Interview: Ve Talks Inspiration, Family, & Sound

Ve, Los Angeles native, who recorded his first mixtape at the age of 15, has been heavily influenced by his parents, as presented in his song and video “Life Insurance”. He writes from the perspective of different people, often combining his home life and experiencing poverty with the freedom and diversity that came with leaving home to attend college. The rapper earned his degree in finance but traded in his job to be closer to the music back home.
An author, Ve has always wanted to write something impactful and figured the best way to do so would be by writing his how-to book, Dreams or Degrees: How to Graduate College in Four Years. Self-promoting and advertising, Ve understands the difficulties of putting oneself out there but he knows that eventually hard work will pay off and that he’ll receive some much deserved recognition.
Where your name come from?
Ve: My first name is Rodve and I did a bunch of name changes over the years but I just feel like Ve on its own worked. It was personal enough that it was still me so I don’t think I’ll change it again.
How did you get your start in the rap game?
Ve: I started by just writing at home. [I did] a lot of freestyle battles in back high school. Those battles made a lot of people think I wasn’t actually able to write songs. That made me want to write songs and record even more. I made my first mixtape when I was 15 and from there, I just kept putting out music that felt good. A lot of people enjoyed it and a lot of people gave me good feedback so I just kept doing it.
Who are your favorite artists or influences?
Ve: Biggie is one of my favorites because growing up, my dad used to listen to him a lot. He didn’t want me listening to the unedited version but I did anyway so that was always fun as a kid.
Lauryn Hill because of my sisters and I didn’t really know how much it meant to me as kid; I just liked the music but as I got older, there was a time when I was looking specifically for that album and I got it. It helped me out in life.
As of recently, OutKast (all of their old stuff).
How would you describe your sound?
Ve: A mix between street life and educated. I went to school and finished so having a perspective of nothing from where I from and the people in my environment to me meeting friends who have pretty much everything. Being able to talk about those experiences and combing those cultures. I think that’s my sound. It’s a good mix.
What made you want to be an author?
Ve: I’ve always written, just random things. Usually it was music, but I’d write down my thoughts too. That’s how the thought first came about. As far as actually doing it, I never thought it’d be a non-fiction how-to type book but that happened because I was in school. When I came to the four-year graduation date that was supposed to happen, the majority of my classmates that started college when I did didn’t make it. They asked me how I did and I just felt like it was the perfect time to not answer everybody’s questions individually and being able to help future people.
I wanted incoming student to get an understanding and not going through what I went through because graduating on time for me was rough and I was behind. I had to play catch-up but I left all that information in the book so other people wouldn’t have to do it and I think people asking so many questions about it made me become an author.
DO you plan on writing more?
Ve: Definitely. I just have to find time and right now, my time is focused on the music.
What is your degree in?
Ve: Business with a concentration in finance.
What made you choose music over your degree?
Ve: I went to Sacramento for a year and a half because I took a job but transferred back to LA so I could be closer to the music. With that being said, that’s actually how the book came about and it’s entitled Dreams or Degrees: How to Graduate from College in Four Years which was me trying to figure out if I wanted to chase my dreams which was music and art or did I want to finish my degree I was able to finish my degree but now it’s time to chase the dreams a little more.
Any advice for up-and-coming artists who are struggling to book shows and interviews and are debating on continuing music?
Ve: Honestly, I still ask those questions myself. I still listen to podcasts and old interviews for that same advice. I’m doing this without the recognition I hope for. It has nothing to do with any advice that someone could give you. It comes down to our soul, passion, where your heart and mind is and if you really believe in your craft or if you know there’s no way you can go on living how you live without being successful or accomplishing that goal. You’ve got to keep going no matter what.
As far as booking shows and stuff like that, there’s no good answer. It’s hard to when you’re not generating a lot of money for the people that you’re booking a show with. I just promote and advertise everything myself. Do whatever it takes to get it done. A lot of times it’s going to take you investing in your own money and time. Believe in yourself if this is what you want to do and figure out how to do it without asking for too many favors. You’ll always need help but as much as you can do yourself will make you better off.
Where did the inspiration behind “Life Insurance” come from?
Ve: For the song, it was based more off of my dad. It started as a joke. He always said, “If anything happens to me, I got a good policy so ya’ll should be straight.” It was funny at the time but that’s not cool though because that money won’t replace him or the family that you lose. You may be able to drown in whatever vice that you have and the tangibles that you pay for but when all that material is gone, your family will still be gone so I take it seriously. I can’t imagine living without my pops or my mom so that’s where the hook came from. You gotta grind because it’s true. They can be gone at any moment.
In the verses, [it’s about] stuff I was going through when I left home to make and save money to take care of the family.
The music video –  my mom’s a nurse and she typically works in low-income areas and rough neighborhoods. A lot of the patients that she sees are the parents or grandparents and they have kids who are knuckleheads or gangbang. She’s a counselor to them and giving advice. They have these kids who are gangbanging and they don’t what to do with them and long story short, she’ll tell them, “you need to get life insurance on these kids because if you tell them what (not) to do and they choose to gangbang and put their life on the line, at least you’ll get some money if they get killed.. [The video] was a combination of my mom and dad’s ideas.
Would you like to tell us about your latest work or singles you’ll be releasing next?
Ve: My next single is called “Laid Back” and it’s produced by Techdizzle. It’s a little more up tempo than what people probably expect from me but I’ve been performing it live and everyone seems to love it.
How would you describe the current state of mainstream hip-hop?
Ve:Honestly, I don’t listen to the radio, so I don’t know who’s really out there right now but I’ve noticed there have been some independent artists who have been breaking into the mainstream which is a good thing but at the same time, there have been mainstreams stories that no one really understand how it happened or why. I think overall I’d say good because of the amount of people that you see working at their craft for x years are starting to get some spotlight or those whose hard work is finally paying off. I think that’s good overall
Are there any artists that you would like to work with?
Ve: #1 Kendrick Lamar – The first song I heard him was “Cut You Off” and was like “cool! He raps about the same stuff I rap about”. He’s got good content. He’s dope and he reminds me of myself so that’s the connection there. He’s from Compton. I’m from LA. It doesn’t get any better than that and every time I see him, he’s super cool. His lyrical content and how he raps made him stick out to me.
#2 J Cole – I like him too because he did the same thing as me. He went to school and he did his music right after so I’m not too far behind him. He’s passionate no matter if it’s a good beat or an okay beat. He always goes hard.
#3 Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap blew me away. He just reminded me how to have fun in the booth. He was lyrical and he rapped like he didn’t care what people thought and the way he puts his phrases together is super dope.
What is your favorite song that you’ve written and why?
Ve: “Wanderlost” [which is #5] off my album, Clair (Kills), is because the beat is soft and jazzy. I surprised myself the way I flowed on it. I don’t think I’ve ever rapped that way before. At the end of each verse, the cadence of them is super dope. I just think “this is amazing”.
Any closing statements or
Ve: My name is Ve and I’m a story-teller. I know in due time, I’ll get where I’m supposed to.

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