s why people fuck with it. If you’re confident they vibe with it.
Then with the next track ‘First Night,’ you got vision into my mind. Now I’m working on the mixtape. Outside Oriented. You can be the first one to officially print that.”
I like that.
Any timeline for Outside Oriented? Do you wanna drop it before graduation in the spring?
“I would love to drop it before the year ends. I just got out of a mean writer’s block. Finally back in the studio again. Banging it out. It doesn’t usually take me long to write songs. I write them based of emotions I’m feeling that day. And whenever I write it I’m recording it the next day cause I want to still ride off that same energy.”
What’s motivating you right now? What helped you get out of the writer’s block?
“What’s motivating me is that it’s, it’s game time. I proved to myself that I can put out music and people will listen to it. Now, I’m ready to give them the full insight. That’s why ‘First Night’ is so different.
Also, it’s my people. You can’t do this without people. You need quality, loyal people that love you to the fullest and are there to ride with you. My dad taught me you’re the sum of the five closest people you be around.”
Wrapping up here, you mentioned you had many names in the past. What made you settle with this one?
“Honestly it all kinda connects to now. meetVoutside, V – whatever you wanna call me – it’s who I aspire to be. And I met that person in Dartmouth. When I got here. Roam the trails. Going out with the bros. Freestyling in cypher circles. That’s where I realized that this is who I aspire to be, and I’m going to work every day to be this person.”
Is there any advice you look back on from your youth to keep you going today?
“One thing I say is: ‘if you’re always doing the right thing in the moment, then the future is never a question.'”
In your words, what is ‘Tha Village.’ What does it represent?
“Tha Village is a place where you come to leave your comfort zone. It’s a family, made up of people who only want to see you grow. I’ve always loved hearing that saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ I guess it reminds me that I’m never alone, no matter how far I wander. I want those few that find their way to Tha Village to feel the same energy.”
Today’s inspiration. Still emotions?
“Yeah, I say: ‘whatever you’re feeling, just write a song.’ Be angry, be sad, be happy. Be whatever. But be that on the song and use it as fuel for you to be better.”
Where is meetVoutisde going to be a year from now?
“A year from now I hope to be somewhere in Europe. On a tour. Even if it’s a small tour. Lotta love over there. They love hip hop. I hope I can tour and then come back to the States, maybe with some clout. Work out some partnerships. But, Tha Village will always be my home. I never want the fate of my people in anyone else’s hands.”
Look for a video to the latest meetVoutisde track ‘First Night’ this Friday 11/10. Also, stay posted for the Outside Oriented tape down the road. For more info on meetVoutside, please check out his SoundCloud here. Shoutout New England. #SupportHipHop
images via meetVoutside & Rightful photographers
– Benny P