New Jersey’s Dock hELLIsh is a talented rapper and producer with a great ear for beats and collaboration. In this interview, we discuss the beginnings of his career, his favourite collaborators, and the methods he used to establish his career.
1. How long have you been making music for? Did you rap or produce first?
Ive been rapping since I was about 14 or 15 just locally freestyling around Jersey, hittin random cyphers, sometimes in NYC, but I wasn’t at a point in my life throughout my teen years to have the work ethic and dedication to seriously pursue anything. There might be some embarrassing rare old local garage band tracks sitting on a laptop somewhere, but I was never in the stu or learning how to do shit myself. So I definitely rapped first, but it was all just random notebooks or iPhone notes, with sometimes the occasional illogical drug babble. Producing was more of my gateway into rapping and learning to record/mix myself. Plus I was living in a halfway-house when I decided to get serious with my shit so it was harder to record there then make beats. Situation type shit.
2. The NJ Gremlins collective seems interesting, tell me about that?
Just clear things up I was in the collective when the name was VISION973 before it changed, but yeah, those are actually a lot of my old friends from where I grew up. Theres lots of backstory here. My bro Hvnzo was the homie after I got kicked out of middle school one year and sent to a new one. He’s one of the most talented producers I know (@abhalfdead13 on twitter). He was always dedicated to the music when we were younger while I was off getting high, catching dumbass charges, wasting time with thotties allat. He was working with Grimm Doza at this point and putting out that lo-fi fye that’s evolved so much outa Jerz. I actually sold them some acid around this time lol, type of shit I was on. After my house got raided once and I plea’d out to the mentioned halfway-house, I realized where my passions at. I just went as hard as I could with the music within the shitty restrictions of the halfway-house. Hvnzo tapped me in with Grimm Doza & Booshido, then we brought my mans Izzy into the gang. It was VISION973 at that point, and we put out a collaboration mixtape on the Soundcloud that is now NJ Gremlins called VISION973 Vol. 1, it’s still up. Even tho its NJ till I die, I can only go back to Jersey for court dates and holidays right now because of my probation. It makes communicating and collaborating way harder, but I still got some fye coming with my NJ Gremlins kin. I mean in a major way thats my roots. Nothin but love to the whole squad.
3. You have some crazy collabs with CHXPO, KirbLaGoop, Yung Mojo and more. How did you build your connections in the industry?
Networking/talking to people in the scene! Some people make these up and coming artists out to be some sorta demi-gods in their heads when rly they are just people too with open DMs. I bet some people would surprised how many artists will just hop on a beat if they fuck with it, even though it seems like everyone is just tryna hustle nowadays. My Chxpo and Kirb tracks we did via email but I gotta say 5 Finger Posse hooked it up. Big love. There was a point when Alvin, Morgue, and Mojo we’re sliding thru to the crib to smoke and record and shit. The “LV Suitcase” video is actually filmed in my apartment/complex lol. Got lots of tracks in, unfortunately none with Alvin. It’s a community and people are open to collab, sometimes buying one beat or feat from someone can start something.
4. You seem to rap over other artists beats more than your own. Will this ever change? Would be interesting to see you tackle some of your own stuff more often.
I totally do and you’re the first person to really call me out on this lmao. When I’m making a beat and worthy bars are coming to my head as I’m making it, I start to write to make sure I don’t forget the concept, then finish the beat in unison with how I want my flow to go. So usually if that doesn’t happen, those are the beats I send/sell hoping another artist can make it the best track it can be. I always try to include a self produced beat in any mixtape, so you can fasho always expect that. I’ve definitely plotted on doing some sort of project over just my production, I’ve just been digging it more behind the mic, so I honestly haven’t been making beats as much.
5. Do you have any favourite artists to work with? You’ve collaborated with so many across your discog it’s hard to pick my favourites but your collaborations with Xelly and Kirb are always hits in my eyes.
Man this is a hard one because I don’t want to leave anyone out but let me put it like this. I fuck with people who can match my work ethic and vibes. My favorite artists to work with are people with a vision to contribute fire shit to the game. Not just rappers even, but DJ’s too. Right now I’ve been on a spree with LoudPack KAP, BMB Sayda, Slump Grimey, Chop000 and I always love to work with @astoldbymeagan in anything she puts out. Also all the Jersey kin of course, especially Hvnzo, the first person I ever seriously worked with.
6. You recently dropped your hELLISh XCLU$IVES Vol. 1, which has a ton of artists going over your beats. That was dope to hear, when will we see Vol. 2 drop?
Appreciate it man. Vol. 2 doesn’t have a drop date yet, but it’s in the works. With the XCLU$IVES it’s all about the rappers digging the right beat so its a bit of a process, but that doesn’t mean its not in the works! You can fasho expect XCLU$IVE singles in the mean time to hold you over until Vol. 2.
7. You also just dropped a collab EP with LoudPack KAP, which was really tight. What’s your next planned project in that vein?
Well, I just dropped another EP with my neighbor I met in my apartment complex, PBoyBeatz, who happened to send me quite the fye pack that I gassed thru. He’s a good ass dude moved here from India and has that hot shit so naturally we had to fuck with each other. I’ve got Lil Xelly and Slump Grimey on there as well. You can expect a lot of those types of projects from me, I’m open to work with anyone who I’m feeling. Right now I’m working on a EP with chop000, a sequel to “Off The Shits” x Slump Grimey (done, just needs art), and my tape “Hell Files” dropping at the end of this month. So theres 3 for ya lol.
8. You’ve dropped multiple visuals including one for the excellent ‘Walk It Off’. More Hellish videos to come?
You know it. Next video to drop is for “Cup Dark” of my most recent EP, Bad Neighbors, shot by the homie @wethepartysean.
9. Overall, I’d say you have one of the most consistent discographies I’ve come across. For people with a lot to listen to, where would you recommend they start?
Thank you man. For real, shit like that is what pushes me to keep going. You the best for showing the unda some love. To keep it real, I think everyone should listen to Jer$eyboy Dock to get a sense of my roots transforming into something more serious, then start with my new releases and work your way back so you know what im all about.
10. Finally, is there anybody you’d like to shout out? Appreciate this interview bro, been cool.
Gotta give the biggest shoutout to you, chris/108 mics, gotta shoutout @astoldbymeagan, seriously one of the greatest figures in the unda and also a great friend. Gotta shout out my mans Hvnzo, we been collabin from the start. Also importantly I wanna shout out SlumpSquadWaveyGang or SSWG! Slump Grimey and CharlesGlobe, my music/fashion collective family. I appreciate the opportunity bro, tried my best to keep it a hunnit.