Blvck Slabb Talks Music and Prison Reform
Written by L. Burner on 6 July 2020
The year was 2017! Level Up Grand Slam was the most prestigious artist contest on the east coast in years! The judges consisted of major label execs, terrestrial radio, celebrities, Allhiphop.com and Jasmine Sullivan and Capone of CNN just walked through for good measure. Artists in the region competed for $1000 cash and a radio and publicity tour. With record execs present, the sky was the limit! Competition was fierce! An artist named Blvck Slabb stepped on stage. This was his first performance. He only expected to get exposure and be able to network. But Blvck’s captivating style of storytelling entranced the entire room and he walked away with the grand prize! How’s that for a debut performance? Just like that, Blvck became the cool kid on the block! His following grew quickly. Within months he was playing major venues like The Du Pont Theater.
He continued to release new music. Before the summer ended he had opened for Freeway. Blvck also put on for his city, Wilmington with a highly anticipated show in Philadelphia called “Blvck & Friends.” His fanbase went up top from Delaware to support. It was a total takeover as Blvck shut it down, even outshining the local Philly artists on their own turf! These days, Blvck is on a mission to make music that, among other things, speaks to those caught up in the judicial system. His special focus is a concept of music therapy for the incarcerated. He is currently working to get his music in their restrictive streaming system to lay the foundation for his initiative. Kiss 101.7 FM caught up with the talented rapper to discuss what is next in his career.
Q. I understand you won a major contest and it was your first solo performance. What was that experience like and how has your career path changed since then?
A. Honestly, when I entered the contest, I really wanted to see and support the other artists that were a part of the contest. I was so excited to actually be apart of something of that magnitude! It was also the first time I had showcased my talent in front people since I was seven, and I was very nervous. It really all happened so fast! One minute I’m in the crowd cheering on the other artists. The next minute my name is being called and I’m on stage. The only thing I could hear was my heart until the music started. I closed my eyes and went for the gusto and gave it my all. To my surprise everyone started singing along with me word for word! When it was announced that I was the winner I couldn’t believe it! Definitely one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. Since then, I have been full sail. I have accumulated a lot of new fans and supporters and I continue to till this day.
Q. What is the meaning of your name Blvck Slabb?
A. The name Blvck Slabb has meaning that exceeds all expectation. Blvck stands for the black people that we are, strong and proud. Slabb stands for (Sleeping Legends Awake Being Blessed).
Q. You’re one of those rappers that tells great stories and cautionary tales and overall are just very lyrical. What is your process and inspiration?
A. I find inspiration from anywhere really, but I tend to write my greatest songs at low points of my life or when I see others at low points in their lives. I feel as if you cant write something that’s heartfelt unless you’ve witnessed heartache. The process that I go through when I write a track is something that never changes. I honestly tend to zone out and let my mind wonder until it gets to a breaking point. When it reaches that point, then I go past it and an amazing track is made. I mean I have to be doing something right because people are definitely listening.
Q. What are some of your favorite songs in your catalogue and why?
A. “Glory to God,” “Who’s Gonna Stop Me, ” “Legend,” “Humble, ” “The Way I Feel,” “Icon,” “Questions,” “Hard Truth,” “Cruise Control,” “Catch My Breath” and “Black Pride.” I pick this songs because they all show the growth in me. “Glory to God” was the beginning it was raw and in your face. Not gonna lie, I was angry when I wrote that track. Upset at the world and politics tired of being treated like a second rate citizen. “Black Pride” is the growth and it shows the pride that I have in my culture and my heritage. I am proud to be a black man and I will shout it until I cant anymore.
Q. Who are some of your favorite music artists of various genres?
A. Jcole, Al Green, James Brown, All That Remains, Avenged Sevenfold, Nas etc…
Q. I understand that you made a concerted effort to get your music into the prison system. Why is that so important to you?
A. I highly believe that people in prison need a different outlet. It’s been proven that music is a therapeutic treatment that can change lives. I want the inmates in prison to feel as if someone is speaking directly to them, that every song is a story about their lives. I want them to feel a personal connection to each and every song they get to hear. I hope I can change some lives. This way my message is meant to uplift.
Q. What other programs and initiatives do you think would be conducive to those incarcerated?
A.That’s simple. Music! I feel as if the inmates had a musical outlet it would make a huge change. Give them a class where they can learn a trade in musical arts. Teach them how to play an instrument, give them access ton a computer with Microsoft Word so they can write some music. Trust me when I say the change will be evident.
Q. What do you think needs to happen to intervene with recidivism?
A. That is something that’s simple in my eyes. When these inmates become civilians again they need a positive outlet, be it an honest job or picking up a trade. I feel as if the system is built for us to fail. When you get out of jail you are marked with the convict label, which stops you from getting a job or any type of assistance. With no job to make honest money they tend to stray off the path and end up doing what got them put in jail the first place because that’s the only way they know. We have to change the outcome.
Q. I see that you’re a happily married man and put a high priority on family life. What is your philosophy on marriage and family?
A. Love is my motto. When I got married nothing changed in my eye. My family just got bigger. Family and marriage are one and one if you ask me. As long as my wife and my family have my back I can do anything. The sky is literally the limit.
Q. How do you think some of the negative themes in Hip Hop like violence and misogyny affect the concept of relationships, family, and brotherhood, especially in the minds of young impressionable people and what’s your take on offsetting those issues?
A. Sad to say this is what Hip Hop has become. Every song you hear nowadays in main stream Hip Hop has no substance and most likely all they do is talk about women in a disrespectful manner or glorifying killing someone that looks just like you. All and all its gonna end up being the end of us as a strong people. The best way to change the stigmatism is to change the music we hear. Something I’ve learned is that music transcends all languages and that’s how I plan to change not just my community but also the world and that’s a fact. As I say at the beginning and the end of every track, “SLABB UP!”
Hard Truth by Blvck Slabb
“As I Am” by Blvck Slabb is available on all streaming platforms.