DC based Palestinian rapper Andru Ayoub has been producing releases since 2008, with singles like "Bravo" and "Time of Our Lives" garnering attention in a growing fanbase online. The same fans that no doubt put him at the top of the leaderboard of our last Band/Artist of the Month poll. So we wanted to find out more about him. Here he tells us about battle one-liners, Tupac & Biggie, and his upcoming release Better Late Than Never. Now onto the interview…
Andru: I first started rapping when I was fourteen. A group of my closest friends would rap for fun and battle each other. One day, I came to school to find that a friend had made a “diss” song about me, burned it to a CD, and passed it around! Everyone was talking about it. Furious, I knew that I could come up with something better, and I did. After that, I started jumping into battles regularly; loving the sense of accomplishment I would feel when my words would run circles around my friends. Battle one-liners slowly turned into verses, and I decided it was time to try to record a song. With a friend, I bought a cheap computer microphone, recording software, and started downloading the latest industry beats. I remember sitting in my room for hours just writing lyrics. Every chance I got I was writing, free-styling, or recording music. I remember passing out CDs and hearing kids I didn’t know at school blasting them in their cars.
After graduating high school, I found myself only free-styling occasionally, and had completely stopped writing and recording. Time passed and people changed, including my group of friends that had so strongly influenced me. Even though I had stopped actively working on music, I would still find myself being triggered by things around me. It could be the weather, a picture, something I heard on TV; these small triggers would get me thinking about verses or making beats in my head. In 2008 I purchased a Korg M3 and started getting my ideas out of my head and recorded. After a year or so, I was introduced to Nick Fitzsimmons, the now President of Nick Fitz Management Group. Nick heard some of my music through a mutual friend, and immediately was drawn to it. It was through the encouragement of him and my friends that I decided to pursue a career in music.
What are your biggest musical influences?
My older brother first introduced me to hip-hop in the early 90’s. I immediately became a huge fan of Tupac and Biggie, and have found them to be major influences in my music. I remember days spent trying to teach my friends at school the lyrics to California Love. As time passed I found myself turning to the radio for new music. I also checked out other genres including R&B, Classical, and Country. Over the years, I’ve found music to be more than just entertainment, but a form of expression. It’s a way for artists to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions and an outlet for me to relate and express my own. In the end, my biggest influence comes from how a song makes me feel. My connection to the song, regardless of genre, inspires what I write and produce.
What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
Today, I find myself staying away from conventional top-40 media. I look for new/undiscovered music to help keep my ideas fresh. I can’t even remember the last time I purchased an album. Most of my time is spent checking out and connecting with artists online, through sites like YouTube, Twitter, Soundcloud and Spotify.
What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
The first album I ever bought was Tupac’s All Eyez On Me. My parents had to take me to the store to buy it, because of the adult-themed lyrics. Growing up, my parents loved going to concerts. They took me to my first concert when I was a kid, LeAnn Rimes at the MCI Center.
What do you love about DC's music scene?
I love the diversity. I love the fact that people from all around the world come to DC to show off their music. We’ve also got many very talented musicians from the DMV. Most people don’t consider DC a music town, but we hold our own.
What would you like to see change in the local music scene?
There are a lot of things I’d like to change about the underground hip-hop scene in general. It’s one of the few genres where undiscovered artists have to pay for the right to perform. I’ve been fortunate to find some really unique places to showcase my music. It would be great if we continued to have well-organized open-mic/showcase events around the DMV.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
2012 has been, and will continue to be a huge year for my career. I plan to release my debut album “Better Late Than Never” this summer, as well as continue to release original covers for a mix tape to come out this winter. There is a tough schedule of press and promotions around the release of the album, so this summer is going to be extremely busy.
What was your most memorable live show?
My most memorable live performance so far was actually at a local open-mic event. The venue was packed, and I brought no one with me but my manager. The support and response I got from the crowd was electric, and really motivated me to continue writing songs for my album.
Is there someone who has helped you grow through support?
My family, friends, and manager Nick Fitzsimmons have been a huge support system for me. But even with all of their help, I wouldn’t be where I am today without my fans. Every day they inspire me to keep pushing and growing and believe in not only the artist I am, but the artist I will become.
Is there a piece of equipment you couldn't live without and why?
There are two things that I just can’t live without. The first is my Korg keyboard that I use when producing all of my own music. The second is my car! I find that I am the most creative lyrically when I’m driving. If you pull up next to me, and see me rapping, I’m probably writing a new song.
Why do you read The Deli?
I read The Deli because it’s one of the best local music blogs in the area. If I am looking for a good show to check out, its one of the first places I look.