Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The NYOIL interview

Like the masked crusader in his "Cap'n Save A Hoe" video, roaming the city in search of misguided females, NYOil is a man on a mission. His mission is to save the Hip-Hop culture, the culture he loves, from the forces of blind materialism and, more importantly, mediocrity. Like many superheroes, his true identity is not known for certain. From behind his ever-present shades, he is free to rail against that establishments that would seek to retaliate, should they become aware of his real name. It seems fitting that such a personality would have some history with comic books. I recently had a chance to speak with NYOil about huge crossover story arcs, his animated videos, and his upcoming album. Hope you enjoy it.

IT: First and foremost, do you consider yourself a comic book fan?
NYOil: Of course. I love comic books. In my later years I had to fall back because I had some serious differences with Marvel Comics, which was my main company. I felt that they must have decided to go corporate cause they started sacrificing a lot of ethic to make money. I watched comics go from 25 cents to $1.00 in like 2 years and that was outrageous. Then, they had this thing they would do with putting up like a John Byrne Cover and having friggin' [Different Artist's Name-it] art in the book. . . But it got worse when they started the Secret Wars saga. That’s when they figured out they could sell a rack of books that were doing shitty if they somehow spread the story across a rack of titles. I hated that cheap marketing ploy. There was a time you could buy a comic book and it had an ongoing story and some back story, preludes and prologues, allusions to the next issue and events to come, but you STILL HAD A COMPLETE STORY THAT MONTH. Now, you gotta flip through about 29 different titles just to see a fight with some half rate villain. People keep dying and coming back. It just got lazy and corporate. But in all honesty, it was the fact that they started charging so much for a book full of advertisements and shitty art that turned me off. I’ve been thinking about collecting just graphic novels.

IT: Do you have any favorite characters or creators?
NYOil: Captain America. I love Captain America because, when i first was introduced to him, he was simple. No bells and whistles just a man who trained himself to the peak of human perfection, granted he had the super soldier serum, but I just looked at him as someone I could be. I damn sure couldn't shoot Optic Blast from my eyes, turn into Organic Steel, or turn my body into various levels of the light spectrum, but i could pick up a garbage can lid and run around like Cap. I even began training myself to become a real world hero. I always wanted to be a hero and to some extent I am living out that dream with my music and persona as NYOIL. You'll notice the emphasis is on keeping my identity secret and not even showing my face much. [Favorite artists include] John Byrne, Arthur Adams.

IT: Do you have an interest in any of the other "Dork Arts", like anime, sci-fi, or video games?
NYOil: I love Wind Ninja Chronicles, or Ninja Scrolls by some accounts. I loved Fist of the North Star, and a rack of shit that came out years ago when my brother worked at J&R music world back when they were the only place you could rent video tapes from in NEW YORK CITY. That’s around the time I first saw Fritz the Cat, which was crazy. I watched some of it the other day and tripped at how trippy that shit is and wondered how I “got” it back when I was like 12 (the movie was old when I was young).

IT: Your videos seem to be getting a lot of play on YouTube. Were you surprised at the controversy that surrounded the initial video for "Y'All Should All Get Lynched"?
NYOil: Well, YSAGL was, in the original form, the video I put together while teaching myself to use Microsoft movie maker. . . I knew the song was making noise at the time (2006) , so a video would make it tip. So, when I did it, it blew up (at that time 6000 views in 48 hrs was a big deal). As for the video being pulled, i was outraged at first, but i thought to myself: they just made me a martyr. And the fact is they did. It made it legendary, made it a story, and made people curious to see what was going on.

IT: You also have an animated video for "Y'all Should All Get Lynched", as well as an animated video for"Cap'n Save a Hoe". Can you describe the process of getting videos like these made?
NYOil: The animated video [For YSAGL] took a long time. It was produced by Titmouse studios and directed by Tyree Dillihay. They started on it like Feb of 2007 and didn’t send me the completed version till like Jan 2008. Honestly, it was so out of my hands that I couldn’t tell you much about it. As for "Cap’n Save A Hoe!", that was a fun video I made with Drayonis of thedogyears. com. He’s an exciting artist from Texas that’s putting in great work. We met on a mutual site we both frequent. He reached out to me and said he’d like to do “Something”. We were going to put together a Flash Animated series and post it on the Source. com, but it was a larger task than we could accomplish with no budget. So I was working on the 9wonders digital EP and figured this song was a hot one and decided to do a video to that. After he sent me the flash files, I re-edited the piece on Sony Vegas to make it suit me a l'il more and there you have it.

IT: You mentioned before that you attended the world famous High School of Art and Design in New York. Has the time you spent there influenced what you're doing now, either musically, or from the perspective of the visuals that you include in your promotional materials?
NYOil: I learned that I wasn’t a true graphic artist. And I damn sure wasn’t a penciler. I was a fan and I had to accept that. Now I can draw much better than the average person, but I draw good enough and know art good enough to know I’m subpar. Funny thing is what I did discover there was eMCee’ing. I met Kwame’ the rapper (with the Polka Dots) and he was like the illest dude at that time and he and I would rhyme. I was good with the freestyle but I hadn’t written anything at that point. But we were rhyming one day and I decided to go home and write my first rhyme. And the man some day to be known as NYOIL was born.

IT: Comic Books and Hip Hop are both very powerful, albeit underestimated, forms of media. At their best, I find them to be galvanizing and inspirational, but they are also highly commodified and its difficult in both forms to be heard/seen among the garbage and bullshit. In hip-hop, how do you keep yourself from being associated with the negative stereotypes? Do you think there is any hope for small scale artists, be they comic book creators, rappers, or anything else, to truly prosper without first being "legitimized" by corporate backers?
NYOil: I think it is about creating a market and creating an acceptable success gauge for oneself. For me, it’s being able to support my family and be comfortable in this economy. . . and be at peace. If I can do that, then I won’t need to fear the “sell out syndrome” because I can continue to do what I want for the right reasons. But when you want to be the ruler of the world and be the biggest star there ever was, then you find yourself willing to compromise a lot to get there. Do what you do because you love it. Find a way to live off it and you will be a huge success.

IT: There is a little less than a month until the official release of your album. Do you have any touring planned for it?
NYOil: They are working on it now. GOD WILLING cause I’d like to take this show on the road and touch the people and talk to them face to face. The net is cool, but I am a people person and I want to be amongst the people. Hip hop is too corporate. It’s lost touch with it’s base, as I believe much of the comic and sci fi world has. We need to find a way to touch the people again and the people need to reclaim their power and right in these genres. My name is NYOIL and I approve this message!!

NYOil's album, Hood Treason (Deluxe 2 CD Edition), will be available

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