Becoming a famous as a rapper is much easier to do nowadays, with the growing accessibility of online resources. One hit song is all a musician needs to launch into superstardom, and a major record deal is not as important for success anymore; Going the independent route can be just as worthwhile.
Indiana hip hop artist Bonka sat down to speak on his experiences as an independent artist, and how he eventually decided to start his own label with his friends. The 21-year-old artist emphasizes the different methods he uses to promote his music without a major record deal, and how that correlates with his ongoing brand as well.
How did Scale Tippin Entertainment hear about your music? Was it Soundcloud or something else, because you highlight in your music (especially on “Streets Don’t Love You”) that you’ve gone through a lot.
Bonka: I am one of the founders of Scale Tippin, so I heard about myself. So me and a couple of the other homies on the label put something together for it. I’ve had past run-ins with labels and groups that really weren’t for me, so we just decided to start our own thing.
With the growing number of independent artists making their money off of tours, do you believe rappers need a deal anymore to find success?
Bonka: See me personally, I most definitely feel like you don’t need a label nowadays, because really everything is off of streams, shows and features; all of that. You could do this on your own. I’m really not looking for any major label, I’d rather take the independent route, and release music how I want too.
As part of an independent label (Scale Tippin Entertainment), what have you learned about the business side of things (if anything)?
Bonka: Since being a part of my label, I haven’t really learned too much yet, but I mean, I’m learning. I’ve been doing a lot of studying. I came further than what I used to be.
Are you confident in progressing yourself as an artist with the label you’re with now, or are you on the outlook for something bigger?
Bonka: I’m not looking for no other labels. I’m trying to just push my own label, and if this label doesn’t work, I’ll still do it all of the way independent. I’m not looking to be signed to a major label. I’m just trying to get my music out how I can. I’d really just rather do it on my own, and I know my music is still going to pop regardless. I don’t really have any doubts.
Tell me about your story and come-up (where your from), especially since you seem to have an interesting street perspective based on your music.
Bonka: I don’t really have too much of a story to tell. I used to really just be by myself in my room, by my lonely. I didn’t really start fucking with anybody like that outside of school. I had friends in school, but when I got back to the crib, it was just me and the crib. I was just an average little kid.
How important is your brand/image to you? And do you plan on promoting it personally, or through the label?
Bonka: My brand is really important to me, because it’s me, you feel me? I am my brand, my label is my brand, so I’m going to push it to the fullest, through me, and through my label. I am my label, so I’m pushing it through me.
As someone who’s part of the Soundcloud sphere, how do you plan to differentiate yourself from the growing saturation of rap music? Is there any other tool you use to promote your music?
Bonka: I don’t know what I’m going to do different, but I do use everything online that I can use to promote my music. Whatever is popping, is where I’m going to put it at, whether it be Soundcloud, Facebook, Youtube, Itunes, Spotify, all of that. Whatever I can use to get me heard.
What’s the inspiration behind your music right now, at this moment?
Bonka: The inspiration behind my music right now is what I’m in right now, and the environment I’m in right now. I really don’t want to be here forever, so whatever I can do that’s different to get me and my people out, then that’s what inspires to me to hold on and keep going.
What artist or artists inspires your sound?
Bonka: I mean, I don’t really have too many inspirations. I really just rap because it’s what I like to do. Like, my rapping come to me. There ain’t really too many people that inspire me man. I mean, I really can’t say I don’t listen to other people, but I ain’t inspired by a lot of these n*****.
Any new projects coming out to look forward too? If so, what’s the inspiration behind the upcoming work?
Bonka: I got a lot of new stuff coming out you know, I got two videos that are about to drop, the Ryder feature with Lucci Fontaine. I got a music video called “Stove Tops” coming out. That’s just me by myself solo. I got a lot of unreleased music. Working on a project, don’t got a name for it, but it’s coming together.