Surviving as an independent recording artist in this day and age isn’t an easy thing by any means. It’s often a never-ending grind to get your songs recorded, played, and heard; and at the end of the day, unless you’re doing it primarily out of love for what it is that you do, the odds are very much against you. Hailing out of the Netherlands, independent rapper emcee Silex has been living this grind for years and has established his mark on Rotterdam’s hip-hop scene. With a new single out and an EP on the way, Silex now turns to the rest of the world.
His new single “Just You and Me” offers a hard-hitting lyrical delivery that reminds us what it’s supposed to be like to strive towards a dream despite the hardships and surrounding negativity that can sometimes hold us back, with Silex rapping about ‘staying hungry’ through some of the more difficult moments. “I’ve literally been hungry just pouring what little money I had into this dream,” he says about these times. “I didn’t think about food. If I wasn’t getting new equipment, I was buying beats or paying for studio time, photo shoots, videos, you name it.“ Through it all, it’s that same hunger to succeed that still keeps him going today. “I just feel that this is all I’m good at. You know how many times I’ve been told to give it up? To just let it go, and that it will never happen? But for some reason I just cant.”
Silex is quick to point out that Just You and Me is a song that was born out of improvisation. In fact, improv has become a preferred method of creation for him these days. “I’m the type of artist that doesn’t write down lyrics anymore, so I’ve trained myself to create songs in my head. With this song, I just heard the beat and I started vibing to it, and that’s the track came to life.”
Despite growing up in Europe, Silex acknowledges that American hip hop music was the dominant influence on his music early on. He’d catch artists such as Tupac, Nas, and DMX on MTV with his older brother, and it would inspire him to work on his own rhyming skills. Starting out as a member of a few Rotterdam groups, Silex quickly realized that working alongside other rappers added extra incentive to shine on a song, a challenge he embraced with open arms. “You didn’t want to be the one with the weakest rhymes on a track,” says Silex. “So every song you felt like, ‘oh man I gotta step it up!”
From the start, Silex understood that he would have to back his skills up to stand out from other local rappers. “The rap scene in Rotterdam is a rough one,” he explains. “We’re known to be one of the toughest crowds, so if you can impress us, that’s when you know you got what it takes. Even back in the days, you would get rushed off stage if you were wack! We didn’t allow just anybody to grab the mic, so being from Rotterdam really taught me to practice, practice, practice, so that I could stand behind my skills as an MC.”
Silex credits time spent in Scotland for teaching him the true meaning of being an independent artist. “I don’t know how it is now, but when I came to Glasgow, in my opinion the Scottish hip hop scene was just coming off the ground. There were some opportunities to be heard, but the level wasn’t quite there yet. But I loved how these guys got down to business; in my time living there we put out our own mixtapes and just flooded the city with it. That’s when I learned what it meant to grind and be independent, something that wasn’t as strongly developed back in The Netherlands.”
During the studio sessions for his upcoming EP Listen to my Demo, Silex recorded over sixty songs before cutting it down to the final seven. The new EP is set to drop before the summer. Check out Silex’s website for more information about the release and upcoming concert dates.