Impressive resume. Can you post some music? We want to hear your tracks.
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Which job title best describes you?
MC/Rapper, Engineer, Music Fan
How long have you been doing music?
When Substantial was recording his debut album, …To This Union a Sun Was Born, he was driven by adversity. The Maryland native was struggling to balance school with a budding music career, was homeless at times and still reeling from having buried more than ten friends and family members.
The resulting album—produced by Nujabes and Monorisick of Hyde Out Productions and released in October, 2001—earned Substantial international critical acclaim and a particularly devoted following in Japan, where it was recorded and distributed. …To This Union was a top ten seller for two months at Virgin Megastores in Tokyo, Japan, and outsold artists such as Ja Rule, Jermaine Dupri, Faith Evans and Angie Stone in November. The album was dedicated to his late father and niece.
In the years that followed, Substantial—real name Stan B. Robinson—released a slew of singles and featured appearances, choosing to remain an independent artist to maintain creative freedom. In March of 2007, however, he officially joined the like-minded roster of independent hip-hop record label QN5 Music, whose artists are both close friends and frequent collaborators of his.
“I met Substantial through PackFM and Mecca during the final throes of the NYC underground scene’s heyday,” says QN5 founder and artist Tonedeff. “They were all in a group together called Dominion and I had seen them. Immediately, I was blown away by his wordplay and delivery.” Tonedeff, Substantial, PackFM and Session would go on to form the group Extended Famm and release the critically acclaimed 2002 album Happy F*ck You Songs.
On January 8, 2007, the man The Source Magazine called “a lyrical problem” will release Sacrifice, the long-anticipated follow-up to—and first official American offering since—…To This Union A Sun Was Born.
Despite being bred from much the same place as …To This Union, Sacrifice is decidedly more optimistic. Comprising sixteen tracks of smart lyricism and breezy beats, the disc evokes the dwindling sense of fun that once permeated the culture and plays seamlessly as a collective nod to the genuine feel-good hip-hop of yesteryear. Perhaps best characterizing this is “Resurrection of the House Party,” the album’s energetic first single, released in September 2007 with an accompanying video, or “My Favorite Things,” an ode to hip-hop culture which Substantial calls one of his favorite songs on the album. Sacrifice features production by Kno (CunninLynguists), Tonedeff, Algorythm & Burns and a guest appearance by QN5 labelmates Extended Famm.
“The album is made of everything that makes me me: Six years of writing, mixing, soul-searching, love, hate, strife, life and death,” says Substantial. “I found myself while making this album, which surprised me, considering how much I lost.”
The cover art—photographed by fellow Maryland native Eddie Tombs IV—is a tribute to martial arts, which Substantial has practiced for years.
“We thought that mimicking a samurai performing Seppuku with a microphone would be a powerful statement,” says Substantial. “I honestly couldn’t think of any better way to illustrate Sacrifice than with this image. As artists, we often push ourselves to the edge and beyond in pursuit of our dreams, often sacrificing for our family, friends and fans. It’s a difficult journey.”