Hii5Ghost was once a rapper/producer/engineer named JWim. Once JWim evolved he shed his mortal name. Hii5Ghost considers himself to be a spirit that embodies music. Dedicated to the evolution of hip hop and music altogether, he aims to enlighten whoever is willing to listen.
He started at the age of 18 creating beats for Red Stork Ent. and the release of their first album “Red Stork Ent Presents: The Rap Pack Vol. 1″. The project was mostly produced and recorded by him and caught quite a good buzz in Houston, Tx his home.
At the age of 19 he entered the Air Force and traveled from Texas to St Louis to California where he rekindled his love with music. After being deployed to Afghanistan, where he saw such things as you would expect to see in war, he realized that music saved his sanity and also how important the small things in life are. He demonstrates this in his music now.
From 2009 to 2010, he lived in Istanbul Turkey where he recorded Liquid Audio. His main inspiration for the mixtape was his thirst for good music and lack of it being easily available. Hii5Ghost would later consider this his most complete mixtape. Seldom reviewed and even more seldom is the wide spread listening of it makes Liquid Audio one of the many to come cult classics in his repertoire.
He then moved to England, releasing Liquid Audio 2 just 3 months later as a continuation of Liquid Audio but more focused on discovering new sounds for the new environment. In 2012 he deployed to Afghanistan for the second time which changed the way he viewed the world. It was at this point JWim became Hii5Ghost.
Currently, he resides in Ruskin, Florida where he is working on his next venture, “Live, Love, and Dance while you can”, a concept album about the escapades of becoming a more complete person set to beats you can dance to.
Needless to say, “The future will be bright and full of laughter.” -Hii5Ghost
Today we are chilling it with a new up and coming rapper named Hii5Ghost. How did you come up with the name?
Hii5Ghost – Pablo Picasso had a saying, “Good artists copy; great artists steal”. So to put it short, I stole it from a cartoon character named high five ghost who appears on the Regular Show. The instant I heard his name it made me think. Now when people who don’t know the show hear the name, they think. That is the goal of my music. It’s for the thinkers. I switched it to Hii5Ghost so it will have 3 I’s in the name. Also, I believe in the paranormal, spirituality, and positivity. What could possibly be more positive than a high five?
One of your favorite sayings is “the future will be bright and full of laughter”. When you were stationed in Afghanistan and fighting a war, was that motto hard to live by, or maybe something you had to live by to survive?
Hii5Ghost – I would say both. When you are out there, all you try to do is take it one day at a time. It’s like the life you normally lived was just a really good dream and if you just focus on that dream, you might slip up. So it’s a constant struggle to not think about the future and focus on the job at hand because they are complete contrasts of each other. At the same time, you have to have something to keep you going. Something to keep you strong enough to handle the war, and that dream sometimes is the only thing that can do that. When I was there last year, we had 254 suicides in 255 days and for the year overall we had more suicides than war deaths. So I created the motto as a way to look at life when you’re in a unfavorable situation. If you think about a future that’s bright and full of laughter, it can give you hope which in turn will give you strength.
When you were occupied in the Middle East how did that hinder your creative process in music?
It didn’t hinder it at all actually. I am a producer at heart so I had my Macbook and midi keyboard out there so I was making music in my free time. I worked in the hospital doing surgery and we worked 12 hour shifts. When you’re deployed and your shift is over, it’s not like you can just hop in your car and go to chilis for some drinks and watch the game. We all pretty much kicked it at the hospital because that’s where the internet and tv was at. So even when we got off, we stayed on because you never knew when you would be needed. So not only was I making beats and such out there, I would get people to help make songs just for fun. I think everybody has an inner rapper in them nowadays.
When you were stationed all over the world, especially the Middle East, in what seems like a never ending war, can you share some of your experiences of what you saw?
Hii5Ghost – Like I said I worked in surgery so I didn’t get into any gunfights or anything, but I saw the aftermath which is never pretty. We saved some lives. We lost some lives. You tend to remember the ones that don’t make it because it’s not something that you encounter every day unless you’re deployed. People blown up, kids dying in my arms, limbs taken off, loss of reproductive functions. This was normal stuff out there. We had one lady (Afghan native) who had been severely burned on her left arm and both of her legs. She was kept at an Afghanistan hospital where they didn’t change her bandages for over a month. When they brought her to us, she screamed a scream of pain that was unimaginable. She didn’t stop screaming until the anesthesia knocked her out. We started to take off the bandages and bugs where crawling out of her skin. She had no good muscle left, barely any skin, and you could see straight to her bones. You could smell her dying. She died the next day. That was on my first deployment in 2007 and it’s something I will never forget for the rest of my life. I’ve got a bunch of other stories but I’ll just leave you with that one.
