Roc Nation’s HDBeenDope Talks New EP, Growing Up Listening To 50 Cent and More

Roc Nation’s newest signee HDBeenDope just celebrated the release of his EP, “What Can They Say,” in New York City and had appearances from industry friends such as Nikko, Rich-P, Tavon Treatz, Jazmyn Summers and more.

The five-track EP was produced by Dizzy Banko and dropped October 21st, 2022, via Roc Nation, and even enlists features with Dizzy as Tracy Dashh. The project follows the rapper’s recent moment on the BET Hip Hop Awards with his “Freestyle Coming Up” segment. The Brooklyn rapper introduced the night’s performers such as CMG’s Moneybagg Yo, EST Gee, Glorilla, Fivio Foreign, Joey Bada$$ and more. He even announced his EP and Roc Nation deal on stage before presenting raptress Trina with the “I Am Hip hop Award.”

With the recent signing with JAY Z’s Roc Nation, the sky’s the limit for HDBeenDope. He notes his humble beginnings stating, “From just chilling in the crib, to nobody knowing what I was about, and trying to figure out “how we grow from here” had us hitting the ground running.” HD is proud of his growth and invites the world to join him along his journey. “Looking back at this journey I get to reflect on how much hard work, consistency and hustle it took. There’s a lot more that’s going to come out of this because we are doing a lot more, I promise you that.”

HDBeenDope wants his fans to know that the main takeaway from the project is “everything exists within you. If you can think it, you can create it. So, the music comes from my journey in how I continue to level up. But everyone is doing their own personal level up in some way, shape, or form.”

Catch the full interview below and follow HDBeenDope on Instagram and Tidal for more music and updates.

When you were 9, you would borrow your brother’s CDs, which introduced you to Hip Hop music. What were some of the artists you would listen to shaping your early musical influences? First and foremost, thank you so much for this opportunity. Some of the mixtapes I would listen to were 50 Cent’s Guess Who’s Back?, Cam’ron’s Purple Haze, Freeway’s first album Philadelphia Freeway, Snoop Dogg’s R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta). These were just the CDs I was taking at that time for sure.

By 2006, you started a rap group with your friends, releasing freestyles on cassette tapes. What was the name of the group, and do you remember any of the lyrics to these songs? During that time, I don’t think we came up with a group name, we were just all rapping and freestyling. I really don’t remember the lyrics to the song, but we were listening to a lot of [50 Cent and Lil Wayne] and rapped about a lot of stuff they would talk about in their songs.

You released your debut mixtape ‘Since 94’ when you were 17. The project was paired with videos for ‘Wordplay’ and ‘Put It On.’ Looking back at the music you’ve released since then, what’s been the defining factor that motivated you to keep pushing? Honestly, there’s not much of a difference. Back then I would speak about where I’m going and what I’m doing which is the same thing as what I’m doing now, just with more energy. The same drive and aspirations are still there, I’m just continuing to elevate that now that we have a lot more going on.

Fast forward to September of this year, you announced you were signing with Roc Nation! How did this milestone all come together? The Roc Nation signing is such a unique one because where I was last year, we really leveled my impact up. From just chilling in the crib, to nobody knowing what I was about, and trying to figure out “how we grow from here” had us hitting the ground running. At the top of year, we started inviting people to studio sessions to get the demand up in order to present my work to Roc Nation to get them equally as excited. It was really a dope moment to say the least, to have their support. Looking back at this journey I get to reflect on how much hard work, consistency and hustle it took. There’s a lot more that’s going to come out of this because we are doing a lot more, I promise you that.

In what ways has living in New York City influenced your sound in music? I mean I feel like New York is big on standing your ground and our sound is considered aggressive. Aggression is really just “I’m in my spot and you’re not going to move me.” That’s the energy all throughout my music. If you listen to the project, What Can They Say, it really just means I’m here to stay regardless of how you feel.

What story do you want to tell with your latest EP, What Can They Say? The biggest thing I want people to take away from this project is everything exists within you. If you can think it, you can create it. So, the music comes from my journey in how I continue to level up. But everyone is doing their own personal level up in some way, shape, or form so this project just serves as a reminder to keep going and remind you of who you are.

Who are 3 artists you want to collaborate with and what is it about them that you connect with? Going from my holy trinity that’s [50 Cent], [J Cole] and Lil Wayne and that’s simply because those three made a very pivotal impression on me and my decision to become a rapper.

What’s next for you that you can share with us? What’s next for me? A lot more great music and definitely a lot more shows. I can’t really tell you exactly all the details yet but trust and believe I have been listening to these records, putting in that work and I’m in a pocket. It’s just going to get more exciting. So, stay tuned!

The definition of Contrast is ‘to be strikingly different.’ What makes you strikingly different? Wow, that’s beautiful. Well first and foremost I’m the only me – so there really isn’t anybody that is in my position to be strikingly different. Beyond that, the way I move, the way I go through life – every decision I make is intentional. I’m not saying that everybody else isn’t intentional but it’s deeper and more consistent with me – it’s at the core of what I do. If I were to tell you in 2012 that’s why I was so different you probably would brush it off, but that’s how we got here. All I can tell you is wait and see what’s next!

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Contrast Magazine. michael@contrastmag.com

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