music / Columns

411 Music Interview: Slaine

August 24, 2011 | Posted by Bill Wannop

Slaine is a rapper from Boston, who is mostly known musically as being part of the groups Special Teamz and La Coka Nostra. He has also gained notoriety for his acting career appearing in movies such as Gone Baby Bone as well as The Town. His solo debut album, A World With No Skies was originally supposed to be released last year, however due to difficulty with sample clearances on the album, as well as due to his increased notoriety from the Town, the record label decided to not release the album, until the sample issues could be cleared up. The album had already been pressed and sent to retailers, which caused it to leak. Due to the leaking of the album and inability to clear the samples, Slaine would go back to the drawing board, and record new tracks for the album. A World With No Skies 2.0 is now being released which contains about 50% new tracks (the review of the album can be seen here. We had a chance to catch up with Slaine and touch of topics such as the album delays, acting, working with Brad Pitt, touring, new albums from La Coka Nostra and much more.
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First talk to us a little bit about “A world With No Skies 2.0. The original version was supposed to be released last year, but was pulled days before its release. What happened?

Slaine: Well the album was pressed up and turned in, and partly due to the success of The Town, it got pulled because of sample issues. I don’t want to really super elaborate on the details of that but, basically we had to pull it at the last minute and half the album had samples that by the time we went to approach, it would have taken us a few months to clear samples and the album leaked on the day it was supposed to come out. Basically, I had to go back in, some of the samples couldn’t be cleared, I did replays on some stuff, but i decided to just go in and retool the album.

So it was mainly due to your increased exposure due to the success of The Town movie?

Slaine: Ya, that was right when it happened because the movie was number one in theatre and it had made like $100 million dollars. I had a couple songs in The Town and there was a complication that went on behind the scenes that made it so I could not use samples on this record.

So what has mainly changed with the album? Does it still have the same theme as the original?

Slaine: You know what, when I went back in, you know the original version was kind of like the body of work that I really worked my entire life to make, so I was obviously pretty fixated on that for awhile. Getting it perfect, I was very happy with it the way that it was so for me to recreate the album proved very difficult for me to do it along the same concept lines. For me, my life was also changing a lot, because of a lot of different factors. One of them being that I got divorced, and I just had some personal issues going on, which also threw me in a emotional tailspin at that time. It also affected my ability to carry out making the same record, because I was just in a different place artistically, emotional and so I think that 2.0, even though about half the songs are on the original version, I think it has changed the complexion of it. I kind of re-approached, rather than try and remake the album, I re-approached and reinterpreted it and I think it’s a different record now.

Between the shelving of the original and the release of version 2.0, you released 2 free mixtapes, “A Devil Never Dies” and “State of Grace”. Why have you stayed so active releasing mixtapes?

Slaine: I think I have worked my entire life to get just to where I am at today. I didn’t want to let that slip away by being shelved and forgotten about, which can happen nowadays. I think that you have to put out a lot of stuff in order to stay in people consciousness so I mean personally I just had that date in mind for when I was going to release something and I had promoted to my fans, I wanted to put something out. Basically that album (The Devil Never Dies) is made purely on anger, so I just went and locked myself in the studio and made the mixtape so it would come out on the date my album was supposed to come out. The other mixtape was kind of made in a time period of anger too; I just get emotional and just go into the studio and make music, which is kind of my solution. That’s why I recorded so much music this year.

Do you think in this day and age that putting out a mixtape is much more effective then putting out a hit single?

Slaine: Ya. I mean a single nowadays is so, unless you are on a major and you are plugged into radio payola in the pop radio system, a single is really not even going to have much effect. You go to any of these websites and there are 15 new singles everyday. It is oversaturated. It used to be that you would put out a 12′ and you would have classic underground type of songs that would last for a long time because it took time to print them and they would run the course. For instance they would play a song for like every week they were on for a couple months and that would give it is proper due and it run its proper course. Now all the shows, if somebody played something on a Sunday night, then on the next Sunday that song is old, so it is a much faster process, so i think that a mixtape has a much longer shelf life then a single, of course it takes a lot more effort to make a mixtape then a single too so…

How are you able to put so much emotion into all your tracks?

Slaine: You know I’m an emotional person. It’s basically that’s how i deal with shit, you know? So you are naturally going to get, like I said the way I take my anger out is to make music about it, that is how I stay healthy so, I don’t really think I am that angry of a person in my everyday life because I get through it with my music.

