NJ rapper LEVEL$ is a force to be reckoned with. His output is consistent, his delivery always innovative, and his textural details nothing short of mind-blowing. As a member of the RBIM collective, he and his friends are making bigger splashes with each drop. His new song ‘Masotan!’ can be streamed here. His 108MICS exclusive ‘Crystal Heart’ with Zion can be streamed here.
Hello! It’s great to have you on the blog today mate, I was hoping that we could kick things off with you telling me a little bit about yourself. I see that you’re from New Jersey, have you always lived there?
YERRRRRRRRR! First off man thank you for taking the time to interview me, I’ve always wondered in my mind how this would go and I’m honestly super excited to do this and give you guys more of an idea of who I am as a… Person? Existence? Yeah, let’s go with that! But anyway, for those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m the artist formally known as LEVEL$ and I’m from New Jersey! (Newark to be exact lmao) and yeah, that’s the place I’ve grown up in for most of my teenage life. I know I don’t talk about my life that much, but as a kid I was always a little bit awkward and weird around other kids, I didn’t exactly know how to interact with other people and was more often than not kind of picked on until middle school. See I’m 6’4-6’5 irl and so you can only imagine the size difference between me and other little kids at the time, yeesh. But yeah I didn’t really make friends until like 8th grade and high school and even then, I didn’t fit in with the common norm of a black high-school and would kinda be with the… Well, I wouldn’t consider them geeks because that’s some movie shit but DEFINITELY the weebs of the school lmaooo. Quick little story, me and one of my best friends Mikey made an anime club in high-school and even made flyers for that shit, niggas slapped Naruto and Dragon Ball on that hoe and we even had this secret hand shake that we made up for the club. (we still use it to this day lmaoooo) I could write a whole ass book about my life, but just to give you some more lil facts;
I’m 21 (soon to be 22)
I LOVE Yugioh.
I could beat you in gen 6 pokemon.
I have Asperger’s.
And most importantly, I’ll outsmoke ur boyfriend.
So, how long have you been working under the name LEVEL$? I can see that your music has always had that disconcerting, off-kilter feel to it.
LEVEL$ was a name that began as something cool sounding and rhyming with my last name, but then soon became more than just an artist name; I am LEVEL$, no doubt about it, I could never see myself as anything else. If you heard my music, you can recognize that layered, panned out sound that explores the depths of ur ears and translates beyond this a normal sound. There’s LEVEL$ to this shit, no pun intended. It’s a name that both matches my sound and truly speaks to who I am as an artist, you know what to expect and yet don’t when listening to a LEVEL$ track because I don’t just introduce music the average way; It’s an aesthetic, a vibe, a concept that fits not just the picture I’m trying to tell you, but each song speaks for itself as an identity on it’s own. Case in point? It’s LEVEL$ bitch, haha!
How long have you been a member of RBIM? You have always been a perfect fit for the group’s sound, I feel.
You know how it took several Marvel movies to set up the first ever Avengers movie and the whole MCU went crazy from there? That’s me when it comes to RBIM, I’ve known most of these guys ever since late 2019 to early 2020 and to say we weren’t going to come together and do something great would be a lie. The first time I ever met Yung Leo me and this dude played a game of Pokemon Showdown and I knew from there I knew this dude was going to be my brother. I’ve been in RBIM for about 2-3 months now and we aren’t just a random group of artists brought together, but instead a collective of like-minded individuals who have so much to offer towards this scene, we all play a key part in the group and it was always meant to be this way, those guys all just get how to do music and my sound only adds everything together, creating a sound that hits on multiple genres and truly something Raised by the Internet.
What are the main inspirations for your lyrical content? I hear a lot of seemingly dark content in your music even when you’re pursuing a more melodic sound.
That’s an interesting question and I was waiting for this one, see when I first started music I was heavily inspired by alot of sounds like Anti-World, GBC, Members Only, Xavier Wulf, X and just a lot of different styles that translated into my lyrical content. I aim for beauty behind the madness, a sort of dark twisted poem that’s covered in glitter. Although sometimes that isn’t always the case, it really depending on what I’m currently feeling and what catches my ear. I’m also inspired by a lot of the media that I’ve consumed over the years, resulting in a lot of my lyrical content to be reflective on the stuff I was into and matching the tone of the beat. As of lately though I’ll rarely write unless it’s a specific beat, otherwise I’ll freestyle based on emotions. (plus after smoking the blunt lmaoooo)
You’ve worked with a long list of producers and artists, some that I’m familiar with and others that I’m not. If you could only make music with one other person for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Oh man, that’s an understatement I must say, I’ve worked with so many awesome people ever since making music in 2019 that we could go on for hours on that topic, it’s truly a list of future music legends. See, I believe that in order to grow in not just name but also musical skill, you need to be willing to branch out and take in someone else’s own musical talent and shape it into something new. Do you know how awesome it is to create something that’s so different from what you normally make? It offers room for experimenting and results in a mesh of sounds from two different people that just sounds so fucking awesome. Plus you never know who might blow up, ya’know? Now onto who I would make with music with strictly… That’s a hard question given the list that I couldn’t just state one person, but in terms of an artist it would probably have to be my bro Leo, he’s so damm talented and the fact that can produce his own stuff too? God man, our energy just hits so different. In terms of a producer? It would have to be a mixture of either Starsmp3 or Apartment9, both incredible producers. Ever since last years Starsmp3 has produced some of my favorite tracks, from Tomie to HatsuneMikuParty to I’m In Love With Harley Quinn, whenever I hop on a Stars beat our energy just matches and we end in up creating an incredible experience that just slaps. As for Apartment9, me and him recently started working together a few months ago and oh man, he’s such an underrated producer that it’s criminal more people haven’t done anything with him. Me and him are both from New Jersey and he’s produced tracks like GirlsGoneWild, Masotan! and a couple of other unreleased songs. If there were producers I would want would associated with my sound, it would definitely be those two.
