Last week, I had a chance to sit down with Steelyone (pronounced Steel-ee-own) via Instagram Live for a virtual interview. This isn’t the first time that What’s Hot In Hip Hop has connected with the hip hop artist and entrepreneur. Steelyone was featured as an Artist Spotlight back in October of 2017, and much of what he said then still resonates now- maybe even more so, “I’m a hip hop artist- that’s becoming even broader…from fashion, acting, endorsements, modeling, & reality shows.” This quote from Steel back in 2017 has only grown in truth and scope since then, who now adds label owner to his repertoire. His record label, Stainless Global, includes artists like long time co-creator, singer, & songwriter Kool Kidd Dre, and more.
When asked to introduce himself 3 years later for our interview last week, he added international artist to his resume and also father, which he considers his most important role. He feels like overall, he’s a creator, which sums up all the many hats he wears. He’s also the owner of MOC Studio located in New Rochelle, NY, which he has owned for 10 years now. He calls the studio “his safe place.”
We talked about his latest project released in August 2020, “Ryde… A Traveling Love Story.” He explained that he was hesitant to release new music during the global pandemic, but that he felt like he wanted to give people a break from everything going on by giving them new music. He questioned if he was being selfish to not talk more about what’s been happening in the world, but also questioned whether or not he wanted to keep talking about what’s been going on since it’s felt exhausting. The other point of contention in dropping this project was the complete halting of touring, both nationally and internationally. At other times in the past, he would drop a project and then tour to help promote the music, push his brand, and connect with fans. He said that it was hard to release the new music and not be able to experience people digesting his music in the ways he had in the past. Ultimately, the project made its way into the world even without a tour. I think it’s safe to say that his fans are thankful to Steel for his musical contribution while trying to navigate through an unprecedented time. I mean this last year has been a crazy ryde– every ride needs its soundtrack.
Steelyone went on to talk about his experience in creating this project and the impact losing his best friend, Jus Nov (and for all intents and purposes, his brother), had on him. This was the first ever music project he had worked on since Jus passed in 2017. Jus was a huge part of Steelyone’s musical journey; they came out as a duo called Twin Towers almost 10 years ago and have been lifelong friends. Steelyone shared that Jus had the power to stretch his abilities as a writer and artist, challenging him to push further out of his comfort zone. He credits Jus ‘ presence for providing him with some level of stability and says that he felt unstable in the loss of his best friend. But as he said himself, “that’s the best time to grow.”
He also went on to talk about his experience traveling, creating relationships on the road, and integrating more females as the basis of his songs for this project. He talked about the fact that he’s been surrounded and raised by mainly women throughout his life and felt like that’s had such a big impact on him, especially his mother and his daughter.
We also chatted about collaborations for not only this project, but in general. He said “artists are like instruments,” and went on to say that two artists can be talking about the same thing, but give off a different feel. He considers himself a huge fan of music and credits his love of music for making him a great artist. He said that sometimes he doesn’t always want to be the artist because he enjoys being a fan.
We’d be remiss to not chat about loss during this time when so much of the world has lost someone or something, whether it’s been a family member, friend, job, etc. We talked about the recent loss of his father, whom he had reconnected with after many years, before his passing. In an instagram post from Steelyone’s page the day after his father died, he shared “you know our relationship wasn’t ideal, but I remember every decision, every thought, every perspective I’ve ever had, he’s had something to do with it. I just remember wanting to be accepted by him more than anything in the world cause as a child he was everything to me. He couldn’t give me what he didn’t have himself and as a man and as a father, I can only see that now…now all I wish for is time.” The What’s Hot in Hip Hop Family and myself extend our deepest and most sincere condolences to Steelyone and his family during this time.
In the wake of all this loss, the importance of self care is critical. While he did credit music as being one of his forms of self care, he also noted that surrounding himself with people that he trusts and loves to hold a mirror to him sometimes has been important to him. He said that there are certain people in his life that were “born from a different womb, but are definitely like brothers and sisters.” He essentially said that surrounding himself with people that he never has to second-guess has given him peace of mind.
With that peace of mind closing out the year, now enters the vision of 2021 for Steelyone. He said that he’s finally accepting that he has a label. He admits that he hadn’t really accepted that, but just considered it working up until now. He’s putting more focus on his label artists, Kool Kidd Dre & Soleil. He noted that he wants to be a better business man musically, with more of a focus on sync, writing scripts for movies, and pushing his merch harder. He’s also working on “Ryde: Deluxe,” a limited edition vinyl edition of his latest project in the new year, which will include 4 additional songs. He’s also got a new documentary coming out directed by Kid Gianni called “Legacy,” which also happens to be one of his merch lines.
When asked what advice he would give a new up and coming hip hop artist, he said, “If you can survive the losses the wins are glorious.” He continued by saying “every loss comes with a lesson so you really have to put your 10,000 hours in. It’s such a journey.”
There were a lot of gems dropped into my one hour interview with Steelyone. You can catch my interview with Steelyone in its entirety on Instagram on my page now. If you’re already a fan of Steelyone, you’re familiar with his merch and his question, “How Will They Remember You?” Steelyone is surely leaving behind a legacy to be remembered in many ways. If you’re just getting to know Steelyone, be sure to follow him across social media and stay tuned for all his forthcoming projects.
“If it’s not here, it’s not hot. This is what’s hot in hip hop!”