By Carlos Cureno
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer
Due to the recent success of J. Cole and the recent rejuvenation of the veteran, Petey Pablo, there is renewed interest in North Carolina hip hop. Of course, Charlotte also has a strong, bubbling under, hip hop scene. But, Johnston County is another rising hotbed.
Though a native of Brooklyn, Rohan Da Great grew up in Johnston County and navigates from that area. For those not familiar with the state of North Carolina, Johnston County is just before Raleigh. This is a place Rohan may soon put on the map.
Recently, Rohan Da Great spoke to Hip Hop Vibe in our latest On The Rise segment. During the interview, Rohan Da Great discussed his upbringing and his take on local hip hop. Definitely an informative conversation.
Read the entire interview below:
Being a native of Johnston County, North Carolina by way of Brooklyn, how different was your upbringing than many other rappers? My upbringing was a little different. I grew up in a Jamaican household in East Flatbush Brooklyn, which was a Caribbean dominated area.
Growing up all I heard was reggae, dancehall, and soca. To add to that my father was a very popular dancehall artist in the area which made me want to be a dancehall artist as well. Unlike other rappers, my first love wasn’t hip hop; in fact I wasn’t even introduced to hip hop until my uncle, Supa Dane, let me hear the underground station one night.
After that I was hooked and broke many of his needles playing The Fugees, but even at that time I still wanted to be a reggae/dancehall artist. Overall, I would say the mixture of Caribbean culture, the messages in reggae music, hip hop and the harsh realities of Brooklyn gave me a different insight on life, which would broaden even more once I moved to the “JoCo” (Johnston County, North Carolina).
When I left, the fast paced lifestyle of New York, I was forced to slow down and really get to spend more time discovering who Rohan was. I had more time to focus on myself and my musical talents. I also met people with different insights on life who helped my music grow. Before coming to North Carolina, I used to rap in school but I was more concerned with getting fly and getting women.
It was all about being cool, rapping was just something we used to do in the lunchroom or in the halls of Murrow, but I wanted to be where the girls were or on the basketball court. I thought I was going to the NBA but then I moved to NC and everyone was nice at ball so I had to switch dreams and go back to music (laughs)
There are many people naive about North Carolina and they think the state is very small, so they’d probably ask a question about J. Cole and Fayetteville here. But, with Hip Hop Vibe being based in North Carolina, the entire staff knows better. So, can you explain to the outsiders the differences between Johnston County and Cumberland County? Apart from the geographical differences, the scenes are totally different. As a matter of fact, there isn’t really a “music scene” per se here in JoCo. Cumberland County’s music scene is obviously more vibrant than that of Johnston County being that Fayetteville is considered more “city” than any of the towns in JoCo and, thus, has a better nightlife and entertainment scene. JoCo is considered the “country” area of the Triangle.
A lot of people think there is nothing out her but deer, moonshine, and Tobacco fields. Fayetteville, like I said, is more of a city. I’m not too familiar with the entire Cumberland County, but I know The ‘Ville is lit. The fact that J. Cole reps Fayetteville also adds to the allure of their music scene. Right now, as far as JoCo, it ‘s just me Filthy Finesse and a few other artists, but our scene is really part of the Raleigh scene (for now).
To be honest I couldn’t really tell you the major difference between the two scenes music wise I think both areas are just budding with talent and have a certain allure and legend to them. Fayetteville has Cole carrying the torch and Raleigh has King Mez carrying the torch. Both areas are just getting ready for their moment to shine.
What type of influence has being so close to Raleigh had on your overall style? I don’t think being close to Raleigh effects my “Rapping” style or even my music, per se. I do think it does however affect my career, being that most of the shows I perform at locally are in Raleigh. Like I said, there isn’t really a music scene here in JoCo. Everything in this area basically has to go through Raleigh in some way. The venues are in Raleigh, The major clubs are in Raleigh and most of the media outlets are located in Raleigh. So Raleigh is a big part of our musical careers.
Thus far, how do you feel your hometown has supported you and your music? I think they are behind me, I have garnered a good base of followers. I call them “Da Great Ones.” They support my music and they come out to all of my shows. I really appreciate them. I do think I would have even more support, well I know for a fact I would have more support if people weren’t afraid of offending their friends. I know quite a few people who listen to and support my music but don’t show love publicly because of “loyalty” to their friends who do music.
The area is very small and, like everywhere else, there has been this trend of everyone wanting to rap, so it does make it difficult for people to support wholeheartedly. I’ve personally been told by someone that they love my music, but they don’t want to feel as if they are betraying another artist here that the grew up with by supporting me publicly. It’s frustrating but I respect it. People are loyal to a fault as far as JcCo is concerned. I can live with that.
So, overall I am content with the love the people/fans show, but I do feel like I should get a little more support when it comes to the “,gatekeepers” of the media outlets and radio. I’ve made my way across the local performance circuit since 2012. I’ve done my own successful showcases and over the last year I’ve done things nationally like “SMYK.” the tour and huge blog placements, but I don’t think I get the recognition I deserve locally.
No disrespect to anyone, but there aren’t many if any artists out of the area right now that can say they have done what we have done, or are doing what we are doing. The local media doesn’t seem to show me that much love. I remember reaching out to a blog and getting no love. I was basically told I need to pay to be on their site, this is after SMYK premiered on Billboard and I received props from major sites.
This was confusing to me, because they were posting people who were doing absolutely nothing, but giving me a hard time. I feel that I’m an artist with good music, noteworthy things to say and the moves to back it up. People say I should get more props but I don’t get mad or discouraged, I just work harder. That’s my motto work harder and eventually they will have no choice but to pay attention and give props to the kid.
Are you happy with how your career has gone thus far? Yeah, I can say I am. Of course, I’ve made mistakes that may of held me back from being a little bigger, but I’m very happy with where I am but definitely not content. I always want to progress and grow. I’m in a much better place than I was two years ago, or even a year ago, and this summer is going to be even better. This year will be a pivotal time in my growth to stardom. I have new members on the team that are working hard to ensure that I make the proper moves and get the right recognition.
Who are some big names you see yourself collaborating with? Being from Brooklyn my dream collaboration would have to be me, Jay Z, and Fabolous on a track. I would also love to work and collaborate with Kanye and Chris Brown. Of course I can’t leave out reggae artists Chronixx, Raging Fyah, and Romain Virgo. Gotta show love to the Reggae/Dancehall genre as well.
What is the next project you have in the works? I’m working on quite a few projects. I have a hip hop EP entitled “The Real” that’s slated to released soon. I also have an EDM EP “MONEY MAKER” which is the follow up EP for the hit single “SMYK” I did with Dani Deahl. In addition to that I’m working on a project called “The Feature Presentation” in which I worked with some of my favorite indie artists from around the country. Got a few other things in works too, but I like the element of surprise. (Laughs)
Can you let the people know where they can find you on social media? The best place to keep up with my music is www.rohandagreat.com. If you want to keep up with me on social media you can def follow me on Twitter and IG both are @rohandagreatmc and you can also get at me on FB my name is Rohan Da Great Music www.facebook.com/officialrohandagreat
Watch the ‘Behind The Scenes’ of Rohan Da Great’s Money Maker cover shoot below:
Follow Carlos Cureno on Twitter @DjayyCharliee.