Josiah The Gift: «The Umbrella Collective can do something historic»
We interviewed Josiah The Gift, talented MC from the Umbrella collective, who told us about how he joined this crew, his latest double album “Mightier Than the Sword”, his journey in music, his goals, the next steps and much more…
Thank You Josiah for letting us ask you a few questions and for giving your time to us. First of all we would like you to introduce yourself to those who may not know you: who is Josiah The Gift? Where do you come from and what’s your background?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: Greatly appreciated. First off, my name is Josiah the Gift. I was born and partially raised in Brooklyn. The other partial is in Jersey.
How was your passion for Hip-Hop born and when did you start writing your first rhymes? And how has your musical path evolved up to now? Where does your name come from?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: My passion for Hip-Hop was born early. My earliest recollection is from my pops djin’ parties with my uncle early on.
He used to record a lot of episodes of Dj Ralph Mcdaniels “Video Music Box”, so when he left the nest, he left a bunch of vinyl and tapes.
Then as time went on I got old enough to start grasping the concepts of bars, and things of that nature through my cousin pops & my boy Seth.
He used to stay with all the albums, and exclusive mixtapes, so when we went to his crib the love for it built, and I started penning my own rhymes.
My music path has evolved from experiencing life, and breaking a lot down into pros and cons of our actions. When I first started I viewed music from the reckless perspective, but as I matured I’m able to give insight on the consequences of the reckless without sounding too preachy. With growth I started to balance it out well.
My name comes from my mom and dad. My father’s name is Josiah, and I’ve always been told that my name is from a young king in the Bible that was for the people, so the idea of that resonated with me, and I decided to stick with the name that was given to me from birth.
The gift comes from me. I feel like I’m bringing something unique to the culture, so it’s a gift to the ones that appreciate it.
Now you have joined The Umbrella collective . Can you explain better what this collective is about and how and why did you become part of it?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: The Umbrella is just a group of hungry talented mc’s that brought our talents & dedication together to start a movement. The idea was presented to me by a talented producer that was already in it, and he asked if I would like to join. Once I heard all of the mcs, I knew that we were capable of doing something historic if we all stayed focused, so I decided it was the right move
In recent months you got our attention thanks to the release of your album “Mightier Than The Sword”: can you tell us what is the concept behind this album and why did you decide to divide it into two parts and release it in two different moments?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: The concept behind the album came from just penning some of my best rhymes and knowing that it would stand the test of time more than any weapon could. Powerful words from our great leaders are more memorable than great wars. Or at least stays in our minds longer than wars.
For example, of course we speak on the east vs west beef of our late greats Tupac & Biggie(R.I.P.) but the music they left behind left a greater mark than the issues.
If I play Juicy right now you’d know that shit word for word right? Those bars(words) is everlasting.
I decided to break it into 2 parts for numerous reason. It started off as a suggestion from Mickey Diamond to create a double disc. At first I was gonna make it a single disc, but then once I ran through all the records I thought to myself that there’s no reason to sit on these records if they all flow together well once they’re sequenced.
As I was putting the pieces together, the first half of the album displayed the sword aspect (side A) and the second half gave more meaning to the pen(side B), and how it can inspire for positive changes in life for the ones that don’t get that message from music often.
Another reason I split it and gave it to the consumer in two different moments, is because the attention span in music isn’t as broad as it was in the past, so I wanted to give the supporters time to digest each side equally. It was a risk, but I think I was successful at doing that.
We think that this album, besides being beautifully rhymed, is excellently produced and put together in its tracks as well. What was the creative process behind this album? And who participated in the production and made the beats? Is there a song you prefer more than the others?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: The creative process was me just creating records. It started off with the song “Pray 4 me” by 88 blessed. He set the tone with that one off the Rip! The baseline was hypnotizing, and just set everything off.
I was able to create pretty quickly. My guy Martin at Copenhagen Crates couldn’t believe I was able to create a body of work so quickly, but the hunger grew after my last release.
It didn’t get the recognition I think it deserved, so I was salivating to capture a “Are you kidding me,” moment. Like y’all really sleeping on me? The producer that laced it were 88 blessed, Chuck Chan, Level 13 on the intro, Word Strategy aka Professor Moriarty, Imperitiv, MIGHTYHEALTHY, Stinky J, Jamil Honesty, SB 11, Fiqquow, Mosbeats, SSUPERNICE, Krazyfingaz, Onaje Jordan, Proffeny, and Clyptobeatz.
I was sitting on some of the production waiting on the right moment to use them, and some came as I was recording. SB11 hit me with a few that I recorded on the spot because the production was crazy. I had just connected with a great engineer by the name of Timepiece that brought the mixing and mastering to another level, and made sure he brought my vision to life.
Everything just fell into place perfectly.
My favorite record changes each day for different reasons, so I can’t pick a favorite, but if I had to, I’d say “Pray 4 Me.”, because it was one of those records where the beat spoke to me, and I knew exactly what I had to do. Rewrote parts of the verses a few times to get it right, and it came out exactly how I planned it. Timepiece knew I had a gem when he heard that one. Lol.
I think he enjoyed mixing it the most.
And how were the featurings with other rappers born?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: The featuring were born from just the appreciation I had for each MC’s craft. From Pro Dillinger, to Supreme Cerebral, to Substance 810, to Jamil Honesty, to P.U.R.E. to K-prez, to Ace Cannons, to Squeegie O, to King MICAH, and the list goes on. I just respected what they were trying to accomplish in their own way, and reached out for them to join me in making this project memorable, and they accepted the invitation graciously. Salute to all them.
What other albums do you think are the most important of your career to date?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: I’d say this album, and my first one(Iron Mic) is the most important at the moment. “Iron mic” started everything, and was well received by my peers. I consider that my “I’m here,” moment. “Mightier than the sword” is the one that let everybody know that this isn’t a fluke, and I have something to say.
I’d say it’s the most well received at the moment, and has opened doors the most.
To hear people say “it’s a breath of fresh air” is one of the biggest compliments I can get, because it’s hard to seperate yourself in an overly saturated market, so for it be a eye opener is appreciated on so many levels.
Did you get feedback for the “Mightier Than the Sword” album from someone you weren’t expecting? Do you think this album could launch your name in the underground scene and how do you think you can carve out more space from here?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: Yea man. Few people hit me up telling me they heard my shit, and fuck with it. Gotta thumbs up from one of the illest producers of the 90’s also. That was wild. I don’t want to get into any names, but there’s been a few artists that put their egos to the side, and commended me on making a dope body of work.
I appreciate and admire that forreal!
Is there a current producer or MC with whom you would particularly like to collaborate in the future?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: Ummmm, Premo is on my bucket list. Wanted to work with Dj Premier since I heard “Hard to Earn.” Another producer that I want to work with that I think can elevate my sound, but keep it true is Knxwldege. He’s one of the most versatile producers out there, and I’d love to bounce ideas with him.
As far as artists, I don’t have a particular one that I’m focused on getting with, but I’d like to work with all the mcs that can push my pen beyond the limit. I’ve worked with a few that’s capable of doing that, and it helped me elevate my craft, so whoever is willing to work with me, and is good vibes, I’m down to work with.
Do you already have something ready for the near future? What are your next steps and what about The Umbrella Collective?
JOSIAH THE GIFT: Yes I do. Got another full length project titled “Lavish Language Volume 1” coming out that is gonna be another moment. It’s with my guy Bishop. He’s a producer that people are gonna get very familiar with this year, so stay tuned for that.
Also gotta few eps I’m dropping, and hopefully The Umbrella Collective can get you guys an album this year or early next year as well. Stay tuned.😉