Don’t Call Me A Rapper is The Exception’s first mini-album, and fifth overall in a line of albums he has recorded and produced independently. It features 8 total tracks that reflect all the different sides of his musicianship. For those out there who have been following him from the start, or who are familiar with a fair amount of his music, you may recognize that this album is a nice blend of his previous work with a little dash of the new sound he has been developing. Longtime fans shouldn’t be disappointed. As always, The Exception continues to stay true to his passion for music and is always aiming to release fresh content for his fans. The new album drops December 3, 2014, and pre-orders can currently be placed through Bandcamp.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with who The Exception is, he is a soon-to-be 25-year-old rapper who proudly hails from Chesapeake, Ohio. To briefly rehash the highlights of the first interview we had together back in April 2012, music was initially just a hobby for The Exception. Though he has been writing rhymes since the 8th grade and began recording his sophomore year of high school, it wasn’t until his freshman year of college at Ohio State, when his song, “In the O,” an anthem he created for the Ohio State Buckeyes, got radio play and gave him his initial exposure to recognition as a rapper across Ohio. From that moment on, he decided to pursue music as a profession. He writes his own music, and he takes great pride in the fact that he writes, records, mixes, and masters every song himself. The only process he does not develop on his own are his beats, which he partners with several well-respected producers in the music industry in order to attain the right sound. His musical influences include Eminem, Lil Wayne, Mac Miller, Drake, J. Cole, and T.I., among others.
Just a little over three years ago today, I first became acquainted with The Exception via my first Twitter account (on July 21, 2011, if the digital records are to be believed). Right around that time I decided to launch a blog containing mostly reviews of movies I had recently seen in theaters, with the occasional miscellaneous topic from my daily life experiences. Recently, I have gone on hiatus from writing for that blog for several reasons that I will not disclose at this time; perhaps that will be a story for another day. (For the deathly curious, I’ll just say that it is an issue of copycats that is ironic because of what the blog’s name actually is, and leave it at that.) Not sure if this will be a temporary or permanent home for my latest blog posts yet, but we’ll see how it goes.
That said, it is with great pleasure that I am able to make this follow-up interview and review of The Exception’s upcoming album the very first post of this new chapter of blogging. From my experience, The Exception is a man of his word, and the minute he had an opportunity for me to help promote his new work, he reached out. It’s hard to believe how much time has flown by since the first interview I had with him for an artist spotlight feature on my original blog. I am glad to say that I have been able to watch him grow and develop since the early days of his music career.
The Exception has always made it a point to personally interact with his fans, particularly through social media, and even after all these years, he continues to do his best to respond to those that reach out to him on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It is that same dedication to his fans that has us collaborating once more, to bring fans a more personalized interview experience with The Exception than could ever be found anywhere else.
EoC: It’s been a little over two years now since our first interview together, and we’ve both experienced our fair share of growth and change. Are there any recent milestones in your career that you are able to share with your fans today?
The Exception: Well, it’s been kind of a roller coaster, career-wise. I’ve found out there are a plethora of agencies, companies, etc. that just do BAD business. I had a couple of summer tours with big name artists such as Iyaz and Lil Durk scheduled, but due to the lack of integrity of the booking agencies, those tours fells through. That whole situation was kind of hard on me emotionally, because each time I felt like, “Ok, this could be it. This could be what puts me on the map.” And then it would fall through. I have been working behind the scenes with a private consulting company, who is responsible for getting French Montana and Chief Keef signed to major labels. Through them, I’ve been able to connect and interact with artists and producers such as Fat Boi (produced #1 hit “Wasted”), RawSmoov (who produced #1 hit “Who Booty”), Gucci Mane, etc.
EoC: So sorry to hear! How would you say you got yourself through it all? What do you consider as the greatest challenges from your recent experiences?
