First and foremost, who is Antagonist Dragonspit?
Before anything I am an artist, minus the labels and musical genres. I am a visual artist, beatmaker, drummer and an emcee. Antagonist Dragonspit is my emcee name. I also go by Dragonspit Jones. I'm known to my friends as "Tag". So I made that an acronym for The Artistically Gifted.
How long have you been making beats and rhyming?
I've been rhyming since I learned how to write cursive and I started making beats in 1995.
Your bio states that you have produced tracks for Wu-Syndicate, Cory Gunz, The Arsonists, Trigger The Gambler and more. Is it safe to say that making beats is the easy part yet shopping the tracks is difficult?
Definitely. I think that is especially true when the producer focuses more on creating music and doesn't put adequate energy into marketing his or her material. That's definitely something I have been working on, forcing myself to switch the keyboard off, and go to these hip hop events in my area. Sites like Myspace(R.I.P.), Twitter, and Facebook have definitely given me access to people I wouldn't have ever met otherwise.
Who influenced you to make beats and rhyme?
I didn't really get serious about rhyming until my pastor's niece married James Alan, an SW-1 and bass player from Public Enemy. I spit some rhymes for him and he told me to keep doing my thing. I was like 9 years old. That experience made me want to rhyme. I also was intrigued by how Slick Rick could make a party song that sounded fun (e.g. Children's Story) and convey a serious message to the urban youth. Among my other rap influences were, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, LL Cool J and Rakim. I started making beats out of necessity because the local producers charged too much for their beats, which is still true today.
Describe the hiphop scene in Hampton, Va.
Hampton, though only 20 minutes away, is a different world from where I'm from. I grew up in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. The hip hop scene here in general revolves around the producers. This area is home to producers such as Nottz, Timbaland, Danjahandz, Lex Luger,The Neptunes, Teddy Riley,L.E.S., Missy Elliott, Binkdog, etc. When it comes to rappers however, people may only know The Clipse and Missy. Then there was Quan from Hampton) on that "Moment of Silence" song with NAS. All in all, we need better representation when it comes to lyricists out here.
Recently you released a project called Back On The Map. What did you want to convey with the project?
I may have answered this question in the last one. Basically, I wanted to put VA "back on the map" for having dope lyricists that are from VA. There are not many that made it from here. People look to this area mainly for producers, but there are so many talented rappers and vocalists in this area. It's a melting pot. I also wanted to put myself "back on the map" or at least be a blip on the radar. People know that I make beats, but many overlook the rhyme skills. On this album, I feel like I proved my skills as a lyricist, and managed to cover a lot of topics that mainstream media doesn't focus on.
How was the project received and who is featured on the project?
I am getting a good response from this album and I really appreciate the support. Featured on this project is Bobby Blunt, an emcee/producer/soul singer from Norfolk, VA. He is also an artist from the Better Beat Bureau and Huey Neutron. The rest of the features are from beatmakers such as Cleph Knotes, Disko Dave, DJ VEX, Dublohskytzo, DMV Sharp and DJ Big.
The project is very soulful and you have a smooth flow that accentuates your intelligent lyricism. One of my favorite tracks off of Back On The Map is "Dumb Hot." What was the concept for the track and who produced the track?
This track was actually a tribute to Digging In The Crates. The hook has Big L (R.I.P.) in it. The beat sounds like DJ Premier. I used the monotone flow like Guru (R.I.P.). The track is produced by Cleph Knotes the Strength.
I also love the tone and message of "Betta Than This." Describe your writing process to the masses. Are you a quick writer or meticulous with the verses?
Disko Dave sent me the beat and I kept listening to it, wondering what I would do to it. I knew right off that it either had to be a girl joint or a life joint. Then I wrote the first line, "Brothers at war" and that dictated the direction of the rest of the song. I finished it in about two hours. It was easy to write because it was inspired by the lives of people that I knew and lost to the streets. I wanted to tell their stories and shed light on how sad it really is. The sample in the beat really enhances the emotion in this track.
What is your favorite song off of Back On the Map?
"On A Mission" is my favorite track off of Back On The Map
What are you currently working on?
I'm putting together a mixtape of all the artists that I made beats for. It's going to be my version of Soul Survivor or HiTeknology.
You are a part of a collective known as the Better Beat Bureau (BBB). Would you mind summarizing what the Better Beat Bureau (BBB) stands for?
We are so much more than beats. We have emcees, dj's, graphic designers, singers, you name it. I think it's about being better at everything you do. If not better, then getting better.
What separates Antagonist Dragonspit from the other artists in this world?
I think that I speak with an authority that many other artists don't have. I am not afraid to talk about God. I have the capability of remaining true to the art form and still making music that's accessible to people of many cultures and backgrounds.
How can the masses get in contact with you?
Email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find me on Facebook. Message me on Twitter. Hit up my bandcamp page too and cop the album!
Any Final Thoughts?
I want to send a shout out to all my Better Beat Bureau fam and the producers who contributed to the album. VA stand up! 757! Thanks to the Most High and to Praverb for this interview. Also, thanks to my beautiful wife for putting up with the noise. PEACE!