Life in the hip-hop underground with Symon G. Seyz

Hip-hop artist Symon G. Seyz lives not for record sales but for the passion of making music. The 28-year-old rapper is a member of the hip-hop underground – where unsigned musicians find audiences by giving away their own mixtapes on the streets, performing at clubs and private parties, and using Twitter as their de facto booking agents and PR support.

You won’t find the hip-hip underground in the pages of Hip Hop Weekly but on social community Global 14, where many hip-hop artists are connecting with audiences and others like them. In fact, Global 14 is where I met Symon G. Seyz, a resident of Hammond, Indiana, an industrial town just south of Chicago.

In the following interview, Symon G. Seyz, a teacher by day and rapper by night, provides an open assessment of what it’s like to create and share your music in the hip-hip underground. And he has a lot on his mind. He believes hip-hop has an image problem, and he worries that maybe he’s too clean to be cool for hip-hop – or at least what middle-class America wants to hear from the art form.

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A slice of hip-hop: “Put My Mack Down” by Aye-P

Aye-P performs some sweet alchemy with “Put My Mack Down.” He takes a familiar scenario – a guy coming on to a woman in a club – and creates a funky rap built on top of his own beats and samples of Isaac Hayes’s version of “Look of Love” and Lil Wayne’s “Fireman” (a line from the latter being the inspiration for the title).

This song moves. After the soulful Hayes intro, Aye-P and fellow rapper Rell trade verses about a guy making the move on a woman with “Bright red skin/Light Brown eyes/Slim in the waist/Thick in the thighs.”

What makes the song for me is the interplay between the bass and tenor rap of Aye-P and Rell combined with the steady mix groove. The pace of their rap picks up gradually as they repeat their pick-up line, creating a sense of urgency before the song drops you with a brief burst of whammy guitar.

Aye-P, a music student in Jacksonville, Florida, says he first got serious about hip-hop in 2007. He cites Pimp C and Scarface as his musical influences. He created “Put My Mack Down” in a garage.

“I felt like writing a club song about how dudes might approach girls in a club,” he told me. “I made the beat first by sampling Isaac Hayes and then built on top of it.”

He said he started writing the song about a year ago. “I’m a perfectionist,” he said. “If it doesn’t sound exactly like I want it to sound, I won’t put it out.”

I think the song was worth the wait.

I first heard about Aye-P and “Put My Mack Down” on Global 14, which is a social site run by Jermaine Dupri and source of vibrant communities who share lifestyle interests ranging from hip hop to relationships. Check out Aye-P on Global 14 and follow him on Twitter @dopetracks904.