Interview with Issac Sandoval (Senior Writer for The Write Reviews)

Warren Peace (WP)-
Hopefully everyone is doing well. Thanks for stopping in to join us. I am Warren Peace, on behalf of The Write Reviews, and I am asking the questions while Issac Sandoval, one of the writers at The Write Reviews, gives us the answers.

How’s it going, Issac? As you probably know, I start these interviews off with the same three questions every time. This time isn’t an exception. Where are you from? Who were your first influences in hip hop? And what is the hip hop scene like where you are from?

Issac Sandoval (IS)-

I’m doing well Warren, thanks for asking.  I hail from Commerce City, Colorado; a small, poor, suburb just Northeast of Denver.  I was a late bloomer compared to most emcees and Hip-Hop heads who were raised on the music.  I didn’t begin to get into Hip-Hop until I was about thirteen years old in 2007, and believe it or not, the song that first caught my ear was This Is Why I’m Hot by Mims.  Far from a lyrical masterpiece or even a good song, but the braggadocio and swagger that exuded from that record had me hooked.  As I began to dive deeper the first things I found myself listening to was old-school west coast Hip-Hop. Mostly N.W.A, 2Pac, Snoop, and the like.  The Hip-Hop scene where I come from is hard to describe.  Most of our local legends are unwilling to give the younger cats the time of day, a lot of division amongst the artists, plenty of emcees riding the wave of whatever is currently popular or trying to recreate their favorite artist.  Colorado has yet to find it’s sound.  I do want to shout-out PJ from The Fresh Breath Committee though, one of the few higher ups who has been receptive and encouraging, at least in my experience.

WP-

You are a hip hop artist known as Hiatus and have recorded many songs. How does being an artist affect you when you write reviews and how does writing reviews affect you as an artist?

IS-

Being an artist benefits me, I think.  I definitely think that I have a more highly trained ear than someone who isn’t involved in the music creating process.  I know for a fact that I notice so many more aspects in music since I began making it myself.  And I think writing reviews also benefits me as an artist by allowing me to learn from the mistakes and successes of other artists.  I can look at something an artist did poorly and then take that knowledge with me when I get in the booth and be proactive in not falling into the same traps.  The opposite is also great, because in writing reviews you have to take a closer look at the music than just casual listening.  This allows me to study as I critique my fellow artists.  I can see something the did well, learn how they were able to accomplish that, and figure out how I can implement something that they did well.

WP-

You are becoming known as the Expert Examiner at The Write Reviews because artists feel you are the hardest to please. How do you feel about this title and do you feel they are justified in saying you are the hardest to please?

IS-

I certainly feel the title is justified and I embrace it one hundred percent.  I love Hip-Hop…let me say that again.  I LOVE Hip-Hop.  I love the music, the history, the culture, the people.  I love everything about Hip-Hop and I want nothing more than to see it live up to its full potential.  I feel as members as the Hip-Hop community it is our responsibility to police ourselves.  We should absolutely hold ourselves to high standards.  There’s a saying that’s popular in sports: “No one is above the game.”  Hip-Hop is frequently referred to as “the game.”  And just the same in Hip-Hop none of us are above the game.  For most of us Hip-Hop was here before us and will be here after us.  And for most of us, we owe something to Hip-Hop in one form or another, so as members of the community and culture of Hip-Hop we have the responsibility to represent her well.

WP-

Someone is going to end up butt hurt with the question… Which review has been your favorite to write so far and why? Which has been your least favorite and why?

