Earlier this afternoon, I had the fortune of conducting an interview with Reginald Stinson, an up-and-coming rapper in Queens, New York better known as “Prince Hollywood”. Hollywood has a budding reputation for well-written lyrics backed up by strong beats that reflect the intensity of his personal feelings on the subject matter at hand. Hollywood was born in Butler, Georgia, but moved to the South Side of Queens when he was five years old. He started writing music when he was eleven, and started focusing on the relationship between conveying authentic emotion within the confines of well-written lyrics while serving a short prison sentence around 1995. His career took off in 2009-2010 with the release of his album “Hollywood Star”, which is a tribute and successful collaboration with Warren “Dirty War” Davis and another popular Manhattan rapper, Red Viper. Currently, Hollywood is working on the album “Under Dog’s Volume 1” which features the mix tape “Project G.E.D.” Hollywood regularly performs at night clubs and concerts in Georgia and New York, and will be making a live performance at Washington & Lee University in May 2012.
*You can access Young Hollywood’s music by visiting the website www.soundcloud.com/younghollywood
Mr. Hollywood. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to conduct this interview. I really appreciate that. My first question for you is this: What made you decide to abandon the name Reginald in favor of your stage name, Young Hollywood?
It all has to do with how I live my life. Obviously, everyone wants to go to Hollywood and live a Hollywood lifestyle, but we can’t all go to California. So I try to live a Hollywood kind of life. Every day, I live the glamour, I got the “here and there” mindset, while not forgetting about tomorrow. Everything I do is energy, that’s why I’m Hollywood.
Very nice. I was hoping to talk to you for a minute about your debut album, “Hollywood Star,” that sort of put you on the map in the Queens scene. What do you think it was about the album that has made it such a big success?
Well, the album is all about real feeling, and laying down rhymes that it tell it like it is. People can relate to that. When they know you’re being real with them, and spitting out truth, you get a response. I worked with my longtime partners “Dirty War” and “Red Viper”, and they both bring the killer stage presence. They were there for me at “Fourth Ward” and “P.A.N.I.C”, and I’m grateful for their supportive collaboration. It’s hard not to make it big when you’ve got that kind of energy on stage.
Fourth Ward and Panic. Any chance you could elaborate on that for us?
Absolutely. Me and Dirty War came from the Fourth Ward of Butler, Georgia, and we make sure that no matter how big we get, we never forget where we come from. It’s about being true to ourselves, and making sure that we don’t ever lose sight of ourselves. Panic is actually an acronym, P.A.N.I.C.,that Dirty War came up with to fight the discrimination we had to deal with growing up. It stands for “Put All N-words in Check”. That was the mentality of a lot of people who hated us, fronted us, and weren’t real with us while we were growing up, and we tried to flip that negative and turn it into a positive. Every song, we say “Fourth Ward! Panic!” to remind ourselves of who we are, where we came from, and that we’re never going to let that go.
I just finished listening to your track “My Letter to God.” It sounds very inspirational, and rejects valuing the opinions of those who judge you in favor of seeking refuge in God. If I can say so myself, I thought it was a very bold track. What’s the story behind that sound?
You know, when I wrote that, I just got jumped in Queens, and the guy took me for what I had. It was hard for me to write about faith in God at that time, but I knew that I had to do it. Because having faith isn’t just about God in the good times, but finding him in the bad times as well. Especially then. So I changed up the vocals, and wrote a dialogue where I spoke to God, and then responded based on how I thought God would talk to me. It was definitely my most daring song, and I’ve been lucky that most of my fans such as yourself have overwhelmingly responded positive to it. If people look to my work ten years from now, I hope “Letter To God” is the song that they remember.
Oh wow. So are most of your songs autobiographical?
Absolutely. Some of it is fictional, but I always talk about what I’m feeling at a given time. If you want to know me, the real me, who I am, just listen to my songs.
So what’s your process for writing songs like?
I just sit on my front porch, take out a notebook and pen, and write how I feel it. Even if it didn’t happen to me, I’m talking about an emotion that did. That’s what it’s all about it. Conveying to my audience what I feel. The truth is what I tell my audience, and I make sure to get that through in my work. When I’m up front and honest with you, and you know I’m not fronting you, then we’re there.
What has been your best performance lately?
I recently peformed at a couple of night clubs in Queens with Dirty War, and that was a killer success. I’m from Georgia, so I’ve played there as well, but there’s nothing quite like putting on a show in New York.
If you were from Butler, GA, how’d you work your way to New York?
My mom and my brothers moved out of Georgia and went to New York where she was originally from, when I was five. My dad’s family is from Georgia, and I still go there from time to time.
What do your parents think of your rap career?
They’ve never seen me live before, but they’ve both listened to my songs on my album. They might like it if I was still working other jobs, but I do what I can do. They support what makes me happy, and I’m thankful for that.
What other kinds of jobs have you worked on, or do you focus on rap exclusively?
You know, I’m in vocational school, becoming a medical office assistant. I wish I could spend all day writing, but for now, it’s just a weekend gig. I’m putting out music that’s true to myself, and that’s where I’m at right now. I want to reach the point where I can rap exclusively, but I got to provide for my little shorty, Murda, and our kids. They’re the center of my life, and if you listen to my music, you’ll get that.
Thank you so much for you time today, Young Hollywood. I really appreciate that. Do you have any parting words for those of us reading at home?
Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure. Never lose sight of yourself, stay true to who you are, and if you want it, go get it. Life’s too short to worry about other people judging you. Doing your own thing everday is what makes you happy. I do what I want, where I want, with who I want, and that’s all you can ever ask of yourself. That’s where it’s at.
Thank you, Hollywood. We look forward to seeing you on campus in May.