The Underground Experience Feature 11-30-022 Suhthescholar



This months artist is disciplined enough to put her science on the game lets check out…… Suhthescholar


Mistajay:  What is the story and conception behind your artist name?


Suhthescholar: For a long time I just went by the first half of my name, "Suh." To me that was the only thing that made sense. I didn't want a moniker because I don't rap with any persona. I'm not like Earl Simmons rapping as DMX or Dumile rapping as MF DOOM - Rest in Beats to both the greats -  I'm myself rapping as myself. But as I delved deeper into my own craft, I became more and more attached to the idea of a legacy as a scholar. I've spent a lot of time in STEM academia and a lot of time studying revolutionary theory and history, but I mean more so a scholar in the way I interact with the world: always taking lessons from unlikely places. 


Mistajay: What area are you reppin? What is the music scene like there?


Suhthescholar: I rep NC proudly. I grew up in Winston-Salem and have been in Raleigh for about a decade. The music scene here is incredible. Of course there's some bullshit because there's always some bullshit, but overall it is incredibly supportive and community-based. I was blessed to come across the Cypher University cypher that meets every Monday at the graffiti tunnel on NC State campus. That's where I learned to freestyle and find my voice as an emcee. I have to shout out Eternal the MC who has been an incredible mentor to me. As I've gotten more and more into freestyling at cyphers, it's become therapy to me. An essential form of expressing myself. The people in that circle know more about me than anyone else in my life. It's the only place I can speak with absolutely no filter whatsoever. Something takes over and you just flow directly from the soul. 


Mistajay: You took influence from those that combine the personal and political as teachers, such as KRS One and Lupe Fiasco, as well as those versed in freestyle and battle rap, such as Loaded Lux and Papoose. What are your other overall influences for your music? And what inspires you?


Suhthescholar: My own experiences as an Asian woman in a deeply sick colonial-capitalist society inform the way I spit and what I choose to discuss. I pull from revolutionary scholars such as Franz Fanon as well, and revolutionary movements such as the Black Panthers, The Zapatistas, Palestianian freedom fighters, and FRELIMO, among many others. What inspires me is hip-hop as a form of self-expression that transforms the personal into the universal, and the art of freestyling as a form of self-expression completely unfettered by societal filters and norms.  



Mistajay: How do you describe your style of music?


Suhthescholar: My style of rapping is very much boom bap. I can rap on anything but I love that golden era boom bap shit; it's just so profoundly amazing to me. People always tell me I have an NYC flow when they hear me, but I don't hear it. I think it's maybe because I usually have an aggressive flow. I definitely listen to a lot of NYC emcees: KRS-One, Papoose, DMX, the LOX... so maybe that's influenced my style. But I rep NC proudly and have always thought I sounded Southern when I speak. 


Mistajay: You are currently working on your first mixtape. What is your best song recorded to date and why?


Suhthescholar: For sure it's this joint called "On Me" produced by Kevo Got Beats. It's so deeply personal and honest, and that's why I consider it my best work, even though it isn't the most technically impressive or anything. 



Mistajay: You can be found every Monday at the graffiti tunnel with her Raleigh cypher fam, as well as occasionally in Chicago, the DMV, and NYC. If you could work with any 3 artists or bands who are still around and touring, who would they be and why?


Suhthescholar: KRS ONE is number one for sure. That man to me is the endall-beall, an emcee's emcee, such a humble teacher but such an unparalleled spitter. I got to spit a 16 on stage with him at one of his shows, but to sit down and make a track with him would be a dream come true. Second would probably be Lupe Fiasco. His storytelling and metaphors are just insane. The first time I ever heard Mural, I literally turned off my stereo after. I couldn't listen to anything after that because nothing could top it. Third would probably be Remy Ma. I love everything about Rem: that's Big Pun's protege and she's incredible; I would love to meet with her and do a joint with Hip-Hop's First lady. 


Mistajay: by trade a biomedical engineer and stem cell scientist, she finds herself self-expressing through hip-hop Please describe how you made this opportunity happen and what it has meant to you.


Suhthescholar: I've always been a poet and I've always loved hip-hop music, so one day my words just started jumping off the page. It's an unrivaled form of self-expression. At first, when I wasn't that dope yet, I had to pick whether I was going to either filter my words or stay on beat. I wanted to sound dope with it, so I always picked staying on beat. In that way, cyphers were the only place I spoke my truth unfiltered - because in day to day life, it's hard for me to open up. That's why my Cypher U folks - Eternal, Jru, Twiz, Champs, Toni, Kay, etc. - they're like my literal family. 


Mistajay: Being a 3x published poet and a martial artist with a black belt in Taekwondo and brown belt in Hapkido; she considers all of these elements of your hip-hop practice. Please explain further how that is part of craft and discipline? 


Suhthescholar: Martial arts are just what their name entails: arts. I've done Taekwondo since I was a kid - used to travel around the country doing elite sparring competitions. I took up Hapkido a couple years ago. Doing martial arts puts you in a very similar mindstate to freestyling - a state of "flow" where you're only focused on what you are creating and your mind, body, and soul feel perfectly in sync. That's why I consider my martial artistry part of my musical practice. 


Mistajay: A lot of artists/producers come into the game with a lot of ambition but don’t spend time learning the business side. How important to you is learning about publishing and royalties?


Suhthescholar: It honestly didn't occur to me very much until I saw Little Brother - NC Legends by the way; I think Minstrel Show is one of the best albums ever - say that they haven't been getting paid off their spins for the past, like, decades. They fixed their situation and are under their own management now thankfully, but I've seen more and more stuff like that. And everyone I've ever looked up to says the industry is just full of snakes. There was a lot of that in DMX's autobiography that I read recently too. So yeah, it's definitely important to me. But I also recognize I'm never going to blow up because of my style of rapping and my subject manner. I'm not an industry rapper and that's fine. I don't want to be famous.  


Mistajay: Where do you see the music going in 2022? How do you see yourself fitting into that?


Suhthescholar: I see NC blowing up really soon. We had J. Cole go crazy out of Fayetteville, and of course we have NC legends like 9th Wonder and Rapsody, but I don't think we've had someone really blow all the way up from Raleigh. Some of the people I know are insanely talented and working crazy hard. Someone from the 919 is gonna blow really soon. I'm just happy to be around to witness it. 



Mistajay: How has covid 19 situation affected your plans as related to music?


Suhthescholar: To be honest, it hasn't affected me much because I'm not a performer and until this year, not a recording artist. Honestly, all I really do is spit at cyphers... and there will always be cyphers. But some of my friends who do music full-time, I know it's been devastating for them. 




Mistajay: What are your other future plans?.


Suhthescholar: I'm working on my debut project right now and it's really something special I can't wait to share with the world. I'm aiming to release it on 2/22/23. I'm also teaching myself how to mix and master. Maybe I'll eventually try my hand at beatmaking and producing. I'm the type of person who's so particular about my shit. It's always been appealing to me, the concept of making music that no one but me touches from beginning to end. Also - I'm in a PhD program for stem cell science, essentially trying to build functional heart tissue from a specific type of stem cells. I'm really gunning to defend my doctorate and get my Ph.D. by next year, and I think I'm on track to do that by the end of 2023.



Mistajay: where can people find your music?


Suhthescholar: I'm on all streaming platforms as "Suh the Scholar" - at the moment there's just one freestyle on there but I'm working on my debut project at the moment as I said.  I don't really record myself freestyling at cyphers but when others do, sometimes I post the clips on my IG: @suhthescholar. 


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