Would you recommend anyone else to go into the service, especially people who are musically inclined?
Hii5Ghost – I would never tell someone not to join. I would just tell them my experiences and the truth that the recruiter won’t tell you. As far as for musicians joining, that depends on what their goal is. If they want to make the typical pop/hip hip/r&b and they’re already doing shows and building a fan base, then no. But if you want life experience, if you’re following in the same footsteps as those before you and you want to walk your own new path then I would say join and do at 4 years. You will be taken out of your element and put in situations that most people never get a chance to experience. You will have to work with strangers for a common goal and those strangers may become some of your best lifelong friends. You’ll also meet people who do music too. EVERYWHERE (laughs).
Before we get off this subject I wanted to pick your brain about the news as of late that Obama has guaranteed troops and aid in Afghanistan until 2024?
Hii5Ghost – Truthfully, I don’t think we are going to ever be full out of there. When Bush was in office, he signed something saying we are going to be there for the next 99 years. When I was out there last year, there was so much construction going on I could tell we weren’t leaving soon. Also, there are sooooooo many civilian contractors out there now making 6 figures compared to our (military members) little 30-50k a year it’s ridiculous. I can feel that everything is not what it seems and that’s something I learned from my first deployment. I don’t really like to speculate about it with people who haven’t been out there and seen what’s going on first hand so I don’t delve too deep on it too often. Right now the only political conversations I like to talk about are one’s where we can get weed legalized (laughs). For real though.
Did you ever have a chance to check out the Hip Hop scenes in Turkey or England when you were there? If so, can you explain the difference compared to the U.S.?
Hii5Ghost – Of course (laughs). Turkish rappers are like the underground scene here in America. They try to keep it grimy and raw. I met some that rapped in English and some were actually pretty dope with the accent. The ones that rapped in Turkish I needed a translator for. Funny story though, there are a lot of Africans in Turkey and they aren’t viewed that positively out there. So what do they do? They pretend their American (laughs). That’s how they get girls. But they’re cool people overall. In the UK though, everyone is wack. They try to imitate American rappers and it just doesn’t work. It’s not to say they don’t have potential, but they don’t have an identity to their sound. When you steal something you have to put your twist on it, not just copy and paste. They do dominate rock and pop though. Their radio stations are pretty on point for the most part.
What made you make the transition from JWim to Hii5Ghost?
Hii5Ghost – JWim was just my first initial with the first three letters of my last name. Not really creative. Hii5Ghost was the name I chose once I felt like my music and myself had evolved. As soon as I heard it I thought about stealing it, but I didn’t know if I should and I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt I shouldn’t. Then I remembered that there was a Neptunes before the Neptunes, and a Timberland before a Timbaland, and a Jaz O before Jay Z, Dr J before Dr Dre, M&M before Eminem, 50 cent before 50 cent. That’s when it hit me. Not only should I steal it, it was destiny for that name to find me so I could put my twist on it and give an identity to my music.
What is the Hip Hop scene like specifically in England compared to on US soil?
Hii5Ghost – It’s mainly an underground scene. If you go to the club, they’ll play American hip hop more than anything else. It’s still a different feel to it though because they don’t mix the same. It’s not as polished. For the most part, hip hop is kind of on the back burner to their top 40. I loved it though because it put me out of the loop of hip hop for about 4 ½ years and when I finally came back to the states, I felt out of the loop but in a good way. I had discovered so much music that inspired me outside of hip hop. I don’t really listen to too much new hip hop anymore. I actually started downloading old albums that I used to listen to when I was a kid.
Who were your influences to get into music?
