“You’ve never seen or heard creativity like this before…Lingala and English? Its history in the making...” says Hugo Million as he prepares to tour Kinshasa, Congo with his new album Muana Ya Amerique. Hugo Million is an Atlanta-based Hip-hop artist and producer with ties to Africa; he was born in the country of Angola but his family is from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Thank you HUGO for taking the time to respond to our interview questions.[PERSONAL]
AM: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you originally from?
HM: “I’m originally Congolese.” I was born in Angola Africa, my parents are Congolese born in Congo. We traveled to the states when I was about one year old. Spent the majority of my childhood in Queens and Long Island, NY.
AM: When you’re not working, what are your favorite things to do?
HM: I’m always looking to create something new, whether that be a new song or a new “look.” Other than that, I like playing video games, breakdancing, white water rafting.
AM: Currently, where is home?
HM: Currently home is Atlanta, GA USA.
AM: How many languages do you speak? Which ones?
HM: I speak two-and-a-half languages: English, Lingala, and some French
AM: How did you get started in music?
HM: Got started DJ’ing in NY
AM: Have you always dreamed of being an artist since you were young?
HM: First, I dreamed of making it as a music producer. But as time progressed, I had my own views that I wanted to express lyrically and emotionally -- because Hip-Hop is not all about lyrics, it’s the embodiment of the artist and his emotions; his persona. And there’s so many different types of artists, so much variety in Hip-Hop. And that’s what I love about the genre -- being able to push the envelope.
AM: Can you tell us about your breakthrough to the music moment?
HM: Breakthrough music moment: reaching #1 on Billboard (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Single Sales Chart) under my former alias, TRESOR HUGO.
AM: When and where did it happen?
HM: In summer 2008, me and my street team toured the US (CA, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, DE) selling my first project “According to My Flow.” We sold over 30,000 units...At that point, after being in the music business for six years, touring, and reaching #1, it felt like “FINALLY,” all this work hasn’t been in vain, there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel -- and I want to reach even higher levels of success as Hugo Million.
AM: In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of being a singer?
HM: As a Hip-Hop artist/producer (not a singer) disadvantages: people try to stereotype you into rap cliches. like you have to be a drug dealer or street millionaire who makes his money by some ill-gotten means. I understand entertainment, but the line between entertainment and reality is severly blurred.
Advantages: i get to inspire others the same way I was inspired to do what I do. The freedom to do what I love, and all the ladies go crazy when they see me! -- Nah, just kidding!
AM: “Matche Eza Wo.” Tell us about this hit song. What was the inspiration?
HM: I was watching LINGALA FACILE (which is a Kinshasa/Congo-based online news broadcast) and the founder of the program, Zacharie Bababaswe, frequently uses the term “matche eza wo” when reporting a positive change for the people of Congo -- victory for the Congolese people.
AM: Singing in Linguala and English: How hard is it?
HM: Not hard at all to rhyme in Lingala and English. I speak both languages fluently -- I’m just doing what hasn’t been done. I want to create a niche market with this album. Part English, part Lingala.
I purposely did this to narrow in on my niche, to do something never done before, and at the same time widen the market to include America, Canada, Europe, and Congo/Africa -- international. So far, the response has been overwhelimingly positive. Just can’t wait to put out the album. Right now my team is deciding whether to charge for the album or make it available for free... I’m just focusing on performing.[NEW ALBUM]
AM: When is your new album coming out?
HM: New album coming out mid-late-August 2010
AM: If you have to pick one song in your new album, which will it be and why?
HM: I pick “Matche eza wo” because matche eza wo -- victory is mine/ours.
AM: Can you tell us what artists have influenced you most in your career?
HM: Inspirations: off the top of my head -- Nas, Big, Lauryn Hill, T.I. -- I’m sure there are more because I listen to everything including rock music.
AM: What are you currently working on? What’s coming next from Hugo Million?
HM: Currently working to finish the album. then the tour. Working to expand on this niche market. also working on a hip-hop/rock record for my US audience
AM: What is the source of your inspirations?
HM: Source of inspirations: music and movies. I feel like music is the soundtrack to our lives and watching movies lets me know what soundtracks really are. Seeing a dramatic movie scene, I hear music and I musically translate it to how I would produce it or I think to myself “how could I do this song differently?”
AM: Have you ever considered acting (movie) as well in your future?
HM: Yes. I want to start out doing short films, maybe through my music videos. We’ll see where it goes.
AM: By this point I know there are many people who would like to know where and how to obtain your music. Any special place to go?
HM: Hugomillion.com -- one stop shop for all things Hugo Million. Those who join, become members, I call them my millionaires.
AM: In your opinion, what’s the number one issue to deal with in Africa? What’s your take (solution) on it?
HM: I’m just an entertainer, but if it was up to me, government would be higly regulated and education for everyone would be top priority, especially in business development so we can take care of ourselves.
AM: About Africa: what will you keep? What will you change?
HM: Again, I’m just an entertainer, but I would keep our strength and change the ignorance.
AM: Do you often visit the motherland?
HM: Honestly, it’s been a while for me. But I stay abreast of current events and I stay immersed in the culture. You know, I rarely eat anything other than loso na madesu (rice and beans), plantins, and makayabu (tilapia fish)! Because of what I do, it hasn’t always been easy to up and go with all the writing, recording, producing, and perfoming...but that’s all changing soon...
AM: You’re planning a tour in Africa for your new album? When and Where will you go?
HM: Later this summer/fall I’m touring Congo initially -- Kinshasa, Brazzaville, Lubumbashi -- and then South Africa -- just waiting on some confirmations.
AM: Something about you that people will never guess?
HM: Something about me... I love comic books and I’m bougsie when it comes to food -- if it’s not rice and beans, I’m asking many questions!
AM: Any words of wisdom for all our aspiring artists out there?
HM: Words of wisdom: Find something in you that hasn’t been done before and do it. There’s something inside each of us that hasn’t been expressed. God didn’t create a bunch of clones -- Do something different and be great at it.
AM: Thank you HUGO for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you plenty of success and wisdom in your career.
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