- How did you derive your stage name, Present Burna? What is the backstory?
The name Burna was derived from old childhood friends. Growing up in Queensbridge, it was almost mandatory that you knew how to rap. And once you get good enough, you’re given a name to match your persona. My name was Burna. It was said that I spit hot bars with rapid succession like a gun AKA “Burna.” While today I still use the name, I stray away from the innuendo it’s associated with. Hence the name Present Burna AKA — Today’s Burna. The new and improved me, who’s evolving everyday.
- What was the defining moment in your life to make music the focal point of your career?
When I moved to the Poconos, I developed a reputation for playing basketball and rapping. In high school, I would be in the boy’s locker room after practice, rapping for my basketball teammates for hours. After about a month, one of my teammates said I should make an album and sell it. Right then and there, I decided to see how far I could take it. I assembled a team of classmates and friends who believed in me, and we started creating my first album. We started marketing a month in advance, and before we knew it, there was a bigger demand than what we could afford to keep up with. On the release date of “Who’s Burna,” we sold out in less than three hours. From that day, I knew that I had to do this on a professional level.
- Where and when was your first live performance? What is the most significant memory from that experience?
After the release of my first album, “Who’s Burna?” I gained the respect of my peers along with some notoriety for my explicit lyrics. Needless to say, the buzz around the school was nothing short of spectacular. The school talent show was coming up and if we could have, we would have sold tickets to the much anticipated performance. When I got on stage and witnessed students singing the lyrics to my songs, it was a moment that I never wanted to let go of.
- How does collaborating with other artists differ from producing solo work?
When collaborating with other artists, I feel you sometimes have to sacrifice skill for the integrity of the song, depending on the situation. In my experience, it’s rare that you find another artist who compliments the artistic expression in a similar way to create a perfect picture. It’s like getting two artists to paint on one canvas and expecting the finished product to make sense.
- What have you learned through collaborations whether with other artists or with production?
If you come across someone that you make good music with, keep them close!
- What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
If I could give an aspiring artist any advice, it would be to know which direction you want to go in, as early as possible. Meaning, if you know your goal is to make money from your craft, you should structure your movement around that goal as early as possible.
- How do you best describe your style? (i.e. metaphysical rapper? Do you include spirituality into your lyrics?)
To describe my style would be one of the toughest tasks for me to accomplish. I have a lot of different styles that come out whenever they choose, lol. In all seriousness, my style is like a person with a split personality disorder (you never know who you’re going to get). I let the music decide which style will present itself, and just trust the process. Some days I’m ratchet and playful, and other days I’m more conscious and dark, but always witty.
- How do you feel the genre of Hip Hop has changed most overall in the last 10 years?
In my opinion, Hip Hop has changed tremendously in the last ten years. Being from the East Coast, I got to witness firsthand a number of artists who conformed or adapted their styles to that of a southern cadence. Some more reluctant that others, but most ignored the scrutiny and rode the wave of “New Hip Hop” which was predominantly influenced by the South. Under desperation to remain relevant, artists from all over had to shift their paradigm or get left behind. And today Hip Hop is still in the aftermath of this Southern takeover.
- Where would your dream venue be to perform live? Concert vs Festival? Etc and why?
My dream venue to perform at, would be Madison Square Garden. To display my talent in front of an audience of twenty thousand, in my hometown would be life changing to say the least. Imagine that many people knowing the words to your songs and each lyric meaning something different to each person. There would be no better feeling in the world!
- What was the first album you ever owned?
The first album I ever owned was Life After Death by Notorious BIG. Technically it wasn’t my album, it was my oldest sister’s but I practically took it over, lol. The first album I actually bought was The Black Album by Jay-Z. I treated that album like my own personal bible. In a time where I could’ve easily bootlegged it as I did everything else, I went out to personally buy it from FYE and actually stood in line. A great purchase!
- What was the inspiration behind your new project?
The inspiration behind my new project “Imagine”, is derived from the possibilities being endless. I am starting to understand at this point in my life, that anything you can hold in your mind, you can hold in your hand. All it takes is imagination and the world is at your fingertips. I know it sounds cliche, but great scholars like Napoleon Hill and Robert Kiyosaki live by this model. I think it is safe to follow.
- What can your fans expect next from you in 2019?
I think my fans are going to be very pleased to see me expanding my reach. Getting to see other people experience what they’ve known all along, will be a great feeling. It’s almost like being the first members of an exclusive club where only the elite few will get to brag about the early days. I believe they will be proud of the growth in my music and the overall package.
- How would you describe your creative process when writing lyrics?
My creative process is usually the same these days. I just listen to beats and let the music speak to me. Most of the time if the beat is captivating enough, it will tell you what the song should be about. Everyone will hear something different and that’s the beauty of creating art. It’s subjective and no one can tell you what you should hear, see, feel or experience.