Stephen Redhead
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Stephen Redhead

Capitol Heights, MD | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Capitol Heights, MD | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Hip Hop Pop

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Redhead is stylistically much better than many of those uninspired rappers that take up half of the pages of The Source every month. He respects the hip hop culture, and definitely adds something good to it. - Jani Cortesini

Redhead has a distinctive voice and it could be this that breaks him as an emcee. It has an Eminem like quality to it, but not so much that it becomes annoying. I think that with the right exposure, Redhead could be big. - Chris Nicholls

Good solid hip hop that is tight and well produced! Redhead, hailing from the great state of Maryland, shows a lot of depth in his music that is often missing these days in the genre. Though I hear elements of Nas and "Paul's Boutique" era Beastie Boys, he's got a sound that's all his own. I could listen to this stuff all day. His real specialty seems to be his smooth and rhythmic vocals. Bottom line: check this guy out, he's got hip hop that you need to hear if you call yourself a hip hop fan. And if you don't call yourself a hip hop fan, listen anyway, and then stop making excuses and become one. - Jonathan Sanders


HiphopDX.com Interview:

Redhead is an MC hailing from PG County Maryland. Originally not taking rap seriously, a chance encounter with an A&R from MCA Records (now defunct) got the wheels churning in his head. Maybe he could actually do this. But first things first —college. The recent Howard University grad chatted with me on AIM and talked about his style, his name, The Washington DC Metro Area in relation to hip-hop, and how he made history.

Starr: You didn’t take Hip-Hop seriously until an occurrence with and A&R at the now-defunct MCA records. What happened that was so influential to you trying to rap for real?

Redhead: The situation with MCA was that I was performing at an open mic spot in DC and they approached me about it. They asked the typical stuff like “Did you really write that?” and all that mess. I was 17 just starting college at the time. I turned them down because I refused to be one of those heads that are doing records and don’t have a decent education. Plus my mother would kick my ass. Now I’m wiser, more cautious, with a Bachelors degree from a top college in the nation. I have nothing to lose.

S: You went to Howard right?

R: Definitely

S: a lot of good people graduate from there but speaking of your mom (kicking your ass and all)…Your background is caribbean but you live in the DC area. Did all of those cultures influence you musically? How so?

R: It wasn’t that much of a difference. My mother is from Jamaica and my father is from Grenada, so they would definitely speak in their heavy accents and play reggae and soca. In DC, they have Go-Go music, which stylistically is similar due to the drums and constant bouncing rhythm. It definitely shed new perspective on how to approach things musically.

S: It’s funny u mentioned that. I was going to ask you about Go-Go. Are you a fan?

R: More or less [laughs]…there’s some that I mess with, and others not so much. “Overnight Scenario” by Rare Essence is a classic. I’m so glad that it’s getting recognition outside of the city nowadays.

S: Being that different types of musical sub-cultures like say Reggaeton, Dancehall, Hip-Hop, etc eventually seem to get exploited and played out, do you think there’s a possibility that this could happen with Go-Go and the “beating your feet” dance that goes along with it?

R: Absolutely. When people like something and consider it a trend, it’s going to get played out. As soon as you see a bunch of suburban kids beating their feet in a Gap commercial, it’s a wrap. But knowing how DC is, I wouldn’t be surprised if something brand new was to get created the following week. After all, half the dances coming out now look like beating your feet. Have you seen “walk it out?”
S: Lol, yea! One thing about hip-hop that we can’t escape is that it’s regionalized. Where does the DC-Metro area fit in considering that although it’s east coast, it’s not exactly north, but not exactly south either?

R: That’s the problem with the city. Because of those facts, I think there’s people in the city that don’t know what they are yet. At one point, I remember when people there swore that they were from New York. They were wearing fitteds with The North Face jackets and such, and today they’re talking about they living in “the trap.” I feel that in order to even think about putting the city on the map, it has to have a style that represents itself effectively and distinctively. We already have Go-Go, but that’s another genre. Hip-Hop is something else that needs to be taken into consideration for the city, as well as the corresponding areas like PG County, Montgomery County, and places in Virginia. It’s all about distinction for good representation.

S: Who are some of your musical influences (across any genre)?

R: My favorite group has to be A Tribe Called Quest. Those dudes are legends and deserve a lot more recognition then they get. I’m also a fan of Nas and stuff from Big L. Artistically I really like Raphael Saadiq and alternative bands like Soundgarden and The Verve (especially “Bittersweet Sympony”). I listen to a lot of things, especially 80’s pop from Prince and Modern English. It keeps me on my toes.

S: Has anyone ever compared you to Slick Rick? Not that you have a British accent (of coarse), but there’s something about the way you rhyme and tell a story that is sort of reminiscent to his style.

R: Actually, I have. Slick Rick has lots of style to him, and sometimes the accent of my parents and my DC-Metro accent kind of mesh together, so it gives a certain sound like I’m “British.” I definitely take that comparison well.

S: Cool. About your name…is your hair really red? It didn’t look like it in the pics I saw.

R: [Laughs]. Truth be told, “Redhead” has nothing to do with hair. My government name is Stephen Redhead. I decided to go by my last name because I thought that would have people pay more attention being that I’m the opposite of what one might expect. My hair is black as well as my race, [laughs].

