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02: Def Goldbloom

Photo by Def Goldbloom

Friends,

This is the first of what I hope to be many Q&A sessions with talented, objective and brilliant people in the world of hip-hop and beyond.

I first came across Def Goldbloom and his channel a few months back and before I knew it, I had watched his entire channel in one sit without even blinking. I was so impressed that I made it a mission to find out more and share his insights with you all.

I’d like to thank him for his time and collaboration.

But anyway, let’s get back to business….

Q: Firstly, tell us about yourself, your Youtube channel and all the content you produce. How did you get into this and what’s the inspiration behind it?

DG: “I started this Youtube channel about 9 months ago, but I’ve been telling myself and other people about it for almost 5 years. I love watching video essays, but I found that there was a lack of creators making content about the kind of hip-hop that I liked most. I spent a long time waiting for the right video idea, or until I learned how to edit better, but eventually I got tired of waiting and realized that I needed a place to express myself creatively.”

Q: Describe your journey and relationship with hip-hop, both as a musical genre and a culture. What kind of impact does it have on your life daily and overall? Why do you think this art form has resulted in sparking your own creativity and output?

DG: “I wasn’t raised in a household that listened to hip-hop so I grew up listening to oldies like Frank Sinatra and The Drifters. It wasn’t until I got my first iPod that I realized I needed more to listen to and I went and downloaded everything on my older brother's iTunes. Without having any knowledge of modern hip-hop styles and trends, I suddenly acquired the taste of my brother, and I became a 13 year old in 2010 listening to A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, and Binary Star. I’m not sure what it was exactly that I fell in love with about the art form but I couldn’t stop diving deeper into the genre. I’m sort of an obsessive person, so when I get into something, I make it my mission to learn everything about it. I spent the next decade of my life realizing that this music is my favorite thing in the world. I never had the musical talent to rap or make beats but in college I realized that I had a passion for video editing. Since I started this channel I feel a real kinship with the artists that I’ve loved for so many years. I view my videos as a sort of sampling, piecing together visuals and audio to relay the best product to the viewer. Its my hope that my videos are able to become a companion piece to albums and artists that I love and not just a channel where I talk about music.”

Q: Your videos have focused on a great variety of artists that stretch across hip-hop’s spectrum and tastebuds. Are you somebody that levitates towards a particular sound and style, or do you just let an artist take you through a journey first, before assessing your thoughts and analysis of their work? I’m curious to know what aspects resonate with you as a fan, and what aspects resonate with you as a content creator. Is there an overlap in this process?

DG: “I try to have an appreciation for all forms of hip-hop, but my ears always gravitate towards the classics. Anything with a jazzy beat and a soul sample is guaranteed to catch my ear. With that being said, I love all types of rap, there's definitely artists in every corner of the genre that I love. The one thing that I respect most in an artist is versatility. As a fan it always would resonate with me when an artist would try something different on every album. That’s what made me fall in love with the music of Blu and Kanye who are probably my 2 favorite artists ever. As a creator my interest in these types of artists has only grown stronger. If an artist uses a variety of sounds and styles then they are much more interesting to talk about. And I try to involve this approach in my videos as well. I don’t want to settle into a specific video style when I find one that works, I want to keep pushing myself to try new things and get better as a creator.”

Q: Your video on Mach Homey was exceptional. Can you talk about him and his music from your perspective for a bit? For starters, what is it about Mach that grabs your attention? And what was the approach to creating something so in depth around somebody so enigmatic and lowkey? Was Mach a particularly good case study for your content?

DG: “I immediately gravitated to Mach-Hommy because he reminded me so much of the feeling I got when I was discovering hip-hop back in the day. There’s nothing like discovering an artist you love and then going back to hear all of their catalog, and I was at a point where I feared I might never have that again. Obviously there will always be more artists to discover and music to hear, but there was a certain magic wth the 90’s rappers who originally got me into hip-hop that I hadn’t felt in a long time. When I discovered Mach it was like I unlocked a new world of music. I was late to the game, first hearing of him in 2019, so learning that he had almost 20 albums that I got to experience for the first time was extraordinary. And the mystique around him was definitely fascinating. Everything from the mask, to the difficulty of finding his music, to his excessive use of the word Dump, it all was intriguing and backed up the music as something that I needed to know more about.”

Q: Describe the process behind making this video and your other work. Do you find that with some projects and personnel, it’s easier for the work to fall into place? I’m interested to know how much work goes into these, because you go into a lot of depth – it’d be great to know what goes through your mind when critically thinking about these things.

