As a nearly lifelong Hip-Hop head I’ve seen a lot over the years. Some have been declaring Hip-Hop dead for over a decade, understandably so as we see the likes of Bieber trying to crossover to rap. The die hard fans of what we call “real Hip-Hop” refuse to let go, constantly searching for up-and-comers who share our passion for not just the music but for the lifestyle and culture. Emanuel X shines like a beacon of hope out of Philly and my friend Zach from IV Parallels took the time for an in-depth interview with the emcee so we can get to know our young torch bearer a little better. –Freehand Profit
What’s your full name?
Emanuel Luis Gamboa Cintron
When’s your birthday?
August 2nd, 1992
Where were you born?
St. Francis Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey
Where were you raised?
I lived in a lot of places, but I truly feel like I haven’t found home yet. My family migrated a lot due to financial instability during my childhood. I lived in Trenton for two months, straight out the womb. Then crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge to my childhood home in Olney, North Philadelphia, 5747 N. Lawrence Street to be exact. Dipped out due to increase in crime, and lack of a strong school system. My little brother, Louie, has autism and the schools in the city back in the 90’s didn’t approach special needs students with any special care, forcing us to seek relocation in a stronger environment to help him develop. I doubt inner city school systems made any improvement on their approach to such a fragile topic in today’s society either. Regardless, my father hails from Costa Rica, a country in Central America, so he moved us there to show us the contrast in a free spirited Latin society versus an intense one I was exposed to all through my youth. However, the cycle didn’t cease. My dad didn’t have enough money to start a new life hitting the ground running; so he sent my two sisters, my brother, my mother, and I on a flight, loaded with all the money he had to his name for us to establish ourselves, until he got on his feet, and could come out to support us himself. Eventually everything mapped out accordingly and he came to live with us in Costa Rica but despite the big dreams of starting fresh, we were sucked back into reality, suffering armed robberies and fleeing back to Philadelphia, then once more to New Jersey, and finally settled back in a chiller spot of Philadelphia. Despite all that, I found love in all reality. And don’t believe where you live molds you. You are a product of what you allow yourself to be susceptible to, not your environment.
What/who was your introduction to Hip Hop?
This memory is a vivid one. I even addressed it slightly on my song “Inspiration” off my DEADSTOCK EP. I would say I was 2 to 3 and my mother was taking me to a babysitters crib. She turned on the radio and if it wasn’t, it felt like, the first time I ever truly HEARD something in my life. All I remember was Biggie’s voice booming through my moms minivan as she drove me to the babysitter. I’ve been in love since that moment. It’s one of the first memories of my life.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Something in me told me this is what my purpose in life was. To be the voice for the voiceless. I knew I was going to do this shit subconsciously, I just had to let the stars align.
When did you first start rapping?
I always penned shit down as a kid, but treated it like it was top secret and tucked it away for nobody to see. Then, I made it more public that I wrote lyrics in 8th grade to my niggas growin up, but played it off like it was just a hobby. High school consisted of constant backseat freestyles and then I recorded my first song in 11th grade on this nut ass mic, over the “That Tree” instrumental by Snoop Dogg & Kid Cudi.
When did you begin to take it serious?
When I realized music is my form of genius.
What was the name of your first song & how did you feel about it?
I don’t remember what I titled the “That Tree” freestyle, but, over Eminem’s “Infinite” beat I recorded a song on another horrible, but slightly upgraded microphone and called it “Real Sounds Like” that one holds more value to me. Even though it was a piece of shit, it showed me the potential I had within me to really say some shit. I tagged all my friends on Facebook to watch it and it got a shit load of likes and comments but I doubt anybody gave it a fucking listen. Regardless, I knew I had something within me that made me feel alive.
How did your family & friends react to you rapping?
Surprised. Because Big Pun is the only Puerto Rican rapper worth mentioning. And since I was doing something that didn’t have too many commercial Hispanic predecessor’s, it seemed unorthodox. But niggas know now.
Where does the inspiration for your music come from?
The Spirit. I go blind and let the waves hit me. I let my Soul do it’s thing.
Who are you most often compared to & how does that make you feel?
My nigga Jacob, from day one, always compared the substance in my songs to a young Nas. That’s a high standard, because that nigga made Illmatic. Other then that, I really don’t catch comparisons. I do what comes natural. What’s true for one man, may not seem to be true for another. You emit your perception, so my style is unique to my individual. Bless Up.
Who’re your biggest influences not just in Hip Hop but in both life & music?
“Can’t Tell Me Nothing” by Kanye West was the song that made me say, “I want that.” When I heard him saying everything he said in that song, I checked myself and said “I got some shit to say too.” My little brother, my mother, my father, just the struggle and embodying it through sound and lyrics.
What was the name of your first project?
For the OG’s, it was a little bullshit high school mixtape called “Forgotten Thoughts” I made $1000 off it though, and copped a half sleeve. When I embraced the art, I made DEADSTOCK.
