Interview: Be Known Interview with TOPE

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West Coast artist, TOPE, just released his latest set of music with his Some Things Gotta Change EP just last week, which is still getting mad plays here at Be Known and all over the internet. We promised an interview with the artist when we posted the EP on the site, and here at Be Known we stick with our word and deliver! We asked TOPE 8 questions and in reponse we got 8 answers that may help you fully understand the meaning in the verses on each of the 7 tracks on the EP, Some Things Gotta Change. Read the interview below and peep TOPE’s upcoming show dates in Oregon and sunny California. Be Known.

Q: First and foremost, congratulations on the release of Some Things Gotta Change. We know a little bit about the name behind the EP, can you tell us more about the decision to title the EP this?

A: Thank you homie, I appreciate all the support. At first, the title of the project was 3AM IN OAKLAND but I started to feel a certain way about putting Oakland in the title of my album and I didn’t want people to take it the wrong way. I think a lot of people try to play up the dangerous or edgy aspect of living in Oakland without really taking the time to understand the city and I didn’t want people to put me in that box and think I was trying to capitalize off living here. Also after the 3AM Tour went south I had a feeling I was going to change the title just because the tour had some many bad vibes. And then finally when I lost my laptop and started over I knew I wanted to change it to something else. SOME THINGS GOTTA CHANGE is pretty straightforward, it just about taking self-inventory and knowing when it’s time to make a change in your life. For me, this is definitely a transitional project, in the middle of musical change and just personal change with my move and everything.

Q: The last time you released a project was back in 2015 with your breakthrough tape titled Broke Boy Syndrome, how does it feel having another project out two years later with Some Things Gotta Change out in 2017?

A: Honestly, there’s a lot of mixed feelings. First and foremost I guess I’m proud of myself for just finishing this project because there was some much drama in my life the last few years. There was definitely a time I didn’t think I was going to release music again. Also, I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to some stuff so there’s a few things that really bug me about the EP but I won’t spoil it for anyone lol. So far I’ve been really happy with the reception, the shares on “How I Know” were super dope and the EP has been getting a great reception so far. I think the best thing is knowing my next project is already way doper lol.

Q: Stewart Villain was the man behind the boards for most of the project, how close are you and Stewart? And how much credit would you give him for helping create your EP outside of the production phase?

A: I’m not really sure lol. One thing I will say is Stew sent me A LOT of beats for this project. I have a ton of beats from Stew I didn’t use. I’m kinda picky when it comes to beats. I think one thing I did limit myself by was trying to do a one producer/one MC project. If you don’t have the right chemistry from the jump it won’t work out very well. Outside of the production, it was pretty much just me after I got the MP3s from Stew.

Q: Who did you surround yourself with while in the sessions when creating Some Things Gotta Change, if you had anybody with you? And what inspired you when creating all seven songs?

A: I think I wrote every song when I was alone, but that’s just how I work typically. One thing I was struggling with was just finding a studio and engineer I was comfortable with. I have to shout out the homie in San Francisco, Unlearn The World because recording at his spot definitely motivated me to finish the project. I recorded “How I Know” by myself at my apartment and I feel most comfortable with that song listening back, so I think I’m gonna try to go back to recording all my own music again. It’s more fun that way anyway. I would say my life inspired most of this project. After BBS I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about but then my life just started going wild so I wrote about that a little. I think “The Man”, “Thank You”, and “Glo’d Up” I wrote right when I moved down to Oakland and “Trying To Forget”, “How I Know”, after I came back from LA…”Let Us Pray” when I was in LA.

Q: “Trying To Forget” hands down is my favorite track off the EP, you describe a relationship with a girl in this song, did she help mold the person you are today, and that is the reason why you are trying to forget her? Or was she like any other girl or thing in your past that you are just simply trying to forget, as you say in the hook of the song, because you are finding success in the music industry?

A: I appreciate that bro. I think that’s my favorite song too. I would say this song is about a specific relationship I had with a girl but also just influenced by a lot of relationships I’ve had. I think most of my songs are 85% my life, maybe 15% something else I’ve seen or heard. That song is deep though, it almost didn’t make the album because it was so personal but I had to push for it.

Q: “How I Know” and “The Man” I feel are inspired by those people who doubted you while trying to prove you belong in the music game, is this true?

A: I think there’s always that theme of “you guys didn’t think I could do it but I do” in my music. “How I Know” I think is about just staying strong to your brand and yourself. “The Man” is just some classic TOPE shit talking. When I first made it, it felt a lot like “Rocky” from BBS, almost like a “Rocky 2.” And when I put that song out I was probably at my lowest of lows, so it was completely opposite of how I was really feeling in real life. I put this out as a single because I had some shows to do so I needed to release something new but the timing of “The Man” as a single was all bad personally.

Q: I know that Some Things Gotta Change is a shorter version of the project you were supposed to put out, which was 3AM In Oakland, but do you think you will ever hit the studio and try to re-create that project from scratch with different ideas and vibes or are you simply done with 3AM In Oakland?

A: It’s funny, I was just listening to the throw-aways today. I think I’m done with those songs, for a lot of reasons but mainly a quality issue and just a business move I guess moving forward. I’m already working on a new project though, or I’ll get back to work on it when all this EP stuff dies down a little.

Q: Lastly, what is in store for the rest of 2017 for TOPE? Any more music videos releasing soon? Are you already working on new music? Or are you going to sit back and watch how Some Things Gotta Change hits the masses?

A: I have some really dope shows coming up in September, two of the being on Blu’s “Below The Heavens” tour back in Eugene and Portland. Plus some Cali dates I’m really excited about. I’m also waiting to hear the final word on this European Tour I’ve hinted at all summer. We were originally supposed to do in August but things got pushed back a little bit, so I’ve basically had my life on hold waiting to hear back on those final dates. I have 5/6 songs that I like a lot for my new project but things are starting to get a little bit busy so I need to carve out some time to finish at least one song a week. I can’t go another 2 years without releasing new music.

Tian: Thank You for your time, and once again congratulations on your success so far and the release of the EP, Some Things Gotta Change.

TOPE: Much love man, thank you for having me.

Also see TOPE live on the west coast next month:

9/3 Los Angeles, CA – The Echo Bananas Reunion Show with Verbs

9/11 Eugene, OR – Wow Hall with Blu & Exile

9/12 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studio with Blu & Exile

9/13 San Francisco, CA – Brick N Mortar with Knowmads

9/15 San Jose, CA – Back Bar with Kung Foo Grip

Some Things Gotta Change EP