The Hip hop community gathered in intrigue when we collectively caught wind of Viper the Rapper mid-way through 2013. Here was this 30+ year old rapper who was rhyming about smoking crack, making mad rap money, and dunking on fools with two hands. With this along with a sound that was purely stream of consciousness and a Lil B air about his style, people naturally began to take note. Viper recently came back into the rap game zeitgeist as Hip hop heads realized that his almost constant dip of content had amassed to 333 albums in 2014 alone. People may look down of Viper, using labels like “outsider Hip hop” and “struggle Rap” to describe his music, but the dude is an honest and authentic artist. Viper the Rapper is more than You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack, as genius as it may be. Lee Carter is a CEO, a pianist, and an artist who means only to reintroduce the prevalence of the true hood style of 90’s Hip hop back into today’s Versace adorned Rap game. I reached out to Viper and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions. Onto the interview.
Eargrub: How are you feeling about your newly found notoriety?
Viper: I’m really enthusiastic about it. I’m glad that the #Viper movement is picking up. I want to let people know what the movement is all about and what my swag is all about.
Eargrub: And how would you describe the movement?
Viper: Basically I’m trying to bring back the grit of rap. The take-your-shirt-off-thugged-out underground swag that has gone away as of recent years because of the whole commercial movement that has come along with some of the younger artists. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, it’s just that element of the rap game is kind of diluted. I want to bring that element back.
Eargrub: So, it was 333 albums in 2014?
Viper: 333, yeah. I’ve got five online distributers, so I’ve got to make a lot of product because I have to keep them happy. This new album that I’m working on is called Tha Jamminest Album U Eva Heard, and that’s not going through any distribution. I’m going to release it out of my own record label, which is Rhyme Tyme Records. Basically, the reason why I did so many albums last year was because of the five distributers and I had to keep them all happy. But, at the same time, after this album is finished, I may end up doing more albums this year than last year. I have a lot of new product I’ve recorded over the holidays, so an album will be getting out to the public real soon. I want everyone to know that every one of those albums is authentic. If you download or upload any one of them, you should know that it’s an authentic album and you’re going to love it.
Eargrub: So where does a work ethic like that come from? Is it from the pressure of having five distributers?
Viper: Well, what’s crazy about it is that they don’t really stress me about it. They take what I give them. The key is that right now my main market is the internet. I haven’t tapped into the radio market just yet – I’m working on that. I’m hoping I can get some radio play with this new album I’m about to drop and with the singles off of that. But, until I do, I’m really trying to overload the internet market as much as I can. It’s like, the more product I put out, the deeper I can reach, you know? So that’s been the goal. I’ve got some good album cover artists on my team that’s been helping me out. They help give variety to the messages I’m putting out on each album. That’s the key man, that’s the key. Once I do, you know, start getting some radio play, I’m not sure if I’m going to cut down on the volume of albums. I do know there will be more people knowing about me because they’ll be able to hear me, you know, on the radio. That’s one of the goals with this new project that I’ve got going on right now. Also, I’ve got a duel album I’m working on with a gentleman called Cali Cash Flow out of New York. He’s called Cali Cash Flow because he’s making his bread from the west coast to the east coast. He’s a native New York cat but he goes by Cali Cash Flow. So we’ve got the double album coming out; that’ll be multiple songs with him and I together. But it’s a double album, so one of them is going to be regular and the other will be chopped and screwed. We getting it on DatPiff, we getting it on Monster Mixtapes, we getting it on Live Mixtapes, we gon’ get it on WorldstarHipHop. We’re going to shoot videos for four of the songs, so we’re seeing if we can get some video play through some of the television rap syndications: Fuse TV and MTV Jams just to name a couple. So those are my two projects that I got going right now.
Eargrub: So, with that volume of work, could you describe your creative process to me?
