Thank you OT for this opportunity as we’re fans of your shit. We would like to begin asking you about your background and where you’re from. Which area of Philadelphia are you from and how would you describe that area? What are the best and worst sides of your city from your point of view?
OT THE REAL: Actually, I’m not from Philly. I came here on the run from the police for drug sales, most people know the story by now. When I came to Philly I landed in Kensington. This city you can make $1000 and/or get murdered on every other corner. It’s nasty out here. Gotta move right.
What are the first moments you fell in love with Hip-Hop culture as a kid, what are your earliest memories of it?
OT THE REAL: The first DMX album I’d say really got me into the pain music. And Eminem’s first album. But before all that I was listening to “Whoomp There It Is” playin’ basketball as a kid
We heard that you actually started rapping when you were in jail, during freestyle battles and being able to sit down to reflect and write about your personal experience … is that correct? When were you in jail and when did you get out? At what age? Can you tell us something more about your story?
OT THE REAL: I was in jail at 17-18 years-old. Then when I was 25, I went away until I was 30. I played sports, worked out, and wrote constantly. I was fine but jail’s no fun.
What motivated and inspired you to take this rap thing seriously once you were released from jail?
OT THE REAL: What motivated me was was the simple fact that I’m so much nastier than everyone else. Everyone was like, get a job, and I was just like, nilzaw. In Philly “Nilzaw” means “fuck no”.
Is there anyone in particular who pushed and helped you to take this career further ? And did you always feel confident in your skills and abilities to be able to take your space in the Hip-Hop market for you, coming from a competitive city like Philadelphia?
OT THE REAL: A lot of rappers in Philly helped me. You name them, they probably helped me in some sort of fashion. I wasn’t always this confident in my skills because I felt like I was really good at selling drugs and setting up networks. I thought that was gonna last. I was immature and naive to what would come. Rap was a hobby then”
From 2019 to now, with this latest project produced by Statik Selektah, “Maxed Out”, you have shown everybody that you have the talent and interesting real stories to tell your listeners. In fact, you’ve always preferred to focus on a certain type of street lyrical rap rather than looking for success with radio hits. You have also collaborated with legends of this genre such as Styles P, DJ Green Lantern, Freeway, Beanie Sigel, Vinnie Paz, Benny The Butcher and some others, getting their “co-sign”.
What made you want to stay in this particular reality Rap lane? What do you want to convey or represent through your lyrics? How the collaborations and mutual respect with these Rap greats were born?
OT THE REAL: If you listen to my first album in 2019, “OT The Real,” you’ll see I came in the game with melodic joints and bars. That’s why Republic was fuckin’ with us at the time, but we ended up dropping it with Empire.
As I started to work with different producers, we would get our own sound. We never said, let’s make this street or let’s do this, we just made it. Crack is crack. The relationships come when the music is being seen and people fuck with it. Every feature got a story and relationships behind it.
How was this collaborative album with Statik Selektah “Maxed Out” born? Is there a track you are more attached to than the others?
OT THE REAL: This project was born when I had did Statik’s show on Shade45 and he played an instrumental that I liked, which ended up being the track “Windows” on the album. I wrote all the tracks while on tour with Benny The Butcher, moving all around the county.
How did the intro track “Loyalty” with Wallo, Gillie Da Kid and Shaquille O’Neal come out? What makes the concept of Loyalty so important to you?
OT THE REAL: Loyalty is everything. Gillie, Wallo, and Shaq have all showed me a lot of love over the last couple years. Shaq DM’d me from his desk at “NBA On TNT” during a break. Then he sent me a video playing my song “God’s House”.
Gillie posted me a few times on IG and I got a lot of followers off it. Like 10-20K followers. And Wallo always has held me down and tried to plug me into situations. So when they were all together on “Million Dollars Worth of Game” podcast, #1 podcast by the way, I was humbled, grateful, and motivated by what Shaq had to say about me to them. I wanted to make sure the world heard it on this intro.
What’s better than loyalty?
Philadelphia has given birth to many very dope MCs. What’s your Philadelphia top 5 ever and right now?
OT THE REAL: No order. Beans, Meek, Black Thought, Jihad, and my personal fave was AR-Ab. He didn’t have to get super lyrical to still make you feel that pain. Ab was for the trenches.
Right now it’s probably Leaf, Ward, Rocky, Toure, Rida, and then there’s some kids that are really takin’ off, I don’t know they names though. I don’t put myself because the people do that shit for me
Is there one of your projects that you think represents you better than others or do you feel more personal? How would you rank them all?
OT THE REAL: Each project reflects a certain part of my life when I wrote it. It’s all personal. I don’t rank them. Some stuff I don’t even listen to because I don’t like going back to the mental space I was in when I wrote them.
I’m very lucky to have made it here and have the things and people in my life that I do. I intend to keep going forward.
Is there anything else coming out soon? And what are your next goals?
OT THE REAL: My goals are set and as the numbers climb, we reach closer to them every second of every day. Right now it’s “Maxed Out” season. The first music I ever wrote where I was completely out of the system and FREE. I’m MAXED OUT“.