R.A.P. Mix Tape 'Rhythm, Architect & Pulse has generated a buzz among the underground hip hop community. He has released two studio album - The Consequence (2009) and Vindication (2011) - independently.
Sullee J full bio on HHUG
Sullee J [SJ]: The most important lesson it taught me was, be grateful through anything and everything, because what’s bad right now, could always have been worse, and nothing is worse than death, where I almost was headed. The car accident might have left me with a few injuries, but through God’s grace, I am fully able to be back on my own two feet and live like it never happened. I now do have a titanium rod in my left leg, due to the femur being split in half, although it does not stop me or my will to move forward. Music wise, it did not change much as far as, back then I wasn’t rapping, this was back in 2005-2006, it mostly changed my outlook on life, and how to live it.
HHUG: What challenges have you encountered in your music career regarding being a Pakistani-American emcee?
SJ: First of all, It’s hard showing your face in a all hip hop scene depending on where your at. I remember one of my first places I performed was “The Atrium” out in Atlanta. There was people like DTP, Jive Records, Dj Aaries, and more in the building and I was the only “brown” and “Pakistani” person in the whole room full of maybe 300 people, and when I went up on stage, it almost felt like everyone was like “what the fuck?” and staring at me funny. But one thing I'll tell you, the second I started spitting and gave them a bit of “Sullee J," I saw camera flashes and after I got off stage, so many people came up to me and were like "man that’s deep," that was nice. I feel like a lot of the times when I meet new people in the industry now, getting as far as I have lately with media attention, radio play and all, at first people are shocked when I say I rap. They usually predict maybe I'm a singer or something, but not only do I flow, I murder the beat when I do so. Listen to me at www.sulleej.com, I promise I'm not lying. Another thing is, a lot of my songs are politically conscious as well, and being apart of the whole stereotype since 9/11 occurred, it probably makes me look “radical” as some have called me or “extremist” even though I'm against extremism of any kind. I want people to know opinions don’t mean hate, I do not hate, my religion does not teach me hate, and I will not disrespect, I will only state facts when there needed.
HHUG: For those that did not follow the story of Billy Anderson, a young man whose struggled through a mysterious illness received vast media attention, Can you talk about your contribution in solidarity to Billy and his family, most notably the internationally acclaim single "Billy's Conscience"?
SJ: Billy Anderson was an amazing husband to his wife and a father of two very beautiful girls. I first became aware of his story on Fox news, and it struck me that a man has been in a hospital for such a long period of time, and with all the technology we have and knowledge of medicine, they couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. Not ever doing something like this before, as far as writing a song about an incident to bring awareness that would possibly create more chances on finding a cure, I wrote "Billy's Conscience." Before, I did, I had spoken to his wife for about a month or so, and got to know more about his life, and how everything happened, and why the doctors were calling it "Billy's Disease" since they couldn't find an accurate diagnosis due to his symptoms, they named it after him. The song entitled "Billy's Conscience" was written from a perspective, as if I was speaking from his view on life, for the past 16 months when I first became aware of his story, how do "I" feel about my wife, my kids, and hearing the same thing from doctor's everyday. I wrote a song, hoping it would help cope, maybe give a bit of hope to the family, never expecting or having any sense of thought that a few weeks later the media would get involved. Billy's song ended up being on several radio stations, who for example 1010AM out here in Baltimore on the Larry & Jimmy the BodyGuard's show really helped us try and bring in potential people who could help, either by donating to the family, or recommending doctor's who might've dealt with such a case previously. The family raised quite a bit of collection trying to gain enough to find some source of outcome, although sadly even after 22 months on a hospital bed, nothing was resolved medically and Billy passed away. People can find out more about the story in depth if they just google "Billy's Disease" or even listen to the song that was made for him at - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpQ9u1AX0cY
HHUG: As a self-driven and motivated emcee, how would you describe your approach to your lyrics and music?
SJ: Everything is solely from the heart. A lot of my music is from experience, a lot of it is my opinion on the current state of our society, conditions that are going on in our world, including poverty, degrading women, injustices and such, and I also make songs, by creating scenarios that are relevant to other folks so when they listen, they can be like, "I know just how this feels." I like to be alone when I write, doesn’t mean I can’t be around people, I just feel like when Im writing, I want to be isolated, and music is my drug, so I want to be greedy with it, and have it all to myself. I can write a whole album in a week if you asked, I got so much hunger inside me, it surprises me. Every time I finish a song, or album or concept, I feel like "man I wonder how I'm going to think of better material," and just when I hear another sick beat, it’s all new.