Aside from your music career you also have a budding movie career. How do you balance the two?

Slaine: Its tough because really I guess you could argue that I should be pursuing my movie career right now. But I have a movie coming out in March with Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta called Cogen’s Trade, but right now it is time for my album. I am really focussed on my music career, my music is what really got my movie career started and my music is …. . I really enjoy both and I will probably be acting for the rest of my life, but right now music is, it has been my life up until this point and just wanted to give it its proper due. So I won’t be acting until the rest of this year.

How do your co-stars react when they find out you are a rapper?

Slaine: It’s different. I mean some of them laugh and are like really? I mean I don’t really fit people stereotypical image of a rapper. You know the way that I talk and the way that I look for some reason it just doesn’t fit their image of it so, I think they are surprised when they hear my music and its good. Not that I go around playing my music to everybody but it usually comes out that I am a rapper and people dig and look and a couple weeks into a movie people are like awwww wow your good, I like that. It changes people’s image and perception of me.

Do you have any other acting roles coming up?

Slaine: Well, I mean I am going on tour right through December so I kind of don’t even want to tempt myself because I don’t want to cancel the tour. I have cancelled my last couple tours because I always seem to get movies. Holy shit…. I just remembered something. FUCK. (laughing), shit I just missed an audition (laughing), well that fitting…

You wanted to go on the tour anyways, right?

Slaine: Ya, right. (laughing)

You have done work with your two groups, Special Teamz and La Coka Nostra, why has it taken so long to get a Slaine solo album?

Slaine: Well I mean I think anybody can probably tell you, unless you are set up with a fan base and all that. I put out the group albums and I put out mixtapes, but its hard in this day and age, the music business is falling apart so it’s not easy to put an album out now. Putting out mixtapes is one thing but you know to put out an album properly, you are affected how your album does forever so if I was to put out an album at the wrong time, without the right system in place, then it would have affected my ability to put albums out the rest of my life.

Do you plan on making another Special Teamz and La Coka Nostra album anytime soon?

Slaine:Ya I think we will be doing both of them again. I think we are going to do another La Coka ep soon and probably an album next year, and probably a Special Teamz album next year as well.

Based on everything that has happened over the last year, with your album delays and everything, if you could go back and do it again, would you change anything?

Slaine: I mean I used to be like, I wouldn’t change anything that happened to me because it made me who I am but that is bullshit. I definitely have regrets. I wish I could have worked my marriage out, I wish my album could have come out last year of course, I wish this was my second album but it is what it is. I think everything does happen for a reason so, I think at the end of the day, over this past year I have definitely build up my buzz as an artist, I think there is definitely more awareness about me now which is a good thing, but you can’t really get lost in your regrets, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t change anything. It’s been a tough go this year.

You are heavy into the Boston rap scene, and have worked a lot with Static Selektah, recently releasing the mixtape, “State of Grace” together. Do you guys plan on making a full album together?

Slaine: Ya, I think we might do a full record together which would be dope. It is just a matter of connecting the dots again, which isn’t very hard for me and him, we work pretty well.

Lastly, you mentioned online, that there was some issue regarding the Best Buy copies of your album?

Slaine: There is nothing wrong with the copies at Best Buy, its just you know, I think what you are dealing with now, I think 70% of the people that bought the Coka album bought physical copies. I think to take power back into the hands of the consumer you kind of have to embrace, not to boost the biggest corporation in America, but to download stuff; to legally download stuff is the best way to support artists. The stores are all shut down, the brick and mortar stores, and places like Best Buy don’t really care about indie, they don’t care about any kind of music really, they probably won’t even be selling it two years from now. So I think the best way you can support artists, like me if you are a fan is to download it from iTunes or Amazon or wherever your legal downloading spot is. That’s the only way you can kind of overcome lack of distributors caring about your album.

For instance you are not going to get anything but straight mainstream hip hop music in those stores at this stage of the game, so if you want to support a diverse or different kind of hip hop music then what is being played on the radio all day long, then you kind of have to embrace the digital era.

Thank you for your time

Slaine: Thanks man.

To pick up the Slaine’s new album, “A World With No Skies 2.0” head here .


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Bill Wannop
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