Drive talks LPs, EPs, and 3rd Thursdays

Talking shop with the young Hustle, Loyalty and Respect artist Drive...

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VTHH: When did you first realize you were doomed to be a rapper? 

Drive: I would say the moment I realized that rapping would consume all of my free time was shortly after I dropped a Ten Toes Down Challenge in December of 2016. It was simply just a torrent of emotion that was scrawled across a few sheets of crinkled paper that was directed towards parents who aren't in their kids lives that was based on a combination of mine, as well as some of my friends, upbringings.

I recorded the video on an iPhone in the back of a friends car and uploaded it to Facebook. Within an hour, the video had over 1000 views with an overwhelmingly positive reaction. There were comments upon comments saying that I was talented and to keep it up, but mixed in were the comments that really mattered. The people that said that they could relate, the people who told me I said the things that they were scared to, and those who were inspired. When I read those comments for the first time, that was the moment I knew that, for the rest of my life, all my free time would be put into rapping.

VTHH: Was there a hip hop scene growing up in Lamoille County? Did cats like MCB-Free or Jihad from VT Union register for local kids into rap?

Drive: Overall, growing up in Lamoille County, the hip hop scene was nearly non-existent. The same did not apply for the Hip Hop scene in my family. My mom grew up listening to Dr. Dre, Tupac, Snoop, etc. and my dad was also a fan, so oftentimes I would hear some lyrics I probably should not have been hearing at a young age. I think one of the biggest factors in my infatuation with hip hop music was a family friend named Matthew Richardson, who is an absolute hip hop fiend. We would visit his house often for gatherings and parties, the thing about these parties was Matt was a good friends of the late Andy Williams AKA DJ A-Dog who would play at these parties. Not to mention my uncle Joe is also Question The MC and has influenced me heavily. I was definitely around a hip hop scene but it was not Lamoille County's. Pretty much everything outside of Lamoille County and school was what rooted me to hip hop. From elementary school all the way through high school, I met maybe two or three other people who truly listened to rap. Overall there was and is no hip hop scene in Lamoille county, yet countless artists have emerged such as IZA and Khaosity.

So not only are you rocking a set this Thursday, you're dropping an entire new album, right?

Drive: Words cannot explain how happy I am to be able to get on a stage, drop a project that has been just as frustrating as it has been rewarding, and go on 99.1 with Melo Grant all in one day. To put it simply, D.U.I encapsulates the inner struggle of a young musician who can't decide on a future, as well as a heavy focus on decisions, with other minor themes popping in and out throughout the project. This is not your typical rap, D.U.I is a story all the way through, told primarily through lyrics as well as some small interludes to connect it all.

Since day one I was determined to make a concept album, little did I know how frustrating that would be. After a lot of experimenting, indecision (ironic), and time, D.U.I is ready for release with a variety of styles. The album is 14 tracks long, 13 for the story along with 1 “bonus track” with a firestorm of a feature from my HLR label mate Modest. Speaking of HLR, did I mention that we are taking over 3rd Thursdays this month? I highly suggest being at this show if you want to see HLR do our thing, as well as see some other insanely talented artists such as Street Religion, Boomslang, Bar None The Best, Self Portrait, and more. This is only setting the tone for 2018, expect a lot of noise from Drive, HLR, and all of Vermont hip hop.

VTHH: How did the 12:30 EP come together? The Ryder Jam style really suits your flow -- was that a happy accident or a calculated move?

Drive: This is where it starts to get kind of weird. Ryder Thornton AKA Ryder Jam was my best friend from kindergarten until 2nd grade. I lived in Shelburne and my family moved to Cambridge which began to deteriorate our friendship until we eventually didn't hang out anymore. Fast forward 12 years, I don't remember exactly how it happened but we somehow found each other on SoundCloud and talked/reconnected a little bit as well as decided to collab at some point. Note that other than a few random encounters we had not talked since our childhood so finding out that he was a producer/artist himself was a huge shock. Fast forward one more time to Christmas time 2017, I was out of work for a couple of weeks because carpentry and winter do not mix well. I decided I wanted to make some music because I was bored and had been only working on the technical aspects of my album for a month. The thought came in my head to check out some of Ryder's instrumentals, pick some out, and send him a message. I got the beats and did what I normally do, vent my frustrations, woes, and joys. The rest is history. Ryder also mastered the tracks as well as produced them, he is very easy to work with, clearly talented, and has very good rates (Wink Wink). Another fun fact, in elementary school around fourth or fifth grade I was super good friends with Immanuel Gebhardt who has become another insanely talented producer known as IMAN.

VTHH: What is the rest of 2018 looking like for you -- do you have any definite projects on the horizon yet?

Drive: The only definite project that I have is a collab mixtape with Modest that should be dropping around fall. I have other projects in the works with other members of the HLR team, but nothing set in stone. Overall my plan for 2018 is to make as much music as I can, hit as many stages as I can, and network with as many people as possible to continue to grow VT Hip Hop.

VTHH: Who would you like to work with in the future?

Drive: Honestly, anyone who is driven, passionate about their work, and wants to make some good music. If you are reading this and that pertains to you, please hit me up. I'm just looking to grow with other artists, the way up is together. As for actual names I would love to work with, too many people to name, but a few of them are Jarv, Question The MC, Humble, Mister Burns, and it would be dope to get some instrumentals from IMAN.

Justin Boland