I want to introduce you to my good friends, Andrew Bigs and Cola, who are two up and coming artists out of San Jose, California. It's crazy how much I have watched these two grow over the years. Originally, when they got started rapping, they were in a group together that went by the name Metafizix. That group started recording in our friends closet while we were in high school. But after a few years together they decided it would be best for both of them to go separate ways to create music that was more fitting for each of their own styles.
I would be lying if I said I thought it was anything more than a fad that would fade away once high school ended, which for a lot of our friends was the case.
But they proved me wrong and I am inspired by the amount of time that they have put into their craft over the years. They can only continue to improve and get the recognition they deserve if they continue to strive for their dreams. I took the time to ask them some questions about this journey they are on as independent artists. These two great people are living fearless and zealous everyday by making sacrifices for their dreams. If anything, I hope this post motivates you to start chasing your dreams!
Tell me a little about yourselves, where did you grow up?
Andrew Bigs: My name is Andrew Bigs. I’m the youngest of a big family, born and raised in East San Jose. I’m a creative and music is my art of choice. And I love stories.
Cola: I grew up in San Jose. Moved around a lot but always stayed on the west side.
When did you start rapping? Why did you start?
A: I was 16. I always loved music and connected with Hip Hop, I learned a lot from it. Plus, I had this infatuation with words and language. I used to write poetry and stories growing up. Writing was really big for me.
C: I started rapping in high school, like junior year. I started because I heard some songs a friend of mine made and it made me feel like if he could do it then I could too, it seemed cool.
Were you guys always in it for the "long haul"?
A: When I started rapping it was for fun but i always had this deeper feeling about it. The more music I made, I realized this is what I wanted to do with my life. It’s been the focus since, it’s all I wanna do.
C: I was. After I developed a passion for rapping and I became familiar with these independent artists that seemed to be making a living from music, I felt like I could do it too and that’s when it became the only option in my mind.
Nowadays everyone is trying to be a rapper/producer how do you guys try to separate yourselves from everyone?
A. I just strive to be me to the fullest. We all are unique individuals and when we focus on being ourselves, we stand out. My music is honest with who I am and I think people appreciate that honesty. I also wanna push boundaries with my sound. I love big production and live instruments.
C: As corny as it sounds, I just be myself… as well as pushing myself creatively everyday. It took time to find myself as an artist, for a while I was making music that didn’t fully represent me but now that I make the music exactly how I want it to be and won’t compromise that for anybody it gives me the ability to be 100% me. Nobody can duplicate that.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
A: It’s hard to chose. I grew up listening to people like James Brown, Billy Joel, Bill Withers. As I got older, I listened to a lot of Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Saul Williams, Rage Against The Machine to name a few. Then of course all the local heroes like Nickatina, Mac Dre, Heiro, 40 Water, Zion I, Living Legends.
C: Uhhhhh, hard question because I can go on forever but just to name a few… Nirvana, Kanye, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Pharrell, Lil Wayne, Mac Dre, System of A Down. That would be like an “all time” kinda list.
Who inspires you the most?
A: Really, it’s my folks. The people I surround myself with fuel my creativity and energy. I am blessed to be around individuals whose talent matches their hunger. To me, I can't express how important it is to my process to be surrounded by people with similar vision.
C: Who inspires me the most… the people around me. The people I interact with on a daily basis, the people in my life that I’ll never see again, anybody I've shared an experience with that impacted me in some way. Those are the kind of people who inspire me creatively, I look at my life as one big movie that I’m narrating through music and I want to make sure it’s always relatable and inspired by true events. That and the people like me who have already achieved what I’m trying to achieve, it’s proof that it can be done.
Who are you currently listening too?
A: As of recently, my playlist has a lot of Michael Jackson, Post Malone, Saul Williams, & Mick Jenkins on it. I’ve also been watching a lot of bio pics recently so been listening to a lot of Ray Charles and James Brown too.
C: Right now I’m listening to a lot of Dr. Dre. He’s the most forward thinking producer of our genre and I’m just studying all of his work from NWA to the last one he just dropped, Compton 2001 is crazy. I also like Tame Impala, they’re sick and The Neighbourhood too.
What do you think good music consist of?
A: Good stories and a feeling. Music is vibration, it has to make you feel a certain way.
C: I have a criteria for making good songs which is a sonically pleasing beat, lyrics that I feel are well written and creative, and something a listener can take with them like an emotion or some kind of inspiration. Music is supposed to make you feel something so if it does that, it’s good music.
What void are you guys trying to fill musically?
A: Creativity. I want to see rap music keep pushing boundaries in sound and content. I want to contribute to that. I want to inspire something new.
C: I’m not too concerned with filling any kind of void in music, I just want to make the music I make and when the culture needs me I’ll be there. If I’m making something that’s missing from music, the people will react to. There’s nothing better than a new artist doing something different, that’s all I want to be.
The hardest part about being a smaller artist?
A: The business. The biggest struggles I see independent artists have is monetizing and establishing ourselves as a legitimate business. It takes a vision, a plan and a team. It’s something I’m still navigating as I continue to further my career.
C: The hardest part about being a smaller artist is figuring out how to do it yourself and making yourself a “real thing”. Sometimes you feel like you’re sitting on music that can change things. You want to be an established artist but first you have to figure out a way to get it to the masses. But until you get label help or a good manager, you have to do it yourself.
You guys seem to have a pretty solid team that each of you work with, can you explain a little bit more about them?
A: Yea, I am truly blessed. I am surrounded by passionate people who see all of their own success tied into the success of those around them. We all are individual artists who bring a lot to the table and want to see each other win. And we are diverse group of creatives -- I’m talking producers, rappers, writers, film makers, photographers, designers, entrepreneurs. And we all operate out of one space, Wholesound Studios. We are who we surround ourselves with, I truly believe that.
C: I have a small team. Musically I do everything myself. Production, writing, I even engineer myself. I have one other person I work with toward a common goal. Right now I’m reading “Think and Grow Rich” and Napoleon Hill talks about a Master Mind group, which is two or more people working in harmony toward a collective goal, and how important that is. There’s only two of us but I feel confident in that because I’d rather have a small team that gets it than a bunch of people just in it for whatever.
Big plans for the future?
A: Absolutely. The next big step for me is releasing my EP called Think Bigs. This EP has been over 9 months in the making and I am excited to give it to the world. This is my best work yet. We pushed boundaries with the production and the sound of the project. I have this feeling in my gut that this could do a lot for me.
C: Yeah, I plan on taking over the world and being the biggest artist since Elton John. New music is done and I’ve never been more confident in myself as an artist.
What's your advice for those who are chasing their dreams?
A: I mean, I’m still chasing my dreams and finding my way.There is so much more to do. But with that said, from my own personal experience, my philosophy is do what you love and what you want to do then the rest will come. I think too often we get caught up doing things out of a feeling that we have to rather than doing something because it is of our passion. Happiness is building our own dreams, not building someone else’s.
C: Don’t let other people’s opinions and those who failed to live their dreams ever pollute your vision. If you want to follow your dreams you have to believe in yourself all the way and what you’re working on, even through the darkest days. If you let the doubt creep in it will kill your dreams quick. Also remember that building something great is a progression, Jimi Hendrix didn’t just pick up a guitar and shred one day. It takes years to get great at something so don’t get discouraged early on when you feel like you suck. You’ll get better.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkRhQeDCbGs Andrew Bigs - Dollaz
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RVSTc9HB9M Cola - Out Here
Write-up by Stevie C.
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