It’s not everyday you come across a gold-grilled rapper with a song dedicated entirely to coffee. But then again, Eric Biddines isn’t your everyday southern rapper. Over the past few years’ the Florida resident has been building a strong name for himself, winning over fans with his effortless blend of smooth soul and creative wordplay. From going on tour with Danny Brown, to his latest video ‘Railroads Down/Unfinished’ featuring on MTV Jams, it's hard to deny that Eric Biddines is on a mission to take southern FLA worldwide. With his unique approach and southern charm, it’s only a matter of time before Eric Biddines becomes a household name, but not before reminding us that “you’re never too big for the place that raised you.” He’s a classic southern act with a twist, and his recent album ‘Planetcoffeebean 2’ is proof that the south has more than something to say, it has something to prove.
We chat to Eric Biddines about what it means to be a classic southern act, his first time headlining sold out shows and how Andre 3000 basically saved his life. Jesse Kuss writes.
After growing up listening to Motown/R&B music and the likes of Al Green and Luther Vandross, you were introduced to southern hip hop by your cousin at the age of 12. How did both of these styles influence you when it came to developing your own sound?
I believe Motown gave me my soul and contributed heavily on my production choice. The southern influence gave me this regional tone and deeper respect of our southern lifestyle and heritage. I began to respect our language a lot more, even today I'm a very southern oriented artist. We don't have many originals left being that the internet gave us access to so many different traditions. I guess you can call me a classic southern act.
You don’t smoke or drink, a decision you made after hearing a line on the Outkast song 'ATLiens' - "No drugs or alcohol so I can get the signal clear as day." What was it about that line that had such a strong impact on you?
This was at a time when I was living in the housing projects Carver Estates in Delray Beach, and drugs and violence were all around so you know, although it was wrong, the peer pressure to cooperate was heavy. I have an incredible mother that raised me well but when Andre 3000 said that in a song as if it was a gift, that threw me off! He was confident and I was barely a teen and it connected with me. In some ways it saved my life because not many made it out of that place I was in. It also strengthened my self control.
You’ve just released the video for ‘Railroads Down/Unfinished’ off your most recent album ‘Planetcoffebean 2.’ You have mentioned that the song is a metaphor for the struggles you have faced in the music industry stating that "It’s up to us to lay the railroads down in a way that would lead us to freedom." What has your journey as an independent artist been like so far?
The journey can be an amazing headache to say the least. I love the struggle, but some of the obstacles are a little dated and most industry people or “gatekeepers” focus more on this winning formula attitude. If it worked before they want to put a little twist on it, spell the name Yung instead of Young. That's just an example. But for me I was always trying to be a step ahead of folks and what I was told not to do is what people are loving today. I was told not to sing as much, rap harder, remove my gold teeth, get a crunk beat etc. So my back was against the wall like the slaves faced with a decision to submit or take that leap of faith, and I did. Now I’m laying my own tracks and that determines how my ride will turn out.
‘Planetcoffeebean’ is described as an alternative lifestyle that embraces thinking and living outside of the box. How does that translate in your music and what do you hope your fans can take away from this approach to life?
I hope my fans can embrace it in a way that they take 110% control of their thought process. I feel with that I will have the most creative fans on earth! I attract a lot of ‘me,’ meaning the people that really love me are like me in a way and we all have the urge to live an alternative lifestyle. There are no rules. I'm an artist first but I also want to empower my fans to become some sort of entrepreneur. If I impact even half of my fans the way that Outkast impacted me then the world will have a bright future.
You put a lot of emphasis on the fact that you are a local artist first and you even have your grammy speech prepared in dedication to the ‘local artist'. Why is it so important for you to shine light on home-grown talent and continue to represent where you’re from in the way that you do?
Not just my specific home, but everyone's home. We all have a start and it begins in your local community. You’re never too big for the place that raised you. Although I'm gaining success I still feel no different than the people around me that may not have these opportunities. You’re in Australia and you came to me, BET came to us, MTV, VH1, Revolt, everyone. All while I remained local. With that humble mind-set, you as an artist or driven person have no choice but to be moved by a person who could any day now take over the world and still consider himself a local artist. I don't care about titles.
You recently spent some time in the UK, teaming up with producer Paul White to form the duo Golden Rules. How did that partnership come about and what can we expect from the two of you in the near future?
Long story short (laughs). I went on tour with Danny Brown in Florida and his manager Dart Parker loved me. A mutual friend, Alex Chase from London, who manages Danny Brown's producer Paul White, caught wind of me and flew me and my manager T-green out to London. We recorded about 17 songs and it came out epic! At the moment we are in talks with some labels to see what will be the best way to release the music. That project is very different, like never before heard. Think Gnarles Barkley by Cee-lo and Danger Mouse. I'm excited to see how the world digests that.
We are starting to see more and more independent artists go on to have successful careers without a major recording deal and, more importantly, on their own terms. How do you define success and what do you hope to accomplish as an artist?
Success to me was my first real headlining show for my "The Frozen Lake" EP release. I would have never thought I would do that ever. I'm not hard to please. But that day my team and I made it happen and we packed the venue. Major artists have played that same venue and didn't do it. As far as my label situation, Richie Abbott, an industry veteran that plays an executive/management role in my career, has some interesting options for us. The calls are definitely happening but I'm proud to say none of us are in any kind of rush. Like you said, a lot of people are having success without and at this moment that's definitely an option we’re exercising. We may just license projects out, something I’m surprised more acts don't do. It would be cool to own my masters.
You have said that you use your full name because at the time you couldn’t think of a cool enough rap name. Who do you think has the best pseudonym in the history of hip hop?
I would have to say Big K.R.I.T. (King Remembered In Time). I'm also a huge fan of Big K.R.I.T. and hope one day we can collaborate and tour together. It will happen.
What stimulates your soul?
Meeting interesting people; those first conversations are always so hydrating. Learning the differences and similarities you have with other humans, especially from different backgrounds. I love that.
Planetcoffeebean2 is available now via Amazon, Google Play, iTunes or ericbiddines.com
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