Viper: You know man, I’m very fortunate that I learned a lot of the music business when I was relatively young. Basically, I already had the music aspect as far as the ability to play the music and that type of thing when I was really young. I was able to put it together with the new technologies that are available to artists now. So, now, I’m making 100% of my music. All of the beats I make myself, and I use different formats like Trap, R&B swagged Rap beats. You know, I make all types of genres in the concentration of Rap. I’m using Fruityloops, Motif and Roland keyboards, so I’ve got a bunch of equipment at my disposal to make this product. This new album I’m working on, Tha Jamminest Album U Eva Heard? I made every beat on that. Lots of guys are saying that they produced when they didn’t actually make the track. They bought the track from somebody and stamped their names on it. I’ve never done that. If you hear a track that’s produced by Viper, I actually made that beat. I made that track on a keyboard or a computer program. This album is going to say “Produced by Viper Made The Beat” to let people know that Viper made the beats, all 15 tracks. Really, I’ll just get an idea for a song, I’ll take that idea and make the track. Then, once I make the track, I’ll listen to the beat while I’m driving and I’ll make the hook right there. I have the concept in mind, so I make the track based on that concept. So if it’s going to be a shoot-em’-out kind of track, I may give it an R&B swag, kind of slow it down and then write that hook while I’m driving around just listening. Once I’ve got the hook down, then come the lyrics. I use all types of lyrics – when I was in the pentatentary I wrote all types of music. A bunch of lyrics for literally about 500 songs. So, I’ll dip into that library, I’ll write new stuff. Once that’s done I’ll put it all together with what matches the hook and then you’ve got a rack of ribs out the oven.
Eargrub: Give me some words you’d describe your music with.
Viper: So, I will use other people’s beats maybe 1 or 2% of the time, you know, out of 100, but for the majority I just want people to see my full creative potential. I want them to see that everything that went into a song is totally Viper. That way they will understand that the whole concept came from my life and my story. I want them to see me as a full artist and critique me on the different aspects that I’m bringing to the table on a track.
Eargrub: To go off of your process, do you draw any inspiration from specific artists?
Viper: There’s so many artists out there that if I start calling out names I’m sure I’ll forget somebody. But the list kind of just goes on, man. I dip into a little bit of everything – even the new stuff. That stuff is what’s musically revelant to today. And even though it may not fit with my swag I still take some elements from it to give the fans and the market what they want to hear. And that’s a good way to connect with the people that you might not have nessasarily connected with. I’ll put it this way: there’s probably isn’t an artist you could name that I’d say I don’t like.
Eargrub: So, is staying relevant important to you?
Viper: It’s very important man. I was talking to a guy today about the different issues going on in the US and it’s crazy because my fan base is worldwide, and they’re not really seeing some of the things in their country that we’re seeing in ours. So, it’s a situation where when I speak on a subject on a large scale, I’m trying to connect with everybody. From country to country, state to state, I’ll look at the issues and I’ll address them on a large scale from my perspective. That tends to grab people’s attention, so that’s how I like to do that.
Eargrub: So, both you and I know you have a massive library. Do you have a favorite albums amongst the rest?
Viper: Maaaan, you know, the one that I really really dig, and I hate to say this, is the one that I’m working on right now. Sadly it’s not available yet, and I’m sorry about that. There are so many of my albums that I really like, though, I just can’t say they’re the best. You got The Southwest Hooligan, Hustlin’ Thick, Plush Player – I liked A Day in the Life of Lee Carter, that has some of my new stuff on there. I like a lot of them man. I’ll even throw out I’m Gonna Kill Them Pussy Niggas That Killed 2Pac, that was a good one. Man, if the people just listen to one of my albums, they’ll want to come back and listen to more.
Eargrub: When people describe you, they generally will use the term “struggle rapper.” Do you find that sort of label derogatory?
Viper: There are a lot of terms that are out there right now that describe my type of rap. It’s interesting because in the Rap business, any type of publicity is good publicity. So, the negative publicity is good as well as the positive publicity. So, that’s bottom line, basically.
Eargrub: So what’s a dream collaboration for you?
