Snake has taken his life experiences and translated them into musical masterpieces. Through the toughest times, this artist has never backed down and it shows with his massive catalog. I was lucky enough to have an honest conversation with Snake and get to know who the artist is. This DMV talent mixes strong lyricism with confident melodies to create Virginia classics. With years of music under his belt, Interstate Snake is ready to take on the world.
Who is Interstate Snake
Born in war-torn Afghanistan in the eighties, Interstate Snake had a different start than most artists. In our chat, he described his childhood, from having been smuggled into the U.S. as an infant, to living with ten people in a 2-bedroom apartment. Snake's earliest memories included sacrifice and grind. The artist understood from a young age what it was to truly grind for what you desire, and he isn’t afraid to say it. Humble beginnings led Interstate Snake to become the man he is today. At the beginning of our conversation, Interstate Snake told me he was a philanthropist, neighborhood hero, and above all else, a father. The importance he laid upon family and community could be genuinely felt through his voice and passion for the subject. Coming from nothing, Interstate Snake works for more than just his own. He is known to give the shirt off his back and “create opportunities for other people” to succeed. The artist truly stands on what he believes in.
During his early childhood, Interstate Snake was introduced to rap by his older cousins in New York. He would have them send him different mixtapes from DJ Clue to Jay-Z. He would also recall having other family members play Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan, and Ice Cube. Having these sounds during his formative years is what made Snake fall in love with the genre. With this music entering his life, Interstate Snake began writing rhymes at the age of 14. During the talk, Snake recalled recording his freestyle at the beginning and end of different mixtapes. He would record them under the name of Snake Eyes and play them around his peers to get honest opinions. It was the little things that developed his confidence as an artist. Encouraged by the feedback, Snake was able to embrace a wider variety of music and take inspiration from different artists of those times. Artists like Nas, Scarface, and Young Jeezy were uttered when asked what artists he grew up admiring. The emphasis on Young Jeezy was apparent as it was Jeezy’s lyrics that truly spoke to Snake during the mid-2000s. And new current fan favorites like Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, and the Griselda group Snake expressed plenty of love and respect as well. Listening through Snake’s catalog one can see how these different artists have all played a role in his music. Combining smooth lyrics and strong messages on expressive beats is simply the culmination of his hurdles in life and the music around him.
The DMV sound and style shine through in Interstate Snake’s music.
Starting how a lot of artists begin, in a group, growing in his purpose, and then focusing on his solo career in 2014, Snake took time to develop his sound. When asked how he would describe his music to a potential fan, he stated “International trap music…people from anywhere can feel that…" Snake placed a lot of weight on the versatility of his music. Making music that one can get amped up to while also making music that can tap into a person’s emotions. When it comes to his creative process, Snake mentioned how it “depends on how I feel that day,” and also expressed his love for soulful sounds. The number of producers sending him beats is what allows him to create his best work. Of his best work, Snake highlighted “Rich Regardless” as being within his top three favorite offerings thus far. With a hook that sticks in the listener’s head and a melodic flow that allows you to hear a segment of Snake’s story, it was no surprise to me to hear this song mentioned. The emotion in this track is real, having been recorded shortly after the passing of a loved one. This song is the embodiment of never giving up and pushing forward in life. The second song mentioned was a personal favorite of mine, “Change Gon Come.”
The entire track speaks to the influence rappers of the early 2000s had on him. The beat is classic hip hop, his bars are powerful, and the witty punchlines tie it all together. It’s music like this that made me understand the correlation between Snake’s art and his respect for people like Benny the Butcher. The third song mentioned was “Nothings Gone Stop Me,” which features Brandon Bentley and rap legend Styles P. Another display of lyrical prowess, along with the beautifully sung hook, Snake highlighted this track as being one of those surreal moments an artist has in their life. Having always loved Styles P music, he shared how crazy it was to go from seeing Styles P from a fan perspective to a peer perspective.
According to Snake, “that moment with Styles P was amazing... he was giving gems on how to move as an artist.” Other features that Interstate Snake didn’t fail to mention were Fat Trel, Cap 1, and Tone Trump, a Philadelphia-based artist who gave Snake insight into the marketing aspect of the music industry. Doeboy Da Deacon also helped Interstate Snake in creating one of his most successful songs yet in “I’m Cookin.” Noted as his favorite song to perform, the track opened plenty of doors for Snake. Having been licensed for use commercials, and receiving constant play on the two biggest rhythmic radio stations in the DMV area. The song is being used by the Washington Wizards during their home games.
