Are You “Am Down?” : An Interview With Camden County’s Own Skrewtape
Now that spring break is over, it’s time to get back on the grind. If you saw the South Jersey Video Playlist post, you may have seen our next guest in the Corfu cypher or on “Backyard Boogalo” with Miilkbone. Nonetheless, I was able to contact Skrewtape over the break for a quick interview to help provide some more insight into his work and upcoming projects.
Skrewtape is a culmination of the elements that made 90’s hip-hop it’s edge. He’s not the kind of rapper you would catch wearing skinny jeans and Harlem shaking, but his energy and rhymes can get a crowd rocking any day.
How long have you been rapping for?
Well over a decade, Since I was 13, I guess. I didn’t start taking it seriously until later on though. From the age of 17 to 21 I got a real taste for it, but it wasn’t ‘til I cleaned up and got sober around the age of 26 that I committed most of my focus to it. That’s when shit started to open up for me.
- Where did you rap name come from?
I adopted the name from a book by C.S. Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters”. I felt the writing style and concept of the book and its main character paralleled my approach to music. You’d have to read it to really understand how the name is significant, but basically the chapters in it highlight human nature’s inherent goodness, while written thru the eyes of pure evil.
I read it for the first time years ago and dug that paradox of duality. Plus, I thought the name sounded cool at the time. The name stuck. Most people just call me Skrew though. Looking back on my philosophy now, I probably should have chosen a name from an Alan Watts book or something.
- What inspires your music?
A desire to express myself and highlight certain aspects of our lifestyle and culture. Aspects that I feel have been forgotten or misrepresented. I get inspired by almost anything. I enjoy seeing a whole become more than the sum of its parts. Words and sounds coming together to form complex ideas and moods is a miracle in my eyes. Being able to do that is what inspires me. Sometimes I just like to talk some shit though. That’s why I love Hip-Hop: No rules.
- What is the message behind it?
Street wise with a deep side. My message depends on the song. Every life has a story, every story has a lesson. As a human being, my everyday message would be to: 1. Know more about the universe than you did yesterday, and 2. Lessen the suffering of others. As an artist, my message would be that it’s all just music. Some take themselves too seriously, and some not enough. I’m somewhere in between all that, just doing what I love.
At times, I wish my music reflected more heavily on my personal philosophy, but then again, I’d hate for every song of mine to sound like a metaphysics text-book. Music is about having fun. If I can slip some gems in there while doing that, mission accomplished.
Lately, a lot of the music I’ve been putting out for this Skumbag Millionaires LP has been on some straight grimy style, cipher poem type shit. Witty wordplay, gritty content. The type of shit that I grew up listening to. Basically I’ve been paying homage to the years of my life I spent on the streets involved with drugs, doing dumb shit. Years that shaped my personality, but hopefully not my character.
- What is CORFU and who’s [Am] down with it?
Corfu is a collective, if you will. Like minded and talented individuals building, booking shows, and promoting with one another. There is a core group of emcee/producers and also a wealth of supporters who are “Am Down” for the cause.
- How many albums have you dropped and when is the next one coming?
Skumbag Millionaires (dropping in May) is my first solo effort, tho you could hardly call it that. Featured artists include Pace Won, Young Zee, Mr. Green, Tame One, Copywrite, Reef The Lost Cauze, C-Rayz Walz, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Thirstin Howl III, El Da Sensei, MiilkBone, Nems, Kevlaar 7, Apollo The Great, Renagade, Biz Mighty, Rich Quick, Voss, and a gang of other established up and comers. It’s an ambitious project with a lotta tracks, but I’m hoping it will be regarded as an indie/underground classic.
As far as other projects, i have a few in the works for after Skumbag Millionaires drops. I’ve been putting out tracks here and there for years. Also, back in 2010, Expo, DJ Gravity, and myself released “Mushroom Cloud“. There’s a bunch of music out there, but way more to come.
- When is your next show?
Seems I’ve been doing 3-4 shows a month lately. You can catch me on any given weekend in Philly or Jersey. The next BIG event is the 420 celebration on April 19 in Atlantic City at the Grande Fromage. I’ll be rocking with Reef The Lost Cauze, Dutch Dap, Elsworth, and my Corfu Family among others. The show is sponsored by NORML, so for a 420 event, it’s gon’ be pretty official.
- If you could hop on the track with any rapper who would it be and why?
Wow, Good question. There’s a bunch. I’ve had so many influences musically. If I had to pick one though maybe Brother Ali? Depending on the mood I’m in. He’s dope on any occasion. If I’m feeling particularly fly that day though, I might have to go with a Ghostface or an Action Bronson.
For more Skrewtape, check him out on: