Insight The Truncator started his music career in a time when there was no Internet, no social media and the only way your work got noticed was by talent, hard work and word of mouth.
I had the privilege of speaking with Insight The Truncator, a hip-hop artist who began his career when the genre was still in its infancy. The sound is timeless and identifiable when compared to today’s style.
A pioneer in the game, Insight is a MC / DJ / Producer who knows the inner workings of the industry. With a resume that spans over 20 years, he’s still challenging the norm and breaking down barriers with an ability that is rarely if ever seen.
The GM’s Perspective: For those who aren’t familiar with you, how did you get started in the music business?
Insight The Truncator: I started at young age. My family was involved in music for as long as I could remember. I started sampling and rapping at a young age, probably 1991 or 1992. At some point I decided to get serious with it. I was always one who wanted to hear the music and my voice, so I would record stuff and listen to the entire finished product.
I make my songs the way I want to hear them. Eventually I started to release my own music around 96/97, but that’s a whole other conversation. I went the route of getting a lawyer, who was pretty popular at the time. He went shopping my music to mainstream musicians, but it wasn’t my thing. That’s not what I wanted to do so I’ve kept to what I know and what I like.
I’ve never really changed my style either.
GMs: If I’m correct, you had a website back around 1997…
IT: That’s interesting, I can’t believe you knew that! I graduated in 1992 and I was always into computers and programming. I was fascinated by the internet and sending data across different platforms. Before 1993 the Internet was very different. It was just sending data around but, yeah that was also the beginning of when I began programming.
GMs: You’ve been doing this for a longtime, what keeps you motivated?
IT: I’m also a developer (plugins, apps) and have been doing this for over 10 years. That stimulates me just as music does. I was very inquisitive as a kid; taking motors apart and rebuilding things. And before music, I was into drawing and painting. I like the idea of taking the time to craft something that others can appreciate.
GMs: What’s the process when it comes to putting a song together? I was watching a couple of your videos on Instagram and I have no idea how you go about creating it is what you do.
IT: There’s a new approach that a lot of the producers are using that tend to work synthesizers and work that’s already prepared. The old style is more of you being the sound scientist. You’re starting with a blank slate. I don’t necessarily think of completed loops, I think of notes and the style of that sound. That’s my approach. You can break away from the norm and create and work with a process that somehow only you can understand. I know exactly what I’m trying to achieve when I’m in the moment.
GMs: Who were you’re influences when climbing the ranks, and who is on your radar these days?
IT: Back when I started I remember there was only five or six guys rapping. Where I’m from there were only a handful of people doing what I do like Marley Marl. I listened to artists like Special Ed, 45 King, Guru and of course A Tribe Called Quest.
Now it’s interesting. I think I have the same problem as a lot of the cats that started when I first came up. I’m past the point of being open minded. I don’t buy the argument that Hip hop is a young thing. I think it’s art. You don’t just lose the ability to write a good song. There’s a tonne of people out there now and some of their work is timeless, some aren’t.
Boston is pretty cool now. There’s a lot of people around here putting together some clever stuff. Lupe Fiasco back in the day was doing some good work, but I don’t believe the hype too quick. Thought I’ll give credit where credit’s due.
GMs: Now that everything is digital and the landscape of the music industry has changed so much, is it easier for artists like yourself to get your music out there and profit or is it more difficult?
IT: This goes into a philosophy I had back in 2007. I saw things changing were musicians were at the mercy of software developers. That’s why I decided to become a software developer. It’s like two guys starting a software company and becomes successful, and now everyone has to follow your lead despite not knowing anything about the music industry.
I think everything is better in the sense that no one can hold you back. You can go as far as saying that a record label is your telephone. I think it’s easier in that sense but harder because you can leave it up to the software companies to determine what should be done for the good of your record. The goals of artists should just be bigger. Artists need to change.
I remember a time when there was this mysticism in the music industry. Most people didn’t know how to get an in. Most people knew they had to make a demo and shop it to the A&R guys. The rest was a mystic and relatively obscure idea how to get to the other side.
But now its about branding. I thought this back in 2010. Record companies should be Ad Agencies. They should have the path laid out for them, but they’re at the mercy of start-up companies.
Overall, I would say it’s easier, but very different
GM’s: You’re pretty active on social media when it comes to showing people your craft. What does it mean to you when you see so many people interested in your music
IT: On one hand I’m trying to have people hear my stuff, but on the other hand I feel like nobody gives a damn! It feels good when you get acknowledged, but at the same time I’m at the point in my career where I’m past acknowledgement. I’m not seeking validation. I love doing what I do and I think it's great having a place to share that.