Autumn LaBella Talks “Neo-Hip Hop,” Almost Not Releasing Her Music & Being Yourself


autumnlabellaYou may or may not know of this young, talented artist or her self-invented genre of “neo-hip hop.” But I can guarantee you that you’ll wish you hadn’t been missing out on the sounds of Autumn LaBella after hearing what she can do on the mic.

After releasing two phenomenal projects within a six-month period, it is apparent that this singer/rapper is a budding talent ready for widespread exposure. Lucky for us, Miss LaBella agreed to talk with The Speakeasy and give us a little insight on her music and fresh career. So without further ado, the one and only Autumn LaBella:

Q: Why don’t you introduce yourself to the readers?
A: “I’m Autumn LaBella and I’m a neo-hip hop artist coming from the DMV, but I’m also representing Brooklyn, New York. Like I said, neo-hip hop is kind of the genre I made up to represent my music and what I stand for. I’m trying to bring back the era and incorporate it with the current one and keep everyone on the same page as far as good music. That’s who I am.”

Q: Cool, I like that – creating your own sound. Who would you say are your biggest musical inspirations?
A: “Man [Laughs]! That’s a long list! Female-wise, of course all the old emcees, Rah Diggah, Lauryn Hill – regarding my rap style of course – Eve, a lot of stuff like that. Singing-wise, Erykah Badu, he’s not a woman [Laughs] Lil Wayne, but as a man he’s one of the males I grew up listening to a lot, so he played a key role [in my inspiration], too. Definitely 50, Biggie…For real, a lot of old school funk, to be honest, like Earth, Wind & Fire, Funkadelic, Parliament. A big mix, not so much individuals, but a lot of genres influenced me.”

Q: Now that influenced you, but was there something specific that got you into music and the hip hop and R&B scene and made you want to become an artist?
A: “Yes! Because, actually, I wasn’t going to release Reign Check [Laughs]. I wanted to keep that to myself, but it was really my friends I had sat down with who I now I actually work with – we’re able to get an opportunity to work alongside [each other] – and I had sung “Re-Construction” for them and everybody was like, “Autumn…” [Laughs]! “You gotta’ do something with this, you can’t just let it ride.” So they convinced me to put together the tape and actually make it public, because it was going to stay on my iTunes for real [Laughs].”

Q: Well you got to thank them for me because I really like that album! In your music, you emcee and sing. Do you prefer to do one over the other?
A: “No, they just come together. Some songs…they just both come out when they want to. Some things I just think are better delivered when they’re sung and some things I think are better delivered when I rap. So when I’m listening to a beat, it’s up to whatever I feel when I hear the beat. I don’t really have a preference. Some songs I hear the beat and I’m like, oh, I’m rapping on this one [Laughs]! I’m gonna’ rip this! Then the next song if it’s another beat, I’ll throw a hook on the beat with a song on it, so it’s really the beat and how I feel when I hear the beat and what’s going on when I hear the beat and if I’m feeling like rapping or singing, that’s what’s going to come out.”

Q: Just a quick question because you already went into Reign Check, but what was the reason behind spelling it the way you did?
A: “I had actually come up with the title about a week and a half before I dropped it because I didn’t want to just put out an anything tape, I definitely wanted to have something with substance. I just took a while to make a tape name, as I did for True Colors also. Reign Check came from me referring back to the time when music was just good. I know when I have my Pandora station in the morning set to the “Let’s Get Away” station by T.I., like I’m in the morning jamming and I feel I can’t jam to music anymore. People are making music, but it’s no where near comparable to the greats that were making music in the 90s and the 60s. So it was just a reign check for everybody, so you want to do your music thing that’s fine, but you have to have a passion and talent. I feel like nowadays it’s always a dream to have to get it in this industry. Right now, I feel the people who have the connects don’t have the talent and the people who have the talent and passion don’t have the connects.

Q: Yeah, that’s true. Have you seen any reviews of Reign Check?
A: Reign Check got a lot of good reviews and a lot of people were thinking it was more of a statement that yes, Autumn can rap and sing. Reign Check was my baby project so I didn’t expect it to be as big as it was, but it did have a lot of good feedback.”

Q: You also just released your follow up project, True Colors. Can youtell us a little bit more about the background behind that album?
A: “Mm-hmm, that one I also just came up with the tape name [Laughs]. Like I said, I just didn’t want to just throw it together, so my manager was telling me I have to wait it out and be patient and not just come up with a title. I was going through titles in class or just walking like maybe this can be the title and I’m throwing out ideas and he’s just waiting for the right one. Then when I had actually thought about it and I listened to the tracks all the way through and realized what this tape was going to mean to me…True Colors. It’s pretty much who I am, it’s going to be the tape that sets me apart from others. True Colors is actually the song from Reign Check that was my ending track for a reason and I thought that was a cool thing to have the whole next tape named after one track on the first tape as a sort of follow-up I guess you can say. It’s a follow-up to something great that’ll make this one even better.”

