Feature by Miss iLL Photos by Valencia Image
I know what you’re thinking…Queens again!?!? I’m not playing favorites because I’m from here, it just so happens that we have dope emcees. Now, if you haven’t heard of Eric Sosa, I need you to come out from that rock you’re under, stretch, do a little jog around the block and then go to EricSosa.com AFTER you read this article because you will become a fan.
I’m not gonna front, I myself wasn’t a fan until I dug a little deeper (is that a pause moment? I'm really bad at that.) Once I did my research and learned about all he's capable of, you can now catch me rockin out to a lot of his music!
So I got to chat with this fashionable emcee from Queens on the roof top of a garage in Jamaica (We’re pretty bad ass, I know) and discussed rapper sh*t, like poetry…
Ms.iLL : You got in to music being a percussionist and playing the snare drum. When did that start and end for you?
Eric Sosa: I started at the age of 2, I didn’t know what I was doing…Basically, I was with my parents and got lost in a toy store around Christmas time. They shut the whole toy store down, had security looking for me…
Ms.iLL: (Laughing) My goodness, how big was this toy store!??!
Eric Sosa: Pretty big. It was on the Ave, but they closed it down. The whole aisle was toy instruments , and they found me there, sitting on the floor banging on a drum. Ever since then, my Pops was pushing that on me, he would buy me toy drums and then he finally got me an official one when I was about 6-7 years old. By then I was already in a marching band for a local church out here. I was in the marching band for about 3-4 years, I was lead snare. By the age of 9-10 I wanted to get away from that because I felt like there was only certain expressions you can give off or vent through percussion because it’s such an aggressive instrument. I wanted to express myself differently, and more! So I picked up a pen and started writing when I was 10.
Ms.iLL : When I was doing my research on you I found “Let the Pete Rock”, and that is my favorite project of yours. Even though it’s from years back, like 2007. I’m not gonna front, I wasn’t a BIG Eric Sosa fan when I first heard you. You just really didn’t catch my attention the way a lot of other music does. But when I hear “Let the Pete Rock” I was like “OOOOOH! Alright, he has that in him!” You had this New York, gritty sound in you, like you sounded hungry like you wanted it! Do you feel like you still have that sound? Because I listened to ‘Rhyme&Noodles” and I’m like Ok, there are some dope songs on here BUT nothing like what’s on "Let the Pete Rock”. With the Pete Rock project I had the “Ugly yea” face the whole time…
Eric Sosa: Honestly, it’s my favorite project as well. All I did my whole career when I didn’t have a business behind me was a bunch of freestyles and long verses. I had no idea how to write a song, the structure and format, until I got to this project. Not only that, during that, during me having all those freestyles and verses, I was a freestyle monster! It’s weird, because now you can ask me to freestyle and I can joke around with it but it’s not really my thing. I always heard the older cats, they would look down on the younger cats like “Ya’ll don’t know nothing about hip-hop, ya’ll here in the park freestyling/rhyming but ya’ll don’t know where it came from where it derived from.” So, hearing that I was like ok, I’m gonna do my little homework, I mean, I don’t know everything about the history I’m not gonna front, but I did my homework to kind of pay homage before I did whatever it is I wanted to do. I started listening to a lot of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J-Dilla, you know cats like that. I came across Pete Rocks stuff and I copped the four disc instrumental. It had like 400 of his beats. I was going through it and picked my favorite beats to put that project together to pay homage to that time period.
Ms.iLL : On EricSosa.com you have a poem on there and I saw on YouTube you have another poem called “Poems from a Better Man”. Now is that something you do? Like do you have a book of poetry next to your book of rhymes? (Laughing) Like when you’re feeling alone at night in your room and you’re like “I don’t wanna rap! I wanna write some poetry!”
Eric Sosa: (Laughs) Yea! You know what it is though? Even though they’re so parallel to each other they’re still very different. A lot of people think it’s the same thing and it’s not at all! I personally feel with rap you have to have some kind of structure regardless. You have to be able to fit in bars, and your words have to end at a certain point because you’re on a beat. Now, with poetry you can write whatever you want and it doesn’t have to land or end at any point. You get to say a lot more in a lot less time. Poetry sometimes there will be something I want to talk about and I don’t feel like following any rules. I just want to be able to write whatever I want to write. Another thing is with poetry I feel like poetry that rhymes is corny, I feel like it should be free. I mean if it ends up rhyming, dope! But you shouldn’t go out of your way to make it rhyme. That’s just how I feel on that and it’s not next to my rhyme book, it’s under my bed. (Smirk)
Ms.iLL : (Laughing) That’s hidden! No one knows!!
