They say that the gateway to the soul is through the eyes of a person. But what is the gateway to the soul of an artist? We escape through our art. If we weren't blessed with our gift, where would we turn? Fortunately for Mr. 808, the gateway to his soul is through his music. His passion and love for it is his gift. When you add it all together, you get an amazing combination of talent and skill.
Mr. 808 is a one of Chicago's new up and coming producers. His sound vary from the old school video game tune to a laid back vibe. The gift is there. The talent is there, too.
What you see is what you get. You get this guy who says that he is this lost soul. He's a traveler. He's a dreamer. His music is his savior.
"So the name Joshua (his real first name) already gives me a standard by itself. I kind of have a name to look up to. As of right now, with me being as young as I am, I feel like I'm not ready for what the name holds. I'm preparing myself I guess for the future, I guess. As of right now, who I am is unknown."
The musical journey began in fifth grade. It started in the band like a lot of musically inclined people. However, he didn't discover music until high school. There, he met a friend. That friend would eventually take Mr. 808 to place where he has yet to come back from.
"He told me he made beats. I thought that was interesting because I never met anyone who made tracks. I was like I wanna hear some stuff. I went to his house one day, and he played a few beats for me. I thought it was the dopest thing ever. I thought, for a lack of a better word, immaculate. I was like this is ridiculous. You have fun doing this? He was like 'yeah, this is my thing. This is what I want to do.' I started thinking like 'how can I get started?' You know growing up in a music household, all my aunts, including my mom, sing. Everyone in my family does something whether its photography or paint, they all do something. Nobody in my family does music as hard as I do. He broke it down to me. He said that since nobody helped me out, I'm going to help you. I know how it feels to want to do something, and have no one to help."
This friend gave him his tools. Whether it was advice or equipment, this friend gave Mr. 808 his first hammer figuratively speaking. He also gave him the confidence to get started and the inspiration to move forward. More so than anything, the dreamer began to see his reality. Over the last few years, he has worked with a few different artists. However, in his opinion, the work wasn't appreciated. Because of that, he's pretty protective of who he gives his "soul" to.
"My music is my soul. This is my lifestyle. I can't just give my to anybody, you know what I'm saying? It's almost like fornication. It's like wife and husband. I'm not going to lay myself down for anybody just to be doing it. I gotta have a connection with this person. This person has eat, think, breath, and sleep just like I have to."
Well, he has that musical partner. Rich Da Pit is his name. He's from Detroit. According to 808, he's got that "soul". He has that motive that he is looking for in a partnership. (Just for the record, Rich Da Pit is pretty descent.)
"He has that motive; that dream. He's not like that classic 'oh, I'm hard. I sold dope and do this.' He speaks knowledge and truth. He speaks reality and things he has actually gone through."
"If I had to describe my sound in one word it would be shuffle."
I thought to myself, "What the hell does that mean?" Then, I quickly realized that he's a variation of sounds. You can listen to one track, and if you close your eyes, you may think you are listening to someone playing Tetris. After that, you can listen to a track and feel like laying up that special somebody. To Mr. 808, if the music doesn't touch you, its not good music. So, how does he explain this "shuffle" sound?
"When you turn on your iPod, and click shuffle, and anything plays, that's my sound. I don't have a sound. My sound is how I feel at the moment. I can go from being real trap or grudgy and nasty to being real soulful and heartfelt. I don't have real. If I had to name it, it would be Joshua. I am my sound."
Although they don't share the same views outside of music, Kanye West serves as an inspirational figure. They share something in common. They put their feelings in their beats. I think with Kanye its pretty obvious. With 808, if didn't know any better, you would assume that he's just making something that sounds good and not realizing that he is putting his feelings into his music.
"A lot of people down talk Kanye because they don't feel like he is original enough. Music alone if you date back to its origin is recycled. Nothing is original. Kanye likes to listen to things and make it his own, and that's what I like to do. I'm a sample baby. I'm a boom-bap, 90s hip-hop dude. I know all about the sample game. I will sample my butt off. But that does not take away from my originality. It just adds to my creativity."
Talk about creativity and being original, Mr. 808 will turn anything into music. Whether its a pen tapping or him brushing his teeth, he'll make music from scratch. Other inspirations include Swizz Beatz and Justice League.
From once studying zoology to becoming one of Chicago's new musical geniuses, gives credit to his Lord and Savior, as well as his mother and father Yet, there was one person in particular he gives credit to his high school band director.
"He definately was a key person who molded me into who I am now. He said a lot of things that a lot of people slept on. He dropped a lot of nuggets that people didn't pay attention to. I was the only one the light bulb on top of my head. I'm thinking ' y'all didn't just hear what he said?' He was one of those people who gave carelessly all the time and nobody noticed it. Because of him, I give carelessly. I mean, I always gave carelessly, but he definately told me and showed me that you are not doing this to benefit yourself. You are doing this for the people."
Now, after all of that, what type of advice can someone like Mr. 808 give? His answer was quite inspirational and real.
"One, the only person in this entire life that you have that can stop you from doing anything is yourself. The only person that can stop you is you. It doesn't matter what people say. It doesn't matter what they do. It doesn't matter what they believe. If you take that into yourself and apply it to yourself, then it becomes true. Whatever they speak and apply to your life and you applied it, they didn't make you do it. You did it to yourself. The only person you can blame for you not being successful is you. Secondly, whatever goals you have, think of it as a finish line. This is how I see it. You run your race with your head down. Don't pay attention to the things in front of you. Don't pay attention to the things behind you or on the side of you. There are other people running this race, but they aren't running for the same reason you are. You are who you are and nobody can change that. Keep your head down and you run as fast you can. Once you cross that finish line you'll realize who was running the same race as you and you will realize who was still there by your side. Run your race. You are the captain of your ship; the master of your destiny. You are in control."
And we shall let marinate right there...