Breeding Ground Spotlight: Ellis

When you think of Baltimore Hip-Hop, an Artist with true lyrical content and delivery doesn’t come to mind; lyrical Artists are usually from New York or somewhere within that region. Ellis is defying the labels of Baltimore Hip-Hop with his witty and story-telling rhymes.  With his small team of about four, Ellis has been taking […]

When you think of Baltimore Hip-Hop, an Artist with true lyrical content and delivery doesn’t come to mind; lyrical Artists are usually from New York or somewhere within that region. Ellis is defying the labels of Baltimore Hip-Hop with his witty and story-telling rhymes.  With his small team of about four, Ellis has been taking the BMC Family to the next level; which includes great looks at shows in the New York area. With a determined drive to have his Team fulfill all of their goals, Baltimore’s newest Hip-Hop edition is clearly on the right path to making all of his dreams come true. How do you feel your lyrical sound will stay afloat in an industry with commercial music?

Ellis: I think it’ll take me far; some people say it’s lyrical and some say its music but it’s just me. I just speak from the heart and say what the music is telling me to say. I don’t sound like anyone else. Once I’m put in the forefront then ill shine, because I don’t sound like anyone else; it’s only one me. I don’t think it’s lyrical to where it gets boring – I think its lyrical to where it’s witty but at the same time its relateable; people can still relate to what im saying. Would that be because you’re telling a story?

Ellis: Yes – well yeah, some of them are actually stories. A story told in a different way to where it might not seem like that but yeah, a story – that’s what it is. Who are some of your musical influences?

Ellis: Nas, Pac, BIG, Wu Tang, The Dogg Pound, UGK, Scareface, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, AZ, The Lox, Mos Def, Common – all the greats (laughing). Tell me about your background and growing up in Baltimore and how you got into music.

Ellis: I have a Buddy of mine, named Legin and if you look at some of the production material on my albums, he does like 90% of it. He had been into beats since our Junior year of High School – being around him constantly is what got me into wanting to pursue it. He was constantly coming up with these crazy beats. Growing up in my household – my Mother and Father always had music playing so that’s how I got into music. Rather it be good or bad, they never censored what I could listen to or what I could watch on TV. Saturday mornings, my Mother would be cleaning the house listening to Patti Labelle, Michael Jackson, to George Clinton, and Earth Wind and Fire. Rap came later on but musically, I think that’s why people say I have a good ear for beats – it comes from an early age and listening to a lot of different music. How did it all come full circle for you to where you have established management to represent you and establishing your own label?

Ellis: We are trying to start our own label – everything will be put out independently through BMC. I’m trying to figure out if it would be more lucrative to go with a major label or keep it independent but get a solid distribution. But it’s come full circle starting with me and Legin actually putting out a demo called “Ellis & Legin Presents: The ESSENCE.” We recorded it in his bedroom with one pair of working headphones that was snapped in half (laughing) and you had to hold the earphone part together with both of your hands – it was crazy! So we put together a 13-track joint, from there, Toni who is my Manager,  we went to the same Junior College and were good friends every since but had been out of contact for a while and I found her through MySpace and she heard the music and I was just having fun with it, not looking to take it too far but she heard it and automatically gravitated towards it and went super hard as far as getting it out there. From that, we’ve just never looked back. BMC – what does that stand for?

Ellis: B-More Careful. It’s a book that a young lady from Baltimore wrote, called “B-More Careful”; a story of someone taking something looking real negative and turning it into something positive where she got her life together at the end of the book. The book was just inspiration – it is a little crazy out here and everyone needs to Be More Careful. With anything that you do, you want to be as careful as possible, especially in this industry. You’ve got to have your business together or you’ll get taken advantage of.

BMC is also a group; me, Stan Green & Legin. It’s not only a record label; it’s a music group as well. Have you experience any shady business within the industry thus far?

