Interview With Paradox 2WX
Emerging From The Darkness
Title: Dark Reign
Genre: Hip Hop
Download: “Dark Reign”
The red-eyed half face of Paradox on the Dark Reign
album cover revealed one piece of the rapper’s
personality that is always living through life’s nasty
muck days. His black cloak flew behind words
describing frustrations with as he says "everything."
A pure underground effort, Dark Reign matched a
Bronx-bred Puerto Rican face to street Goth. Fans have
called his style of hip-hop horrcore, demonic and
hardcore. Earlier promotional shots of his face
painted like a yin-yang icon intrigued hip-hoppas.
Balls, chains, cloaks and swords have never been
associated with a hip-hop show and those things only
increased curiosity about the emcee that offered
heaven and hell in the same verse.
The latter spawned
from a lifetime of personal struggles that continue to
this day. As a light-skinned Latin man he is mistaken
for white regularly. One day at the beach a few years
back the ‘N’ word was muttered not too far away from
where he was standing. An entire silence engulfed the
space and all eyes fixated on him before he took a
near-fatal beating. No one was ever charged for the
crime but the painful experience fed the fire of
Family troubles and recently gaining full
custody of his two teenaged daughters have pushed his
pen deeper into the page. And the crowning incident of
it all came last year when two off-duty drunken police
officers hit him in a car accident. Although the
policeman had alcohol levels of .13, Florida’s Wheel
Law protected them and their punishment was a
It would seem that ten years off
and on in Tampa would have taken this particular sting
of urban living away, but being from New York City
nothing surprises Paradox. He admits his earlier work
actually censored some of the darker things he’s seen.
It would be simplistic to call him another angry young
man of color because he is just as invested in
construction as he is destruction.
"Hunger Strike" is
a song about the vapid attack of corporate rap on
hip-hop. Paradox compiled a group of fetid emcees to
complete the song dedicated to hip-hop’s Old School
ethos. Zulu Nation membership keeps him grounded with
the music and has for years. Their positive teachings
still nurture his creativity.
The grim reaper imagery
is ultimately about killing off the ugliness and
clearing the way for new beginnings. But you can not
let go of the past if you don’t confront it. And that
much was accomplished with Dark Reign. Two years ago
is a long time in hip-hop and Paradox is not in the
same place of a semi-cynical sun.
ACT II: How I Lived
Violin strings wound tight from tension and female R&B back-up singers flanks each side of Paradox’s
vision in "Changes." It is one song from his new
album, How I Lived, that sounds more like a man
approaching light than a happy subground dweller. The
new material has a brighter quality to it and explains
how Paradox got to Dark Reign in the first place. And
his identification with Marvin Gaye’s Divided Soul
eloquently translated by David Ritz falls flat because
he has already survived his biggest personal demons in
addition to being strictly drug-free.
saw him and fellow rapper BobbyLee open for Common in
Tampa this past summer felt anything but darkness. The
fans showed love again when they supported his single
"Ain’t Seen It Coming" on 95.7, one of Clear Channel's many mafia-like stations, which is no small
achievement for any underground rapper. DJ Ekin
promoted the song enough for it to seep through the
tightly controlled corporate airwaves. Fellow emcees
Big Mook, Vizion, and underground notable Celph Titled
blessed the How I Lived project as well.
These days Paradox is smiling a bit more thanks to the
career progress he’s making and his spiritual
understanding of life. No matter what kind of inner
battle he may want to rap about hip-hop helps to keep
his soul intact and the fans who greatly appreciates
continue to encourage his next steps. I talked with
him about his grind as an independent artist and this
is what he said.
[Tamara Harris] Who is Paradox?
Paradox You talkin to him, The Arch Angel, a hiphop/spoken word emcee, raised in the Bronx and operating outta Tampa.
[Tamara Harris] I know people compare you to people like Necto because of your dark imagery, but what exactly is your sound/style of hip-hop?
Paradox They used to compare me, but after I released Dark Reign and did other projects, they soon saw that we had
really nothing in common except for both being underground. My style is a combination of reality, street ryhmes, mixed with wit, pain and
pleasure. My love for hiphop gives my style an edge. There’s a lot of anger in it, but also other emotions, as well. Check out my video, “If A Bullet
Could Sing," and you'll see a very real side to me. So variety is there, also "feel me"?
[Tamara Harris] You've built a reputation for yourself in Tampa. What is the scene like there?
Paradox Crazy yo. I mean we have got to have one of the hugest hiphop scenes in the country. It’s not just one style,
dirty south, like most people think. Problem is lack of real industry and unity here...if ya looking for hip hop, we got it. If ya lookin for music business, Tampa
aint quite there yet ... but it will be, in my opinion. I mean, Mad linx reppin for us on BET Rap city. So Tampa's getting there lil by lil.
[Tamara Harris] Tell me about the new upcoming album, How I Live. How is it different from Dark Reign?
Paradox It’s “How I Lived," so I revisit my past in some of the songs. Heads wanted to know what made me such a red-eyed Beserker, so I hit them with a flash back, a prequel yo.
[Tamara Harris] I know you are opening for Common. How is the touring situation? Future plans?
Paradox Actually, BobbyLee is and I’m part of his show. Big ups to him and Sandman from tampahiphop.com for that look. It’s supposed to be a secret cuz I'm considered a pioneer in Tampa’s scene, and BobbyLee wanted to give shine to other artist I suppose he respects, but Imma
be humble and just keep reppin hiphop. I got some out of state plans in effect, but money gotta be right. I love hiphop, but I still gotta eat y,know.
[Tamara Harris] Who are some artists that you are working with now?
Paradox Heh, Did a joint with Celph Titled and Highcollide, and I think it was the first time a Clear Channel station ever gave a indie underground song so many spins in Tampa (thanks Ekin). But, yo back to that, Noktik, Vizion,Lord Khefran Gizmoe, Marazmus, Pemcee vega X. I’m lookin to do sumthun with Majik. Most we just gotta agree onna beat. Brother Mellow, Sham, maybe Laws if he can pick up his phone. IceyBlue, Keith Wolfe and C-Rena. Sorry if I left anyone out.
[Tamara Harris] Who would you like to work with?
Paradox Rakim, Kanye West, Tech 9. It sucks that majorly I can't really name a lot. But I don’t do well with the flavor of the month
rappers. I love hiphop classics. I’d like to also work with Kool G Rap, Prince, even Marvin Gaye (rip), if he were alive...few others.
[Tamara Harris] What's the best and worst thing about being an independent?
Paradox Freedom to do you! Money percentages are bigger. But you’re overlooked and underpaid, also. But the longevity
is a beautiful thing, especially if its in your heart.
[Tamara Harris] What's next for Paradox?
Paradox Sex, Lies and Video tapes...JK. I’m just takin it one day at a time, and rapping up my next album and
"Praise the most high."
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