On Friday, PhoulBallz introduced you all to soon to be local sensation NeeKo. He's an aspiring musical artist who remade Jay Z's smash single "Empire State of Mind". Jigga Man's New York City anthem, which features Alicia Keys, has reached top 10 status on the Billboard chart. Many music heads around Philadelphia wondered where their own theme song was, and NeeKo answered their call, teaming with vocalist Deana Marie to remake the track and create a song all Philly's own.
I had chance to interview NeeKo over the weekend, and here is how that went down.
What is your attachment to Philadelphia? Born and raised there, or what?
I was born and raised in the northeast, had a quick stint in the 'burbs and now I'm back living in the northeast and loving it.
Talk about the creative process with the song...how did you start? How long did it take to write, record, edit and find the right female vocalist?
So, I was driving in my car, listening to the Jay Z track on the radio and at the end, the DJ was asking his Philly emcees where our version was. It was an instant light bulb for me. I met Deana through a friend who said she could really sing and I ran the idea by her. From then it took about a week to write and a few more days to record and edit. My main focus was to not force anything and let the track really represent all aspects of the city through me. I knew I had to go above and beyond with it, and I'm extremely happy with how it turned out.
What has the response been like, since you released this remake online this past week?
The response has been phenomenal to say the least! It's only been a few days and it's gone far beyond my expectations. People are reaching out from all over...young, old, it doesn't matter, they can really relate and that is what I was going for.
How does it feel knowing you are able to enhance pride in residents of and those who are products of the Philly area?
It's indescribable honestly. I mean what better city to have backing you a hundred percent, especially considering how pride driven we are here? I wanted to provide the people with an anthem they can be proud of, and so far so good.
As this track's appeal grows, what would you like to gain out of the exposure that comes with it? Do you hope to have a career in music?
I'm definitely looking to pursue this as a career and the exposure could be huge for me. I'm just hoping it reaches the right ear and they say, "Ya know what, this kid's got something here, I wanna work with him." That's all I can really ask for.
What else do you do with your time?
Right now, I'm working two jobs, construction during the day and bouncing at night to pay bills. I also have a Philly inspired t-shirt company called Ambishis that people can check out at Ambishis.bigcartel.com. So I'm keeping myself busy these days.
Describe your Philly sports phandom...are you a 4-for-4 (all 4 major Philly team sports) guy?
Yes, I am most definitely a 4 for 4 guy. I stick to my city's teams, if they win I'm with 'em and if they lose I'm with 'em too. Can I get a rePeat?
Who has been your favorite Phillie, and what did u like about him?
Hmm, I'm gonna have to say Aaron Rowand was my favorite Phillie. The way he shattered his face just to get the out, that's the kind of players this city needs. Of course, the current Phils deliver time after time in the most crucial situations and you can't ask for more than that.
What is your favorite ball park food?
That would have to be Tony Lukes roast pork and broccoli rabe for sure.
What's your favorite Philly site and/or hot spot?
I'm simple man, just give me a nice sunny, seventy-degree day walking through center city, there's nothing better. This city has so much to offer, I just like to stand back and soak it all in.
Biggest musical inspiration(s)?
Wow, there are just so many. Anything from Phil Collins to Beanie Sigel. If it changes my mood in any way, that's what I'm looking for. Which is also the same thing I'm shooting to do. I'm on a crusade, just to make your mood change.
Thanks to NeeKo...and here's a link to the post with the music track, if you missed it.
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