For the first time I sit down with New GA affiliate South Johansson about his music, the tape Tell The Truth | Shame The Devil, and what's coming up next for him. It was quite an enlightening talk to be sure. Check it out and see what we spoke on.
LUCIUS: So this is my first time sitting down with you. Glad that you consented to do this interview.
SOUTH: For sure, bruh. Glad you took the time to reach out and have me here. I am very appreciative for that.
LUCIUS: How goes 2015 for you thus far?
SOUTH: 2015 is great. Networking, working hard and working on myself in the process. Personal growth and growing with the music as well. And, of course, promoting this new project. It’s being received well by the listeners.
LUCIUS: So where did the name South Johansson come from?
SOUTH: South use to be short for Southernaire. Back home in Augusta most people called me by the full name. Then I moved to Oklahoma City for six years and they only called me South. I grew tired of the name. I'd always liked the sound of the name South Johansson. It just had a nice ring to it and stood out everywhere. Then I did a little research on Wikipedia as well and discovered that last name is attached to quite a few individuals from all walks of life. Inventors, athletes, musicians, authors, actors, actresses, etc. So my reason/meaning for using it after seeing that was to become successful at more than one thing. Do not ever limit yourself to one thing. Do not ever limit yourself, period!
LUCIUS: When did you first start rapping?
SOUTH: I was a late bloomer. I was fresh out the military, had a little money in my pocket and was bored so I picked up rapping. I didn’t start messing around with music until 2006. I didn’t take it serious until '07 or '08. By that time, I moved to Oklahoma City and by 2010 I had two songs in rotation on the radio. That’s when I knew I could really do this “music thing” with the best of them.
LUCIUS: Was there a person, place, thing, or idea that got you started with rhyming?
SOUTH: My partners Nile Rowe, Magnolia, and Lil' Charles. We use to get high, drunk and stay in Da Bottom all day making music at Cool Hand Luke's spot. (chuckles) Daily. Just young and having fun. We were like the Wu Tang Clan of Augusta. Everyone on the team had a different style but we all could rap and stood for something. It was like ten of us. I miss those days. Everything seemed so pure at that time until that thing called life kicks in. Some make it through, some disappear. I’m proud I made it this far though.
LUCIUS: So I started listening to Tell The Truth | Shame The Devil. Your flow, your delivery is unique and I dig it. How would you describe both?
SOUTH: It’s very aggressive. You can definitely tell I’m trying to get my point across but I keep it Southern and smooth at the same time. I love to explore different things musically depending on the beat. I hate hearing the same cadence, sound, or style. From myself or anyone. I don’t like to hear the predictable. It’s a turn off as an artist and listener. I’m just trying to bring a new sound to Georgia instead of the same ol' same ol', you know? That way I can separate myself from that bullshit I hear on the radio day in and day out. It’s a whole new Southern rap tune over this way, you feel me?
LUCIUS: I first heard you on iBeast's Cadillac Diaries. The track "RNO" really introduced me to you. Tell me a bit about that track for your standpoint.
SOUTH: RNO, Real Niggaz Only. I just wanted to let folks know that we need to stop glorifying stupidity. Real niggas are educated, taking care of their family, trying to make a play by any means necessary to move up the ladder legally. And if you’re a dope boy, cool. But have a exit plan. You can’t live that life forever. Move in a direction to OWN SOMETHING, stop worrying about now, provide ways for yourself and others by making good investment and career choices. It’s okay to have a future. I don’t see anything real about being in and out of jail, teaching our youth how to twerk and treating social media like the bible. Babies out here having babieswhile we just sit back and let it entertain us. This new generation is the most independent but laziest group of people I have ever seen in my life. Real niggas take care of business, not put you out of one. We need to learn that, in more ways than one.
LUCIUS: So how closely affiliated are you with the #NewGA movement?
SOUTH: We support each other. I am apart of the Spotey Club roster but we’re all #NewGA as far as the new wave of music we’re trying to spread throughout the city. I record, mix and master damn near all of iBeast music, too. So that’s where our affiliation started. I was a fan of all the music (iBeast, Fly Mindz & India Catrice) before anything and it grew from there. Now where you see one, you will probably see all. We just rock like that. I fuck with all of them the long way.
LUCIUS: Let's talk on the tape for a second. Explain to me why you chose the title and the concept if any.
