For all those that don't have the slightest idea of who I am, my name is Full Nelson. I was born and have been raised in the concrete jungle called New York City. I have been writing songs for over 20 years and the time has come for Full Nelson to stand up.
OK, so your real name is Nelson, but what does the name Full Nelson mean to you? I relate it to the wresting hold and perhaps you have other MCs tied up?
The whole Full Nelson concept comes from the evolution of Nelson as an artist. Having been involved in the culture for such a long time, I have gone thru the maturing of an artist stage. I have had many different names in the past, TNT, Nelly Nel, Mc Nel, Papa Nel and finally Full Nelson. I truly feel that this is my Zenith. Mentally I'm where I'm supposed to be right now.
How did you first get in to Hip Hop? Back then, what were the sounds that you first heard, or who influenced you directly?
I got into Hip-Hop by just being in New York City at time it hit the streets and identifying with the individuals involved. Latinos and African Americans were holding it down heavy, baby. For me it was the path. Man I remember listening to Planet Rock by Africa Bambatta and the Soul Sonic Force on summer afternoons with like 40 of my boys just hanging on the block. There were many others, I'm old school baby.
Can you tell us a bit about where you are from, which part of New York is that?
I was born in the Bronx but grew up in Astoria Queens about 20 minutes from Manhattan.
What was it like when you were growing up, which jams and club nights would you go to and which DJs and shows would you listen to on the radio?
Back in the days, I was about 13 or 14 years old My peeps and I would go Downtown to 42 street and buy fake ID's for about $8.00. This ID would ensure us getting into the club. Roseland, Latin Quarters, Red Parrot, Studio 54 man we hit em all. Now they catch you with fake ID's you go to jail.
And what are the main record shops you'd go to, to pick up wax?
I really have never been a big record purchaser. If I had the need to buy a record I'd go the local mom and pop store. It was about 3 blocks away from my house. I bought my first record at that shop.
You call yourself a New Yorican. What does that actually mean? Are you parents from Puerto Rico, but you were born in New York?
For the record I don't call myself a New-Yorican in fact I'm a Dominican-York. This arrives from the fact that I was born in New York to pure Dominican blood because both of my parents are Dominicans. For those of you who need to get away I'ma plug the Dominican Republic. Go soak in the sun and swim in crystal clear waters. Eat drink and dance till you can't no more. I love that place man.
Who are your crew and who else, if anyone, are they are associated with? How did you get together?
I don't run a crew. I got something like a union going on here. I got mechanics and laborers who get down and dirty behind the scenes keeping the production tight. I'm the Shop Steward who keeps everything on point. I then also have a few associates whom I conference with in times of critical decision making. That's how I do my thing.
Are there any other producers or MCs in your union to look out for?
Well here it is. Dj Sel is my Dj and Producer. I have been down with Sel for over 15 years. He's old school too, the man got skills. Mr. Rick from the 210 Inc. That boy got some shit partner. He Produces Full Nelson Music product and that boy is tight too. Dj Snips and the Snips Lab. This man got crazy hot talent. We work well together and the proof is in the pudding. Then there's Domingo. He's a very talented Producer. It's definitely a great honor to work with him. Specially when you look at that mans resume.
When would it have been that you first stepped up and started participating in Hip Hop, rather than just listening or spectating?
I started to openly participate in Hip-Hop at the age of 12. I was a member of a break-dance group called, Rockin Non Stop. We'd find linoleum carpets or big pieces of cardboard and dance on the busiest corner of the neighborhood. The last stop of the RR train, which is currently the N train.
What do you tend to write about and what inspires you?
I'm inspired by social events. By the realities of life. Situations that deal with the have and have nots. I'm fascinated by how this world works. How injustices go unnoticed by the world and how things that really should mean something somehow slip thru the cracks and become unimportant. Living in the Capital of the world all my life I've been conditioned by society's poison. That's just how it is baby.
Mostly you seem to rap in Spanish, sometimes in English, and often switching between the two languages in the same sentence, is this how you would speak in real life?
I speak Spanglish with people I know will understand. The truth is most Latinos speak Spanglish. English as a second language can do that to a brother. But don't sleep, I'm about 16 credits away from a Bachelors Degree with a major in Political Science and I carry a 3.7 G.P.A. Now that's Gangsta.
