Interview with Angie Rose | by Josh Stanley
Josh: So how how would you describe your music and maybe you as an artist?
Angie: As an artist one of my goals is always to be prolific, so i like to just create. I'm in love with the process of creating, so sonically i don't know that there's a way to pin me down more because I'm consistently just working on new sounds. I've had the privilege of being able to travel quite a bit and so I've been able to hear so many different cultures and I've fallen in love with all of their sounds, but one constant thing that you hear is like faith and genuine relationship with Jesus, so whatever that looks like if if that's in reference to just loving somebody. I'm single, so I can write a song about dating; but but there will always be an area where you say oh she must think like that because of her relationship with Jesus, so whether or not the song's blatantly like a sermon, or if it's just like a really fun track, you'll always find the heartbeat of Jesus.
So, was Jesus always sort of part of your life and thus always a part of your music, or was it sort of this process of how do we weave him into this?
That's a good question. So, Jesus has always been a part of my life. Literally the week that I was born, my parents were ordained as pastors and they started their church. So, that's always been a constant in my life. But also, hip hop has always been a constant. As a child, I didn't understand and to this day the child and me doesn't understand the distinction between or the separation between hip-hop and Jesus, so I don't like force Him to be in my music, it's just that this is the way I think and this is the way that I am; so you’ll hear it if you know Him. I don't intentionally try to do anything. I took time away from church and away from the gospel and I wanted to be like a bad kid but even then, there was still just certain paradigms and certain ways that I think and thought, that you would hear even when I rapped or when I wrote. Like there was always something that alluded to the fact that there was a level of faith.
When it comes to music, how did you get there, how did you know you wanted to do music was there an ah-ha moment or was it something i was just always engrained in you?
I want to stay a little bit of both. So, coming up in my dad's church when I was about thirteen years old, they lost their piano player and their drummer. So I was like you know what I want, I want to learn and I want to help; but I want to serve in the church. So, I started to play piano; and when I started to do that, I started to think of songs and my friends. Even at the time they said my best friend's big brother used to call me “Felicia Keys” because I just like picked it up and I started to learn. With with learning the melodies, words would come; but it was really just to serve them still like for the slow songs I’d be on the piano. Then, like, if they wanted to sing a fast one I'd run over and play the drums. So like at that point this is not a career, this is just something that I enjoy doing enough and i started to learn. But then also, as a kid my big brother used to rap and so I wanted to be like my big brother. If he'd sit on the couch with his notebook writing, I sat on the floor by a sheet doing the same thing. I got really good at rapping, and I didn't know I was good, right ? Until I started going to school and, people would bang beat on the table and I’d rap and everybody (would) go crazy. I was like, oh, shoot, I'm good at this. Ah, but again, like just a part of my life. I'm just, like enjoying music, but never really thought that it could be a career; especially like I'm the youngest of ten children right, two latina parent. Both of my parents are Puerto Rican, and so I say, hey, i want to be an artist, and they go, yeah, that's, great...you said lawyer, right? So, it was always just something that I enjoyed but I didn't know it could be a career.
The ah ha moment, I so like that's the beginning part of the question... the ah ha moment happened when I went to college. When I was in middle school, they found out I could rap. I was the girl in the school that could rap; and a friend of mine asked me to do a feature. So, he asked me to sing a hook I had never done before, (so I said) yes, sure. So I go to the studio, and I'm singing the hook and the engineer calls the owner of the studio and he goes, you need to come in there's this girl here bla bla bla. So, the guy comes in and he thinks i'm just a singer so he's like oh she sings good my friend says I can rap, they don't believe him because I looked really girly that day i don't like flower pants and like you know, bla bla bla. So, they throw in some beats (and) I start rapping and everybody goes crazy. Then literally, I went home. They took my information, I went home and on the train. Before I got home, I had an email that said ‘we would love to work with you.’ They sent beats and I want to say within the next month, I had a career, and that's like the beginning of the journey and that's how we get to where I am now.
What were you in college for? Was it for music or...
No, nothing close. I actually was a philosophy major. Yeah, okay, yeah, so I just wanted to learn to learn, I guess.
So you kind of got this career that sort of started seemingly out of nowhere, but sort of through that start, what was your biggest struggle? How did you overcome that?
