April 4, 2006
HarlemPiff: Whats good? Before we get into the interview, just let the people know who you are.
NOE: I'm NOE. The Baltimore Beast.
HarlemPiff: Why the name NOE? Does that mean anything?
NOE: Well in latin it means "peace" or "rest" and in some languages it means "new". But my nickname is Kinoe. It was given to me by my pops. So it became "NOE" for short. The reason all the letters are capitolized is because of what my life stands for and NOE is merely the title representing everything I have accomplished, good or bad. Everyone's name or title should be written the same way.
HarlemPiff: A lot of people first heard you on Jim Jones City Of God mixtape as the unknown rapper (???), why didnt your name appear on the track listing?
NOE: It was something Jim decided to do to place some mystery and controversy amidst my introduction to the rap world. He felt like with the comparisons surrounding my vocal tone, he didn't just want to market me carelessly and without consideration for nature of the industry. So I was a question mark. In many ways I still am. I did a song called "45" a few years ago and mentioned my name at the end of the verse and people still called it, "Jay-Z - "45", from the Black album". So people will know and aknowledge me when they choose to know and aknowledge me.
HarlemPiff: How did you hook up with Jim Jones?
NOE: I met Jim through my business partner, Nicole "Nicety" Chaplin. She set up a meeting with Jim at Atlantic. We went in the office with the vision of Jim backing me and I came out a member of the Byrdgang/Dipset family.
HarlemPiff: What is it like being one of the first acts on Jim Jones newly founded Byrd Gang Records?
NOE: Its an honor. Period. I don't know how else to say it. There is no feeling that brings more elation than being accepted and believed in. Jim, at the end of the day, has shown more confidence in my talents than anyone in this shit business. Is he hated? Yes. Is he always the nicest individual? No. But everything he said he would do to assist my career, he has done. I will always honor him for that, unless I see otherwise. Byrdgang all day.
HarlemPiff: Since Im sure this is on everyones mind, you sound a lot like Jay-Z. The flow, the voice, its very similar. Is that all you or is it changed up a little?
NOE: It depends. Is Jay all Jay? Is any artist all of themselves ever? I'm influenced by many. Pac, Biggie, Nas, Scareface, DMX, Raekwon, Jada, and many more. Jay has surpassed them all in terms of longevity and accomplishment. So why would I not be influenced by him as well. Jay is included. You could listen to "Testify" and feel DMX's influence all over that. If you listen to "Street Hustlin' " conceptually I borrowed the same approach Nas, Pac, or Jay would have. But its only my charge papers I read from. I'm not a "his"storian. I am a "my" storian. I think the question you really wanted to ask without being offensive is "Are you mimicking Jay?". If I were, would I admit it? Probably not. But if I were truthful and said " I am not", would anybody believe me. I doubt it. So the truth to that question is irrellevant. So it's really not a good question to answer. Although I commend you because it is a good question to ask.
HarlemPiff: Thank you for that, sometimes it is hard to ask perhaps sensative questions, but I know I appreciate that honesty as will everyone else. That being said, has it been harder for you to come up in the game sounding like Jay or has it worked to your advantage?
NOE: Both. It's been very arduous. I can't deny that. My opportunity to be successful may have materialized a lot sooner if I didn't have a similar voice. But it's had its advantages, because no matter how many people love or hate Jay-Z. Its undeniable that I am fun to listen to, especially because I spit.
HarlemPiff: A lot of people have wondered why, with the Dipset beef with Jay-Z, why Jim would sign someone that sounded so similar to him, whats your response to that?
NOE: Jim signed me eight months before any of us knew Cam was coming like that. That was a surprise to a whole heap of people. I remeber the day I heard the song I thought "Oh shit, what in the hell have I landed in the middle of?" It's like sitting in a stalling car in the middle of a train track and two trains from two different directions are heading towards you. You just want to get out of the way. Cam can definitely fight his own war. So can Jay. I wait for Capo to move. Then I move.
HarlemPiff: Where are you from?
NOE: Murdaland. Baltimore City.
HarlemPiff: What was your life like growing up? NOE: The pits. Poor. Broke. No name brand anything. Thrift stores, oatmeal, the projects, bad parents and no friends. But I won't complain.
HarlemPiff: You have a mixtape out, correct?
NOE: Correct. "The Brix Tape"
HarlemPiff: Was this your first tape youve released?
NOE: No. This is the second. The first was entitled "Ill Gotten Gains".
HarlemPiff: How do you feel it is being received by the Hip Hop Community?
NOE: I don't know. I only focus on how Byrdgang receives me when I walk out of the sound booth.
HarlemPiff: Alright, so what do you feel you bring to the table as an artist?
NOE: Meat. Hip Hop's "table" is full of all appetizers. But nothing is appetizing. In order to have meat somebody has to go out and kill. In this case it's the "ears" that are controlling what we listen to. They have to be "slain." That system has to be challenged. So fuck it. I'm the underdog anyway. Every label in this fuckin' industry that I've been exposed to has feared the gangster marketing it takes to make me a star. Some say it's impossible. But I used to sleep on benches dawgz and never broke down and here I sit. Because I matter now. Just a little bit. So everything is possible. Everything.
HarlemPiff: Where do you get inspiration for your rhymes and how much time a week would you say you spend working on your music?
NOE: Well because of the life I've lived I am inspired to survive. And do it by any means. That's what I'm inspired to do. Writing only fills you in on how I got here. As far as time spent writing.... I remember meeting Treach of "Naughty by Nature" on a side street in Baltimore 13 years ago. He was there filming the movie "Meteor Man". I was homeless then, but I had just gotten a job and a new girlfriend so I thought I was movin' up in the world. I had always been a writer since age 12, but I was just learning to rhyme when I met him that day. I loved this nigga's song "Everything's Gonna Be Alright." When I heard that joint I knew what I wanted to be. I walked up to him and asked him what would it take for me to be one the best rappers to have ever lived. He said, you have to "write every goddamn day for the rest of your life. Write about anything good or bad. Even if it's wack, don't throw it away. Keep it." Then he signed my rhymebook. I have literally been writing something everyday for the past 12 or 13 years.
HarlemPiff: What are your plans for your future in music?
NOE: Not sure my nigga. I have time to figure it out. The universe decides for me.
HarlemPiff: Who are some artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?
NOE: Anybody who makes good music. Anybody.
HarlemPiff: Would you ever collaborate with Jay-Z?
NOE: There is a song floating out there that he and I have lended our vocals to. It's "Ballers." It was released in '99 or '98, not sure. It was on a compilation album called "The Projects Presents Ballers Forever", by AV8 records. Research it, you'll find it. We weren't in the studio together to do it. He had already laid his verse on the joint. Would I do a future collaboration? In a perfect world, of course. But amidst the industry bullshit, may not ever happen.
HarlemPiff: Any other ventures you can see yourself taking part in aside from rapping?
NOE: I'm positioning myself to be the Executive Editor in Chief of two major entertainment magazines. I'm negotiating those terms now. I am the Lead Editor and Lead Writer for HUSH magazine. I am the Executive Producer of "The Nicety Chaplin Show" available through Swagger Wireless Inc. via Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and Cingular downloading.
HarlemPiff: If you had to choose one word to describe yourself, what word would you choose?
HarlemPiff: Before we finish up is there anything else you wanna say, any shout outs you wanna give?