What was your budget like for your debut project & where did that money go to (I.e. production, recording, mixing, mastering, printing physical copies, online advertising etc)? Do you feel your debut project was a success or failure & why?
I had nothing in my pockets, and pain in my heart. A vision in my mind, for the sake of the art. I linked up with Jeff Milnazik, and Mike Horn, two really dope producers/engineers (@JeffMilnazik) (@MrCrowseph) They caught wind of my shit on facebook and said I had some dope shit to say, but more people would tune in if my quality was better. I did what it took to get the money and we made a classic. Gave out physicals, got requests and sent multiple copies to California, Wyoming, Florida, Georgia and more. Put it online on hotnewhiphop.com, and got Freehand Profit to put a free download link to it in his book. I truly believe DEADSTOCK is a classic. That will forever be my baby. I was younger in the game too, I still went by “ELG” in those days. But my mind elevated and my artist name is Emɐnuǝl X. Emanuel is my given name, meaning “GOD is with us,” and the X represents Malcolm X and how he fought by any means necessary to achieve what he sought. It’s the juxtaposition in my life.
What would you have done differently in retrospect with your first project?
More songs. More vibe sessions. Realize what I had done at such a young age.
How did your experiences prepare you for this sophomore effort?
It showed me how to adapt to change and that the music matters before any of that supersaturated shit does. The music always comes first. That’s what we must all understand in conjunction to keep the art in the game.
In one word describe your sophomore project?
I would rather choose silence. I can’t limit my Soul to just one word. The music will speak for itself.
What’s your favorite song from “Gold Tombs“?
“All American Dreams” that is my favorite beat of all time. My flow, the lyrics, the chorus that J.Mars (@JdotMars) did for me which I wrote for him, his verse. I feel like we captured lightning in a bottle. That song will be on the radio one day. I truly believe that. The Official Music Video is out for it on youtube, in full 1080p HD for all to enjoy, and already has thousands of views. Emɐnuǝl X ft. J.Mars – All American Dreams (Official Music Video)
Why’d you name your sophomore project “Gold Tombs” ?
It’s the reincarnation of the Golden Era of Hip-Hop, less through sonic sound, and more so through story telling. An element few have mastered since the 90’s Golden Age.
Who is your ideal fan?
Someone who downloads, buys, and shares my music, music videos, merchandise, and goes to live shows. Someone who invests in the spreading of my movement, and not someone who hoards The Art for themselves. Love is not about possession, it’s about appreciation. Appreciate what you love, with whom you love. Just some ride or die, soul searching, positive vibe emitting beings.
What are you looking to give people with your sophomore mix tape, “Gold Tombs“?
Art. The overstanding of The Limitless. 13Love.
What Are you looking to gain from this project?
Solidification as The Greatest Emcee in Rap.
Why do you believe you deserve to “make it” and what is making it defined by to you?
I made it. I’m waiting for society to catch up.
How do you feel about Hip Hop in its entirety today, from the indie artists, underground legends and today’s mainstream?
I love it. It’s all about self expression. Let The Vibe live within you. Emit it. Feel alive, be young. Embrace it all. Spread The Love.
How’re you grinding with your sophomore effort?
I already put out three visuals, looking to make two more. All in full 1080p HD for your viewing pleasure directed by C-Rock of Grind24Seven Productions and ian Mark (@iGrind24Seven) (@Ian_Mark_). Live shows, networking, emitting my passion into The Universe. Whatever frequency you emit, is always reciprocated unto you. Be Positive.
Any co-signs, big features, producers, or big shit happening as far as with you?
I love my team. Fuck a co-sign. Outsiders wouldn’t understand our vision anyway. We came to bring a different element, not regurgitate and add on to what’s already been done.
What’s your relationship to the sneakerhead community?
I modeled my first project DEADSTOCK around the entire culture itself. Being the voice for those boxed in before they get to see the light of day, much like a deadstock sneaker. The intro explains the culture in full detail. Committed to it so much we sampled Michael Jordan himself for the last cut on the album. We threw a pair of white cement 3’s on a white couch at the photo shoot and made it into my Album Art. I love sneaker culture.
How’d you hear about Freehand Profit and what are your thoughts on his craft?
Absolute Genius. One of the few people who I can truly say is a visionary in the 21st Century. I wanted to incorporate his Air Jordan gas masks in one of my videos, so I reached out and we exchanged emails and phone numbers. We’ve been in heavy contact often for a year now. I consider him a mentor. That’s the homie, he holds me down in LA, and he knows I got him out here in The Philadel Zoo.
Do you draw inspiration from his work?
Absolutely, we’ve got a symbiotic vibe.
What wasn’t covered in these questions which you’d like to address the world about?
Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @EMANVELX. Visit my website http:www.emanuelxmusic.tumblr.com and view all of my music videos at http:www.emanuelxmusic.tumblr.com/Videos
Free your mind. Be You. Thank GOD. One Love.