King Jerm Interviews Phonte


For my first interview I wanted to sit down with someone who I knew before the game. So I went and did some digging and reached out to a buddy of mine from way back. Couple of calls and a couple of e-mails later we made it happen. I don’t mean to name drop but my dude Phonte of Little Brother stopped by to touch base with an old friend. Always one of the funniest guys around (you can tell by the skits on the albums), he would have everybody on the bus laughing at his antics, but on the flip side, he was one of the brightest dudes in school. His popularity with his peers landed him the class presidency and also helped him sell out of his spoof album of the Wu-Tang Clan. But let me quit introducing a man that needs none at all. Just read on to find out what Tay has been up to!

King Jerm: What’s going on Phonte, it’s been a minute since we spoken, and how has everything been going?

Phonte: Everything is good….just busy as usual with touring and recording…

How does it feel to be the most famous cat out of Greensboro since Bob McAdoo? You can use that if you like.

LOL…..I guess that’s a compliment. It feels cool. Greensboro’s changed so much from when I was growing up there, so its always a bittersweet feeling when I come home.

When you used to rap on the school bus and at lunch time back at Page, did you ever think that you would become a well respected lyricists in the game?

I always knew that music was something I wanted to do. I knew that I’d be doing this for a living, but I had no idea how long and arduous the journey would be. I tell people all the time that the music business really operates on the idea of grinding for 10 years to become an ‘overnight’ success. That’s how long its taken me to get where I am now.

You guys latest album Getback, which is in stores now, is great just wanted you to know that. Shout out to Rapper Big Pooh! Were you guys upset at the sales of the album?

Glad you enjoyed the album, man. I thought the record did pretty well. We were on an indie with no big promotional push, and all our press and promo was pretty much self-generated. I can’t complain at all. I basically look at every album as a setup for my next one.

You have been doing the singing thing for a minute, you ever thought of making an R&B inspired album?

Me and my man Zo are actually releasing our EP of 80’s covers soon, entitled Zo and Tigallo Love the 80’s! And after that, me and Nicolay will be droppin the new Foreign Exchange album (Leave It All Behind). I’m doing a great amount of singing on both of those records.

Have you gotten into production yet, or you just sticking to the mic right now?

I used to make beats on my little sampler back in high school, but I have no plans to go back to it. If anything, I’m gonna pick up guitar and/or piano lessons. I’ve always wanted to learn how to read and compose music.

Little Brother didn’t receive any love from BET with playing videos in the past, how did it feel to do the freestyle cipher on the Hip Hop Awards?

It was pretty ironic to say the least…lol. At the end of the day, I was just happy to see the look on Steven Hill’s face when he saw my “Too Intelligent” t-shirt. You just cant pay for moments like that.

Are you guys working on any new music right now?

Well, I’m finishing up the Zo and Tigallo and Foreign Exchange albums, as I mentioned earlier. And Pooh is workin’ on a mixtape with Mick Boogie, as well as an album with Young RJ called The Recipe. He’s also trying to have his next solo album, Dirty Pretty Things, out before this year’s end. Also, we may be releasing a digital EP called Leftback, which will consist of the few tracks that didn’t make the Getback album, as well as a few goodies…..but we’ll see how it all pans out.

I know you heard this one a million times, but who are you listening to on your iPod right now?

Man….mostly deep house/nu-soul shit…..Osunlade, Marcus Enochson, Blaze, Jazztronik, and alotta classic dance shit like Leroy Burgess and stuff from George Duke’s disco period. On the hip-hop side, my man Focus just dropped an LP called Dedication that’s really dope all the way around.

What is more important to you as an artist, the music or the numbers?

For me, its really all about the music. Nobody remembers what Only Built For Cuban Linx sold in its first week, but “The Purple Tape” will always remain a classic. That’s what I strive to make…..timeless, quality material. If you focus on the material first, everything else will fall into place… least that’s how its been for me…

Well it’s been good talking to you Phonte, always a pleasure, and you are always welcome on! One last question, I let you borrow my Roots album Do You Want More?!!!??!, a while back, you think I could get that back now? But I’ll trade it for a T-shirt!

WOW @ you still remembering that. I’ll buy you a new copy and next time I see Ahmir, I’ll have him sign it for you. I think that should make us even…lol