Connecticut Hip Hop: UpcomingHipHop.net links with OnCue on the first stop of the Angry Young Man Tour.
Interviewed by I.S. Jones @isjonespoetry
The crew at UpcomingHipHop.net took a day trip to Connecticut to catch OnCue during his “Angry Young Man” Tour. Geoff “OnCue” Sarubbi is a 22 yeard-old Connecticut-native, Brooklyn-based rapper known for blending the sounds of Alternative Rock and Hip-Hop to create an eclectic sound. In 2010, OnCue released “Cuey Sings the Blues” which was presented by 2dopeboyz.com, Mick Boogie and Terry Urban. OnCue garnered thousands of downloads and attention with the release of his first single “Crashing Down”. With the release of his mixtape “Leftover”, OnCue since then has booked shows all over the Northeast. He has shared a stage with Kid Cudi, Pitbull, and 3OH!3. From highs to lows, producers, and advice, OnCue has a lot of wisdom and memories to impact on our readers while climbs higher in his career.
I.S. Jones: What was your writing process when working with Just Blaze on Angry Young Man?
OnCue: The writing process, you know I’ve said in the past, but with Just’s involvement in the album, I would like to say I’m very self-aware, I’m hard on myself. I just felt like I needed to step my shit up entirely. Like “Can’t Wait” showed promised and potential but the bars needed to come up. I’m working with Just and I can’t go out there and rush through the verses. That was the first album I really put blood, sweat, and tears in. It was the first project where I didn’t necessarily have to go to school or work a full time job anymore. Things started to change. I was really running myself through the ringer, if that makes sense.
Jones: What’s the story behind Just Blaze being executive producer on AYM?
OnCue: So, with the aforementioned “Can’t Wait” project, I was making some noise and sitting down with some majors and that ‘Feel Tall’ video kind of popped off. It’s funny because I met Just a week before the “Feel Tall” video came out. He had heard a record I did with 88 Keys and then a mutual friend of ours linked us up. He was playing my records for him and Just was freaking out: “Oh shit, who’s this kid?” and kind of the rest is history. We had a meeting at my old manager’s studio and [Just] came through. I remembered being so hyped and geeked. From there, we kept a friendship, and started working on “Running” which is from “Can’t Wait” and also reappeared on AYM. We did that in January after I got back from the tour that I was on.
Jones: I just wanted to add that I really like the title “Angry Young Man”. I thought it was brilliant.
OnCue: Thank you.
Jones: Why did you choose that title?
OnCue: Simply put, a good friend of mine Pat from IndiePop and Mannequin Party, we used to share the same management company, and you should read this Billy Joel biography. So I was just reading it, and I fuck with Billy Joel. I didn’t realize the biography was called “The Life and Times of an Angry Young Man” because it stems from a Billy Joel record. But then they touched upon the exact song three-quarters of the way through the biography. I was like “Oh shit, this was kind of hard”. I listened to the song, and when I listened to the song, I felt like he was talking about me and I had to use the title for the project. It’s just perfect and I think it, at the time, described what the music was sounding like.
Jones: So before putting out music, you were putting out flyers and graphics for other artists, what was the defining moment that made you want to pursue music?
OnCue: Well, it’s kind of funny, they always came hand-in-hand. The guy who introduced me to Just is an old, old, graphic design client. Believe it or not, he was working for Al Lindstrom who is a radio promoter. He works with multiple artists. I actually did a mixtape cover for Tony Touch for the “Shade forty-five freestyle series” back in ’09. So if you go to the blog “Nah Right” and you type in “OnCue” my first appearance on the blog is for doing the artwork for Tony Touch. So it’s always come hand-and-hand, and I’m a firm believer in the saying: “If you can’t be used, you’re useless”. I know I needed a foot in and I’ve actually made a lot of great relationships through my designing past.
Jones: Who were your earliest influences?
OnCue: I religiously grew up listening to Hov. Being in the Northeast as a kid, [I] was born in ’89 and grew up throughout the ‘90’s, I was into Hov, [Kan]Ye, and Joe Budden. I was into earlier Joe Budden, just the honesty and the personal shit he was talking about. I never really got into Pac. My influences were just a wide culmination of shit.
Jones: What was your favorite song during the production of AYM?
OnCue: My favorite record tends to switch. I could give you a couple.
Jones: Yeah, give me two.
OnCue: I love “Role Play” because I love making those types of records. I always joke that I’ll make an R&B album one day and just say “fuck it”. I love that and “No Way”; the process of making that song—it was the last song on the album and it was just smooth. We knew what we were trying to accomplish with the record and we knew what to add to the album.
Jones: To keep up with that same theme, what was your favorite verse?
OnCue: Probably the second verse of “No Way”. I don’t know if I have a favorite verse, but that’s my favorite line: “This much vision is more like a burden”.
Jones: So from the jump, you’ve always utilized CJ Luzi as a key producer. Care to expand on that relationship & how did it start?
OnCue: I found him on Rockbells.com which is an old website that Rockwilder started up in the early ‘2000’s. It was an online forum community for producers to battle beats and shit. I think saw a commercial for it during the era of BET while watching Rap City. This was a while ago, like when I was 17. I think I saw the ad was like, “Yo, I bet you I could find a dope producer to work with that’s hungry and wants to build”. I linked up with CJ and the rest is history. Shout-out the Internet, man.
Jones: What is your best advice for artists striving to break into the game?
OnCue: I definitely don’t have all the answers. My own career has had its ups and downs, lately it’s been a lot of ups and I’m trying to keep it that way. I would say work hard; I know that sounds cliché, but it’s honestly the truth. This shit’s a lot of hard work. You have to make sure you really want this because there’s a lot of things we do that people don’t see. There’s rapping on stage, going to the studio, and smoking weed. There’s that shit too, but you know there’s a lot of hard work to it.
Jones: What’s been your most effective tool to find / and engage fans?
OnCue: Earlier on, it was blogs and YouTube. This is kind of an obvious answer, but it’s attached to the “work hard” mentality. The power is in your hands; Drake said this during the Apple keynote speech. Things are in your hands to a certain degree. A lot of people will say all of it is in your hands and you can become an overnight sensation. There are invisible walls that people don’t realize like having a proper publicist, for example. I mean, you continue that hard work, become internet savvy and stay mindful of your SoundCloud analytics so you can tour. YouTube and SoundCloud have analytics, so that if I log on I could you tell you how many people from Uruguay just watched “No Way”.
Jones: Now that you’re on a national tour, what are the next big plans? Any new music? Are you planning on keeping up with the “Leftover Series”?
OnCue: I don’t know about the “Leftover Series”, probably not this year because I have things planned. There’s a lot of things in the works right now that I can’t really speak on at the moment but they are good. I’m definitely releasing new music at the very beginning of fall. I’m working on some things that are going to be really dope and it’s a breath of fresh air compared to Angry Young Man, which is very dark and pissed-off. This is going to still be pissed off at the times, but it’s more fun. Hopefully I’ll try to get the record out soon by the tail-end of summer.
Jones: Would you say YouTube contributed to your musical success, and if so, how?
OnCue: Yeah, I mean, between my larger videos that put me on so many peoples’ radars. YouTube is a game-changer.
Jones: What is next for OnCue?
OnCue: Music, touring again in the fall. I’ve gotten to a point where I know exactly what I want to do now. Just praying there are no more hiccups. I’m just trying to make the video, best music, best art possible. I’m relentless, so I’m sure I’ll do it.