It’s refreshing to hear emcees that bring a sincere and connected vibe to the mic. Vee Skeeno is an artist that shines through for us- initially as a member of Connecticut super-group, The Voyagers. For those who can remember or know 90’s Hip Hop, the crew had us making comparisons to Souls of Mischief due to the dope collaborative and diverse vibe.
Skeeno (aka Vintage Veez) has been excelling with the release of each track. He’s equally at home rhyming over boom bap beats or more over-produced sounds of modern Hip Hop. Lyrically, he can run with the best of ’em in terms of style, but also impresses with deep, introspective bars. Vee’s style of dress usually contrasts with his raw delivery. His current clique of producers and partners-in-rhyme such as Andre Jakai, KingNamedTutt, Sun Sidran, MCMXCIV and Dave PHNX push the boundaries musically and lyrically.
In this Insomniac Magazine interview, the talented up and comer shares insight into his story and approach in Hip Hop.
Vee, can you discuss how you got into Hip Hop? When did you first begin recording?
I grew up on Hip Hop. I didn’t know what certain songs meant when I was younger, but I always had a real strong love for Hip Hop. I started recording at Young Ty’s studio in 2008, and I freestyled over a Slick Rick beat. The freestyle was absolutely trash, but I had fun while recording, and I figured why not keep at it?
Were there any particular artists or producers from the past who inspired you?
Of course! Dilla, Nas, Kid Cudi, Tyler, The Creator, Ye, Kendrick, Wu-Tang, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, King Krule, Toro Y Moi, Mac Demarco, Lord Finesse, DJ Premiere, MF Doom, Big L, The Fugees, The Pharcyde, OutKast, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Two Door Cinema Club, Tame Impala, Earl Sweatshirt, Tory Lanes, Chance, Andre, The Voyagers, Dave Phoenix, Owen. There’s so many inspirations.
What would you say is a perfect album?
Illmatic, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, 808’s & Heartbreak, To Pimp A Butterfly, WOLF, Channel Orange, Live.Love.A$AP, Blue & Exile, 6ft Beneath The Moon, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, Lil Me, Man On The Moon l, ll, INDICUD, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven, Graduation, Late Registration, The Blueprint, Thriller. I know there’s so many great albums I’m forgetting.
How did you connect as part of the supergroup The Voyagers?
High School. 12th grade.
Can you discuss what caused you to break out on your own? Do you have any forthcoming projects with the crew?
I just wanted to make music, that’s it; and yeah, something is in the works!
How do you differentiate your sound and style from other emcees?
Staying true to me, and making sure I always recreate myself.
Please share the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far during your journey within the music industry?
It’s all about evolving and recreating yourself. The music industry is something I haven’t experienced yet, but from what I see, it seems pretty suspicious and fast paced. Very trendy, and malicious. Music is so powerful that when an artist says something is cool, people automatically think it’s cool; and when an artist says something is wack, people automatically thinks it’s wack. Music industry artists have such a huge impact on the masses and I think they consciously know it and sometimes abuse their power. I learned sometimes things don’t go the way you expect it, but you have to hold your head high and keep your faith in God. Life has been a tough journey, but I continue to believe in God, and give all my problems to him, and I let him lead me on this journey.
There’s been a bond between marketing and Hip Hop since Run DMC embraced Adidas and the brand reciprocated during the 80s. Can you discuss some moments in Hip Hop marketing, in the past or currently, that left an impression on you?
Kanye showed me you can make a lot of money off of marketing just by believing in your ideas. The Yeezy’s [sneakers] are probably more popular than Kanye’s recent album TLOP and that’s because he’s executed the marketing field. He himself is a brand. The name “Kanye” alone holds so much power. He showed myself and other artists you can do more than just rap. There’s no limits to achieving things when you put your mind to it.
What marketing activities do you feel have been the most impactful in helping boost your footprint in the game?
#SkeenoSaturdays in a way. People are anticipating a drop every Saturday. Listeners always want more from their favorite artist. They develop such a strong connection to that artist that they almost want a new song everyday, and if it was up to me I’d please my listeners daily if I could with new music.
What motivated you to kick off #SkeenoSaturdays?
I talk to myself a lot, and I was having a casual conversation with myself and I was like “Yo, I should start dropping songs every Saturday, and calling it #SkeenoSaturdays” it had a ring to it so I stuck with it. Listeners caught on, and once I got people’s attention I stuck with it.
Which social media outlets and online tools do you prefer most to connect with audiences?
Twitter, and responding to people that support you. I think thanking people and showing them that you’re super appreciative of them supporting your music is so important. They didn’t have to press play, or comment on your song. I take people who support my music so serious, because without them my music holds no value. Without their support and feedback it’s not even worth making. I truly love my supporters and how strong they support and stick with me.
Have you been performing much? What’s a Vintage Veez show like?
I don’t, but I wish I did. I really wish I did yo. A Vintage Veez show is me welcoming you to my world of weirdness, madness, and energy. You’re going to feel all of my emotions and what I am going through in life. I am going to be so honest and truthful with you that when you leave my show you’re going to leave with a piece of my soul. I’d allow people to come on stage with me. Yo, when people know my lyrics and recite them back to me that puts one of the biggest smiles on my face. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, and I love being on that stage. I am a little shy when I get on stage, but that’s only because I’m trying to figure the crowd’s vibe. Once I read what type of crowd I’m dealing with, I normally loosen up, and give it all I got.
You skillfully flow on everything from boom bap to trending sounds. Can you discuss how you go about working with producers and rhyme collaborators? How do you connect? What’s your typical recording flow- are you in the lab together, exchanging ideas online, or something else?
I record at my best friend Andre’s crib. I’ve known this dude for years so I’m super comfortable with rapping around him. He doesn’t rush me or anything. I normally let everything come to me naturally. I make sure I do not log on to any social media websites and I focus on what I am working on. I don’t want any distractions when I am working. I try to outdo myself every time when I record, and give it all I have because it may be my last time I record a song so I want to pour out my heart and soul. I can’t rush anything, I like taking my time, and making sure every line is sharp.
I never met Sun Sidran- I randomly came across his YouTube account and I felt there was this vibe he had in his beats that communicated with my soul. I met KingNamedTutt through my best friend Andre, and Tutt is a really passionate dude, and I respect how hard he works on his beats. You instantly nod your head when something of his comes on. My brother MCMXCIV has always been family, and me and him connect spiritually. He’s a music guru, and he knows what type of sound, and vision I am trying to put out there. We’re from the same roots. The producers normally let me do me on their beats, and I am thankful for that.
How do you balance fatherhood, life, and Hip Hop?
It is extremely hard, and I am still trying to balance out the two, but if I couldn’t handle it, God wouldn’t put me through it. I am thankful for being a Father, and I am thankful for Hip Hop.
What do you classify as success in the music industry?
Touching peoples’ souls, connecting with the people, and just uplifting them and letting them know they aren’t alone. I am someone who thinks and feels just like you. You can be yourself, and not feel guilty or ashamed for being yourself.
What’s next for Vee Skeeno?
Only the Lord knows.
Interview by Kevin Keith and Israel Vasquetelle