A few weeks ago, I walked into Concord Music Hall and was greeted by the lovely smell of sweet cheeba. UPC had the pleasure of attending the Smoker’s Club Tour in Chicago, and we’ve never seen a more diverse crowd—both young and old gathered in the sold out venue to experience some of the best stoner jams live rap music out. B-Real had the whole crowd rocking with his old Cypress Hill jams, but Method Man and Red Man absolutely killed their performance in true veteran fashion.The duo fed off the energy of the crowd and reminisced on the simpler times, when a rap show utilized the talents of the DJ and the emcee actually put their all into entertaining the crowd with their words. The show was a time capsule, as the energy that consumed the room felt like it was packaged straight from the gritty 90s era of rap.

But the night began with New Orleans emcee Trademark Da Skydiver, aka Flamingo Barnes, who’s been releasing solid projects for Jet Life and iHipHop since 2009. Don’t let the laid-back delivery fool you; he’s one of the most consistent, underrated rappers coming out of the South today. After his set, we were able to catch up with Trademark to speak about his relationship with the Jet Life camp, what he’s been working on recently, his mindset when it comes to music, and just life in general.

UPC: Another Jet Life mixtape just dropped—Worldwide Hustlers—the third one to drop within the past month. I feel like the only thing missing from those tapes was a Trademark verse. Have you just been hard at work on your solo stuff?

Trademark: It’s like this. I’m doing my own shit right now, you know what I’m sayin’? It ain’t no beef, it ain’t no crazy shit, that’s still fam. It’s love, but I’m moving on my own. I’m not a part of that anymore as far as music is concerned, you know?

UPC: Because you have a record label that you’re trying to get off the ground, right? What’s the name of that?

Trademark: Yeah, it’s called “The Barnes Corp.” After Flamingo Barnes.

UPC: And I know you have one artist so far.

Trademark: Blizz. He’s still under the wing, man, he’s still cooking up, trying to get all of his shit popping. We got him working. He’s perfecting his craft. It’s all good. Shout out to the Jets man, shout out to my fam. That’s fam.

UPC: As far as your solo work, what are you working on right now?

Trademark: Well, I got a tape coming out December 2nd, Issue 4, so y’all be on the look out for that. Other than that, just really getting back into work, man. I had a kid last year. So I’ve just been focusing on that, I’m really just getting back into music right now. Being on this tour and having the tape come out is just the perfect situation. Shout out to the fans that have been holding me down while I’ve been M.I.A.

UPC: With the Flamingo Barnes (FB) series, we saw you experiment and take your sound to a different place. The first FB was jazzy and laid back, the second one was almost for the club and turning up. So are we going to see you try to return to that sound from the Issue series?

Trademark: Put it like this man, the Issue series and Flamingo Barnes is two totally different things. You know what I mean? It’s just me establishing two different lanes for me to please two different sets of fans who like two different things that I do. I try to make something for everybody on there. I mean, you know, a lot of the hardcore Issuers were pissed off about Mingo Royale. I could understand why, you know what I’m saying. It’s like this, when you’re expecting something, that’s what you expecting. And if you don’t receive that? Then you gonna be pissed about it. I had a lot of people say they wasn’t fuckin’ with it at first, then they came back and told me, “yo I was trippin.” But it was just because they were expecting something different. It’s all love man, I understand, but Issue 4 will sound like Issue 1, 2 and 3.

UPC: So will you be back in the lab with Ski Beatz at all?

Trademark: I was trying to hook up with Ski, but the timing with everything [didn’t work out] with me coming on tour. But I got the cuz, I got Monsta Beatz on there, Monsta Beatz did 4 tracks. Got AJ Beats on there. I got my young dude from Canada, his name is Canis Major, he’s up and popping, ridiculous on the track. I just been keeping it moving man, that’s all.

UPC: It’s funny that you said that, because I’ve listened to FB2 the last couple of days and it’s like you said, it grew on me. It kind of got better with time. I wanted to ask you, who were some of the producers on there? Because some of those beats were almost ahead of their time, like “O.D.” and “Get N Go.”

Trademark: Way ahead of their time. That’s my man Cheezus. He’s out of the DMV area. I got him on the new shit too, that’s my man. I think it was ahead of its time, as far as what the fans were expecting from me because the new fans who got on it and heard it fell in love with it.

UPC: It was a good album.


Trademark: Yeah man, I fuck with it. But Issue 4 is me tying off the knot, giving the fans what they want one last time before I just go crazy. It’s like a brand new day for me. I came up under the Jet camp. I learned what I can learn from that situation, gained what I could gain from that situation and helped that situation as much as possible. It’s its own entity now. It’s plug and play right now.

UPC: The growth of it has been pretty crazy over the past 5, 6 years.

Trademark: It’s been blowing up, man. I want to see that shit be successful, I laid bricks on that shit. At the end of the day, it’s all love. People think something happened or we got into an argument. It wasn’t nothing like that, I’ll call that dude right now and we’ll be on the phone cracking jokes.

UPC: I could never see a beef happening there, because you guys came up from the same area.

Trademark: Nah, that’s whack shit, man.

UPC: Do people say that?

Trademark: People assume that, because they don’t know what’s going on. It’s like I said, it’s all love, I used to work for Sprint, now I work for Verizon: I’m still providing the same service. Just doing it under my own company now, that’s it.

