I caught up with Brooklyn based Pook Hustle for a pandemic safe chat about musical inspirations, his new body of work and overcoming writer’s block
The Floor: I’m London, UK based and not massively knowledgeable about the Brooklyn music scene, what should I know?
Pook Hustle: In Brooklyn, the underground scene is where the most talent resides. One of my favorite parts of living here is meeting other dope artists. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been like “Wow! How has this person not blown up yet?” It’s ridiculous. Pretty frustrating actually.
What’s one thing I should know about you?
I’m a very friendly person. I tend to spend a lot of time to myself figuring out how to realise my highest purpose but really, I’m searching for my soul tribe. I isolate myself at times because I feel like people don’t understand me or appreciate my vision. I’m starting to realise I’m not the only person who has these thoughts. I have beautiful ideas and I know there are other people who would love them, I just haven’t found you all yet! So if you want to build, speak or anything of that sort - shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org :)
You went from college sports to writing music. What was that process like for you, how did you find your way into music?
The process was pretty alienating because most people only see athletes as one-dimensional. Music is something I’ve wanted to explore since High School but I never had time between basketball, school and summer jobs. I found my way to music through being around extremely talented M.C’s and being forced to fend for myself when one of my homies Spitta Louis V kept roasting me. One time I got tired of it, so I went home to come up with a rebuttal and to everyone’s surprise, I exacted my revenge the next day. He woke up a sleeping giant! From then on I was able to freestyle and I earned my props.
Skip forward, after getting my associates degree I wasn’t feeling the college offers I was getting because they would have left me in major debt. It didn’t make sense that I sacrificed my mind, body & soul for years but got nothing to show for it, so I went back home to figure out what was next. After a year, I had to get a job to help with bills around the house but I found out music is where my heart is.
Who are your musical influences?
Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pharrell, Jay-Z, Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac, J.Cole, Kendrick, if I listed them all we’d be here for days. There’s a special place in my heart for a certain era of mixtape Hip-Hop, Emo music, & Hardcore rock. Z100 in the mid to late 2000’s was a beautiful time.
What’s your creative process like?
It varies. Most times I find myself listening to a beat & seeing what words come naturally. If a beat doesn’t make me want to freestyle then it’s probably not my vibe. Other times, I see that as a challenge. There’s usually a melody, sound or a drum that sets it off though occasionally, I write without one. I really enjoy being on the move while creating. Whether it’s in a car ride, the train or biking, something about motion inspires creation for me.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I shake up the process. Life can become dull if you don’t find new ways to explore it & writing is the same way. Sometimes I’ll take a trip outside of NYC to get some fresh air, other times I pick up my guitar or keyboard & start messing around. Going for a bike ride is always refreshing for me. Sometimes I freestyle instead of writing and recently, I've been really enjoying cooking.
Life is about balance so I make sure I’m living outside of the studio. The heaviest part of being an artist/songwriter for me (outside of the expenses) is monitoring my relationship with fear. I have a fear of being judged or misunderstood. But now I no longer allow it to kill my creativity. I’m learning that expressing feelings & thoughts that are condemned by society is exactly how you connect with people.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve been going back to artists who inspired me before rap. Wiz Khalifa, Rich Homie Quan, J.Cole, Hurt Everybody, Joey Bada$$, Mick Jenkins. Recently, a lot of underground Brooklyn Hip-Hop artists such as Spitta Louis V, Horus Williams, Vinci Villionaire, Breon S.Y.N.D.E.L, King Boom to name a few. They’re the greats of this rap shit in my eyes.
If you could recommend a new artist for me, who would it be and why?
I’d recommend myself haha, but nah I’d say Smino. He’s out of St. Louis which is like a second home to me, I love the people out there! They show me mad love but in 2017 he dropped Blkswn which in my humble opinion, deserved the 2018 Grammy for album of the year. That joint is a classic!
If you could open for any artist once we’re allowed back into concert venues which artist would you love to work with?
I’d really love to open for J.Cole. He’s one of the greats and I could imagine myself rocking the crowd, even sharing a conversation with one of my biggest inspirations would be legendary. There’s so many artists I want to work with. If I had to pick only one off top...Let’s see...Tyler, The Creator, we would make a sick record/project. I feel like we’re kin when I listen to his interviews & he’s a master at my favorite instrument, piano. Whether he’s producing or we’re going back and forth with the bars it would be crazy!
What’s your favourite song of yours to date?
My favorite song of mine to date is unreleased. Just wrote it a couple days ago. But my favorite released song is between Black Superhero Complex and Budapest. It changes daily, Mediocre is a really good one too.
Deadass: WiB is such an authentic set of tracks, without oversimplifying them, where did that sound come from?
That sound comes from my life experiences over the past couple of years. The chorus for Bringing Home The Bacon came from me being frustrated about work but still trying to bring others joy through releasing music. Me & my main producer WhatsHisName took a trip to Jersey to get a break from the city and after a couple days, the verses came like nothing. Black Superhero Complex is a record I manifested. Prior to our trip, I recorded a voice note talking about the concept before I even had a beat or any lyrics.
One day WhatsHisName was making a fire trappy beat but I wasn’t quite in the mood for it so I asked if he could play some Rhodes like keys. After coming up with the melody he asked “do you want to keep this melody with this beat?” I was like “Nah, take the drums out.” That’s when the magic happened. The lyrics surged into my mind at an unbelievable pace, so fast that I couldn’t write them down, but somehow I remembered all of them. During the recording process, the energy I felt surging through my mind, body & spirit was unlike anything I was familiar with. Better than sex! I definitely felt like I was channeling something higher.
Deadass: WiB, why this album? Why is it important now in this climate?
This album is important right now because more than ever the world needs healing. The chorus of Black Superhero Complex is a mantra that goes I pray, the pain, will go, away. Many of us neglect taking care of ourselves to chase our dreams and to put the people around us in a better position. That song is me coming to terms with that realization. I hope the chorus is as healing to others as it has been to me.
Bringing Home the Bacon is a reminder that just because a person is smiling, doesn’t mean that things are easy for them. Check on your strong friends because a lot of people mask their frustrations for the preservation of others.
Plans for any future releases?
Plans? Won’t say much yet but expect more honest, even Taboo lyrics & new visuals (Inshallah). My hair is growing, I’ve been doing a lot of self-care so I’m excited for y’all to meet the new me.