IS-

My favorite by far has to be my most recent, and that was Lost In Translation by Scriptz.  This was head and shoulders above all the albums I’ve reviewed so far and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s also the only album that I have kept in rotation after reviewing it, I even listened to it today at work.  This album barely missed being declared a classic, but it’s missing an intangible that I can’t quite put my finger on.  That is in no way a shot at Scriptz, that’s just me being the “Expert Examiner” that I am. If you ask me there are fewer than thirty classic Hip-Hop albums ever, I don’t throw that word around by any means.  My least favorite would be the one right before that, Drink At Rich’s by King Kold.  I won’t get too deep into it because it’s not my intent to bash an artist, but this album was just hard to listen to all the way through.  It had some good ideas that were not executed well, it was inconsistent, and the featured artists were misused.  That is the lesson I want artists to get from that review, don’t put an artist on your song because they’re a great artist, pick the right artist for that song.

WP-

When you submitted your name to join The Write Reviews, what did you think the position would be like and did you feel that writing reviews would be a breeze? Now that you have several reviews under your belt, do you feel the same way you did before you got your first review assignment?

IS-

I did expect it to be a breeze at first, because as a Hip-Hop head and music lover in general I have music on 24/7 and the mojority of that is Hip-Hop.  So I thought it would be the easiest thing in the world, but as I stated earlier I have to make sure I represent Hip-Hop the absolute best way I can.  In order to do that I can’t just throw these albums on and give a thumbs up or thumbs down.  I have to dive deep into these albums and deconstruct them and look at every single piece by itself and as part of the big picture.  However, I still love it, I can’t help it, Hip-Hop is who I am.

WP-

What is it you would like artists to know before getting reviewed at the website, and what should they take away from a review on one of their albums?

IS-

It should be pretty well documented that artists are sensitive when it comes to their work.  Hip-Hop is a genre were being sensitive can get you labeled as soft or various, less pleasant terms.  I’ve found that all of us are sensitive, but whether or not you get labeled as such comes from whether or not you react off of emotion.  As you well know, we’ve had several artists react that way to their review.  I’m no exception to this rule, I’m very sensitive about my work, but I CHOOSE not to react off of however I may feel about someone’s critique.  I have advice for artists on how to take advice: Hold onto what was said until the emotion subsides, then examine for yourself.  Can you see the things the critic was pointing out?  Here at The Write Reviews we don’t seek to tear you down or destroy your drive.  I may be harsh and hard to impress, but I promise that if you do not react emotionally and examine for yourself that you’ll see I’m giving honest critique.  It’s never anything personal; I’m tough because of my love for this music and culture.

WP-

What have you learned since joining the team at The Write Reviews?

IS-

I have learned that there are so many artists out there who are in search of yes men as opposed to honest critique.  I have learned that as a critic nobody will ever be pleased with you, no matter what your qualifications are.  I see people constantly saying that you don’t have the authority to critique them if you are not an emcee yourself.  Yet when a fellow emcee offers critique the explanation is that they must be a jealous hater.  I am asking all artists right now, please consider that you may not know everything, and that sometimes other people can really open you to a world of possibilities if you just listen.  No art is above critique and anyone knowledgeable in that specific medium is qualified to give critique.  Fellow artists, predecessors, aficionados, etc.

WP-

Well it’s time for us to bring this interview to a close. Would you like to tell everyone where they can follow you through social media? Links to your music online and/or a website you have? Anything else you would like to say before we end this discussion?

IS-

They can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hiatushiphop Also feel free to connect with me on my personal profile; I am one hundred percent accessible for questions, comments, concerns, or Hip-Hop discussion. You can follow me on Twitter @TheLyricDr I don’t tweet much, but I’m trying to get better at it; I promise I’m there. And feel free to offer your critique to me on SoundCloud at https://www.soundcloud.com/hiatushiphop And before I go I would like to thank my Partner In Rhyme VexedxShinobi, PJ, Hood$Rich, and BK for never being yes men, and giving time out of their busy schedule to help me grow as an artist. Love.

WP-

Thanks for letting everyone learn a little bit of how things are on this side of the fence, Issac. I appreciate you joining me for this question and answer session. Thanks to everyone who took the time to follow along. Now it’s back to the pen and pad for the Expert Examiner and The Writeous Writer. Until next time…

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