S: Ah…makes sense. Your bio said you got blessings from Oprah Winfrey. Did she speak at your graduation from Howard or did you really meet her one-on-one?

R: She spoke at my graduation. I tried to talk to her personally but security was definitely on their job. One thing that I remember that she said during her speech is that all that we (the students) have to know is who we are, and that failure doesn’t exist because there are several routes to success. I thought it was so fly that I sampled it in a song.

S: There was a track from your first independent EP that ended up on a mixetape called “The Next Big Thing” and was distributed throughout out the general areas of Atlanta and Texas, and you got props from Magnificent of Swisha House. How did that happen?

R: Basically when I was joking around, I had a track called “4 Da Broke & Sexy.” It was a joking type of party song. I wasn’t really used to doing party records yet, but I had the track and I sent it to a friend of mine from Texas and he pressed it himself and shipped it around. Magnificent is a person that I knew for a long time. I even battled him twice. He’s very talented. He’s like the Big L of the South. We even did a mixtape style track before he got with Swisha House over an Alicia Keys track. I think he put it on his demo.

S: You made history. Please elaborate on what happened.

R: One day, my friend Opiyo Okeyo and myself decided to do a video for me. It was for a track called “I Like.” The video came out very well and it was getting a lot of attention on the Howard campus as well as the Internet and across the world. Over time, I contacted my friend in Australia. He loved the record and hustled his way into getting the song on the radio over there, which is a difficult thing to get an unsigned American to try. It turns out that he got it played on Australia Day, their biggest holiday. Now I’m the first unsigned American to get played in Australia, and on their “Independence Day” no less.

S: Do you see any gigs coming up in Australia soon? What about touring?

R: I’d love to go out there soon. They definitely have a good grasp on what hip-hop is like. They’re not up on “Ay Bay Bay” yet. They’re still interesting in the mid-90’s era style of it. I want to tour soon, but right now I’m working on a project with my dude Versityle from Songbook Ent (Trey Songz’s production company). We plan to make it with a really unique sound to attract new & old fans.

S: Is it going to be an LP?

R: I’m not particularly sure. Either an EP or LP. I definitely want it to be a full project. The majority would be done by Versityle. So far, the sound is very eclectic, yet it’s catchy. There’s a lot of musical influence to it. I just hope that people would enjoy it as much as we do creating it.

S: Why should people fuck with Redhead?
R: Because Redhead is just like you. Redhead is like every guy on the block. He’s not a thug but he knows about street things. He looks out for his people as well as himself. He’s doing it because he loves what he does and is all about individuality. You won’t see coonery coming out of that guy — none of that Pretty Ricky stuff. He’s a fan first before anything else — a guy for the people.

S: Any last words?

R: Big shout out to Versityle, HipHopDX.com, HU, and R.I.P. to Kwasi “Misfit” Jones. - Godsofmusic.com, HiphopDX.com


Discography

"It Is What It Is" [EP]
"Modern Nostalgia Vol. 1" [Mixtape]
"See You When I See You" [single-2005]
"I Like" [single-2007]

"Exxxactly" [Album - 2016]

Photos

Bio

Stephen Redhead is an emcee from Northwest Washington, D.C., raised in Capitol Heights, Maryland by parents from Grenada & Jamaica.

When Redhead was born, he was unable to speak a word until he was almost two years old. Despite this fact and quite possibly because of it, his parents and teachers recognized that he had an above-average intellect, and an unorthodox learning style. He skipped a grade, could spell words that were way beyond those which peers of his age could understand – early on everyone knew there was something special about him.

He gorged himself on the music of A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Cash Money Clique, DMX, Outkast, and many others, learning about melody, cadence, wordplay and the art of storytelling. For years, he rapped to himself in secret in an effort to keep his affair with Hip-Hop strictly casual. That all changed in mid-2002 when a then 17-year-old Redhead had a chance encounter with an A&R representative at an open mic event. That moment turned a casual affair into a full-on committed relationship, when the now-defunct MCA Records expressed substantial interest in signing the 17-year old. His parents didn’t allow him to enter the contract but to put it plainly – the game changed.

Since that point, Redhead has pursued his passion for Hip-Hop relentlessly. He has appeared on BET’s “Campus Invasion Tour,” performed at his alma mater Howard University delivering his brand of witty, buppy, backpacker floetics to the school’s 11,000 plus student population, rocked stages across the D.C., Maryland & Virginia areas. He has been featured in rap battles on two major D.C.-area stations –WKYS and WPGC in their “Friday Night Mic Fight.” Redhead has opened for acts such as the legendary Masta Ace, Wordsworth, Freestyle (of the Arsonists), Capone-N-Noreaga, Tiffany Evans, Sevyn Streeter, Gillie Da Kid, and Jaden & Willow Smith. He has branched out into acting, appearing in the webisodes of the CBS series Jericho as Past Richard Hawkins, and as an extra in the motion picture Notorious. The Maryland-rapper’s music has been also featured on the URB Magazine, Ebony Magazine and Washington City Paper websites, and in the acclaimed webseries The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

Redhead continues to stand out through his brilliant, book-smart, braggadocio, creatively self-directed video clips, and critically acclaimed live performances; he believes that his music will reach the top and stay there intact!

Keep looking for this young emcee as the road to success continues to rise up to meet him!

– Written by Niama Sandy