Eric Sosa : NOBODY! (Laughing)
Ms.iLL : What’s this 5:05 thing? You tweet whenever it’s 5:05, you let people know when it’s 5:05! Thank you for telling me what time it is, I appreciate it … (Sosa cracking up as I ask this question) But what is it?
Eric Sosa : I love music right? But marketing, honestly is probably where my heart’s at. I figured out marketing is the only aspect of the game where it’s half business and half art and that’s crazy and that’s the beauty of it. You get to promote a brand or bring awareness to a brand while being creative. So what 5:05 is, it’s a numerical representation of “Sos” and when it’s 5:05am it’ll be “Sosa” . That’s just another way of having people think of me twice a day without even having to do anything.
Ms.iLL : So what’s next? Are you dropping an album? An LP?
Eric Sosa : It’s gonna be a mixtape. A full mixtape, a lot of songs on it, a lot of hidden tracks on it. We’re going to put “Rhyme&Noodles” on hold until probably next year…
Ms.iLL : There’s more Rhyme&Noodles?
Eric Sosa : (Looking at me like I had three heads) OH YEA! That’s not going to stop, that’s forever! I’m trying to get it where I get like 10 Rhyme&Noodles then I can sell a whole pack. You know how they sell the big pack at Costco’s? Yea. (Laughs) But the next project that will hopefully come out this summer is called “The Mohawk”. It’s my best work. I can’t wait.
Ms.iLL : Are there any collaborations on that project?
Eric Sosa : A lot of collabs, about at least 6.
Ms.iLL : Can you name a few?
Eric Sosa : (As I get another crazy look and smirk) I’ll tell you this, definitely Cirino, Mike Mateo…big part of the Custo movement I’m starting…
Ms.iLL : What’s the Custo movement?
Eric Sosa: Custo is short for custodian, and that pretty much started from all of us always had keys on our belts so we started this thing called “Janitor Shit”. Janitor Shit was basically a lifestyle where the janitor is usually the first person in the building and the last person out who works the longest and the hardest. The band is “The Maintenance Crew”, “Janitor Shit” is the lifestyle and “Custo” is the movement. Custo stands for “Creatively Using Sound To Obtain”. But yea, back to features (laughs), you’ll definitely be seeing Cirino and Mike Mateo on there and I’m going to say, we’re working on getting Homeboy Sandman on there, we’re working on getting Skyzoo on there and a couple of other cats.
Ms.iLL : Where do you want to be in 5 years?
Eric Sosa: I would love to be on a world tour, opening for an artist I would want to open up for. I know there are going to be times where I’m going to get acts to open up for an artist or do a song with an artist that I don’t really want to do a song with but if you hungry you’re going to do it. But yea, in five years I want to be on tour, get my money stable, get my family out of debt and you know, pushing something simple like a BMW (laughs) you know, something light. I just want to be with my whole team, wherever I want, road trips, us getting money together.
Ms.iLL : Let’s talk about fashion…YOUR fashion. You are very unique with it. I think the first or second time I ever saw you was at someone’s album release party and it was summer time and you, not that you looked bad, you just looked like something I’ve never seen before (as we both crack up) Your outfit was dope, and it just boggled my mind that a dude just didn’t care. I think you had on like a tank top and some crazy colored shorts or something. Not a lot of guys would walk out their house like that. They wouldn’t wear salmon colored shorts and a purple shirt or whatever it was…but YOU, you pull it off well.
Eric Sosa: (Still laughing) I guess you can say that that’s my third love. I just love fashion, I love looking good and feeling good. I just put together whatever I think is hot.
Ms.iLL : Would you ever put out a clothing line?
Eric Sosa : Oh! Definitely! It’s in the works, I don’t want to talk about that yet (smirks) BUT I do want to design women’s clothing especially.
Ms.iLL : Well, I like to end my interviews the same: What was your favorite old skool show growing up? Like you HAD to watch it! Like you would cry in the supermarket with your mother because you HAD to go home and watch it!
Eric Sosa : Fresh Prince of Bell Air, I NEEDED that! Til this day I need that!! I just found out that they play it in the morning at like 7am! I dead ass wake up at 7am to watch that. Regardless of what I have to do that day or what time I get home the night before, I have to get up and watch that! It’s just so iLL, the way they put it together. I love how they represented a minority family as rich and how they brought Will from the hood in to their home. Just the whole concept. And it was just fu*kin funny!
Download his latest mixtape here...