DG: “I have a long list of video ideas in my phone, I pretty much listen to music all day and ideas for videos are always coming to me. But the hard part for every video is writing the script. I’ve had a lot of videos that I was planning on making after my very first video, but I just never found the right motivation for the script. I can’t really explain it, sometimes the words come to me and sometimes they don’t, but every video relies completely on having an interesting script. There’s a fine line between making an informative but interesting video and just listing off facts and sounding like a wikipedia page. A lot of my videos require a lot of research, but every video is made because I’m passionate about the topic. A lot of my motivation to write is to have an outlet to talk about things that I love. In real like I may never be able to talk about the greatness of Blu or Mach-Hommy, but here I’m able to put it all out there.”

Q: What do you enjoy about your hip-hop based ventures and fandom the most?

DG: “Since I started this channel and before this when I joined hip-hop twitter, it feels like I’ve found a community of like minded people who all share a deep love for the same art, it’s awesome. As I said earlier there aren’t many people in my day to day life that I can talk about this stuff with, so it’s been a great experience. Through this community I’ve discovered so many incredible rappers and producers that I probably never would have heard of. And it goes the other way too, there’s nothing that feels better than putting someone on to a new artist that they’ve never heard of. A few people have reached out to me and told me that they showed my Mach-Hommy video to a friend in order to teach them about him, which is so dope to me. I’m so hyped I get to help spread the word of dope hip-hop through my videos, that’s what my channel is all about.”

Q: What do the words Identity, Lifestyle and Logic mean to you respectively? What part does hip-hop play in these areas of your own life (if any)?

DG: “This is a very interesting question to me because I feel like my Identity and my Lifestyle are very different. I’m a suburban kid who works a boring 9 to 5, but while I work I have my earphones in listening to Gang Starr or The Pharcyde. I Identify as someone who lives, breathes and sleeps hip-hop and music, but my lifestyle doesnt really reflect that, which is something that I want to change. There were times in my life where hip-hop was more intertwined with my lifestyle, I used to be an intern at Hot 97 in New York so I literally was living “Where Hip-Hop Lives”. I hope that someday I can build my Youtube channel into something that can get my lifestyle more involved in hip-hop culture and I think I’m on that pace. I’m not sure exactly what that will look like, but as long as I keep making content that’s authentic to me and to hip-hop then I hope I can bridge that gap more.”

Q: Based on what I see from your work, you’re extremely thoughtful, analytical and objective in your breakdown of music. Is this a default approach, or is it something where you need to set time aside to really listen to a project, or an artist’s collections and fully grasp it?

DG: “This definitely is my default approach, my whole life I’ve been the type of person to research everything about a particular movie or show that I’m into, and the same goes for music. When creating my videos, while I am naturally driven to have a full understanding of the topic, its also motivated by doing the music justice. There aren’t a lot of videos on most of the artists and topics that I choose, so if I am the definitive voice of information on that topic, I want to make sure that I am not half assing it. When I first started my channel I was trying to do 1 video a week, but that ended up leaving them feeling rushed and unfinished. Specifically when I got to my video on the Alchemist, it was a 5 minute video trying to talk about an over 30 year career. It was at that point that I realized that if I wanted to be proud of my work, I would need to go deeper and provide more of a full story for the viewers.”

Q: What do you want your work to do for yourself, for others and for hip-hop overall? Where will we see Def Goldbloom in the short term (say, this time next year) and beyond in the long term?

DG: “This channel is really my creative outlet, during quarantine I found myself needing a way to express myself outside of the mundanity of my everyday life. Through these videos I’ve been able to make art that I hope can be a companion piece to the music I love so much. My sort of mission whenever I make a video is that I want to make something that I would want to watch. So I hope that theres people out there that I can scratch a similar itch for. In a year from now my main thing is I just want to be better at making these videos. I try to get a little better with every one but I’m still far from where I want to be. In the long term I have high hopes. I’ve gotten so much joy out of this channel and the wonderful people that I’ve met since I’ve started creating. I hope that someday I will be able to do something in this vein for a career, whether or not that means creating content as Def Goldbloom on Youtube full time, or making videos of some kind in the industry remains to be seen.”

Q: Lastly, tell us what Def Goldbloom has on repeat right now, and who features heavily whenever you hit a play button?

DG: “Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Al.Divino, Mach-Hommy, Count Bass D, Chris Crack, and of course Blu as always.”

Q: Any final words you'd like to say?

DG: “First I’d like to thank you for asking me to be a part of this, it really means a lot. Besides that, make sure you check out my channel, https://youtube.com/defgoldbloom I have a whole lot of videos planned for 2022 that I’m very excited about so I hope you all come along for the ride with me.”

Written by: @WhosAria

Bars Of Wisdom

In collaboration with Insight.