Get To Know: Def Jam’s Talented Mr. Finley
Mr. Finley prides himself on representing the side of Vegas that many of us have not seen.
Newly signed to Island Def Jam, the hip-hop artist will be releasing his debut album, The Talented Mr. Finley, later this year.
The album features production from DJ Toomp, who has worked with the likes of T.I. and Kanye West, as well as production from Don Cannon whose credits include songs for Young Jeezy, Asher Roth and more.
Kiki got a chance to catch up with Mr. Finley and find out about the darker side of Vegas he grew up in, as well as how he defines his personal style and more.
Check it out:
DrJays.com: Your style has been compared to Outkast when they first came out. Who are some of your main musical influences?
Mr. Finley: “First and foremost, Michael Jackson. I used to sing before I started rapping. I started rapping back in 1997, but as a child I used to sing. My cousin and I used to rehearse and put on Jackson 5 shows for the family.
“Once I got into hip-hop, I would say one of my major influences was Busta Rhymes, because he always brought creativity and energy to everything that he did. He didn’t go half-ass on anything.
“Of course Jay-Z. And I like Devin the Dude. He has the ability to speak to you like you’re really involved in a conversation with him, and I took that away from his style. That’s what a lot of people compliment me on – when they listen to my music its as if I’m just sitting down and talking, as opposed to trying to rap to a beat.”
DrJays.com: Like many people, I have only seen the side of Vegas consisting of casinos, parties etc. Can you give us a brief description about the side of Vegas that you grew up in and now represent?
Mr. Finley: “When I was younger, even on the strip, there wasn’t that much stuff out here. It was pretty much all dead. There was a white side of town and a black side of town where there were a lot gangs and drugs.
“Vegas is really small, it’s just this little valley. Trouble was right around the corner, no matter where you were at. With Vegas being a really fast city, you could get in trouble at any time of the day.
“Nothing is ever closed so there’s always somebody out who’s drunk and looking for trouble, so if you didn’t have something to keep your mind off that, you pretty much got stuck in it by default”.
Vegas, aka Sin City
DrJays.com: So would you say you kept yourself out of trouble for the most part?
Mr. Finley: “I mean for the most part. Everyone runs wild for a minute when they’re teenagers, but I always had my music. No matter what I was doing on, I stepped away from it to get to my music”.
DrJays.com: You are known as Vegas’ first hip-hop artist. Why do you think there is a lack of hip-hop talent coming up from Vegas?
Mr. Finley: “Because Vegas – the people, the businesses, the radio stations etc. – doesn’t cater to Vegas natives. You’ll never hear local artists like me on the radio here, it doesn’t show Vegas love.
“So when people who are in a position to sign artists come here and ask around, “what’s poppin’ here?”, there’s not really much to tell them because everything is catering to out of towners who want to come here and have fun. Even clubs that we go to and just hang out as locals are primarily dominated by tourists”.
DrJays.com: Do you feel pressure to represent for Vegas now?
Mr. Finley: “I’ve been working toward this my whole life. This is my shot, that myself and everyone who’s been doing music out here in Vegas has been waiting for.
“That might bring a lot of pressure to some, but for me…I just know that I’m bringing something that’s worth listening to and worth buying so I’m not worried about us not being able to capitalize on what I’m about to do for my city”.
DrJays.com: I came across an interview where you said “I come from the Dickies and Chucks“. Do you consider your style west coast?
Mr. Finley: “Yes and no. I mean I would picture the Dickies and Chucks combo on someone in the west coast before I would on someone in the east coast. In the east, I picture guys wearing Timberlands.
“Personally, I wear what looks good and feels good. I don’t get into the whole “if you’re from here you’re supposed to look and dress a certain way”. Everybody should wear what feels good to themselves”.
DrJays.com: What are some of the brands that you rock?
Mr. Finley: “True Religion and LRG…as far as kicks, I’m pretty much a shell toe Adidas or Nike Air Force Ones guy. I’m a pretty casual person, so nine times out of ten, unless I have some engagement to go to, I’m just in some fly jeans, a t-shirt and some fly kicks”.
DrJays.com: Do you know what date your album drops?
Mr. Finley: “There isn’t an official release date, it will be sometime in the late fall. We want to try and get at least two singles out before we drop an album.
“I don’t want to just drop one song and have you wonder if that’s the song that’s on the album.
“I have many songs that will get millions of fans and downloads, so I just want to get it out there like artists used to, where you hear a couple of songs and just have to have the album. Not wondering if it’s worth getting and download it first, you know what i’m saying?”.