My timeline has been abuzz this week with the above ‘Uncharted’ video about young rapper A-F-R-O, whose flow is so sick it needs an ambulance, STAT. The common consensus is that his future is bright! 18 year old James Gutierrez is busy working on his debut album, but took the time out to answer a few questions I slung over to him.
I learned that all the legends I look up to and worship are extremely humble.
Was there a particular friend who got you into ‘proper’ hip hop, or was it popular amongst a group of you?
My cousin Joel introduced me to a lot of hip-hop around 9-12 years old. The rest I researched myself.
Hip hop saved your life – could you describe how?
My favorite emcees got me through some of the hardest days I’ve ever had. I owe a lot to them.
Is there a local hip hop scene you became involved in, or did you feel isolated in writing and performing lyrics?
I was local for a little, out in Orange County. I also isolated myself heavily in public school.
What was your studio process like with Premo? What can we expect from the two of you?
Surreal and unbelievable. The full album is our brainchild.
Working with Premo and others, what have you learned about the craft in the last year?
I learned that all the legends I look up to and worship are extremely humble. It encouraged me to remain humble, and to NEVER have an ego.
Have you had many chances to perform live?
Yes, many times, especially out in Europe and NY.
I come from an education background. You have a teacher in the video mention your notebook, who seems an encouraging character. I noticed he was math, not creative writing though… did other teachers feed your creativity? What can schools and mainstream educators do better to nurture people like you?
I only got along with a few of my teachers. A handful were VERY supportive. I believe teachers should get to know the students more. Teachers feel like robots nowadays.
Who keeps you grounded?
God, my family, my mentors, and myself.
How have your family reacted to all this attention and R.A.’s nurturing?
I’ve never seen them so proud.
Is it purely hip hop that drives your fire, or do you have other interests that could provide fuel – any video games / comic books / film / literature etc that you have a love for?
I LOVE movies. If I had the chance to be a rapper-actor, I would take the opportunity in a heart-beat, haha. I also have dreams of making my own video game, similar to Def Jam: Fight For NY. I’d love to have a R.A. or a Vinnie Paz beating up dudes to a dope soundtrack, haha.
‘There’s a reason that the SOUL is the main ingredient’ what have been examples of soul music that have really touched you?
Wow! Haha, that’s dope of you to listen, thanks! James Brown, Sam Cooke, and John Coltrane are huge examples. I worship all of the back in the day soul music from the 20’s to the 80’s.
R.A. said, ‘Are you willing to fight for your spot in history?’ – so what’s the battle plan? I take it there’s a whole album in the works… can you speak on that, for instance?
I’m going to continue to create music and perform live. The album is being created, but it still has a long way to go for a finish.