Ellis: Not really so much as to shady business – I’ve been lucky enough not to jump into anything without talking to Toni first or other people that I trust. One thing that I’ve learned is that nothing is free. I thought, coming into the game, that you just made some dope music and you were on!  And that’s not how it works. At the end of the day, you’ve got to have money. The people that shine, the people that you see on TV and the people making the most moves – they’ve got people behind them. I’ve had people come up to me, rather it be DJs or whatever and they’re like secret fans. They don’t want to come all the way out and show support because you haven’t put money in their pockets and the way the industry is, you’ve got to have a co-signer. Most people don’t even want to listen to you if people they don’t like hasn’t given the okay. How is your buzz and network in Baltimore with DJs and Fans? Are you performing and doing shows in Baltimore?

Ellis: We did a big show this Summer but Baltimore Hip-Hop scene is not a real big scene. A lot of the shows that I do & a lot of the looks that I get are shows in New York. I did the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival and that was big – I was the first dude from Baltimore to ever do that. I haven’t had a song in regular radio rotation but they have played a track or two. Without the support of radio, the Baltimore Hip Hop scene just isn’t much right now. There aren’t a lot of Open Mics or Talent Shows and that’s not how I started. I’ve never performed at a showcase or Open Mic – Toni opened doors and put me straight out to doing shows. I’ve been doing shows from the beginning so it’s kind of hard for me to progress back and do an Open Mic because you just don’t get the same feel from it. I’m definitely looking forward to doing SXSW this year – that should be crazy! Would you consider moving out of Baltimore to gain more exposure?

Ellis: Not move, but definitely do more traveling. I would tell any artist from Baltimore, “You’ve got to get out of here”. Moving is a big financial risk to take because you may move and not blow up but you got to travel and get your music out to people in other regions. I’m trying to be the greatest to ever do it, so my mind is already thinking globally. The internet is cool and you can touch a lot of people through the internet but its not like getting out there and meeting people; you got to get in the street. Even if you were signed, that’s still something that you would have to do. What was the process of putting together BLURAY E. LP and the outcome of it support wise?

Ellis: The support has been crazy but the process of putting it together – it was my first time working with DJ Redz and I just started writing songs for like four months. I had to teach myself the process of writing songs after hearing all of these instrumentals – I just kept recording and kept recording and finally just picked 16 of my favorite tracks and the response to it was crazy. We shot visuals for like 6 songs too and it contributed to the response. Its stuff on there for women, stuff on there for men, stuff on there that is lyrical and makes you think and all sorts of stuff. That’s what makes me most proud about the project is that I was able to touch a lot of different people with the music on one album. When people come up to me and talk to me about my music, it’s always a different response because it touches so many people different; everyone has their own favorite song. That shows me that I have versatility and that I am able to do this and now it’s time to perfect that to another level and that’s what me and Legin are doing with E.O.E. (Education of ELLIS). We’re making sure that when it comes out its better than the BLURAY E. LP If you had to have any of those musical influences mentioned to cosign, sign you and you work with exclusively, who would it be?

Ellis: He’s gone, Man – Pac! Other than Pac, I’d have to say Nas. He’s the one that really made me want to get into this. When I first saw “It ain’t hard to tell” video and listened to what he was really saying, I told myself that I had to learn how to do that. You mentioned that you want to be Independent but if you had a select a label that’s established right now, which direction would you want to go?

Ellis: I got to go YMCMB (Young Money Cash Money Billionaires) – might as well go with the winners! At the end of the day, I think GOOD Music (Kanye West’s label) would be a better fit for me. But Cash Money has the marketing dollars to push a project – artists don’t get recognized these days because they don’t have that type of backing. But after that, its on to the music – how far can your music take you after that? And I feel that my music will get the job done, its just a matter of getting the music to the masses and I think hands down that they do a great job with getting the music out. But as far as where I should sign to for musical content and where I fit, I would say GOOD Music because they fit with more of what I do. BUT if I had a choice, it would be YMCMB. Where did the BLURAY-E title come from?

Ellis: Blu ray is the highest form of definition and following my demo The ESSENCE the next music released was me in higher definition. It’s me getting better and is the new & improved ELLIS!