How did you get started with music?
I grew up listening to a lot of Hip Hop but life changed the first day I heard an Eminem song. I became fascinated with his intricate rhyme schemes. I would sit near the radio and when his song came up I would record it onto a cassette tape and then write out the lyrics of that song. I soon became so good at hearing, reciting and writing other artists’ lyrics that I felt comfortable enough to start writing my own. The first beat I wrote to was Billy Joel’s River of Dreams. Noticing my passion my father purchased multiple CDs to help with my songwriting. I would routinely write, recite and perform the songs to my family and that’s when I realised that I could possibly make this a career and the rest is history.
Who were your first musical influences?
My parents would often host house parties and play all these jams I had never heard before. From my bedroom I heard Sade and Harry Belafonte but also became accustomed to Brenda Fassie, Lucky Dube, Hugh Masekela and many more South African music icons. It was these artists that really helped me understand songwriting on a different level. I would ultimately find further influence in Eminem (as mentioned), Tupac, Puff Daddy and Nas.
Which artist are you currently listening to?
At the moment I’m listening to the new Kendrick Lamar album “Mr Morale and the Big Steppers” but I’ve also been listening to Drake’s old mixtapes as well on repeat.
What was your inspiration behind The Neo Pitso Ep?
As my fans started growing exponentially I started realising that many of them didn’t know much about me apart from the little I shared on previous tracks.. Up till that point I was hesitant to show my flaws and vulnerabilities as an artist and man. The Neo Pitso EP provided the opportunity to grow as an artist by showing that I am not immune to the trials and tribulations of life. This helped me connect with my listeners on a deeper level.
Live shows or Studio sessions which do you prefer and why?
I prefer live shows because the audience get to experience the song and my expression of that song in real time. There are no edits, it’s raw, it’s real and anything can happen. When things do go wrong, I’m forced to think on my feet to continue the show. It’s quite a visceral experience hearing hundreds of people react to your performance and it creates this constant loop of emotion where; I express myself through lyric and stage presence and the audience reacts in different ways. One of my favourite things to do during a live performance is to choose 3 people at random that I will be speaking to directly during different times of the show. I do this by maintaining eye contact with them whilst reciting anywhere from 4-8 bars thus creating an intimate moment between performer and supporter. My second favourite thing is hearing audience members tell me that my words resonated with them. Performing live is incredible!
Is the choice to perform in English rather than your mother tongue purely a commercial decision? What’s the current state of the Australian industry for hip hop?
Yes, to a significant extent. I figured that performing in English would help me reach a wider audience. In other words, I realised how challenging it would be, to create music in my native tongue and expect to achieve even a modicum of success in a country that’s predominantly English speaking. The Australian industry is minuscule compared to other industries around the world and still considered niche. The current state is promising however, as more African Australians are coming to the fore and being reconsidered by the mainstream media. Shout out to Sampa the Great!
What are the names of artists you’d like to work with in future?
Tyler the Creator, J Cole, Eminem, Kimbra ,Stogie T, Kodak Black, Kanye West & Rihanna
What’s your process of creating a song, do you start with the music first or the lyrics?
It depends on numerous factors. If I hear a beat I like, I will start with a melody for the chorus by humming it and then adding words. I try and write at least 1 16 bar verse a day to sharpen my skills as a songwriter or lyricist. If I have writer’s block I’ll jump on social media to join LIVE shows and just listen or I’ll eavesdrop on a conversation in public to come up with song ideas. Depending on what I hear I’ll try and imagine how that conversation began or how it’s going to end. This allows me to tap into my imagination and create a storyline based on what I’ve heard. An example of this is; I heard one young lady explain to her friends how; she hates having to rely on parents for money and as a result she has been considering starting an OnlyFans account. The fact she didn’t seem bothered saying this in public with people around was interesting to say the least.This stranger’s conversation helped me complete an unreleased song of mine titled “Booking Info”. The song is about a young man judging a woman for being a sex worker. The second half of the song sees the sex worker explain her story by reciting the first verse from a different perspective. Here’s an example of the first verse by the man: :
Everybody’s trying to get rich now, check on Instagram everybody selling pics now
The second verse (woman) starts as follows:
I’m just out here trying to get rich now, check my Instagram 1000 comments on my pics now
The two difference perspectives, equally passionate gives the listeners the opportunity to hear from both sides and come to their own conclusion.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and followed in the music business and what advice did you not follow but realise in hindsight that you should have?
The best advice I received was from MC Supernatural. He explained how important it was for me as an artist to never stop learning and reading. He explained it by saying the less I know the less I have to talk about. A few years ago I was approached by a major label that promised a 6 figure advance in return for signing a 360 deal. My obligations for the life of the contract included releasing 3 projects under the label. Since I’m self managed, I consulted one of my mentors who advised me to take the money but change certain things in the contract if the label would agree, in order to retain control of my masters. I declined the offer and didn’t ask to amend the contract. In hindsight I wish I took the deal as it could’ve helped propel my career to the next level.
Last question; can you tell us about the 3 projects planned for 2022?
M.O.O.L.A (Money on our last attempt) is a conceptual album focusing on the obsession with money in hip hop. The second project A Delayed Story (Adelaide Story) takes place over a weekend and tells of a particularly eventful time in my life whilst growing in Adelaide Australia. My last project will be titled either The Outlier II or African Gold: Being Black Down Under, continues telling my story as an artist and all the trials I’ve faced in my quest for superstardom.
You can follow Neo on Instagram and watch his latest much video. Links below:
Monopoly Music Video: https://bit.ly/3NuqK8g