He hails from the borough that beats hip hop in its veins – Brooklyn! His sound and style is not just the rough, rugged and raw of Brooklyn however, but fusions of a genteel musings of rhythms and beats echoing the heart of a city and music genre that, when it’s rough exterior is peeled back, omits an energy that is palpable in all who listen to Traum Diggs. What Traum Diggs creates is Organic Hip Hop; it feeds the soul nourishment that comes from mixing simple things together to create a sound that’s nourishing to the ears.
Traum calls it Jazz Hop and like his debut single of the same name, he embodies a truth as an artist that you can immediately feel when listening to this melt your senses track. Teaming up with acclaimed Hip Hop producer Gas-Lab, who has based himself in Argentina for a few years, this collaboration has been the perfect music marriage. For Traum, whose climb up the Hip Hop ladder has been slow and steady, has been independently running his game for years, with his music influences KRS-One, Stevie Wonder and Rakim cultivating this self-proclaimed ‘truth seeker’ to create music that crosses cultures and generations.
Working with Gas–Lab, a multi-instrumentalist producer with a penchant for neo-soul and jazz inspired hip hop, the duo has created a sound that can best be described as transcendent. For Gas-Lab, who has gained international recognition in Latin America and Europe, working with the finest Hispanic artists, collaborating with NYC born and bred Diggs has collided music worlds and received honorable nods from industry and fans alike. It’s simple for Traum really when asked on his views as to what this collaboration means to his success as he says, “We strive to make soul music. Feel good music. Organic to me means natural…from the root” ….. If you don’t know now you know!
Congrats on the release of your phenomenal single “Jazz Hop”, a collaboration with Gas Lab. This is my kind of hip-hop – it stirs the emotions and provokes the mind…How would you best describe your sound and vision working with Gas Lab?
First of all, thanks for the kind words and thank you for the opportunity. Our vision and sound for both the “Jazz Hop” single and album by the same name is to create an authentic Jazz/Hip-Hop album in the traditions of the greats that came before us. Gas-Lab is a talented multi-instrumentalist and beat-maker and we wanted to blend the live sounds with the samples to create a sonic marriage between the two genres. Beyond the music, we wanted to show that an “old school” sound could be manifested from “new age” technology. Gas-Lab and I have never met face to face and hardly speak the same language yet we have an unquestioned chemistry musically. Through Pro Tools, Skype and social media, we have built a musical kinship and more importantly, a real friendship.
You represent Brooklyn NYC, a borough steeped in strong Hip Hop glory – what is Hip Hop to you Traum and how has it played its part in your musical journey thus far?
Hip-Hop is the culture I was bred into…it has a great deal to do with how I think and how I express myself. Naturally, my art is an expression of my culture, my beliefs, my experiences and Hip Hop is one of the primary foundations of who I am so Hip Hop music is the primary foundation of my artistry.
What made you want to work with Gas Lab, who originally hails from Argentina and how unique do you think this collaboration will be in the productive outcomes of your music projects?
He’s not originally from Argentina; he’s in Argentina right now ha ha. I was introduced to his music through a friend and I loved what I heard and reached out. I believe the Earth is my turf so I don’t let borders and language barriers stop me from making connections. I know that this collaboration is a pivotal point in my career and I hope it will encourage others to reach beyond their own comfort zone to create music for the world to enjoy…not just the block they come from. As far as how it rests amongst my body of work, I believe it’s just the beginning of a period of consistent excellence.
Listening to your track “Jazz Hop”, I get glimpses of late night sessions listening to purist Hip Hop beats from the likes of Premier, 9th Wonder, Kev Brown and Nicolay. What do you think it is about this genre is so appealing to its listeners and how do you think your music and vision will enhance ‘organic’ hip-hop as a movement?
Without getting too deep, I believe we’re surrounded by sounds, frequencies, and vibrations. These sounds touch different parts of us and inspire different actions and/or behaviors. Hip- Hop, at its best, speaks to the soul. We strive to make soul music. Feel good music. Organic to me means natural…from the root. Those of us who love music know when something comes from the soul. And since my music, our music is ‘organic’ we are not striving to enhance any movements per say, only to use our gifts to spread love, inspire, educate and entertain.
Who would you say your greatest musical influences are and why?
I have a ton of them but I will say, Bob Marley because beyond his almost mythical status, he was a great songwriter. I think that gets lost in all of the folklore. His pen game was damn near prophetic. And he was a fearless and tireless performer. Stevie Wonder because he’s a genius and he has enough great music that I could listen to his catalogue by itself for the rest of my life and not get bored. If I could be Stevie in the studio and Bob Marley on stage that’s pretty close to perfection for me. In terms of Hip-Hop, Nas and Rakim are probably the two standard bearers for me lyrically.
I read that you said that your single “Jazz Hop “connects genres, cultures and borders”…. What was your motivation to define this single like that and how important do you believe Hip Hop music speaks to the world, its people and problems?
That statement was related to the upcoming album Jazz Hop as a whole but my motivation for defining it in that way was to show that the song and the project is more than a blending of Jazz with Hip-Hop. It’s blending Argentina with New York, Spanish with English, and on and on. I believe in 2013, no other genre of music or sub culture speaks to the world the way Hip-Hop does. That doesn’t always prove to be a good thing but like I said at its best, Hip Hop is soul music and it has bridged gaps, broken down barriers and gave young men and women across the globe a voice. I recently read a quote from Jay-Z where he says something like there isn’t a problem or issue you can name that a Hip-Hop song hasn’t addressed. Violence, Poverty, Revolution, Racism, Sexism, and all the other isms are tackled in our music.
The 5 greatest Hip Hop albums of your lifetime and why?
Wow! There’s probably a difference between “greatest” and “my favorite” so I’m gonna attempt to give you MY top 5 albums…in no particular order….
The Low End Theory/Midnight Marauders (A Tribe Called Quest) – I’m gonna group both of these albums together so I don’t have to choose one. Timeless music. They both sound as good today as they did 20 years ago. The “Kanyes” and “Pharells” of the world were birthed from these albums.
Illmatic (Nas) – Rakim raised the bar in 1986. Nas raised it again in 1994.
Only Built For Cuban Linx (Raekwon) – This might be my favorite Hip-Hop album. I think this is The Wu at their best. Rza’s production was out of this world and to me it is the quintessential rap album of that era.
It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (Public Enemy) – Probably the most important Hip-Hop album to be released…maybe the most important album in the last 25 years period.
Daily Operation Gangstaar – Hmm…I’m from NY. This is what NY Hip-Hop sounds like.
I’m gonna stop before I start making changes. Honorable mention to Outkast’s Aquemini, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, The Infamous (Mobb Deep), Straight Outta Compton…
Thank you so much for your time and music Traum – I am a huge supporter of true hip-hop and the artists that create its purity. Blessings, Ms Hennessey
Thanks again for the platform and continue to shine your light. Blessings.
For more information on Traum Diggs and Gas Lab visit: http://www.traumdiggs.com/
Always Hip Hop