If you thought you were going to get through this week without meeting a Serbian hip hop artist, you were so very wrong. Serbia-born, but calling Brooklyn home now Def Manic comes to us this week to talk about the rhyme scene overseas, and the surprising fact that his native land isn’t lacking in the emcee department. On top of that, we chatted about his latest EP, the NBA and more!
Kendra: Living in Brooklyn now, do you think you’d be where you are with your career if you were still living in Serbia?
Def Manic: To be honest, probably not. I’m better at rhyming in English then I am in Serbian plus the diversity of hip hop is so much greater over here. I’m not afraid to try and make music that has influences from a range of different genres so I’m not sure I’d have that freedom if I stayed there since their hip hop follows the traditional. But honestly who knows, maybe I could have been huge there.
Kendra: Is there a hip hop scene there?
Def Manic: There’s definitely a huge hip hop scene over there – Serbians can rap man. My fave artists are Beogradski Sindikat or Marcelo. The good rappers are usually very raw and speak about the realest shit, especially politics/corruption.
Kendra: If not, would you ever consider moving back for x-amount of time to build it up?
Def Manic: I probably wouldn’t move back till I’m a lot older and more established. I feel more of a sense of experimentation with my words and style over here right now and I’m drawing a lot of influences from other US artists.
Kendra: Do you ever allude to your Serbian roots in your music?
Def Manic: Definitely. I’ve had songs about my experiences during the war, being a Serbian immigrant and etc. The only thing I haven’t done in a song yet is spit a few lines in Serbian, but I’m planning to do that for my next project/songs!
Kendra: When it comes to your sound, what makes you lean more towards the experimental side of hip hop?
Def Manic: I would say my own curiosity and discovery of new genres that I love have influenced my sound a lot. Like right now I’m super into Vaporwave and Indie Electronic/Dance so expect a lot of these kinds of sounds in my upcoming project. I always thought it would be dope having hip hop mixed with these genres so I’m really pushing myself.
Kendra: Along with music, you have a little love for basketball. So if the NBA approached you to use a song from your Extrovert EP for one of their teams, which song and which team would it be and why?
Def Manic: Great question – I would love to hear “Still Don’t Understand” or “Lotus Flower” drop during the game/halftime since the beats are so hype. I’m a Heat fan so any of their games but probably if they play against the Warriors at the Oracle Arena since their sound system is insane. Plus it’ll be dope seeing Curry dance to my shit.
Kendra: Broadening just a bit to get your take. I read Chance the Rapper turned down something like $10 million to stay indie. Do you think that was wise and a true testament to how well one can do on their own as an artist these days?
Def Manic: 100%. Artists don’t need a huge label controlling everything they put out/want to put out. He established his own fan base so he is his own boss and has complete musical freedom which we all want to achieve one day. My advice to artists would be to get a distribution machine behind you that will get your music to the right audiences, but they don’t need to own any of your masters.
Kendra: Lastly, what’s in store for you the rest of the year?
Def Manic: I’m currently in the recording process for my next project. I have a mini 3 track EP I want to put out which is all self-produced here in Brooklyn and then I have another main EP (probably 10 tracks) that I want to release shortly after. Plus plenty of free tracks in the meantime since it’s been a little while.