I think it's kind of difficult for me to pinpoint the biggest struggle. But some of the struggles I've encountered... one of them was so I thought, you know, you have these rose colored glasses on when it comes to entertainment. Especially as a believer, because I didn't know, I was in a Christian college and the studio I went to was owned by Christians; and so I think I just really had on rose colored glasses. I thought, you know, everything is just gonna be perfect...nobody's gonna lie, everybody has integrity. I think when when those glasses kind of got broken, (I) was just experiencing some things and realizing (that) even as believers, people still sometimes fall short. People still lie, people still want to do business in a way that is not fair. I think that that was one of the biggest like, I had to understand like oh wait, I still have to know the business, I still have to study, I still have to, I can't just be an artist that is good at making music if i want to actually be successful. I think that was one of the biggest struggles; and then has become one of the biggest strengths that has been able to do so much. Because of me taking the time to steward the gift in more than just how I sound, (I know have improved in) how I do business, how I work with people, and how I make relationships
On this same note you do more than just the music that you create, so tell me a little bit about that side of your life, specifically Unstoppable Threadz.
Yeah so Unstoppable Threadz started off as just merchandise. I thought it was a cool name. I put the “z” there because “z” represents royalty, and all these different like cool little things. The reason why I think it matters now, is because it was started off of like tragedy. I came off a tour in Texas, and literally like two weeks later, the hurricane hit Texas. I was like man I literally was just their building with the people. So my heart hurt for them, and so I have to do something. I don't have a ton of money; I can't just say let me donate to this cause, but what i did have was merchandise. So I took (it to) social media and I said ‘hey guys, you know whatever is purchased within the next two weeks, one hundred percent of the profit is gonna go to victims of the hurricane in Texas.’ A ton of people supported, and we were able to send out I think six hundred dollars or so to Texas. Then the next week Florida got hit, and I go ‘what the heck’, so I take to social media again and I'm like guys we're going to do the same thing again. We were able to send out a good amount of money; and then right after that Puerto Rico hits like twice! So, I'm like ‘oh my goodness,’ and then I'm seeing the devastation and I realized that the difference between Puerto Rico and Texas and Florida, is that at least in Texas and Florida there's a sort of infrastructure right? At least the majority of the population is not living in poverty already. There's people definitely living in poverty, I don't want to overlook their struggle, but um you know a lot of them already at least they have a roof over their head and for the most part you know just a certain infrastructure that that's alive in those places, that was not alive in Puerto Rico. Poverty was already in Puerto Rico. It was already happening. There were people already living without roofs, there were people already you know, living without water. So, this hurricane took them from already an unstable situation, to literal catastrophe. I said, ‘man, I can't just send money this time. I have to send myself. I have to do something bigger.’ So what we did was, we did a relief concert, and we literally planned it and I think a week and a half (later) I called my pastor (and) said ‘would you be our partner.’ He said ‘yeah I spoke to the leaders we’re partnered.’ We literally in two weeks were able to bring out five hundred people and to raise five thousand dollars. And even still right you think about that and you go that's amazing, that's a great accomplishment. But when you think about the grand scheme, in the big picture, five thousand dollars is a drop in the bucket to an island that's literally devastated. So I said God, what are we doing and the word that I got for that moment was well this is the pregnancy, but but we're going to celebrate birth. I didn't understand what that meant until I got to Puerto Rico and when I landed I got calls from FEMA, calls from Ricky Martin Foundation, I got calls from companies around the US that were working and they donated and supported our cause. (They) gave us five hundred boxes of food, they (gave) us trucks, (and) let us use vehicles. We were able to give all of this stuff out, while I was there. To this day in Puerto Rico, we have established a distribution center that's fully up and running every single day and it has points on the island. We have nine points on the island where people that are in need can literally just just walk in the doors and say I need pampers for my kid, I need water, I need this, and walk out with that stuff. We're also in the phase of the first center that was just a distribution center. I'm going back in May  next week. We're going to start the process of converting it to a community center, with the studio. We're going to bring in entrepreneurs, successful entrepreneurs that are in the island or that are in New York or United States that just have a passion for people, and they're going to help train people on the island. We're going to get music studios involved, we're going to start creating more jobs. We're gonna have consistent kitchens and just you know, that's what Unstoppable Threadz has become. It started off (as) just clothing, and now it's something that is literally unstoppable. It's an unstoppable thread because one person helps another, and another person helps another, and that's the heartbeat of the mission.
