Outasight’s come a long way in the past three years. In the summer of ’08, the then little known Yonkers MC made his XXL debut in a now defunct column titled Soundcheck. A breeding ground for aspiring artists, the column gave upstart MCs a platform to showcase their music while being critiqued by XXLMag.com’s tough crowd. O-U did pretty well. Since then, he’s cultivated a healthy buzz via several mixtape releases, amassed a growing fan base and inked a record deal with Warner Bros. A musical cousin to B.o.B, as he’s referred to in XXL‘s “Who Can Get Busy” article in the April 2011 issue, O-U is as comfortable spitting Rawkus-esque bars as he is singing Billy Joel’s “NY State of Mind” live in concert. His ever-expanding repertoire should come in handy when he finally releases his debut album. In the meantime, he’s still testing the waters. Today, Outasight releases his Figure 8 EP, an offering exclusively available on iTunes. XXL caught up with O-U to reminisce on his first appearance on this web site, his take on the influx of white rappers in the game and his genre-blurring music.— Carl Chery
XXLMag.com: What do you remember about your first appearance on the site?
Outasight: It was interesting cause I hadn’t had that many looks. And that was really at a time where a few blogs were really popular, but it wasn’t like crazy. It was still very Myspace-generated. My boy ‘Dre hit me up and was like, “Yo, you’re on XXLMag.com.” I was nervous ’cause when you’re on Myspace, you’re kinda of in a controlled environment. It’s all the people that wanted to go to your page to listen. It was good, there was so much response, which was so good and it was great ‘cause people were getting in debates. At that time especially there really wasn’t that many white rappers yet, so race was a very big conversation in the comments. Overall, it definitely got a lot of positive feedback and started opening up, getting new fans, getting new listeners.
XXL: You mentioned White rappers. Did you see—
OU: I saw the White rapper piece in the Freshman issue, ‘cause my friend hit me up. He’s like, “Yo, you know that they mentioned you twice in the magazine.” He was like, “Yo, you’re in the letter from the editor and in the White rapper article, so I went and checked it out. I feel really thankful. They called me the musical cousin of B.o.B. Shit, he’s having a monster year. I just took it as a very high compliment.
XXL: What do you think changed for so many white rappers to be on the cusp of stardom?
OU: I think really, it was just brewing even then. In 2008, there was a couple of guys just starting to pop up, but all the guys that are popular now were rapping. It just takes time. I think what happens is hip-hop has become such a huge business, a huge genre. It started in the streets and it manifested in a whole different thing. It got really successful and it hit audiences all over the world so kids from the burbs or just everybody in general listens to hip-hop. I mean, my mom knows who Jay-Z. Kids growing up are going to listen to what they wanna listen to and that’s a lot of times, hip-hop. And that’s white kids, Black kids, Spanish kids. Not only do you see a lot more White rappers, you see a lot more rappers period.
XXL: You’re rooted in hip-hop, but your style has become sort of a hybrid—
OU: I think my audience, it started off on a more real hip-hop kinda of audience, but it’s really kinda expanding ’cause I’m expanding the sound. Me, personally I like to do a lot of different styles because I grew up listening to a lot of different music and I just love making music, for me the idea is kinda expand upon the audience and not necessarily be a mainstream audience, but an audience that can definitely appreciate a more honed in, not pop sound, but not so boom-bap. My earlier products were very boom-bap, very New York hip-hop, very rapitty rap a little bit. I just kinda grew up and kinda want the listener to kinda hear that too. It’s a little bit bigger now.
XXL: You’re from Yonkers. There are rumors that Lady Gaga is also from there. Do you remember hearing about her bubbling?
OU: She said she’s not from Yonkers. She’s not really about that. She says she’s from Mahnattan. There were rumors that she was from Yonkers, but she does not claim Y.O.
XXL: What about DMX, The Lox—
OU: Absolutely. I mean, the DMX first album [It's Dark and Hell Is Hot], not only was it huge nationally, it was everywhere. It was amazing. The Lox, they were just putting out so much stuff, especially after they had the thing with Bad Boy. There was this mixtape, Let The Lox Go, which was just crazy, all the Lox bangers. The Ruff Ryders compilations, those were big. I mean, being from Yonkers you were extremely proud that they were big and you bumped them.