Your new song ‘Masotan!’ just dropped, and I saw you say on Instagram that it’s based on a dragon character in an anime. I’d never heard of the show that it’s from, so I’ll have to check that out. Do you have a favourite anime, and if so has it ever inspired you to make music?
Yeah, I dropped it on the 26th of March (go check it out if you haven’t <3) and it’s definitely an interesting direction in the musical reach of LEVEL$. If we’re being real, there’s always been an anime influence on a lot of my songs, I used to be that kid who would take the time to memorize anime openings and sing them all the time (my favorite one atm is After Dark from Bleach rn). In my earlier days of being on Twitter as a kid, I used to RP like crazy and developed an interest that as an artist, I sometimes draw from it and insert into my own music. If you’ve heard my song with Braxton Knight, Yubel, then that’s the best example of what I mean. Just to give some insight, Yubel is a Yugioh monster that appeared in Yugioh GX and the whole concept of it is this creature who’s felt so much pain and betrayal from Jaden Yuki (The Protagonist) that they want them to feel the same anguish that they went though whilst still loving them unconditionally. That whole song is my attempt at creating that type of vibe, a tribute to my love for Yugioh GX and that character specifically as you get an idea of who they are. As for a favorite anime… It’s a tie between Dragon Pilot, Code Geass and Eyeshield 21! Dragon Pilot because it was the first anime I really got back into again, Code Geass because Lelouch is one of my favorite protagonist and Eyeshield 21 because like dude… It’s anime football and it’s so fucking good? I’m not even into football but that anime just makes me flip out whenever I watch it.
What is the significance of ‘I’m just scratching the surface.’? I heard it in the song that you kindly contributed to our latest project, and I’ve just noticed that it’s in your bio too.
In short it’s that; I’m just scratching the surface. In the long term explanation, as an artist I truly believe you never stop evolving your craft and only keep improving day by day. I’m at a point musically where I know that I’m good, but there’s still so much I haven’t done yet that I won’t ever stop growing as a musician. When you hear that tag in my songs, it’s an indication that this isn’t even my final form and it’s only going to get crazier from there. So like I said the tag speaks for itself, It’s become a stable in the LEVEL$ brand and you know who’s on the song when you hear that.
What are your future plans? Will we see a full length LEVEL$ project in 2021? Also, please take this time for promotion and shoutouts. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you!
My future plans are simply; I want to be acknowledged. Whether you like me or not, you can’t lie that LEVEL$ has quickly shaped into an identity that’s become a stable of this scene. This is the year 2021 and we’re in a whole new decade, I want to be recognized as someone who just isn’t another name among the millions of other people; I’m LEVEL$, no one else is like me and I want my existence felt amongst everyone in this music scene. As for a full length project, I dropped BadBitchScaryTales! At the start of 2021 and plan on dropping more tapes this year. I want to make an album at some point yes, but I want to introduce people into the different sounds and what I offer to the table because ultimately these aren’t just random songs brought together, they’re an experience that I want you be kept inside your brain, a feeling that once you’re done listening, you can take something from it and understand who I am. Things to be on the look out for? Me and Mothgirl have a tape in the work for the summer, me and BEG! are talking about a collab ep that’s also in the works anddddd there’s either going to be a Kingdom Hearts or EVA inspired tape, maybe even both but you’re gonna have to wait and see!
Again thank you so much for giving me the chance to talk about myself a little bit, I just wanna shoutout everyone I know in RBIM, lavv, Cypress, Amy, Dread, Offspring, Marcy, my twin Nari! Nachi, Apartment9, Jeremiah, Stars, DoubleA, Masquerade Butterfly Senju, Doki, Zion, everyone in Club Vortex 27, Iblis, Caspy, Arcuti and lastly all the point who’ve been here with me so far, if you ever supported me just know it means alot and just know I won’t let you guys down.
Stay icy and remember, it’s LEVEL$ bitch!
– Chris (@108seraph)