Internet Secrets: An Interview With MC White Owl

Bird Of Prey

It’s usually that moment when you unexpectedly find something you have no idea what it could be, but you’re fascinated. It happens time and time again when you aren’t scanning for something in particular and when it hits though, it’s like magic. Music platforms have been able to do more than allow listeners to find new music they wouldn’t normally have access to, but they’ve also turned into these social sites that allow one to communicate directly with someone. It’s happened to me time and time again and I’m grateful for it. This time it’s no different with MC White Owl’s powerful voice and delivery seething through my headphones. It begged the question, “What the fuck is this?” I’ve heard the name in passing but I wasn’t familiar with the artist himself. All that’s changed. After a few exchanges on the web, I learned a lot more about the artist and how small this world is considering we’ve traveled in some of the same circles. He recently released a new album Born Yesterday (Straight Dope) with production by FATCATHAYZE156, Fred Ones, and Statik Selektah just to name a few. The album itself is filled with 14 banging tracks that never let up. White Owl took some time to give an in-depth look at his life.

What’s poppin’ Owl?

Blessings and Hip-Hop Salute. Thanks for having me. Right now I’m listening to the oldies and I’m about to dig in and give you the best answers I can.

Who are you really?

I’m Aaron, also known as White Owl
I’m a Father, a Son, a Husband and a Human Being.
I’m a peaceful, multi-dimensional soul.
I’m a Disc Jockey, an Emcee, and a writer from New York.
I’m a creator and a builder.
I’m a music lover & a sample addict with a deep knowledge of music from the 1960’s forward.
I love Hip-Hop, oldies, soul, reggae, dancehall, lover’s rock, funk & jug-band.
But most important I’ma  Hip-Hop lover to the Nth Degree.

I was and will always be DJ White owl, but with that stated I say:
Rest in Paradise to DJ White Owl from the “White Owl Drop That” Tape series. I met him right before he passed & I hope he’s in paradise. I’m a student and a teacher and I NEVER stop asking Questions and I’m always expecting the answers. I’m also a member of the supergroup Certain.Ones. We Are a 13 person crew of Emcees, DJs and Producers, led by producer/emcee/Engineer Bobby Craves, and we teamed together in 2014. Certain.Ones release a new track every week. The dedication and consistency are mind-blowing for me. Keeps my pen game on point.

What are your aspirations?

I aspire to live a life that allows me to have Peace of Mind while continuing to do what I love.
I’m a family man and my wife, son and daughter are the most important things in the world to me.
I aspire To Create and ONLY CREATE out of the Need to Inspire myself and others.
I try to make music that celebrates life and my existence.
I love making Hip-Hop. It clears the mind and brings clarity. It’s a very rewarding experience On so many levels.
I’m a hard worker and I try to do everything that I can to keep the Flame Burning.
I like to continue releasing records in all formats (vinyl, CD & digital) and be able to tour the world and perform and get paid to do what I love.
I do understand it’s possible nowadays to be heard by a Much larger audience, even though I don’t have a major label deal.
The playing field has been leveled and the Music an Help spread the message.
I’m actively seeking a distributor that hears and understands my vision.
But most important, and on the simplest level, I aspire to spread love and intelligence and the truth as I know it.
I aspire to get to the point that I can support my family while still doing what I love.
I need to see my team win.

I work with a large group of amazing, creative and beautiful people and I feel that a lot of us are ready to take the next step toward full-time music careers.

Shouts to TME & Guerrilla Grooves Radio, DJ Fred Ones, Rhinoceros Funk, L.I.F.E. Long, Akbar, Yahzeed, Indiana Miggz, Olise Forel, Sun Bronx, FatcatHayze156 & everyone that’s a part of TME & Guerrilla Grooves Radio (every Tuesday from 7 pm to 10 pm on Guerrilla Grooves Radio.)

Shouts to Certain.Ones and the entire music family that helps me, including but not limited to

Bobby Craves, Serge Boogie, Wann Sklobi, Mook Neto, VerseS, Mort x Grim, The Wiz, DZL, Stress, Puma Simone, Champ The Poet, Reign MFN Supreme, Fortified Live & Bruno Beatz.

 

Where do you currently live? 

I live in Rockland County, New York.  I create all of my music at home in Rockland or in the Bronx at TME Studios.

I work my 8-6 in Harlem, New York helping to restore brownstone Buildings.

When did you first begin recording and playing live?

My first time ever performing out as a DJ was 1991. I was 15 years old and known as DJ Cool Aar, which I should never admit. it was 9th-grade school dance at Woodlands High School in Westchester. (Shouts to Woodlands Class Of 1994.)  After that night I knew I had to spin anywhere I could. I did all sorts of small jobs which of course included BBQ’s, Sweeet 16’s, house parties, and the occasional old folks home.  Looking back at those gigs, they weren’t “jobs” because I never charged money. I love music and I guess I always needed to try and turn people on to new music.