Hii5Ghost – I started making beats because of one of my good friends Donnie. I had been to a lot of different schools growing up so I was always the new kid. In 9th grade we met in basketball class and after school we all went to his house to listen to music. When we got there he was like check out this beat I made really quick. He had a casio keyboard (laughs). It was one of the dopest things I had heard and to me it was crazy that I had never thought about doing the same thing because I loved music. From that day forward I started making beats and slowed down on the rapping. But other influences would be (rapping) The original Ruff Ryders from Vol. 1, Scarface, Outkast, Eminem’s 1st 2 albums, Missy Elliot, Lupe Fiasco, Young Dro, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Black Hippy, Snoop, NERD. Production).. Timbaland, The Neptunes, Swizz Beats, Danger Mouse, Metronomy, Andre 3000, Kanye West, Prince, Michael Jackson, and video games. Video games sometimes have the most inspiring music for me.
What projects have you released to date that you think the HHL readers should hear first?
Hii5Ghost – http://www.hii5ghost.com/
Head here first and listen to the Liquid Audio Mixtape. It’s the page you will land on.
Then head here to hear songs that I just randomly posted and to get a free look at future projects.
Are you on a label? If so let us know…..
Hii5Ghost – I am currently labeless (laughs). Not really in any rush to get signed or anything, but I would sign if I got the right offer. I may start my own label once I graduate Full Sail.
Any new projects coming out? Any features?
Hii5Ghost – My next project I’m working on is a concept album called “Live, Love and Dance While You Can”. It’s going to be an adventure into self discover set to dance music.
How do you like the response you received on “The Rap Pack Vol 1”?
Hii5Ghost – Nowadays I’m kind of glad we didn’t push it more and I kind of think we should have pushed it less (laughs). The sound quality was all over the place and I was a complete novice at mixing. I was 19 and just excited to complete my first official project. It was well received but if I could travel back in time and talk to 19 year old Hii5Ghost, I would tell him to listen to his gut, take his time, and fix everything he feels needs fixing.
A song that really stood out to us was “Blow Up”. It kind of had that Eminem “Mosh” feel but your words were more then domestic politics. It also called for an uprising of sorts with lines like, “Destroying I-pods, burning mixtapes/ they preach Democracy, but they dictate/ these are different rules, we’re no longer fools/ the revolution’s here, you gave us all the tools”. Lets chat about that. For starts, to sum up this whole record, do you feel we the people are at a breaking point with everything going on?
Hii5Ghost – Yeah about that (laughs). It was more about people in general being lied to by their government not just Americans. It was full of metaphors but the words are one’s that we hear pretty often. They would talk about ipod and iphone killers, I’m killing the mic so I’m killing ipods, radio is playing music that doesn’t resonate and people put that music on their ipods, they are killing their own ipods. Burning mixtapes refers more to censoring our freedoms. Artists always talk about how they can make music they want to make on mixtapes but can’t do that on albums. Just another metaphor for suppression. They preach Democracy but they dictate refers to the illusion of freedom that they led us to believe. The next line refers to access of information. You lied to us all these years, then you gave us the internet and now we can spread truth faster than you can spread lies. Facebook started the revolution in Cairo, which was something I didn’t even know until a few weeks ago when we had to research it for class. I wrote the song in 2011 I think, but I said the line because I could feel the power of the internet.
Do you feel that most of the public is to unaware of the ills of society that you rapped about on “Blow Up”?
Hii5Ghost – Yes of course. That’s why I made the song. The control of media is the control of people in America. But there came a point in life where I had to question the legitimacy of the things I never thought to question before. A lot of people, especially in the military, never reach that point. Blow up was a way to show people that from my perspective. I don’t want people to hear my song and just be like “Yeah you’re right. I’m gonna side with you.” I want people to hear the song and be like, “I don’t know if you’re right or wrong so I’m gonna look into it myself and find my own answers”. Once you decide to walk that road, there is no turning back. You will free your mind.
We also noticed your versatility in your creative process too. Your topics and production aren’t just one sided. With a record like “Choosin Me. Pt 2” was that drawn from a real life experience?
Hii5Ghost – It was a little bit of real life mixed with fantasy. Like, real life taken to the extreme. You can look into a person’s eyes and feel what they’re thinking, not necessarily the details but if they’re sad or happy you will know. I’ve met so many different people and been in so many different situations I understand can feel how a person feels pretty accurately. “Choosin Me Pt. 2” takes this to the extreme and says in one glance I can not only tell how you feel but also what you want to sexually. There is also a pt 1 and a pt 3 and each song has a different meaning but the feel is very similar in all 3 songs.
Being we are talking about production what are your weapons of choice to make a beat?
