It’s no secret, the music industry is one of the most saturated and competitive industries in the world. Many try to make it in this business, but few actually succeed. Even with such unfavorable odds, many artists are brave enough to push all of their chips in and go for the dream. You need courage, ability and humility. You need to focus on the task at hand, rather than get caught up in the talk & hype, and you must surround yourself with other talented and driven artists & producers.
Randy Leonard is S’natra, a New York City born / based rapper and songwriter who gets it. Like many indie musicians, he used to work a bunch of part-time jobs while balancing his music. At work he used to write on the back of receipt paper or on his hands if he didn’t have paper. That is dedication to your trade. Eventually he decided to just go all in on the music and quit the part time gigs. Over our Sunday Conversation he told us “music is the only thing I can’t get fired from for being late.”
Aside from that courage, S’natra has the talent, maturity and relationships in place to make it in this industry. His most recent “Love To See You Smile” number has already amassed 30k plays in just one week — people dig his music. His approach to achieving success is “start at the top, map out how to get there and then work your way backwards” — enlightened advice you ask us. Plus, he has a great relationship with Ivan Jackson, a seasoned producer and 1/2 of Brooklyn based duo Brasstracks, which certainly doesn’t go unappreciated. S’natra claims he has “never had a dynamic like the one he has with Ivan Jackson”.
We sat down with S’natra to talk about his beginnings, advice for fellow emerging artists and upcoming plans. Peep the full Sunday Conversation below.
JADAMIX: How did “Love To See You Smile” come together?
S’natra: I was going through some shit with this girl at the time and I went to Ivan’s crib and was telling him about it. He was like, “bro I got this beat”. As soon as I heard what he had, it was like I could already see the song in my head. I knew exactly what to say on it. So I laid down a couple bars, and Ivan laid down the hook with Natalie Cressman. When I heard the hook I was like this is mad happy and such a feel-good song. The rest is history. We nailed that out the same day we started working on it.
Yankees fan or mets?
What’s a typical day like with you?
Wake up around 9, 10am. Load up the beats I was working on from the night before. I usually go to sleep writing something and wake up with a new idea. I’ll hit up Ivan to see what he’s up to. It’s summertime so a lot of homies are having shows, so link up with them. Maybe a session, roll thru a friend’s place and vibe. That’s pretty much it. It’s usually always something that is music oriented.
What is your best piece of advice for a fellow emerging artist?
Nobody can do what you do, better than you. No matter what is going on around you (TV, radio, etc), don’t let that distract you from what you are trying to do. When I first started rapping I had all these influences like Jay-Z, BIG and Pac. I was trying to find myself while emulating these other rappers. But then over time I started realizing what my story was.
I remember watching this Jay-Z interview and he said, “the best songs are the ones that you attach an emotion too”. That really helped me find myself and it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I realized what my lane was, and to stop worrying about everybody else.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
Probably on the West Coast somewhere nice. I could see myself laid up in a studio just working, probably with one of those little hover scooter things — be able to grab some food real quick [laughs]. Hopefully working with some of my favorite artists and biggest influences like J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar, while still staying grounded with the homies like Ivan.
Kendrick and SZA.
Who is one of your favorite up-and-coming artist or producers who mainstream folks wouldn’t really know about?
Brasstracks. They are so diverse and add an element of themselves in all of their music.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
It would probably be flying. I know it’s cliche, but it’s more because I’ve never really been able to travel. I have mad nieces and nephews spread around the world who I haven’t met yet, so I would love to fly around and visit them.
Some real, good authentic pasta from Carmine’s in the Upper West Side.
Favorite way to blaze?
A classic joint. I grew up rolling dutches, they just don’t happen as often anymore. It’s usually a celebration if a dutch is in the air.
What is your vice?
Spending way too much time on a song just making sure that everything is 100,000% [laughs].
What is upcoming for the rest of 2015?
I have a few more singles coming out this year and accumulating tracks. I don’t want to say this right now… but I’m thinking maybe Aprilish, around my birthday, we’ll be dropping a full-length project.