Every year at around this time, it’s a tradition of many to sit back and reflect. People analyze their year, their successes, their struggles, their accomplishments and everything in between. Why? Most people do this to prepare for a new year, to get ready for personal and professional improvements and to reach new goals or milestones. It’s crucial for many to look back before moving forward. Understanding this, HipHopDX decided to track down several emcees to discuss the year that was and preview the year that will be.
Crooked I, Phonte, Saigon, J-Zone, Fashawn, Brother Ali, The Grouch, Eligh and Talib Kweli took time out to speak about all of this. They discussed their challenges and triumphs of 2011, both personally and professionally. They also candidly shared their greatest lessons of the year, courageous enough to be as personal in interviews as they are in their rhymes. Now, while looking back is helpful and insightful, looking forward is also vital. So, each emcee took time to preview the year that is to come, sharing what fans can expect from 2012.
HipHopDX: Describe this last year for yourself (both professionally and personally). What thoughts stand out most for you? What has it all felt like for you?
Eligh: Oh, wow, dude. Well, 2011 was quite a year for me, man. A lot of musical ups and personal…I wouldn’t say downs but transformation. I came into this year doing a tour and started working with Amp [Live] on this Therapy At 3 album. What’s crazy is after that album was done, mixed and printed, ready to go, all the stuff I wrote about on that album, I literally started going through the shit. To make a long story short, I dealt with some terrible anxiety problems. For two months straight, I couldn’t even drive my car. I couldn’t go to the store. I’d never had these problems in my life. All this shit I was going through, I wrote about. So, through this tour, every day I’ve gotten better every day. I’m 95% better than where I was. No matter what else is going on in my life, I’m so grateful to be this much better. This year has been crazy and important for me. This album has been so well received, this tour has been awesome and the shit I’ve gone through has opened my eyes to life in a whole different way. I stopped smoking cigarettes and I took six years clean from everything else in October. I stopped drinking caffeine, too. My last two things were cigarettes and caffeine and I dropped them both so this was a very good year for me.
The Grouch: I started off the year with focusing on Heroes in the City of a Healing Nation with Zion I and we had a great run with that. Then, I went back to Maui [Hawaii], where I live and tried to just family life it up for as long as I could. I was knowing that I had to come back out in December for this tour. So, I had to think of something great and since I was working with Zion I already, we wanted to get one more push on that. Eligh was having his new album with Amp Live. Plus, whenever I’m with Zion I, people are like, “You should bring Eligh next time” and when I’m with Eligh, they’re like, “Where’s Zion I?” So, the Z&G&E just came to me so I was like, “Let’s push this.” Eligh and Amp’s record makes this fresh and then we got Evidence, man so I was super juiced. I was like, “Who’s gonna be the opener? Who’s record do I like in Hip Hop right now?” It’s Evidence. I never spent too much time with him but this was a perfect opportunity. I met him a dozen times over the years and we’d see each other in passing but I feel real good about selecting him. We had a great time on tour.
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