Raleigh, North Carolina artist/Ten $teps Ahead co-founder Newman proves that quality is more important than quantity on his collaborative new project ’24/7.’ Linking up with Virginia-based producer Shifty Capone, the project spans nine songs and brings their unique sounds together to mesh perfectly. Newman’s raspy deep vocals preach wisdom only someone with experience could speak on, and he proves this one tracks like ‘Run in Place’ and the project title track.
Fresh off the release, we had the chance to catch up with Newman and talk about the new project. In our conversation, he shared with us the concept behind the project, how his creative process has changed over time, and who some of his earliest influences were.
For those who don’t know, where are you from?
Did you have any early music influences? Who were your favorite artists growing up?
Jay-Z, Kanye, Pharrell, Lil Wayne, so on.
Your music is very transparent and has a vibe, for sure. How have you honed your pen game over the years?
Writing to different types of beats helped me tap into other thoughts, memories, and flows, so I always kept an open mind with what I was writing to. It’s an ongoing process, but I try to ask myself if there are more efficient ways to get lines across. I like going back after a while and seeing if I still feel the same way about a draft. I was sometimes editing or taking out words or saying certain lines better than the first take and just trying to get the message across clearly.
What was that one song that made you fall in love with music?
“Gone” by Kanye stuck out. I remember hearing it and thinking I hadn’t heard many like it at the time. The structure of it was different. All of the verses with him, Cam’ron, and Consequence were cold, and they all flipped the concept differently. Plus, the Otis Redding Sample, the Jon Brion strings, and all were crazy.
Talk to me about your new project ’24/7′ How did the concept for it come together?
I was finishing up another project I had been working on when my homie Shifty Capone, a producer out of Virginia, sent me a couple of beats. The title track ’24/7′ was the first one out of those that came together, and to me, it was about having a healthy obsession with hustling for whatever it is you’re working for. What that means in terms of success, for your loved ones, and everything that comes with that. That idea inspired the rest of the tracks from there. We made it towards the end of last year, and he kept sending more ideas. I was having fun with it, and most of the ideas came quickly and organically.
What type of sound were you going for while making it?
I was going off the energy from the beats, so I didn’t have any expectations. I just wanted to rap. I tried to keep up with his pace with the amount of stuff he was making. That motivated me. There was a lot of variety in what he was sending, to the point it was wild to think the same person made them all. I felt I was able to experiment with different flows and melodies because of that. At some point, we decided to challenge ourselves to hold the project to 24 minutes and 7 seconds, and it ended up at that exact run time after the last song was done.
How would you say your music has transitioned over time? What new sounds or tools have you added or subtracted to your creative process?
I’ve tried to take more of a step back at times to think about what would make for a better song. So I would say writing with more purpose, trying to say more with less, too. I’ve started producing my beats more. That’s something I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and putting the time into. I did the intro with Shifty Capone, which was cool how it came together. Rapping over my beats is fun, and new ideas come from that. And not expecting things to sound a certain way. I have years of music I haven’t dropped yet, so I feel there’s a lot of different ideas I’ve developed over time from trying things, and they don’t sound alike at all.
Where do you want to take your career ultimately?
As far as my ideas and God will take me. I want to make the best shit I can make, keep progressing as an artist, and learn as much as possible. Keep grinding and let the work speak for itself. I want to get to a space where I can create without limitation and master my craft.
Any message for your supporters?
First and foremost, I make music for myself, and it’s something I love to do and would do regardless of anything. It’s personal at times because my life inspires it. So, anybody that takes the time to listen or support me, I’m forever grateful. And I’m looking forward to sharing and executing many more ideas with my family (Ten $teps Ahead) next year and beyond.