The Last Baron of New York
BY Tyrus Townsend
April 15 2009 12:00 AM ET
So tell me about your sophomore release,
. What was the inspiration and direction of this project?Celebrity
is a smash-up album of hip-hop, tribal, electro, and punk rock
that dissects the celebrity phenomenon in a personal way. My
influences range from hip-hop (Notorious B.I.G. and Tone Loc)
to electronica (Goldfrapp and Esthero) to Hall & Oates and
So it's safe to say that
is different from your 2004 debut,
Very much so.
is an upbeat celebratory project that is meant to breathe and
inspire and give hope to the world. I wrote in my liner notes,
"I told myself that this time I was writing for the world.
I'm not sure if it truly worked out. I keep writing
anyways." The standout singles are "Party With b,"
"Grown Ass Man," and the title track,
"Celebrity." All of these cuts invoke partying and coming
into your own and being comfortable in your own skin. I also
had full creative control of this album, from the artwork to
the packaging to writing on every track on this project.
Which artists have influenced you and why?
Kanye. He produces and writes, is a risk-taker and
multitalented. Madonna has a knack for "becoming the
album." Timbaland, Sam Sparro, M.I.A -- she is on the edge
and not mainstream and her music makes one think -- the
album, and Aretha Franklin for her versatility.
So tell me about "your first time."
My first performance was at a coffee shop in Newark and it was
not willingly. My cousin placed my name on the open-mike list
and I was very surprised when they called my name. The crowd
was very receptive to what I had to say, and riding upon that
vibe I continued to perform more frequently until my nerves
were right. Luckily things changed for me after meeting fellow
poet-musician ButtaFlySoul at the River to River Poetry Slam in
Harlem. Up until then, I thought I was the only guy talking
about gay issues in the black community. The heterosexual
community has embraced me like no other. I came out to my
grandmother at age 15 and at that particular time I identified
as gay. If you would have met me years ago, I would have
identified as gay. Sexuality, to me, is more individual, and to
identify as gay is limiting. We lose who we are when boxed into
a category, and when that is done we tend not to connect with
others of the human race.