Behind the Buzz
By Napoleon Da Legend
My family was from the Comoros in lower Africa, I was born in Paris after they migrated there to France. Culturally, we were more traditional than your average American Family. That kid from Maryland, now calling himself Napoleon Da Legend, decides it’s time for him to make that definite move to New York, Brooklyn to be exact. I knew virtually nobody in the music industry at that time apart from a few dead-end meetings at Universal with Eric Nicks, which left me gassed up, but never really amounted to anything concrete. Neither did the industry know about me. I had very limited knowledge of the whole internet blog trend; all I knew at this point was MySpace, Facebook and Reverbnation.
It was time for me to come up with a game plan, because as far as Hip-Hop heads go, I didn’t exist. A few weeks after my move, I met a video director named James who I was introduced to me by my homie, music director Cyril, who at the time lived in Harlem. One of these shows, he comes up to me and say, “Po, you ready to spit, you got your music?” I made a habit of carrying my flash drive with my songs on them; however, I wasn’t mentally prepared to go on stage. Ten Minutes later, the DJ is cueing up my instrumental and I start to drop bars.
What he said to get me on that stage even though I was not on the bill I still don’t know. All I know is that he talked to someone and I was up there mic in my hand. It was at the old Public Assembly and the whole Brownsville was in the building that night. When the DJ dropped that Broken Language instrumental and I started going in, I felt the crowd’s energy shifting from the typical nonchalant “who is this guy?” I stepped down from the stage, Steele from Smiff-n-Wessun, who I had just met that night, gave me some very encouraging words about my performance. That night I also ran into Crazy DJ Bazarro of Beatminerz Radio, we exchanged our numbers and he sent me a beat that same night. We started working together and he asked me to join the Dysfunkshunal Familee, a group out of Bushwick better known for “The New Ruff Flava” back in 1994. I sensed the tide was starting to shift my way. A few months later, my first official independently released project “Awakening” drops. As an underground artist the roller coaster ride is such that all too often peaks are quickly followed with steep valleys. The next night, I would be performing with Bazarro at the Trash Bar (what a name right?) in Brooklyn. On top of that, I met Shucky Ducky of Duck Down for the first time, he acknowledged my skills and told me I rocked it, which meant a great deal to me coming from him
I was getting some “verse and writing” money, some show money and a few decent checks from my distributor here and there off the “Awakening” sales. My publishing game wasn’t right, I never took time to study that aspect at this point. Something I had to fix ASAP. During this time, I was working at a bank, getting a steady income to pay for the rent, the car and the bills as well as the cost putting music out, clothes for shows, transportation and other things that come with making music. I wasn’t getting any sleep. My transition that year of doing music full-time accelerated everything, my song making, my connections, my shows etc. Whether you are mainstream or underground artist in this day and age, the business model revolves around numbers. Numbers are cold and sobering, but they rarely lie (numbers get doctored too). What’s your following like? What are you sales? How many people come out to see you rock? The notable indie labels mirror the majors in the same fashion. Gone are the days of industry plugs pushing or signing that new “prodigy” from that side of town. Album sales have plummeted due to Spotify, Vevo, Tidal, Pandora… etc. Why would anybody want to buy your music if they can stream it at any time? You have to really pull off a unique, timeless masterpiece and masterfully campaign it for that happen.
Building a faithful fan base is the key to a career and longevity in the music business. Too many of us get caught up in those Facebook friend likes on the personal page. Those are not fans. You need a fan page, you need a website. Only when you get those popping can you really see what your movement looks like in an objective manner. This leaves me to where I am today. I have countless features dropping seemingly every week. A few official projects I put out for sale and for free. The fire within me burns hotter than ever. The game is changing and the world is changing. Social media has changed the way we consume music and interact with each other. The reason I fell in love with Hip-Hop in the first place was because of its honesty, its story, its passion, its joy and its struggle. I came to the conclusion that as an artist I’m here to give you my experience, my pain, my victories and my defeats in its most honest form.