Coming from a Hispanic family of Puerto Rican heritage, Frank Castle always had an interest in hip-hop. At an early age of six years old, he got into artists like Bone Thugz N Harmony, Rakim, Kool G Rap, Big Pun, Notorious B.I.G., Big L, 2pac, Nas, and many more. Frank Castle began writing his own lyrics and rhymes at twelve years old after he discovered that he had a gift when he started spittin’ in cyphers with his friends in the neighborhood he grew up in. The turning point in Castle’s life is when his father passed away when he was only 14 years old which led him to put more pain and struggle into his music. Now at the age of 28, Frank Castle has four mixtapes on Datpiff and an EP on iTunes called the Downtown Kids EP.
Matt O: I don’t know many people that grew up in Manhattan let alone the lower west side. Tell me about that.
Frank Castle: Growing up in Manhattan is mad loud. It’s not like Staten Island or any other borough. It’s louder than a lot of other places. There’s a lot going on. It’s a big city. Very interactive.
You really have that New York Hip Hop sound. Is that something you grew into or had from the start?
My sound has always been the way it is. It’s something that I grew up on. My brother put me onto a lot of stuff like Krush Groov, Beat street. A lot of old school stuff. That incorporated into my style when I started making music. It was natural to me. It’s not like I was trying to copy stuff like that. I grew up during that time so that’s what I was influenced by.
What are your thoughts on the current state of NY hip hop?
You got Joey Badass, ASAP crew, Action Bronson, Dave East, Flatbush Zombies, etc. It’s coming together.
Let’s talk about your newest project B.U.T.T.E.R. What does the title stand for?
Boom Bap Is Universal Throughout The Entire Region. I wanted to incorporate that into my mixtape to show the essence of the true hip hop scene while still keeping it modern. That’s why I called it that. I felt it was needed at a time like this.
You have some impressive features on B.U.T.T.E.R. What was it like working with Joel Ortiz and Kool G Rap?
Working with Joell Ortiz was crazy. We met up with him in Quad Studios and cut both the vocals and mixed it in the same day. I think Fred the Godson and The Heatmakers were there along with some other people. It was a cool environment. He is a real cool, humble, down to earth guy. I didn’t expect him to be like that because some celebrities are kinda like dicks. He was cool. Kool G Rap was amazing. To me, meeting him was like meeting Nas or Jay or Biggie because he influenced them. It’s like my favorite rappers favorite rapper. Meeting Kool G Rap was one of the highlights of my career thus far. He is a pioneer.
Who is one artist you wish you could have had on the project?
I was originally supposed to have Raekwon. He was supposed to be on “daily word” instead of Kool G Rap. He wasn’t really feeling the beat or whatever. We gonna make something happen in the future.
The mixtape is very socially and politically aware. Where did you learn those values?
It’s just something I grew up in. I come from Chelsea Projects, downtown Manhattan - opposite of the Lower East Side. A lot of shit that goes down. A bunch of drugs, crackheads, people getting shot. It’s just a bad environment. It’s something I grew up out of. Always getting flipped by the cops. That happened daily. I wanted to tell my story through the songs.
I really like “Marginalized” Tell me about making that song.
It all started from an interview from Kayne. When he was going off on Sway. I caught what he said. It’s true. He was getting marginalized in the fashion industry just like minorities where I come from get marginalized and being put in certain situations by the cops. “You aren’t supposed to be over here, you are supposed to stay over there.” So incorporated what he said to where I came from.
We are living in a single-driven industry...
They are doing single deals now.
Yes, exactly. Why did you decide to put out a project with 20 tracks?
It was supposed to be 22 tracks but I cut it down. I like to do an abundance of work at a time. I like to take my time. I don’t drop a mixtape every three months. I choose quality over quantity. I like to give my listeners and fans something that’s quality rather than something that is microwaved. I could do a bunch of mixtapes and freestyle over industry beats that’s not a problem. I would rather do something original that shows my artistry. Most of my EPs are 11 tracks even though they are supposed to be like 7 and my mixtapes like 22 tracks.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career besides working with Kool G Rap?
Rosenberg man! Shout out to Rosenberg. He really believed in me. I had to work to get my music on HOT97. He started playing my music after meeting him at like 6 in the morning every day. Me and my manager would meet him in front of HOT97 and just bother him like “just listen to my mixtape”. We did this for 2 weeks and he ended up listening to them and he told me to send him 3 clean tracks and he played them on the radio. I was like cool. I kept sending him new music and he told me to come up and do an interview. It just happened like that. I sent him “B.A.E.” of B.U.T.T.E.R. and he really liked that song.
Describe your sound in three words.
Authentic. Different. Street. I don’t like to categorize my sound because I can be like a chameleon. I can do whatever. I like to show my diversity.
What’s next for Frank Castle?
There is a bunch of stuff I am thinking about. A bunch of stuff in the works. I’m working on a mixtape and new EP. Shoot the rest of the videos for B.U.T.T.E.R. Wrap that up. Hopefully, travel to Europe this summer. Do some tours out there. Come back and lay down a project for the fans.
Anything else you want to leave your fans with.
Go cop B.U.T.T.E.R. It’s on iTunes, Google Play, TIDAL, anywhere you can stream music. Show that love.