Viper: A dream collaboration for me right now would be – I would like to do some work with RBX, Big Syke, DMX, Xzibit. You know, Lil B, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, 50 Cent, The Game, Lil Durk, Chief Keef, OJ da Juiceman, anybody from NWA. Man, anyone from NWA would be a dream. Oh, Public Enemy! They we’re one of those groups for me growing up.
Eargrub: So, how do you feel about a rapper like Lil B who many people compare you to?
Viper: Lil B is really talented. His whole camp, Pac Div, man, they a really talented group. My cousin lives in Oakland and he’s trying to reach out to get a feature track done since I’m heading out to the west coast in March to shoot a couple videos, one in Oakland and one in Seattle. So, when I get out to Oakland, I’m going to try to reach out to Lil B. I’ll be taking my portable studio with me and have a track all ready. I’ll have my DSLR camera with me and try to get a track finished and a video with him if I can reach him. I’ll be trying my best.
Eargrub: What should someone who doesn’t know much about you know about Viper?
Viper: I think my fans and the whole market should know that I’m more than just a Gangsta Rapper. I’m a musician, I’m a pianist, I’m a CEO and business owner, I am a college graduate. If you go to MTV.com/artists/Viper you can read my bio. You can also go to my reverbnation.com/viper4. You can read my bios and they’ll tell you how I started with playing the piano for my daddy’s church when I was seven years old all the way up to when I graduated from high school at 16. I kept playing the piano and making beats and then got deep into Rap in the late 90’s. During this time I was going to college studying business and got my degree. Right now I’m a Texas real estate broker. So, for me, it’s not just about the Rap music, I’m doing that to show the fans the side of Rap they may not have seen in a long time, that being the true, hardcore gangster side.
Eargrub: So, another term that people associate with you is “outsider Hip hop.” Do you identify with that at all?
Viper: Yeah, I do. It’s kind of like the “struggle rapper” label, what it means is that my struggle as a rapper is a little harder than other artists because my style is not as mainstream. I’ve got to struggle more to get in the scene more than some other people. The same goes with the “outsider Hip hop” thing, I agree with that too because I’m kind of on the outside looking in right now. It’s frusterating right now because my take-your-shirt-off-beat-your-chest Hip hop style is much like many artists in the past. Not that they’re gone, but you don’t really see any of that anymore. That certainly isn’t what MTV is showing. What you’re seeing right now is a commercial crossover type swag. You’re not seeing the baggy pants anymore, you’re not seeing the rapper with his shirt off with a bandana on, you’re not seeing that anymore. That’s all still relevant though; if you go to the hood that’s what you’re going to see. You’re not going to see that other stuff in the hood. My whole thing is that I’m bringing back what you’re going to see in the hood. Mainstream TV wants to censor that because they want you to see a certain image. I want to bring back the familiar image, like what you see when you go back home to see mom and dad. So, as an outsider looking in, I’m just going to have to keep banging on this door until they let me in. At some point I’ll be an insider, but right now I’m thankful for people like you who put my story out there so people will know what’s coming.
Eargrub: It’s an honor man. It’s something that has to be heard. So is that your main goal with your music? To spread the real image of the hood?
Viper: That’s the main goal man. The only difference in my swag is that I do everything myself. I’m not saying that that makes me moreelaborate or anything like that, but it’s been a long time since people have been able to see a true gangster artist that comes out and has the talent to do everything. That’s what I’m trying to bring to the table. Also, hardcore rap is so linked to the underground world, and I’m trying to bring that back to the mainstream.
Eargrub: I’m going to name off some of your album titles and I want you to explain what they mean. First, I Seen a Skull.
Viper: Okay, what it means to me is that – when you look at a skull, you see the full spectrum of a person. You don’t see the face, you don’t see the color, and you don’t see any of the things that characterize a person. It’s the most rawest part of someone you can see and that’s why you see it in a lot of sciences today.
Eargrub: Rap Game Money is Much Different.
