Over the last week we spent some time getting to know one of DC’s up and coming hip-hop talents, Brandon Taft (AKA Citizen XVII). His latest album, HEIR 2 THE TORCH, is a great collection of eclectic hooks, impressive lyrical arrangements and beats that make you wonder if this guy is signed to a major label (A&R reps should take notice). Check out our 9 Questions with Brandon and definitely listen to his latest album if you are looking for some upbeat songs with more than just your typical rap lyrics. This guy is thoughtful and talented. We’ll be keeping an eye on him for the next year!
1. Where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics?
A: My inspiration for my lyrics comes from a love for language and vocabulary. I love to use words and phrases that are not commonly used in day to day conversation.
2. Do you usually write your beats or your lyrics first?
A: I rarely create beats with a set of lyrics already in mind. Many times I do have a song concept when I am creating a beat. I look at the beat creation process as the “hard part” and the bar writing as the fun part where you get to shine.
3. How long have you been rapping and when did you realize you wanted to be a musician and performer?
A: I have been recording my raps since about 2004. I’ve been writing since about 2002 when I first linked up with my long-time friend and fellow artist Loca and Mitchell. Mitch told me about battle rapping online and it started from there.
4. Do you feel like DC has a good hip-hop scene for new musicians? What are your favorite live venues to perform at?
A: DC is really getting some of the shine it deserves now. We got Wale, Logic, Fat Trel, and some other artists I think are getting ready to blow. I’d keep an eye out for Tese Fever & Layla Khepri. The females are bringing it back for Hip Hop. I have only performed a few times years and years ago. The Legend, Mocha Hut, Bar Nun, and once at Sonar in Baltimore.
5. If you could have lunch with any figure in history, who would it be and why?
A: Wow, that’s a wild question. Um, I think it would be Pharaoh Ramses II. I would really like to see how Egypt was during one of its most prominent dynasties.
6. Do you think music has the ability to influence politics?
A: I think music can influence politics, but most of what these artists talk about today is very dumbed down. I do believe that music can influence the people, their thoughts, beliefs, self-esteem, and goals. Which is why I try to make music that is going to make you feel good and not lead you down a dangerous path that many of these artists have not lived themselves.
7. What do you hope to accomplish with Heir 2 the Torch?
A: I want Heir 2 the Torch to be the album that gets people looking my way. I have a tough work ethic so I have no intention of resting on my laurels. It has received great reviews from everyone who has heard it thus far. I’m actually almost finished a mixtape called “Glitter & Passionfruit”. I have a lot to get done.
8. What was your favorite part of recording at the Blue Room?
A: Conrad is incredibly skilled in engineering and he constantly seeks to acquire new knowledge through visiting other engineers and studios. He keeps his equipment state of the art and as an added bonus he is probably the most personable and accommodating professional that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I can’t wait to get back in the studio and continue doing what we do best, making music
9. Why do you call yourself Citizen XVII?
A: I call myself citizen to point out the fact that I’m no better or worse than the next man or woman. It also shows my anonymity, to most of the world I’m just a number…and the number 17 because that’s my favorite number. In Roman numerals because I’ve always been partial to Ancient civilization.