The Washington, D.C. area has always been known as the home of the funk/Latin fusion sound of Go-Go music. Now one local rapper is looking to make the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virgina) a major player in the hip hop realm as well. In the summer of 2011, Maryland-born emcee, Bobby Hagens, decided to form a committed team of like-minded people to help shine a light on his gifts as a rapper and the unheralded talent of his region. Along with Gene Edwards and Devin Page, Bobby created the Movado Music Group (MVG). In just over a year, the three childhood friends have already made MVG a brand to keep an eye on.
Earlier this year, Bobby released his debut mixtape My Beautiful Mind. The 15 track free albumis a compelling look into the psyche of a young man who has faced serious personal difficulties, but isn’t afraid to confront his heartaches while the world listens in. From Marvin Gaye & Janis Joplin to Mary J. Blige & Eminem, musicians have long used the recording booth as a replacement for the confessional booth. What goes into the microphone as an artist’s pain, comes out of the speakers as beautiful music. Bobby’s willingness to share his intimate self-reflections with his audience is truly the stuff legends are made of.
DZI: The Voice got the opportunity to interview Mr. Hagens, and the up-and-coming emcee touched on losing his father, his definition of love, and what the future holds. Go further into the beautiful mind of the DMV’s Bobby Hagens.
Yohance Kyles: You’re fairly new at making music. When did you first discover your voice as an artist?
Bobby Hagens: I discovered my voice when I was 15 years old. I used to engage in battle rapping after school.
YK: You grew up in Maryland. What was it like being raised in the D.C. area?
BH: Everything was chill for the most part. I love where I’m from. It’s a part of my music, another side I feel like people from this area haven’t heard before.
We knew with the core group that we do have, we can accomplish great things if we keep God first and trust one another.
YK: What inspired you and your friends to start Movado Music Group?
BH: We wanted to do everything ourselves. Not to many people want to lend people hand outs in this industry. We knew with the core group that we do have, we can accomplish great things if we keep God first and trust one another.
YK: What was your reaction the first time you heard your own voice over a track?
BH: It was crazy to me. I honestly didn’t like what I heard at all. I thought I sounded like a 12 year old child. I knew I had a long way to go in order to be where I wanted to be as an artist.
YK: You’re very honest about painful situations from your life in your music. Was it hard to open up and be so vulnerable on record?
BH: Surprisingly, no. Funny thing is…outside of music, I never really open up about my personal life. But through music I let it all go. Kind of my way of venting.
YK: On songs like “My Beautiful Mind” and “Gang of Roses” you talk about the death of your father. How has losing your father at a young age affected you as a person and as an artist?
BH: Losing my father affected me in ALL aspects of my life. I had a stepfather but he is not my biological. It just was never the same.
YK: You also address the difficulty of relationships in your music. What should listeners take away from Bobby Hagens’s opinion of love?
BH: Love is defined differently in all relationships. I can’t speak for other people, but I can only share what I have experienced in hope that I can relate to a listener/fan.
YK: On “For What its Worth” you have a line where you say “they say you from DMV. How far you think you gonna take it?” Besides Wale, DC doesn’t have many artists represented on the national stage. Can you see the DMV ever having a dominant run in hip hop like other major markets like L.A., Atlanta, & Miami?
BH: Of course I can. There are a lot of artists from here who don’t get the credit they deserve. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion.
It was a blessing to get the positive feedback and actually getting the opportunity to touch individuals with my music.
YK: The tracks on your mixtape feature a lot of soul and jazz production. This hasn’t been the main sound in hip hop in recent years. At any point did you worry that today’s rap fans may not connect with that style of music?
BH: I’d be lying if I said no…so of course. But at the same time I have great people around me who told me to stay true to myself and go with what I feel and the rest will fall into place. It was a blessing to get the positive feedback and actually getting the opportunity to touch individuals with my music.
YK: What artists have influenced you musically?
BH: Artists that have influenced me musically are: Lauryn Hill, Aaliyah, Nas, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Big K.R.I.T., and Rick Ross.
YK: If you had to choose only 5 albums you could listen to for the rest of your life, what would they be?
BH: Those 5 albums would have to be: Reasonable Doubt, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, American Gangster, Confessions, and The Love Below.
YK: How do you feel about the current state of hip hop culture locally and nationally?
BH: I think it’s amazing because lyricism and making music with emotion that people can relate to has flourished again. There are so many types/genres of hip-hop now. I think it’s great.
YK: What’s next for Bobby Hagens and MVG?
BH: Right now we are working on the new project. New videos dropping this summer. Drew Reigns Moon Walk mixtape will drop July 31st. We are just trying to continue to grow and reach people that we haven’t reached yet.