So, I started out my nerdcore interview series with rapper Darren “TekForce” Columbus and continue it with today’s interview of relative newcomer, Matt “Ish1da” Rozzel. Hailing from the northeast neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, Ish1da wrote his first rap in 1996 but didn’t appear on the music scene until 2006, forming the group, Sangreal Nation, with fellow KC emcee, The Epitome.
Realizing his subject matter wasn’t much different from that of long-time nerdcore rappers, Ish1da turned his musical focus to the nerdcore hip-hop scene in 2014. A long-time fan of Japanese culture, including but not limited to, Anime, Japanese role-playing games’ (JRPG) and the Tokugawa period (or The Edo period) of history, it is clear, Ish1da’s fandom heavily influences his music. Also, clear, at least to me, is that Ish1da is ready to set the nerdcore scene on fire; from his recently released Senpai video to his upcoming full-length Let Me Otaku To You album (seriously people, whose email do I have to spam to get an Ish1da, Billy the Fridge, YT Cracker, Shubzilla colab?!?!).
Note: The title of this interview, Nagare Ni Sao Sasu is a Japanese proverb that translates to, “to thrust a pole in the flow,” meaning, “to make swift progress in good circumstances.” I picked this as the title because, in my opinion, it describes Ish1da’s journey as a rapper.
When and why did you start rapping?
Wrote my first rap in 1996. It was corny as fukc, I went to an environmental magnet and me and some friends wrote this rap song about watering flowers and shit to Mac 10‘s Backyard Boogie instrumental for this contest. We won best song in Missouri.
Do you have a formal music education?
Not even kinda, LOL.
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?
NaS is my favorite, hands down. My favorite group is The Moderators of course :p. My favorite album is probably Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, but some of my others are Hybrid Theory, Absolute Power by Tech N9ne and Stillmatic.
Were you influenced by classic oldies? Which ones?
I was, hahaha, I kind of want to know what made you ask this. But I am a big fan of oldies, my favorites are Earth Angel by The Penguins and anything by The Delfonics.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Just. Keep. Going.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
I get nervous before talking to the cashier at Walmart, I get nervous before ordering delivery over the phone, I get nervous before sending that just a little too long text message, but performances… no, I know what I’m doing when it comes to a microphone.
Errata: This isn’t 100% true, I do feel nervous in some part of my mind before going on stage, but unlike all those other situations, I just tell myself there is no other choice but to kill it. It’s do or die.
What’s your favorite 90’s jam?
This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan, maybe. I’m not actually sure, there are so many good ones. Return of the Mack (Mark Morrison), Fantastic Voyage (Coolio), all those are great. I love a lot of 90’s Hip-Hop, but idk if those songs count as “jams.”
Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?
Star Wars. Space Samurai.
What did you have for breakfast?
A homemade breakfast burrito.
A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
He hands me an AK-47, tells me I’m going to need it and instructs me to follow him. I’d tell you why but that would spoil the fun. Also, I would have to kill you.
What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to be a nerdcore rapper?
I got a bunch of pseudo-philosophical, albeit, useful advice for people wanting to get into any creative field, but we can save that for personal conversations (I’m always available, guys) but for a nerdcore rapper, in particular, I would like to say this… The nerdcore rappers that I like, I don’t like them BECAUSE they are nerdcore. If the fact your music is about cool video games and cartoons is the only thing about it that is valuable, you’re garbage. That may sound harsh, but it’s true, learn to make beats or engineer or something. I’m not saying those things are any easier but maybe one will fit you better, because rapping is not for you. I like nerdcore rappers that could be rapping about gangbanging, or selling dope, or bitches in the club, or politics, or struggling to get a meal, or anything else… and still be enjoyable, but CHOSE nerdcore.
A HUGE thank you to Ish1da for taking time away from Let Me Otaku To You and letting me interview him. Be sure to check out Ish1da’s Bandcamp page (hint: pay the man $5 for a physical copy of Rival Schools, you won’t regret it).