Once a student of Philosophy, now you are an icon of rap music: it is not just a small step. How did you get into the hip-hop scene, and what have been your main sources of inspiration?
Hip-hop has given me all the creative tools I know and has enabled me to grow as an artist. I started rapping as a teenager. I was very much into the sample culture, I listened to a lot of Hip-hop from the mid-nineties and delved into the funk and soul music that had been the basis for making those albums. Moment of truth, H.N.I.C, Lifestyle of the Poor and dangerous, Ridin Dirty, Doggystyle, Capital Punishment, Livin Proof, Word… Life, Goodfellas, Legal Hustle… etc.
Trap music is also a style that identifies you. How is this sort of music received in Spain? What was the biggest challenge you faced trying to make this genre known beyond the borders of your country?
I think that the trap sound is a trend within Hip-hop, and I also think it's a very confusing term; Kanye's 808 sound is not trap for me. Or the whole Atlanta wave that for example Drake or Big Sean have used - I don't consider it trap. I think it's the thug renewed aesthetics, it's like the gangsta rap of now more than a sound, but in any case, there are many people doing RnB with autotune and calling it trap. I don't like categories very much, whatever.
More precisely, the single who dedicated you to fame was Mala Mujer. How did you deal with the accusations of becoming mainstream? Why, in your opinion, being addressed as mainstream have to be so negative for an artist?
In Spain, there is a complex feeling with success. Successful figures are not as inspiring as they are in English-speaking culture, they are often rather criticized or envied. It's been happening to practically every artist in this country for centuries. From my point of view, it is irrelevant whether an artist reaches a large audience or a small one, what matters to me is if they entertain me, if they are interesting, if they are intriguing to me, if they make me want to kill them. The only mission of the artist is to provoke the public using aesthetics and trying to survive using that.
You have expressed yourself several times against capitalist society, but money seems to occupy a central role in your image. Does this have to do with accelerationist philosophy: to bring capitalism to exasperation, to the point of self-destructing it?
Although I find accelerationism very interesting, I'm not into it. Money is for me one of the main themes, like love, death, the passing of time. To say this may sound superficial but it is not at all, money is the main character in Balzac, Dickens, Dostoyevsky. Like all great themes, there are many points of view but the most interesting, the ones that generate the most poetry, is the most problematic. As an artist, I should like to believe that I’m offering interesting ways to address this theme; not only with some songs’ lyrics but also with my public statement, with my performances and my image.
You decided to withdraw temporarily from the music scene in 2013. At the same time, you kept yourself away from the media. What motivations have pushed you to such a drastic decision? Have you always thought it was a temporary decision or did you want to keep it as long as possible?
Life wasn't going well, I wasn't happy, I felt the need to go to the desert to meditate for 40 days and that's what I did. It's one of the most fruitful things I’ve ever done in my life. It helped me to train my mind and my body. I felt like I was a f*** samurai. It gave me the perspective I needed to get here. At first, I thought it was a lifestyle I had chosen but then I thought it was one of the lifestyles that I like. There are many ways of living, we are obsessed with being all alike. It's something I can go back to if I need to.
Has the following return to technology been traumatic or revealing? How significant is social storytelling for an artist's reputation?
When I had a goal, a return to technology was necessary. There are many kinds of artists but for what I do, I needed it. There are really many things that I hate about this always-online lifestyle but if I just had the songs, my work would be much less interesting. Counting on more communication channels allows me to tell things outside of music that sometimes are even more interesting than the music itself.
Your music is full of references to contemporary art, and you often quote Andy Warhol: in which aspects do you feel related to this artist? Are there any other who have had an important influence on your music?
For my mixtape Avida Dollars I took Warhol and Dalí as references. One of the main reasons was what I mentioned before; his work is much more than the set of his drawings/photos/pictures... His way of living, his way of communicating his art, his statement beyond the actual pieces of work is the most interesting thing about these artists. In fact, I don't like them because of their aesthetics, I don't like their paintings, I like everything surrounding them. They didn't have social networks back then, but they knew how to expand beyond the canvas just like I try to go beyond the songs. The second reason was their relationship with capitalism; these two artists have been very controversial and inspiring in dealing with the main theme of our century.
Is there an intentional correlation between the aesthetics of your latest video and the cinema quinqui?
Bien duro is inspired by quinqui movies and Bigas Luna’s movies and also by the roles Javier Bardem played as a young actor. But my last video is a jewel shot in Los Angeles by Alvaro Santos. Go see it, I'm very proud of it. It's called Un Veneno ("A Poison"). It is a collaboration with an experimental artist from Spain: Niño de Elche. And I think it's the best thing I've done this year.