Q: Yeah, that makes sense. Have you heard anything as far as reviews for True Colors even though it just released?
A: “Yeah and everybody’s loving it. This one is actually downloading faster than Reign Check, but it’s not getting as much buzz which we’re trying to still working on the promo for it, but people are definitely listening and I’m getting a lot of people that are saying this one is really good. I really did something different with this one and I wanted to show my true colors. It’s my evolutionary tape and I can just see my flow and everything really evolving.”

Q: Well this is going to be a tough question to ask, but if you had to pick one album over the other, which would you choose?
A: “You should have me pick behind my two children, that’s what this is like [Laughs]. I don’t know, I mean…True Colors vs. Reign Check…True Colors is definitely like the adjectives you used in the review, it’s more commercialized with the beats and all that. I definitely wanted to be more marketable on this one because not everybody can tune in to the raw, rough music. But I’m still not going to turn away from that because that’s who I am and I’m going to give people that raw music. So I don’t have a favorite, but True Colors is definitely the one I’m going to be bumping in my car harder than Reign Check [Laughs]. And I love that it’s quick, too because people are putting it on repeat like “What? It’s over?!” Gotta’ have that on repeat.”

Q: Yeah after listening to them I definitely noticed how Reign Check was very smooth and True Colors was more upbeat.
A: “Yeah, I think some songs on True Colors also had the smooth vibe, but I definitely did step it up a bit. Even though it’s still smooth, I wanted to add a little bit of bump in it.”

Q: No doubt. So you’re still young in the game, but are you happy with your spot in hip hop right now?
A: “I’m happy with my spot right now, so I’d say yes only because I know these things take time. Happy, you know, I’m happy with where I am, but at the same time I don’t ever want to be stagnant. I always want to keep progressing and always have opportunities and do things and gain more fans and things like that because I do want people to enjoy my music. Right now, I’m happy with the people that do enjoy my music and I’m happy with the tape dropping, but I always think there’s room to expand.”

Q: Ok. Again, it might be too early to ask or even consider, but would you ever consider signing with a major label?
A: “Uhhh I don’t know [Laughs]. I do want to stay an independent artist as long as I can, just so I can establish myself first, but if Jay-Z called me in three weeks and wanted to sign me to Roc, I’m not going to say no [Laughs]. We’d have to talk things over, but…[Laughs]. But I definitely do want to stay an individual and an independent artist for as long as I can, but it all depends on what time brings us. We’ll cross those bridges when we get there, you know.”


Q: Fair enough [Laughs]. Is there something in particular you want listeners to get from your music?
A: “What I don’t want them to feel from music is like “Yeah, that was cool. She’s good” and that’s it [Laughs]. I don’t want that to happen! I want them to be like “Did she just say that!?” I really want people to feel my music and my words because that’s how I feel when I’m writing, that’s what I’m really going through what I’m relaying in the song. So I want people to feel how I feel because that’s how I know people will feel the song. I do want people to feel; I don’t want people to not have an opinion. If they don’t like it, that’s there opinion.”

Q: Now I know you just put out your latest project, but are you going to be working on another project?
A: “Oooh, it’s a secret! I don’t know [Laughs]! Me and my team were talking about future plans, so there might be an album in the making, there may be a project, I don’t know.”

Q: Ahh, so there is one in the making though right?
A: “…There may be one in the making…there may not be one in the making…[Laughs]. I don’t know, we’ll have to see!”

Q: [Laughs] Ok, ok. Just to get away from your music for a second, something you haven’t said in your songs, tell us one thing that very few people know about you.
A: “[Laughs] Um… My manager just said I can’t stand up past eleven [Laughs]!”

Q: [Laughs]!
A: “I do like to sleep! But besides the fact I like to sleep a lot, I do like The Beatles, not a lot of people know that. I like different things. I think I consider myself a naturalist. I don’t like insects or anything, but I do like being in touch with myself and nature. That’s something people don’t know [Laughs].”

Q: Alright, do you have any shout outs or last words you want to give before we close it out?
A: “Definitely shout out to my team, they’re always all that. Of course I wouldn’t be able to do this without my family. I didn’t dedicate my tape to anybody in particular, but I lost my grandmother last year actually and she was the type of grandmother to be like don’t give a F, do what you need to do [Laughs]. Be yourself, you know, don’t let anybody ever change who you are and that’s what I wanted to give out with True Colors. If this is your jam, then let it be your jam. If you are who you are, don’t be ashamed. A lot of people following everybody else, but there’s no need for that. So those are my parting words – I hope everyone can enjoy the music. I love you guys so I hope everybody loves the music!”

Q: Cool, yeah and we always like to end off asking what is on your iPod? What are you listening to?
A: “Let me see. I have T.I. “Let’s Get Away” [Laughs]! That and the next song is “The Hard” by Freddie Gibbs.”

Q: Freddie Gibbs and T.I. [Laughs]. Are they any albums you’ve had in rotation recently?
A: “Of course True Colors. Not really albums, more songs. I do also have my Pandora station on.”

Q: That’s cool. Ok, well thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us.
A: “No problem, I definitely appreciate it! Thank you for the interview!”

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The author Stone

Stone is a hip-hop enthusiast residing in NJ/PA. As an aspiring hip-hop producer, Stone studies communications and shares his passion for music by letting the world in on the wonderful world of hip-hop.