For many new artists, the fastest way to build a fan base and a sense of legitimacy is by collaborating with other more established artists, if you can get a cultural icon more the better. One of Interstate Snake's most notable collaborations was with the late Nipsey Hussle in 2015. Connected by DMV mover and shaker DJ Rob Mista DMV, Nipsey ended up recording the hook for the track “Shiin On Em,” which also features Snake. The two would during the video shoot for the song. When asked about Nipsey Hussle’s passing I can hear in his tone of voice how much his murder weighed on him. He admitted to me that his emotions were hard to control, and he was truly in mourning. The story around the tragedy played out closely to what Snake foretold, but he left off with expressing the love he had for Nipsey Hussle.
"Nipsey was a man who listened, wanted to help, and always pushed grinding and to keep hustling. He will be missed."
When asked about opening up for more established artists Snake couldn’t help but to reflect on the untimely passing of Memphis Rapper Young Dolph, “I opened up for Young Dolph twice, he said was super cool, it was terrible what happened to him. I pray for his lady and his children.”
Open for the likes of Scarface, French Montana, Project Pat, Lil Boosie, and a host of others. But the Boosie performance was his “Welcome to The League” moment. During this particular show, Snake recalled performing right before Boosie and receiving praise from the Louisiana rapper.
Just having the opportunity to chop it up with him in the backroom and bumping shoulders with some top dogs gave Interstate Snake the foresight into where his music career can go. Other highlights to Snake’s story also include seeing his music video for “Rich Regardless” played on BET.
The experience was described as organic and exhilarating. People from his area reaching out, about seeing his video on BET Jams was an amazing moment for Interstate Snake. Appearances on Shade 45, coming in with love and drinks for all. Having Sway immediately question him about the origin of his name is still one of his fondest memories.
Snake has appeared in or on national publications like, Shade 45, REVOLT, and XXL, but one achievement that Snake will forever be proud of is being featured in The Source. At one time considered the Hip-Hop bible, The Source was a gateway for up-and-coming rappers. If you were featured in the Source the whole rap industry was going to see it. The April 2008 issue of the historic magazine featured an article detailing the budding stardom of Interstate Snake and the group he was in at the time. Being able to see his face in that magazine off all magazines he describes it as “the greatest feeling of all time... I come from that era of having an XXL and The Source, we got every issue every month. That's who we would see who and what was coming.” and since then, Snake has taken the next step to blossom.
Another aspect of the music industry that Interstate Snake has successfully gotten his hands on is the merchandise game. Expressing the power of fashion and style in Virginia, Snake shared his mentality towards merchandising in music. He doesn’t care about making money off of a show, or off of selling music because he knows that he can make his money selling merchandise at the show or packaging some merch with a song purchase.
His clothing line We Out Chea Personally is making its rounds throughout the DMV area and amongst celebrity culture. The brand personifies the way he has always gone at his career, being out and personally handling his business. Cardi B has worn and tagged his clothing. Another notable artist who has worn the We Out Chea Personally brand is N.O.R.E., host of REVOLT’s Drink Champs. “I might not have that appeal to the masses, but I have appeal to the people that matter.” Says Snake. Speaking to the love being shown by Hip-Hop titans.
Aside from merchandise and music, Snake spoke about his feelings on the industry as a whole. When asked if there was anything he could change about the music industry, he responded simply with “Ownership.” Being a hot topic for as long as anyone can remember, music ownership has always been a battle between artists and labels. Snake’s main quarrel with the situation is that although there is knowledge out there on the subject of ownership, it’s not being delivered to the forefront for all to see. He mentioned how he wishes there were more talks about how the money gets circulated in the industry and expressed how many artists simply don’t have enough understanding of the business side of things. Snake has seen his fair share of barriers to entry within the music scene and has done his best to go through or around them. One such issue arose with the release of his latest album “Been Out Chea Personally… Classic Features and Lost Verses.” Problems with features and missing signatures caused his release to be pushed back. A chance encounter with DistroKid's Owner Phillip Kaplan allowed Snake to get his project back on track.
With as much success as Snake has had, he’s also had some lows. One such moment came after a performance in the area. Arriving at a ransacked home, with $50,000 worth of equipment missing. The robbery forced Snake and his circle to change the way they lived. The circle shrunk and Snake shifted his mindset toward the business and away from the personal fun. Yet, with such a drastic low, Snake also shared one of his highs. During a festival hosted for the middle eastern community, Snake was able to perform his music to over 15,000 people, receiving love and admiration from his community. Interstate Snake told me how special it was to live that and know that he was a part of that moment.
Closing out our interview, I asked Snake what he would have his fans remember about him, and his response spoke to his genuine heart and strong character. “I did this from the heart…out of love…If I can do it, anybody can do it. I got it out the mud. No handouts, no nothing. I believed in myself when nobody else would, but first and foremost, I'm a father to my children.” A man focused on the important things in life and helping those in need. An amazing musical talent and an even more amazing human being. This is Interstate Snake.