So we heard about the language, but can you explain your style to us?
My lyrical style is unique. I don't try to sound similar to anyone. I mean brother I've been writing rhymes for too long for me to try to sound like anyone in the game. While many have come and gone Full Nelson has been patiently getting himself ready on the fan stand. Now I put it down with official Hip-Hop. Catch this angle. The Music Industry cannot dictate what Hip-Hop really means. No matter how many rappers / puppets they put out Hip-Hop will not change. I'm Hip-Hop. No matter what the Industry has tried to portray thru out the years by putting characters in the place of true soldiers. Many names have come and gone I'm still here. You know why? Cuz I'm Hip-Hop baby. I'm not a character I'm a MF who spits the real.
Who or what are your main influences? I understand that you rate some older school artists such as Run-DMC and Rakim, is it these artists that you most look up to or do you have influences outside Hip Hop?
I'm influenced by my daughter. Her name is Ciarra Nina. I have to make it happen for my little girl's sake, my man. There really isn't anything else I see myself doing for next 10 years. Besides man that's where the money's at. The way I see it, I've been on the fan stand for so long why quit now. I've put a shit load of work into my career and I'll be damned if I don't go Platinum one day. I don't quit baby.
Can you tell us about your recording career so far? Has it just been a case of recording demos and building to your album, or have you had a load of records out before?
I had a record Deal back in 1995 with Fever Records based out of NYC. Fever was a Rush Associated Label, a subdivision of Def Jam. That shit was supposed to be big baby then the project got shelved. You wanna talk about depression and just having that I don't give a Fuck attitude, brother I carried it for the next 3 years. That was right about the same time I and Max Erickson my partner decided to form Latinos Ain't Having It Entertainment. So duke I've been thru the emotions and I'm still here so watch out.
So now you have your LP ready to roll. Was there a concept behind your album? Can you tell us a bit about each/some of the tracks on your LP, what they are about, what effects, moods or messages you were trying to create/pass on?
The best way to describe my album for those that haven't heard is to describe it as a documentary of my lifetime experiences in NYC. I have songs like "Pura Candela" which deals with social heat brought upon the youth by society in NYC. The drugs, bad decision making during scenarios where one fuck up will cost you your life, and the consequences of ones actions. No matter what I rap about I always try to keep the same pattern. I always tend to wrap it up towards the ending of most my songs. Music has to have meaning. "Ten Cuidado" or "Be Carefull" is basically a call to all the street pharmaceutical agents to be on their toes. The hand of the law is stretching further and further into the hood, it's snatching everybody up.
What plans do you have to get the album out there? Are you looking to sign to a label, or are you going to try and put it out yourself?
I'm currently trying to get a British Company involved in our organization. We are interested in spreading these tunes as far as possible. We know that it will be appreciated by true Hip-Hop headz. Yo for all you Big Willys sitting around wit connects in your pocket, pull out and give us a call. Holla.
How do you feel you are positioned within the marketplace and is that through your wishes or with different circumstances, would you do it differently?
Man you know I feel real comfortable being in the position I currently find myself in. I have just about total control of the direction of my career. I decide what, where, how, when and with who. For an Artist that becomes a very important responsibility. My support staff are very much on point and roll with the punches. You know man I'm a workaholic. When I'm on a mission I'm on a mission. There's no stopping this Full Train. Besides that I get first hand feedback on what I'm doing, so far the response from all over the world has been off the hook. It's a lot of work man but some times you gotta do what you gotta do. That's life amigo.
How do you view the Internet? Do you think it is a useful promotional tool and a good way of getting out there and breaking the strangle hold the major labels have on the marketplace, or are there too many idiots too willing to spout a load of rubbish with no control over them?
As far as the internet is concerned. This is truly a bible of life. You can use the internet and find anything you want from this world at a touch of a key. That's Fuckin big baby. I use the internet daily and if I don't I feign for the shit. As I told you before I love networking. Who can help me and how can I help them. When you bring good stuff to the table very few will deny your access. I've gotten in touch with people from all over the world using the internet and I would recommend it to those who don't know about this. Besides man this world is a different world from the one 20 years ago. You have to know something about computers and the internet. It will become a necessity to be computer literate.
Do you have any plans to get your own online presence?