HHUG: Vindication is your sophomore album released on March 25, 2011 independently. Why did you decide it to release it independently as oppose through a music label? As of right now I haven’t pitched to labels yet, I know a few are looking at me, and I have had A&Rs reaching out to me. I'm just waiting on the right time.
HHUG: How would you describe the appeal and approach to your album and what you anticipate fans will gain from it?
SJ: I feel like my approach to this album was a lot of things built up inside me, from the rage of being called ignorant names like terrorist, to the pains of heart break, to the facts of injustice on our society, and then switching it up and including my artistic, creative side as well by making songs like “Crazy In The Head” where I prove my lyrical ability, and also put in a interesting story to that track. I hope my fans can see how much heart I have put in not just Vindication, but all my music, I hope they actually listen to the lyrics. We (my producers, Amar Azaan, DMR, Mastermind DaGenius) on this album, put in a lot of work and effort hoping that the fans will learn from it, and appreciate good music, because you don’t hear a lot of that to often now days.
HHUG: Amar Azaan, Mastermind DaGenius, and DMR contributed to the production aspect of the project. What can you tell us about Vindication's production style and appeal?
SJ: As much as I stressed out these producers with my constant pressuring to get this project done, I think in the end we are all very happy it's finally done. They all know with me though, it’s never done, as long as music exists, theres always work to do. DMR produced my intro “Vindication” one of the hottest tracks on the album, not only is the beat crazy, but the catchy hook, and passionate flow will make you want to put the track on repeat and let it play all day. Mastermind DaGenius was behind the track “Crazy in the Head”, which I think is one of the most creative tracks I’ve done up to date, and we can’t wait to make that video. It really does make you think I'm crazy in the head when you listen to it. Amar Azaan, that’s my homie, my brother, I met him before any of the other producers, and not only has he believed in me since day one, but we both inspire each other back and forth when one of us has an off day. He’s the master behind the rest of the 10 tracks on the album. People already have heard a lot of the recent songs me and him have worked on, so they already know they can expect nothing but phenomenal and sick beats & lyrics all over the place on the album. Some tracks I really suggest they listen/buy, “Weakness of Man", "Guidance", "Politics", and "How Can We Move On”.
HHUG: "Weakness of Man" leaked as the single for the album, with a music video rendered for it. How was working on this video like and what concept are you trying to convey with it?
SJ: First of all, shout outs to Underscore Films. They directed the video, and shout outs to the ruff riders “Mic Supreme & Al, Stevie, Crash and Franky.” It was an amazing experience and my first professional music video. "Weakness of Man" displays the role of positivity trying to stand up to all the negativity around, i.e. corruption, injustice, hate, crime, and more. The song takes an approach from a conscious perspective. "Weakness of Man" is a beginning, which shows that I (positivity) can be beaten down, emptied out, and tortured, although in the end I will still stand and fight for the right path.
HHUG: There is a bonus track for Vindication. What can you tell us about that?
SJ: "Think Twice", which is a free download, you can get it off www.sulleej.com. It was a previously recorded track that I did out in Norway and released it on my third mixtape R.A.P., and at the time it was not fit quality, but it was a track that had so much response and feedback, so many people loved it, that I'm like this has to be more than just a mixtape track. I was forced to re-record it, master and put it out. I'm also in the near future doing a music video for it. A few companies hit me up asking if they can sponsor the video, so it will definitely be work you will get in the future from me. "Think Twice" is heartfelt, lyrically amazing, and the beat (thanks to Amar Azaan) will make you zone out.
HHUG: You have expressed interest in being signed to a major label if given the opportunity. How do you think this might affect your lyrical concepts of your music since many other indie artists such as Dead Prez, Immortal Technique, Lord Lhus, have warned against the negative influence of major labels?
SJ: I feel like, just like I broke the barrier, thanks to God’s help of being the first Pakistani on mainstream radio out here in the U.S. as far as hip hop goes, I will open up new doors for the lyrically inclined in this industry once again. I got my ways, I'll just leave it at that.
HHUG: Who are your top 5 favorite music artists and why?
SJ: I don’t like rating people, but I can say the ones I listen to most, because they are not only my influence, but there music actually has content that makes sense. Tupac, DMX, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Eminem.
HHUG: What upcoming plans or projects do you have ahead? Any new albums, or collaborations on other artists' music?
SJ: Definitely so much, including summer tour over seas, a lot of future collaborations that are all in the works, of course maybe two to three more mixtapes, and I'm already working on the next album, but that’s all things I will reveal as time goes.
HHUG: Thanks for the interview. Closing thoughts?
SJ: BE YOURSELF! I love God, I love my family, I love all my fans and anyone that supports me. I love my haters, I love the people who told me I would never make it this far, because they are my biggest motivation. Shout out to HipHopUG.com.