Below is an interview I recently had with Thee Phantom, a well-known Hip-Hop artist in the music field.
Currently Thee has his own ensemble, called the Illharmonic Orchestra, and has travelled extensively in the United States and Japan. His orchestra is unique in that it has horns, woodwinds, strings, a pianist and a songstress. This is something one does not usually see on the hip-hop scene. This accomplished musician was invited to appear at the Philadelphia’s prestigious Kimmel Center with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. He has also appeared at the Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in DC.
Thee took to music at the early age of 6 writing songs and singing. When first hearing hip-hop he states that he was ‘hooked’ and has progressed upward ever since. His group has released two albums: Hero Complex in 2006 and Making Of An Underdog in 2009. Their third album “maniac Maestro” will be released later this year.
You can view this magnificent orchestra Saturday, October 7, 2017 at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall, Coral Gables, Miami. The program begins at 7PM.
SFL Style: What is your musical background? You started your career at an early age, who has had the greatest impact on you?
Thee Phantom: I took flute and piano lessons as a child and sang in the church choir. My Mother is the biggest influence because she wanted me to have those lessons as a way to keep me out of trouble. I fell in love with music and wound up spending hours in the house listening to my Father’s records. I started writing my own songs and singing them into my portable tape recorder when I was about 6 or 7. Then I was introduced to Hip-Hop and everything changed. I wrote my first rhyme at 8 and mixed the Beastie Boys with Beethoven at age 13. The rest as they say, is history.
SFL Style: You are coming to Miami on October 7th, this year to perform a concert/show. Is this your first time performing in Miami? What do you think of the hip hop scene in Miami?
Thee Phantom: This is our 1st performance in Miami. I actually spent a lot of time in Florida in my teens and ended up going to school in Tallahassee. I have family here in Miami and always loved vacationing here. My first introduction to Miami Hip-Hop was The 2 Live Crew. It blew my mind as a child to hear their records. I always loved the 808 bass sound, so I was drawn to it.
SFL Style: Please tell our readers a little bit about your performance. What will they experience by attending the event?
Thee Phantom: If you’ve never witnessed strings, brass, piano and woodwinds at a Hip-Hop concert, this is something you won’t want to miss. Add to that a party rocking DJ, a fierce, female soul vocalist and a fire-breathing MC and that is still but a fraction of what you’ll catch when you see Thee Phantom & The Illharmonic Orchestra in action.
SFL Style: Musically, what are your biggest influences? In the hip hop arena whose work do you admire the most?
Thee Phantom: Golden Era Hip-Hop influenced me the most. Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Kool G. Rap, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Slick Rick… I can go on and on.
SFL Style: Who is your biggest critic? Are you always satisfied with your work?
Thee Phantom: I would say my wife and I are our own biggest critics. She performs alongside me as ‘The Phoenix’. We’re always looking for ways to improve our performances and recordings. We’ll never stop pushing the boundaries of where we can go and what we can deliver to the audience.
SFL Style: What are your plans for the future? Any new interesting projects in works, that you can share with us?
Thee Phantom: We’ll be releasing our album entitled, “Maniac Maestro” this Fall and touring the United States and Japan. We are also filming a Tour Documentary and possibly a Web Series that we can pitch to Network TV.
SFL Style: What advice would you give aspiring hip hop musicians?
Thee Phantom: My advice is twofold: Never give up on your dreams and always be true to yourself. Everything else will fall into place.
Entry fee is $20. Tickets can be purchased at this link: https://www.universe.com/hiphoporchestra-in-miami