Woke Online: Where did you grow up?
Sherif Mattar: “I grew up in Northern Virginia, specifically, Springfield, Centreville, Fairfax and I now reside in Arlington. I’m originally from Alexandria, Egypt and my mom is from Louisiana. I moved to the states when I was three. I spent a year in New Orleans, Maryland, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi growing up but VA will always be home.”
WO: When did you start rapping?
SM: “I started rapping when I was 10 years old.”
WO: Who or what influenced you to pic up a mic?
SM: “When I was young I listened to a lot of oldies and whatever my mom would play on the radio like Prince and The Beach Boys. I had this one Egyptian friend Sharif who loved hip-hop since an early age. I would go to his house when we were 6 or 7 and he would play me Puff Daddy, Mase, Biggie, Tupac and Coolio. I didn’t understand it at first but I would just nod my head and go along with it. When I was around 10 I became obsessed and started listening to a lot of 50 cent, Ja-Rule, Biggie and Kanye West. We played this game where we would run around his basement listening to gangster rap and pretend the cops were chasing us. At 12 I recorded my first mixtape with Sharif on a cassette tape. We had a rap group called VA True Ballaz. I really wish I still had that tape.”
WO: What influences you now?
SM: “Every aspect of life can influence music. Every event, every emotion, every person you meet. My greatest musical influences overall are Jay-Z, Nas, Andre 3000, Kanye West and The Beatles. As far as contemporary artists, there are too many to name but some of my favorites are Ab-Soul, Frank Ocean, Kendrick, Chance, Joey Bada$$, Travis Scott, Lil Yatchy, The Weeknd, Action Bronson, Mac Miller, Logic and Earl Sweatshirt. “
WO: Who are your favorite unsigned/underground artists?
SM: “Flatbush Zombies, Underachievers, Roc Marciano, Westside Gunn, Your Old Droog, XXXtentacion, and Curren$y.”
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