TE: What got me through it all? Knowing that 9 years ago when I started this NO ONE (maybe not even me) thought that I would’ve been able to accomplish what I have. I’ve performed with Asher Roth, licensed to a video game, performed all over the US, it’s been amazing. I definitely have my bad days, and that’s probably the biggest reason for the relationship struggles in my personal life, but I wouldn’t trade music for the world. It’s who I am, and I absolutely love doing it. The biggest challenge I think is just going to work every day with the uncertainty of the future. There are definitely days where I have major debates intrinsically about whether or not it’s all worth it, and wonder if I’m being naive, but ultimately it is absolutely worth it. For every bad day, there are 10 days that I wake up and go to sleep knowing I’m doing exactly what I was put on Earth to do. I encourage every single one of my fans to pursue their dreams no matter who “insane” they might be. Because if an average kid from suburban Ohio can do what I’ve been able to do, nothing is out of reach.
EoC: Well I’m sure your fans are glad that you are still with us and going strong! Are you still working as an independent artist?
TE: I’m independent from any major label, and I’m putting this album out completely independent of any funding or anything like that. My independence is what I take the most pride in. As you know, I am a very hands-on artist, so I like to handle most business myself.
EoC: I sure do! So tell me more about Don’t Call Me A Rapper, which is dropping in just about a week! What inspired you to do it? How did you decide on the title? What can you tell me about the creative process?
TE: For the last 2+ years, I’ve been in a behind-the-scenes hiatus from public music releases, so I finally just said, “You know what? It’s been too long.” I’m still doing my thing and getting my ducks in a row for major commercial releases, but I wanted to drop another independent project that was reminiscent of what made people stand behind me in the first place.
I decided on the title because I get so sick of the connotation and stigma that come with people saying “Oh, you’re a rapper?” So I wanted it to be know, I’M NOT A RAPPER. I am a musician. An artist. I wear suits and glasses and do basic everyday people things. I’m not some thug or wannabe gangster or anything like that. I have a college degree and just enjoy making music.
My creative process is probably weird to most people. I’ve had artists want to work with me or just ask me questions about how to do the ins and outs of music, and when they see how I work they’re like, “That’s really how you do it? And that works?” I write most of my songs in the car or in the shower, which sounds crazy, but that’s when my brain is the most creative. The weirdest thing about my process is that often times I’ll literally write a song or a line in a dream, then wake up and be like, “Oh, that’s dope, I wanna use that in a song”, and then actually bring that to life.
EoC: That’s fantastic. Definitely keep doing what you’re doing. Got any tracks on the album you’re more partial to than others?
TE: Obviously, I’m proud of them all, but I think the ones that I’m most proud of are “Werewolf” and “Wife That Chick” for the simple fact that they expanded my versatility in polar opposite directions. Where “Werewolf” is more of a rock song, “Wife That Chick” is a pop song. I don’t know too many artists that could pull both those songs off with no features.
EoC: What can your fans expect from you in the coming weeks after the album’s official release? Are you working on any new projects? Any collaborations with other artists?
TE: Honestly, I just plan to enjoy this album for a few weeks before I get back to work. I’m sure Industry Level will have me doing this and that behind the scenes, but as far as putting anything out, I don’t see that happening in the near future. I am, however, working with a booking agency to get a tour scheduled for winter/spring so that I can perform the album for various colleges and venues.
EoC: It’s been a while since you last released an album. Between Don’t Call Me A Rapper and F.A.M.E., it’s been at least two years, give or take a couple of months. I’m sure that your fans have been growing impatient, and they’re probably excited to know that this mini-album is coming out. You established yourself as quite an active individual early on with your fanbase when it comes to your music. How should fans be interpreting the recent silence?
TE: I hope my fans never think that I’m not working. I’m always working. The hiatus has only been publicly, I’ve been making moves behind the scenes and that work should come to fruition soon enough. I think once that happens, people will be blown away by the connections I’ve been able to make and the artists and producers that will be on future tracks. At the end of the day, I do this because I love it. I don’t do it for fame or money or anything like that. So with this album, that’s what I really wanted to get across to fans, and I think that once they hear it, they will appreciate my music for the uniqueness and versatility that it brings to the table. It’s worth the wait, trust me.
EoC: I’m sure it will be! Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you!
And that’s a wrap for now, folks! Stay tuned for my own personal review of the upcoming album, which is releasing this year, December 3rd, next!
Want more of The Exception? Or better yet, got your own questions for him? Be sure to reach out to him on any of his social media outlets and check out his various pages for more information!