UPC: So there’s definitely a comic book influence in your mixtapes and you say you’re going back to tie a bow on it. I was wondering, have you ever considered coming out with a comic strip as part of the artwork, or a mini comic book, something limited edition to release with the music. Has that thought ever crossed your mind?

Trademark: Yeah, of course. I’ve just really been focusing on the art, the craft. I haven’t really been too focused on ideas and different entities I can feed off like I did with Flamingo Barnes, like I did with Super Villain. It’s straight, I don’t want to confuse people. Super Villain is way more hip-hop, Flamingo Barnes is something completely different. It’s almost like pseudo-trap. Like some chill ass shit with good lyrics.

UPC: Pseudo-trap. That’s a good word for it.

Trademark: People miss that shit.

UPC: Let’s get off the music for a second. What are your top 3 movies?

Trademark: That’s hard man. I’m a movie head. I have top 3 movies for periods of time.

UPC: Can you name one favorite that sticks out?

Trademark: I don’t know dog. It’s tough. I ain’t gonna lie. There’s just so much shit. I could jump from Body of Lies with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, I could jump to Troy,  I could jump to Zero Dark Thirty, I could jump to Syriana, Michael Clayton. I be on all kind of shit, so I can’t really narrow it down to one favorite movie. But I like serious shit, drama, like Heat.

UPC: Did you read comic books when you were coming up?

Trademark: Yeah man, but I kind of fell off that.

UPC: Who were some of the people you read when you were younger?

Trademark: Aw man, Spawn. Wildcats. You remember Wildcats? Came out under Image. You remember Image?


UPC: Kind of…

Trademark: Image had some crazy shit, I can’t even remember all of them. But that and also Batman vs. Superman the graphic novel, that was like my most prized possession.

UPC: So are you hyped about the movie coming out?

Trademark: Yeah, but..

UPC: Ben Affleck is Batman…

Trademark: That’s what I don’t like. Ben Affleck is ehh [laughs]. He did his thing in Runner Runner with Justin Timberlake. I like him in that, I forgot he was Ben Affleck in that movie. See, when I watch a movie with Ben Affleck in it, and I forget it’s him, it’s a good movie. You know what I mean? And I’m not shittin’ on him, but to be Batman after Christian Bale? That’s tough dude.

UPC: [laughing] Yeah that’s a tough follow up. Do you have a top 3 albums outside of rap?

Trademark: I don’t really have a top 3 albums. I listen to all kinds of shit from old school, Anita Baker, Thievery Corporation, house shit, jazz, movie scores. What I really don’t listen to is rap, ironically. I really don’t listen to rap except for my homies’ shit. If Roddy got a tape coming out, of course I’m listening to that.

UPC: Best food you’ve ever had in Chicago?

Trademark: I would have to say Harold’s.

UPC: I figured you would say that, is there anything else?

Trademark: I’ve never really tried anything else, every time I come here it’s straight to Harold’s.

UPC: I would consider you to be a faster rapper, you rhyme pretty quickly. Everything blends together smoothly. Can you explain your writing process at all?

Trademark: Sometimes it could be smooth, sometimes it could be rough. I just think of my voice as another instrument on the track. You feel me? The rhythm is important to me.

UPC: That makes a lot of sense. You’re on point, but it’s so quick that you might miss something.

Trademark: And that’s a problem with a lot of people, is that their attention span is short.

UPC: That’s a problem with a lot of rap, in general. People don’t really want to listen.

Trademark: They don’t want to listen to shit, so I try to keep them as entertained as possible with the rhythm, you know. Because even if they not listening, they’re like “this is part of the track” you know?

UPC: You do ride the beat very well.

Trademark:  I was just never like a pause, half a breath in between rapper. I was rapping. I grew up listening to a lot of Twista, Do or Die, Bone, Mystikal. You know, fast rapping mother fuckers. That’s where I learned how to do it, cause I would just imitate their shit. Whenever I heard it, I would just rap it word for word with them and it was like, “damn, I could rap like this obviously.” I do the Twista shit sometimes.

UPC: The lyrics come out pretty quick sometimes.

Trademark: Yeah, I be trying to chill.

UPC: What was the name of the record label again?

Trademark: It’s the Barnes Corp. We’re still in the baby process of it, it’s not like a full grown label. That’s my baby, that’s something I’m working on to keep myself relevant. I mean it’s tough, I’m doing this pretty much on my own. I’ve always been my own manager. Ultimately, my goal is to be a working emcee, spread love, put out a couple of CDs here and there; but I really want to push other artists and give them that opportunity. I’m a genuine dude, I’m real, [I want] to show people that, yeah, it can still be done like this, you don’t have to go through bullshit to do what you want to do. So that’s my number one goal. This business has turned me into a business man. And you can never be too business-minded.

genes-poboyUPC: So if I’m in the N.O. where do I need to go eat?

Trademark: I would go to Gene’s Po Boys off North Rampart and Elysian Fields. You’ll be good up there.

UPC: So do you think we’ll see another Jet Life tour in the future? You, Roddy, Spitta?

Trademark: I mean honestly, the shit would be amazing. I don’t see why not, but I’m not the one in control of making that decision. With time. I’m open to whatever, I’m more than sure they open to whatever.

UPC: Anything else you would like to add?

Trademark: Issue 4 (Return of the Super Villain) December 2nd, be on the look out.