Running After Dreams: An Interview with 330

photo credit: s. deneen photography

It was after the instrumentals faded out on 330’s Mic Check that it really began to sink in that 330 is a star in the making.  Her flow takes you back to a time before rap gimmicks, before the money, the cars, and the unnecessary stunting…when pictures were painted with words. Yet 330’s content is futuristic and guaranteed to take hip-hop to the next level.
As a native of the suburb Harrisburg, PA, a Howard University Alum, with a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University, 330 seems like the most unlikely candidate to enter the hip-hop game.  So when we caught up, I had to know what motivated her to move beyond being one of the few  ladies rapping on The Yard with the fellas to pursuing her dream to become the newest rising star in hip-hop.
We are going to skip the usual pleasantries and jump right in. With a J.D. degree, you may very well be the most educated artist in the game; do you feel you have to prove yourself more to be taken seriously?
Nope, I don’t feel like I have to prove myself  as an hip-hop artist any more than any other artist.
It seems that Hip-Hop as a whole is growing up and becoming more educated.  Do you feel that helps your acceptance within the hip-hop community or does it even matter?
I was just listening to Lil B… so I am not sure how educated it is becoming.  But hip-hop is so powerful because of its ability to touch so many people from all walks of life.  We all know where the origins of hip hop are, and we pay homage to it.  But if hip-hop is becoming more educated then I think it is good. The result of more educated artists is probably more a result of society.  Society as a whole is becoming more educated, and I think that is reflective in hip-hop as well.
Sorry I’m Late is the title of your mixtape- I couldn’t think of a more appropriate title. Where have you been? Do you feel that waiting until completing your formal education has helped you develop as an artist?
Sometimes I regret releasing a project so late in comparison to other artists; but more so than not, I am glad I released it when I did.  I am less of a target to be manipulated by a label executive because I am an [educated] adult.  Also, I’ve been through so many life experiences- in my art, in my relationships- that helps me bring more relevance to my music.
Rap videos have glorified girl-on-girl interactions for over a decade now, then that seemed to trickle into mainstream media.  Do you feel a cultural glorification of girls liking girls will help your acceptance in a mainstream music market?
That glorification is and will help, but that is not necessarily a good thing.  But is a sad reality, our culture has always been more accepting of women to engage in homosexuality over our male counterparts.  It is a disgusting double standard that exists.  This is even more so in this industry.  I definitely have it easier than my male gay counterparts in this industry.
It seems that rapper Eve is making a comeback. I only mention her because it seems it has been a minute since a female emcee hasn’t been oversexed to sell an album.  How do you respond to the pressure of selling sex as a female emcee?
Personally, I will prescribe by simply saying no. That is not the approach I want to take.  However, I don’t have an issue with artists selling that sexy image; the problem comes in when you neglect other aspects of the person.  The question should be, “Can we also market her as a great lyricist??”  I understand marketing but it is important not to get lost in it.
My favorite track is Running After Dreams.  Who was the hardest person you had to convince that this wasn’t a hobby for you but actually a real achievable dream?
I’d have to say probably my mom.  I have had incredible support but my mother, while she is always so supportive she was the most difficult to convince.  I’ve had so many interests over the years- to be an actor, go into the Peace Corp, so because she knows me so well it was hard to win her over.  So now with all of the success, she is taking it more seriously.  But I love her for that because it makes me work harder.
What has been the hardest lesson you had to learn about the music business? Do you regret not taking a typical career path?
I don’t know if I had much of a choice in career matter because I am looking for a job…  But the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is patience.  I am really impulsive, and I when I have an idea I want to impose it right then or the next day.  However, it takes time to build to a team, to push a project, and to build a fanbase.  The other lesson would have to be respect because there are some really arrogant people in this industry.  I had to learn to work with the most difficult personalities to achieve an objective.  It is very humbling.
 I said earlier that my favorite track is Running After Dreams, but I feel that Mic Check is the best display of your flow. What is your favorite track and why?
No One– the second verse because it is just like a stream of consciousness and the beat feels kind of ol’ school with no clear pattern.  It was very much reflective of me- kinda all over the place.  But I played with my words a lot on there.  Some of the stuff was serious and some was ignorant, so it was fun to combine that on one track.
And I love Lowkey because of the beat box. My dude Max is a genius. My homie Fred – we call him Cypha Chef because he is always cooking, is on the hook, so that was a fun one. My homie Strange Fruit was also there when we were recording that track.  I was in the booth rapping and they were dancing on the engineer side.  They were feeling it, so it was just a lot of fun to record that track. It brings back good memories.
What is something your fans may be surprised to find out about you?
They will be surprised to find out about the music I listen to. I listen to everything.  There are enough people in the world and enough consumers that every type of rapper has an audience.  Some people might not be into Nicki Minaj because they are not into being a Barbie, but a lot of people are.
I was listening to Lil B just a minute ago.  I was just listening to Mendelssohn, a classical composer, earlier today.  I actually listen to every artist who hands me a cd or email a song, I listen to everybody’s music. I am not perfect and may not get to it right away, but I will listen to it.
What about it? Yeah, I studied to classical ballet from the age of 3 to 18.  I stopped to go to Howard.  I felt I wanted to explore different arts at the time in the program didn’t really allow for that.  I wanted to incorporate all of this art and expression, and I couldn’t.
Do you feel like being exposed to the arts from such a young age has helped you with your performance?
Yes, it has definitely helped because I have a lot of areas to draw from.  My metaphors and ability to paint picture are more elaborate than a lot of people. As a rapper I am more rigid in my performance though. Now, my auntie who has been so supportive thinks I should incorporate both- ballet and rap.
Kanye did it.
Kanye is a genius. But I pretty sure my auntie meant she wants me to do ballet and then start rapping…
Hilarious! Well, let’s say it is a Monday night, 9 at night, where are you and what are you doing?
Monday night…well, right now I am sitting on my couch during a phone interview. Normally, I would be sitting on my couch writing music or staring at my computer… probably drinking.  I write a lot of music at night.  But I think I write better in the morning. I just feel this constant urge to get this shit done so the pressure is on to get a verse done now.  I can’t chill. I always feel like I need to be working on something.
330 is currently working on her second mixtape that is expected to drop in June.  Also be on the lookout for her new video, Money.  She will also be performing on June 9, 2011 for the ACLU’s Statehood Event on the West Lawn U.S. Capitol Grounds.
Find 330:
twitter: @330_music
mixtape: SorryI’mLate