SOUTH: Just grew up hearing that all the time and I got to a point where I got tired of rapping just to be rapping. So I made a promise to myself as long as I’m making music. I will only speak on things in my life or linked to me. I will no longer care about what’s “hot” or “trending”. I will only make honest music. Some songs are brutally honest but that’s the power of art. No rules, no limits when it’s you and you are completely being yourself. I’ve never felt more free and excited about a project until I put this out. And people are rocking with it. This is the path I was meant to be on and it’s my own so imma drive on it freely. Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil.
LUCIUS: The first track I really like from the tape is "The Final Straw". Give us some insight on making the track from start to finish.
SOUTH: (laughs) I was just reminiscing when I was a teen. Speaking on a stage in my life that most young adults go through when you think you know everything, your parents are the enemy and girls are your world. Just living young, wild, and free without a care in the world. (laughs). But, all things do come to an end and my pops gave me a choice to stay home and pay bills, go to school (college), go to the military or get out his house. I was never home anyway so I chose to go into the military at seventeen, knocking out two birds with one stone. Out of the house and no more school. I was so stupid then but I needed it. Now me and my father are closer than ever. That’s one of my favorite songs by the way. Mainly, it has the Andre 3000 "Prototype" sample in it. Classic!
LUCIUS: Another track I put on repeat is "Sorry" featuring Naj Murphy. How did this one come about?
SOUTH: Me being young and a dog ass nigga, ultimately. (laughs). In the song, I was apologizing to my ex, who I am very close with til this day, for doing what I did back then. We got caught up in some he said/she said and I thought she cheated (which I should have know better) and without asking too many questions, I just moved on to another girl (a Dominicana. I will not reveal her real name). After it was too late, I found out it was just a rumor from a dude we both knew. He just wanted her so he made up a lie, got others on board and it ended us. I recently seen that guy back home though. He was VERY apologetic but it’s water under the bridge now. We live and we learn.
LUCIUS: I'm familiar with both J3 as a producer and as a rapper. How was it working with him to create "Drink 'Til Sober"?
SOUTH: Great. He sent me a link to his Soundcloud and I chose that beat within ten minutes. It was the first song I did on this project. Shouts out to J3!
LUCIUS: So what are a few of your favorite tracks from Tell The Truth | Shame The Devil? Are there any that aren't your favorites?
SOUTH: I like all the tracks on the project. I just press play and let that thang ride. Very proud of myself on this one and hopefully everyone else will enjoy it.
LUCIUS: So what else does South Johansson have planned for us in 2015? Anything big for 2016?
SOUTH: More networking, more shows, more visuals and trying to get the project into the right hands. Continue to build on my firm loyal listener base so when the time approaches, anything I drop is undeniable and can not be overlooked by anyone.
LUCIUS: What impact if any are you trying to make with your music?
SOUTH: Be you. Be honest. Create your own art and never let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do because of what it looks like on the other side or your age. I am so tired of artists, listeners and the music industry using age as an excuse. The “music industry” prefers young people because it’s easier to mold and finesse them out a check. Remember that people. It has nothing to do with your music. You create a crazy fan base and bigger song, A&R’s and all will find any way to contact you. There is no age limit on creativity so stop buying into that bullshit. The industry is scared of you at a mature age because if you’ve done your homework, they can’t use you and MUST pay you what you’re worth. Straight like that. Build your wave, your sound and movement and the world is yours. That’s the impact I’m trying to make on people. Don’t be scared to be you, get out your comfort zone and change lives. Let your music pull emotions out of listeners.
LUCIUS: Who are really listening to right now as far as music goes?
SOUTH: Snoop Dogg – Bush (Album), Tyler The Creator – CherryBomb (Album), Outkast, Sauce Walka, The Internet, Melodic Dubstep, D.R.A.M., Casey Veggies, Dom Kennedy, Curren$y and of course...(laughs) my shit. I could go on and on but I’ll stop there.
LUCIUS: Anything you want to say or share with anyone reading this article?
SOUTH: Support local artists like you support these major artists you don’t even know. It’s a shame all the great indie music (all genres) out here and you only worried about who you see on TV or hear on the radio.
LUCIUS: Any last shouts out?
SOUTH: Shouts out to anyone and everyone who support me. You know who you are and I am very appreciative for that. Thank you.
LUCIUS: Where can people listen to your music and/or keep up with you?
SOUTH: You can hear and download Tell The Truth | Shame The Devil on Audiomack for free right now. Look me up on Soundcloud and YouTube, as well. Follow me on twitter - @sxvthjohansson, instagram - sxvthjohansson
LUCIUS: Thanks for your time.
SOUTH: No problem, bruh.