Viper: You know, I’m a real estate broker, I make real estate transactions and I get different types of money other than rap money. Rap money just comes in a different way, it’s kind of like its own entity. It’s funny, when I’m talking to my family and friends about the money that I made in a certain period, I’ll say it as that. I’ll say rap cash, rap money. If I’m talking about real estate I’ll refer to it as the real estate check. I always clarify what it is with my people. That’s why I said that – because when I’m looking at a Rap check, it comes from a different type of work.
Eargrub: One Million Vipers But Only One Viper.
Viper: What that meant was there are snakes, as far as the viper snake on the planet, and, you know, snakes in general. My point was that I want the world to see one viper. I want to be the one viper when they think of “viper.” I want them to think about the artist, and that will be it in the history of time.
Eargrub: Atomic Bombs and Mutually Assured Destruction is Fucking Stupid 2.
Viper: *laughs* Man, that was kind of an album to address some of the things that are pertinent right now. We dealing with North Korea, we dealing with Iraq. The bottom line is that we came really close to complete annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis and to put ourselves in that position again as a more mature society and as a more advanced world is really silly. There are some many ways we can keep these countries from having these technologies if we do it the right way. Other countries are just like us: they don’t want to blow the world up. So, let’s come together and make some things happen to where that’s not a worry.
Eargrub: One last one: Fuck Tha World It Ain’t Real I Bend Tha Spoon Wit My Mind.
Viper: *Continuous laughter*
Eargrub: I love these, by the way. I need to give you props, you can title a record like no other.
Viper: Man, that one was really, uhh, crazy. The reason why I wrote that one was, and this is another thing that people don’t know about me that I need to put out there, I’m actually a member of an organization that deals with cryogenics. So, basically, when I pass, I’ma be preserved and brought back later. The whole concept behind the album was that when I do come back, hopefully technology will be good enough to where I can be trained in some sort of mental telepathy. It was a crazy concept, but that’s what it was about. But I want to encourage everybody to look into that. My company is Alcor Life Preservation. There are several out there, but it’s just another option.
Eargrub: So, you touched on this earlier, but what do you see as your next step?
Viper: My next step is this album, The Jamminest Album U Eva Heard – and I’ve heard some people say “is jamminest even a word?” It comes from jamming, and jamminest is a word just like “winning” to “winninest.” So that’s a word, I just took the G off. When someone thinks something sounds good they say it’s jamming. So, I’m working on that, I’ve got all those tracks done. I’m hoping to do a video for each song, put them all on YouTube, and I’m goig to try to get at least one or two on Worldstar. Also, by the way, I have a website called WorldRapStar. It’s up now, it’s not fully functional. But I want everybody to know that it’s going to be an alternative to Worldstar. It’s going to be a place where artists can upload their stuff for a lot cheaper than what Worldstar is charging. It’s like $700 a video for them, while mine will be more in the neighborhood of five or ten bucks at first. But that’s just some information for the people. But, anyways, I’m going to try and get this album out. Get the video played on a local tv show. Hopefully if I get enough buzz I can get on the big TV channels, then I can actually let people know who I am.
Eargrub: Who are you listening to right now who we are probably sleeping on?
Viper: I’m listening to a lot of stuff people are probably listening to, actually. I’m listening to some of the younger Chicago guys right now – there are dozens of them out of there. I’m listening to the artists who are doing the autotunes, there are quite a few doing that. Believe it or not, that’s all I’m really listening to right now. Been really digging on these younger guys. I’m really loving what they are doing.
Eargrub: Any closing words for the people at home?
Viper: Yeah, I do. My number is 281-690-9705. That’s my personal cell phone, so if you want to text me on that line, that would be cool, since I get some business calls on there. But, if you text me, you’ll be in my text log. All my fans are free to text me and ask anything they want. If there are any promoters out there, I’m looking to set up a tour wherever. I just want to thank everybody for the support that I’ve been getting and I’d love for you to continue the Viper movement.
I have to add that this was one of my favorite interviews I’ve ever conducted. Viper is kind, personable, and humble dude who truly thinks the world of his fans. You can peep all of his more than 333 album discography on Spotify. You can also follow him on Twitter and show your love directly.