My High School had a great program called WISE (Woodlands Senior Internship Program) and I was an intern at Wild Pitch Records from September 1993 – June 1994. I learned a lot and it helped to really spark my interest in the music business. I went to college at SUNY Binghamton and I was on the radio there 90.5 WHRW from 1994 – 1998My friend Dale Blackwood – he was the WHRW music director from 1996 – 1997 and he took me to the Gavin Convention in Atlanta in ’96. That was an amazing experience that opened my eyes to the industry. It made me feel that I could compete with major artists because I met a lot of my heroes and they had their guard down. The artists I met at Gavin were there to meet industry heads and they were so calm and approachable.

Before that experience, I had only met artists out at night and they were always working. From there I started DJing at college parties and through the “SUNY Circuit.” That led to some random jobs in NYC clubs, and then that led to weekly jobs. my first official record was made in Brooklyn back in 1996 at Freshco’s studios. Shout out to Freschco & DJ Miz. After that, I spent a couple years working as a “Dat and dub transfer tech” at a recording studio in Chelsea and I learned a basic knowledge of engineering. I used the studio time I had to create demos and those demos helped me land a Reprise Records deal in 2000 with the group Bad Ronald. My first major release was 2001.

 

Why aren’t more people familiar with your work?

First of all, I haven’t toured the country nearly enough. when I was 22 – 27 years old, if I knew what I now know, I would have at least tried to tour the USA & Canada a couple of times over. I didn’t realize the importance of being in front of crowds. I don’t really like traveling and the 2 tours that I was a part of were bad experiences. I was opening up for Rock & Roll groups and it just didn’t work out well.

Perhaps more telling, I’ve only released 2 solo albums and 2 group albums in my career. I just dropped my second full-length LP on vinyl called Born Yesterday, which is in stock at FatBeats and HHV.I spent a couple of years on the project and it’s my Magnum Opus. I pressed 257 copies of a 12″ green Vinyl that includes 3D art and 3D Glasses.

Bad Ronald, I was a part of from 2000 – 2001. I put out a commercial record, kind of tongue-in-cheek, that was an epic fail and to me, an absolutely agonizing experience. The project was created by a bunch of young men, just looking to take money from a record label that I absolutely hated. It really broke my heart. The crop consisted of 2 strangers, me and my old friend from high school. it was a bizarre experience but I can at least say that I had a major label release, toured the USA for a month and failed on MTV’s TRL. I used the money to support myself for a year so that was a win.

I didn’t put out another solo album until 2013. That album, Higher Intelligence, rekindled the flame for me. Since 2013 I haven’t stopped recording. I spend hours & hours a week writing and sampling and I believe that some of my music is destined to make it to the masses. Thanks to XM Radio and DJ’s like Eclipse, Riz, Statik Selektah & Fred Ones, some of my music has had a chance to be heard.

How would you describe your sound and/or the genre it exists in/out of? 

My style is like Chinese Food with cheese. I’m an old school lyricist and I love to spit.  I will Rhyme anywhere and anytime and I feel that the best reactions I receive are when I spit acapella to strangers on the streets of NYC. Look a stranger in the eye and start Rhyming.  When they stop and stay and listen and give you their time, You win Every time.  Most Emcees will never do this. My sound Is The Sound Of Hip-Hop Music From New York.  Everything I say and Do is A Salute To The Inventors and The The Fathers of Hip-Hop. So to understand what I do, you would need to know Hip-Hop from New York.  Then factor in that I’m a music lover and nerd that was born in 1976, and you can see where my style and persona came from. 

White Owl is a character but he’s me.

I’m anti-gun, anti-violence and I try to only rhyme about what I know.  Some of my material is just straight wordplay over sampled beats. A lot of my songs are dealing with various human experiences and they are open to interpretation. Check out my song with FatCatHayze156 called “ Credit.” It’s about the Corrupt banks and the comparison to modern day slavery.  These lyrics are pun-laden and take a lot of time to write. My new song “Pearly Gates, “ produces by DJ Bombeardo, is just me telling the story of a painful period of my life.  I just lost my mother to pancreatic cancer. She was one of my best friends and she was gone in 90 days. I’m trying to deal with that as best as possible, while still creating.

My influences of course are:

KRS-ONE, BDP, GangStarr, GURU R.I.P.,  Rakim, Nas, Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest, Native Tongues, Phife Dawg R.I.P., De La Soul, Redman, Chuck D. & Public Enemy,  Masta Ace, EPMD, Three Times Dope, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, etc. 

I try to incorporate life lessons and current events into what I do.  I try to share my innermost mind within the rhymes. Hip-Hop is a multi-disciplinary lifestyled existence and the celebration of Language and Knowledge. I make sample based Hip-Hop, and my big influences are every Hip-Hop record that I owned or heard and absorbed. Last but not least, because it should be said first,

Blessings to all of the Legends, DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Caz, DJ Red Alert, DJ Chuck Chillout, and all of Hip-Hop’s creators and innovators.

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