Written By: Wisdom
NOTE: This interview was originally conducted via e-mail February-March 2012 as part of On The Rise Magazine. Unfortunately it was never published, so I am bringing it to the masses via WISDOM SEEKER. Thank you to S1, Vohn Beatz, and Theresa Griffin for the professionalism and a dope interview opportunity.
Waco, Texas native Larry Griffin, Jr., also known as Symbolyc One (or S1), has been on my hip hop radar since I first discovered Strange Fruit Project around 2004, with the release of their album Soul Travelin’. I loved the positive lyricism and imagery that was presented by the three-man group, comprised of S1, Myth, and Myone. Their musical concoctions were similar in nature and stance to other left-of-center groups such as Little Brother, Tanya Morgan, Slum Village, and the like. Years later, S1 would garner acclaim as co-producer of Kanye West’s “Power”. He now can add “Grammy Award Winner” to the list of accolades, winning the coveted award for Best Rap Album Category with Mr. West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Along the way, his very talented son, known to the hip hop world as Vohn Beatz, is a budding producer/artist in his own right, following in his father’s blessed footsteps. After reaching out to the powers that be for S1 and Vohn Beatz, I was able to secure a dope interview (via e-mail) for both individuals. What you have here is a closer look into the musical and familial connection with S1 and Vohn Beatz.
Wisdom: It is a pleasure and honor to have this interview opportunity with a blessed producer/artist such as yourself. My first exposure to your music was with Strange Fruit Project. How did Strange Fruit Project come into being?
S1: SFP (Strange Fruit Project). My cousin Myth and I formed a group back in the day named Symbolyc Elementz (‘94 The Source Unsigned Hype). I met Myone at a job I was working at. I invited him to our session one day and after that he stayed at all our sessions we had. The music we were creating was great so we decided to form a group. We also had a female vocalist by the name of Lysoul in the group at the time.
Wisdom: Is the group name a reference to the song that Billie Holiday made famous, "Strange Fruit"?
S1: Yes. It represents the struggle and pain we go through and we feel our music represents the same thing.
Wisdom: Even though you have created some very high profile joints with Kanye West and Jay-Z, you've been able to maintain an almost enigmatic image. Is that by choice?
S1: I don't get caught up in all the Hollywood stuff. I love creating my music and hanging with my family…that keeps me humble.
Wisdom: Your son is Vohn Beatz, and he seems to be following in your production footsteps. When did you first notice his interest in music?
S1: Vohn showed signs of wanting to play piano and drums at a young age. He would always be in my sessions when he was 2 years old and up so he picked it up really fast.
Wisdom: How are you guiding your son through this musical path he is walking?
S1: Just by being a father/parent and teaching him was right from wrong and letting him know that God has to be the foundation.
Wisdom: I unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to see Erykah Badu perform recently with her electronic band The Cannabinoids here in Baltimore. Did you perform with the band, and how is that experience?
S1: Yes, I'm in the ‘Noids group. Yes, I performed and we had a great show! Erykah is a great performer and great person, along with all the other members in the group. We all love what we do and we show that on stage.
Wisdom: If you can, talk about some upcoming projects on deck for Symbolyc One.
S1: Working on a lot of Kanye things right now. I’m also working on Willow Smith, 50 Cent, Talib Kweli, and Rodney Jerkins and a lot of his artists like Ace Primo, Young Steff and Alex.
Wisdom: Who are some of your musical influences?
S1: I have so many, but I will say a few: Justus League, J Dilla, Hi-Tek, Timbaland, Darkchild, Kanye, DJ Khalil, No ID, Dr Dre and many more.
Wisdom: How do you balance your musical career with your strong faith foundation?
S1: Just by surrounding myself around great people like my family and closest friends. And staying in God's word. That all keeps me level headed and humble, but yet confident enough to excel me in my music.
Wisdom: What does being "on the rise" mean to Symbolyc One as a producer, emcee, and performer?
S1: It means me progressing and evolving as a producer, artist, and performer.
Wisdom: What would you like to say in closing to the readers?
S1: Love each and every one of you and thanks for the love. ---S1
Vohn Beatz Interview---
Wisdom: Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. It is rare to be able to speak with a father and son that are both forging a path down the road with hip hop. How did you become interested in music and hip hop?
VB: I have always wanted to make music and hear artists sing/rap over my music. I used to just hang out in the studio with my dad all the time. And I still do because I am still learning.
Wisdom: How long have you been producing?
VB: I have been producing since I was 10 years old, which would be 4 years now.
Wisdom: Your presence is strong online with some of your videos on YouTube. Do you plan to utilize social media to expand what you're creating?
VB: I do use the social media when I can. I am in the 8th grade and with homework, sports, band, and family it can be hard to log in and do videos or chat on Twitter or Facebook.
Wisdom: How is your father helping to guide you with music?
VB: My dad allows me to learn from him. He is my mentor and teacher.
Wisdom: Who are some of your influences with music?
VB: My dad S1, J Dilla, Pete Rock, Darkchild, M-Phazes, Hi-Tek, Nottz, Needlez, Illmind, DJ Khalil, T-Minus, Tha Business, Justus League, and so many more.
Wisdom: Do you feel any pressure because your father has been a part of the industry?
VB: No, not at all. He has taught me how to make it fun. No pressure at all.
Wisdom: What do you have on the horizon musically for 2012?
VB: I have been building my catalog and continuing to learn and collaborate with my dad. I plan to join the drumline as I start high school. I did co-produce on a record for Talib Kweli that should come out this summer. And there are some other things that I cannot speak about.
Wisdom: What are some other things outside of music that you have a passion for?
VB: I love playing basketball with my school, hanging out with my big brother and friends, playing video games, and also just having family time.
Wisdom: What would you like to say to the readers?
VB: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview with you. I thank you for the support as I grow in this industry.
You can visit www.symbolycone.com for more insight into the artist and producer known as S1. You can also follow him on Twitter: @SymbolycOne. His son Vohn Beatz can also be found on Twitter: @VohnBeatz. Together, these two will be creating music, collectively and individually, that will touch the ears and souls of many. Special thanks goes to Team S.K.P. for the opportunity to discuss music with both entities.