Tying back to your music how does the the activism and the things that you're doing in Puerto Rico and with Unstoppable Threadz, how does that tie into the music you create how does that inspire you to create?
So like I said before, because I've been privileged to travel so much, I really enjoy sounds now that that are not inherent to New York, to my paradigm which is like the Bronx, New York; which is like you know, heavy drums and bla bla. I’ve always been a catch to my nationality, because of like my parents and my best friends. But being able to go to Puerto Rico, being able to travel to even like Italy and being able to spend time down South and and hear their sound has changed the way I make music. So you'll hear like influences of the Caribbean and my music you'll hear like in the way I cadence my rhymes. Same with trips to down South and Texas and Atlanta. You'll hear like certain slang that is not from where I'm from, and so the biggest benefit has been just like I’ve really gotten to know the hearts of the people and because of that, it's like become a part of mind.
So tell me a little bit about collaboration and community because obviously something to the scale of the things that you're doing can't be done alone so how does collaboration help you build something bigger than yourself, but also inspire you to create?
You said it perfectly, it's literally impossible for me to do any of this by myself. Because of collaboration with an amazing pastor in Puerto Rico, we were able to have a first location. Also, because of his collaboration, he's a member of the council out there; (and) because of his collaboration with that counsel and with other pastors, we've been able to expand. So I mean, everything thrives through proper relationship. Even if you want to think biblically right, like Jesus sent out disciples two by two because He knows that we as humans thrive in relationship and thrive in building with the people around us. Same goes for music, like I love to sit in a studio with somebody that doesn't necessarily make music like me; whether it be a rock artist, a pop artist, a Reggaeton artist I enjoy, or even a southern rap artist. I enjoy sitting in the room with somebody that thinks different, because I know that if I listen and if I respect their craft, then I'm going to make better music just because of that. I might not change my sound one hundred percent, but if I really respect them, I'm going to sound better because I'm going to be influenced by something they say, or something they do, or cadence, or just the way they bob to the music. If you can really engage in true relationship, I think you'll always be a better person after.
So sort of moving forward, you said you're working on a couple of projects. You mentioned sort of the community center, but tell me tell me about projects that you've got going on and sort of where you are moving forward?
Yeah um, one of my favorite things to be is prolific and just a constant create, so that's what we've been doing. But we do have a project that is like in the phase of being mixed and mastered, which is pretty much done; until I get one of my little artist surgeons and start changing stuff up at the last minute, which I typically do. But yeah that's pretty much done, my team is actually really excited because technically this would be my first ever like project. So we’re excited because I've been able to capture I think the sound of of my world, and that means, my world in the past, to the present, right up until the point that it sounds like now. That’s where the project lives, it's a lot of the mindset. I developed as a child, a lot of the things that I thought when I was younger, my city comes with an edge; like we're competitive and where aggressive a little bit. So you can hear some of those influences in the project and I'm really excited about it, because it feels like something special so far.
When people hear the name Angie Rose what legacy do you want them to be left with?
I think I want them to think she reminded me whatever it is that you’ve been holding onto, whatever dream, whatever idea, whatever vision, I want them to say she reminded me it was possible.
We have a lot of young artists who listen to the show is there anything you want to share with them?
I think like we said a little while ago. Tell your story, right. And what does that mean? That means be true to who you are. The only way to do that, is if you take the time to learn who you are. As a believer, one of the best ways to do that is to take to take the time to know who created you, because He's the one that knows exactly what he created you for and what you're going to be great at. God does not play anything mediocre. And because I’m a believer, I believe that everyone was created by Him and so I say that there is nobody mediocre. That there was greatness living within you, and so your job is to literally just happen to the greatness that is already yours and live it up. It’s also like whatever your story looks like in the moment, right? Because we as people, we only like to tell the parts we think are good. One of the one of the biggest things that I've learned is that seeds are planted in the dirt, in order to become with them and to be. So that means that the dirt is just as much a part of your story. As the end result, the beginning is important at the end, and so the mess even, the parts that you're ashamed of, are just as important; sometimes more important. If you show them where you came from, then the end result looks so much more powerful.
“I grew through the dirt that you threw on my name”
-For the Love | Angie Rose
Edited by Macy Waddingham & Joshua Stanley