I'm currently developing a website for now I use my email account to handle my business. Let this be a tip to all you potential MC's who want to take control of your future. If you don't have a website improvise. Use an e-mail account and contact anyone that pops into your screen that you think is involved in what ever it is that your doing. Trust me baby it works.
What are the disadvantages and benefits of coming out of New York, an area where there must be more crews trying to break out than anywhere else? It has to be like a whole loads of crabs in a barrel doesn't it?
Hip Hop is massive now, how do you see Hip Hop at present and the direction you see it going in?
Listen man Hip-Hop will live forever. I bet you a British Pound that there will be 50 year old rappers doing their thing in another 20 years. Just like the Rolling Stones who till this day go around the world blazing arenas, so will legendary Hip-Hop groups do the same.
Would you consider doing a full English version of your album? I don't speak Spanish and although I could get the feeling and follow the flow of the tracks I obviously preferred the English ones…
I plan on dropping 1 more Full Spanish Album which I have already recorded and then the 3rd album which is 75% complete will be more English than Spanish which pushes me the 4th Album. We're probably talking about by January 2004. I mean keep in mind I've been writing for over 20 years and I'd say about 19 years have been English songs. I got some heat in English Bro.
Do you have any advice for struggling artists in the UK?
My advice to any struggling artist is to sit down and loose any extra baggage you are currently dragging around with. Then you surround yourself with people that have the same ambitions and goals that you have set for yourself, this will enable you to have a support system in place. You gotta have a plan. Learn the business, buy books speak to people in the game. Definitely network yourself don't be embarrassed to approach someone and start conversation if you think they can help you. There's many things that need to be done. The last 2 would have to be, record meaningful songs and get online and contact people that are associated with the business.
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
My schedule for next few months is pretty booked. I'll be going to Chile, Spain, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Canada and Panama. That's without counting the domestic flights I'll be on within the USA. It's gonna be an interesting next few months. Who knows I might just stop by and visit my peoples in England.
What are your longer-term plans and objectives for you both as an artist and as a record label?
My long term plans are many but just to spit out a few, filmmaking, clothing line, nightclubs and radio station.
Oh, so just some small time stuff then, haha. What are the things that you like to do when you aren't living Hip Hop? Do you like sports or the Cinema?
When I'm not doing this Hip-Hop task I'm just chillin reading books and playing with my daughter. That's my inspiration and motivation to push as hard as possible. So this means that even when I'm away from work I'm really not. Feel Me?
Yeah work never stops! I ask everyone about politics, because I think it is important that we have knowledge of what is going on, but some current Hip Hop heads decline to answer. I guess they don't want to upset anyone. Do you have anything to say on that? Any issues you think people need to open their eyes too?
You know the world is a very complicated place at the current moment. It's really scary man to see how a few control the outcome of many. I mean things are getting very ugly and the only way to pull the emergency brake is to get in and vote during election time. Many in the hood fail to recognize the importance of placing that ballot. The Middle East crisis is off the meters, I feel sorry for the people of Palestine. I don't agree with the current American Administrations position on dealing with global issues but I've come to realize that there isn't anything we can do to slow down this administration's will to create war. 9/11 will never be forgotten and that's real but what are the Americans doing to payback this terrible harm done? Bombing Iraq. That's not the answer. Go after Osama Bin Laden he took responsibility for those actions why go after Iraq? OIL maybe I don't know. My man the truth is we can sit and discuss politics for a few hours if need be but lets move on. If you ever need an artistic political point of view for a show or something like that call me I will contribute a great deal.
If you could change something about society, what would it be and why?
I wouldn't change anything in society. I guess I would just like to have all secrets of the world. To know those things that would make life easier.
Do you think that America could become officially bi-lingual anytime soon? In California, near the Mexican boarder and where you live too I guess, it is possible that Spanish speakers outnumber those who speak English
USA will become 50% Latino within the next 25 years. That's a fact. We are the future of the United States of America.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Thank You for your time and for the interview. A super shout out to all holding me down, LAH Entertainment, 210 Inc. Eurostudio17, and everybody who supports the Full Nelson efforts.
Fit all your shout outs and thanks here:
To anybody who got moves Holla baby [email protected]. Coming soon FULLNELSONMUSIC.COM stay posted.
Thank you very much for your time. Judging from what I have heard from you I'm sure if you play it right there are big things in store...