Hii5Ghost – I use Logic or Reason depending on my mood with a mpk49 midi keyboard. Tons of drum samples and I really like mixing synth sounds with real sounds. I’m don’t sample songs too often but I do occasionally if I hear something I really like.
What’s the best way our HHL readers can connect with you for engineering or production services?
Here at HipHopLead.com we like to ask our features some questions that really are out of the norm.We do this because it gives the fans a broader outlook on you.So lets get it cracking ….
Which is one of the best years for hiphop music in your opinion?
Hii5Ghost – The 90’s no doubt. You had it all from gangster rap, to conscious rap, to luxury rap to dance rap. My favorite in particular would be the era where you could listen to groups like the Ruff Ryders then switch it over to Timbaland, Missy, Ginuwine, and Aaliyah. That’s a small piece but man there is nothing today that compares that feeling today.
Best Hip Hop producer of all time?
Hii5Ghost – I would have to say Dr. Dre but he is not my favorite. My favorite is Timbaland but I couldn’t give it to him because he crossed all the way over. Two things I know 1. You never want to cross all the way over and 2. You never go full tard.
If you had to live through a natural disaster ..what would it be? Earthquake or Tornado?
Hii5Ghost – Well crazy enough I have lived through both (laughs). Also a flood and a hurricane. If I had to chose one thought I would say an earthquake. They got earthquake proof buildings now (laughs). But then again it all depends on the size of the earthquake or hurricane. It would be between those two though.
Rate President Obama 1 thru 10 for his time in office so far?
Hii5Ghost – I couldn’t rate him on a normal scale because I don’t like politicians lol. In the military they always say, “If you don’t like the way things are, then make rank and change them.” The problem with that is by the time you make the rank to change things, either you don’t remember what it was you wanted to change or you do remember but you don’t care because the way you made rank was to accept the things you didn’t like in the first place. Politics are the same way. By the time you make it to the top, you’ve already become the person you didn’t like when you were at the bottom. I didn’t vote and I will probably never vote. I would vote for a president who is old, on his deathbed, has accepted his death and was never involved in politics (laughs). Or just the guy who says he will legalize weed.
Are lyrics more important to you .. or a dope beat?
Hii5Ghost – I think the feeling the song gives off is the most important. I have heard a ton of dope beats with bad lyrics and a ton of dope lyrics on horrible beats. But only the ones with feeling lasted. The ones that say something that’s worth remembering. I would like to thank the line from Lil Wayne,”I got 10 bathrooms I can shit all day” for opening my eyes to that. I actually felt dumber after that line got stuck in my head. Im not a Wayne fan but that was off the No Ceilings mixtape, which I really liked at the time, but that one line made me realize that it was a completely empty line. I mean, I have one bathroom and I can shit all day too. That was probably the biggest turning point in my toleration of the music I listen to. Now I wont tolerate anything I don’t like because I don’t have to. I can listen to whatever I want on my devices and I take them everywhere anyways so it only made sense.
Back To The Norm…….
It’s credible that you are open with just being you in music. Finding originality and people that keep it real is hard to find nowerdays. Do you think not having a street background or a jail record that this will help or hurt you in today’s musical climate?
Hii5Ghost – I don’t really know and I don’t care. I come from a lot of different streets. Most of them bad but as my mother, my sister and I began moving around, those streets became better and better. My mom raised us both alone and it’s a struggle young people wont realize until they get older. When I was growing up, the streets never appealed to me because I only listened to real artist. People who didn’t glorify those streets, but used them to make themselves better. They would talk about the good and bad. It was like this is what it is but you have a choice.
Name 1 song you’ve done that will have the HipHopLead.com viewers hooked!? (plug it too)
Hii5Ghost – I would say listen to I.B.I.G. check out the beta here
If you can rock with that song then you will want to check out my catalog and you’re ready. Remember, this is not a movement, this is evolution.
Thanks for hollering at us and in closing give any shoutouts….links to your sites….F.U.’S or whatevers clever
Hii5Ghost – I would like to shout out my Jay Von out there in Houston holding it down for real lyricists. Check him out at http://jay-von.bandcamp.com/ My brother WIIM holding it down out in SoCal repping that underground rap scene. Check him out on youtube.com/wiim. To all the soldiers, marines, airmen, and seamen out there in the sand hold your head up and do what you gotta do to make home. And to all my loved ones yall know who yall are.