Every so often there I come across MCs in this city that I know absolutely nothing about then I do the knowledge on them and make my decision. Slim Stario has been around for a while quietly honing his craft while zone costing between here and San Diego, CA. In the midst of developing his skill, Slim caught the attention of Grammy Nominated producer Mel-Man, so he had to have been doing something right, right? I caught up with Slim to discuss is socio-political views on hip hop, what his mission as an artist is and more.
A-Jaxx: Peace and blessings, mon ami. How you living?
Slim Stario: I’m good loco! Just taking it how it come and pushing the line, glad to be here!
A-Jaxx: First things first. Let the newer PGH crowd who may not be familiar know who you are.
Slim Stario: My name Slim, my family and close friends know me as TJ, (in this order) I’m father, accountant, and emcee.
A-Jaxx: To be honest, until late, I was wasn’t in the know about you and I’m still kind of foggy, so help me do the knowledge. You spent time out left in the 619 (San Diego), I won an MC battle at Pamona college in 2005 there! Did the hip hop scene treat you well there?
Slim Stario: Not gonna lie, it took a lot to earn respect screaming 412 in another part of the country, I had to go hard and I rep us right, when outta town! Shoutout to LA Symphony, TheBREAX, Pigeon John, Glasses Malone, I’ve been going back and forth to Cali since 91 so its always love out west, shoutout to Oside, Daygo, South O, Deep Valley and Pesole.
A-Jaxx: I was shocked to find out Mel Man personally took an ear and a liking to your music. What knowledge did you pull from the big homie? He’s who niggas talk about when it comes to Pittsburgh Legends, that had to have been daunting.
Slim Stario: That was the best thing to ever happen in life, it showed me when one door closes, knock on a different door, if not, then build your own home and open your own door. I still got love for Mel-Man, I have lots of family on the Hill, I still wanna lace a Mel-Man track get at me Mel-Man!!!
A-Jaxx: Who were your favorite old school local acts growing up? Who really influenced you locally?
Slim Stario: Smash Money is my fav local emcee, also Infinite, Sam Sneed, 2Gz, GodFather, Tuffy Tuff, SlumLord. New school, I like Wiz, Boaz, Pyrex Press, Anymal and Jon Quest.
A-Jaxx: Its not too often you hear home grown talent such as yourself with an actual message. Why do you think that is?
Slim Stario: Perhaps that’s my lane, like Wiz has the party song lane, S. Money has the street lane, perhaps this is my lane; “my” contribution to the 412 collective. Shoutout to Formula 412, Jasiri X, Sha-King, Living Proofe, and others who use music in a positive light.
A-Jaxx: Is there a lane for positive black music in mainstream hip hop? Do you think songs like “Self Destruction”, “A Friendly Game Of Baseball” etc will ever make a come back?
Slim Stario: That would be nice, I think with the influx of music without substance, I think substance is a refreshing change of pace. More importantly, I think the method of change and unity needs to be exercised outside of the booth, because that’s where it really count.
A-Jaxx: For rappers out here in our back yard, what say you to the glorification of drug dealing, violence, things of that nature? Do you think it’s inevitable until life gets tired of arts imitation and keeping it real can goes terribly wrong?
Slim Stario: To each his own, I personally would never talk about street dirt on wax, there’s no statue of limitation to certain things, I will say no more, if you really moving bricks, would you really come into a studio and put that on wax, and God forbid the fool who really does, for the rest, look in the mirror you can’t lie to yourself!
A-Jaxx: I wrote a piece about an age limit in hip hop. Is that a relevant issue to you personally?
Slim Stario: I think its sad to see people over 30 acting and condoning themselves like they 19. I’m glad um maturing, I’m not chasing a pipe-dream, a lot of brothas aint make it to be 30, I’ma hold it down for the OGs.
A-Jaxx: As a father, do you feel rappers should be role models for the yutes? Realistically, can hip hop be asked to take responsibility for the influence it has?
Slim Stario: Naw! That’s something you have to do as a parent, it all starts at home, if Lil Wayne has more of an influence over your kids then you as a parent, something is wrong!
A-Jaxx: Saigon said in an interview with HipHopGame.com a few years back that he wouldn’t let his kids listen to rap, how do you feel about that?
Slim Stario: I don’t shield my son from anything, I’m building a man, you gotta be rough! I ask him who he listens to and I listen as well, and ask him why he likes what he likes, to ensure its what he likes opposed to just fitting in, you can tell a lot about a person by the music they listen to, real talk!
A-Jaxx: Through the grapevine I found out you’re in the midst of starting a company that gives ex offenders a second chance. Being a felon myself, that’s really intriguing, what’s the science on that?
Slim Stario: My vision has always been more than music, I don’t want a record deal or fame, I want change, not just change verbally, but to put my money where my mouth is and really help those who want change! A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle.
A-Jaxx: Now let’s talk about your music specifically. Rags to bitches, tragedy turned triumph or something greater?
Slim Stario: All of the above, I have a knack of looking at life from someone else’s eyes, and that’s how i speak to the people, music is merely a stepping stone to a greater purpose, most def!
CLICK TO DOWNLOAD A STAR IS BORN
A-Jaxx: This site gave “A Star Is Born” a 4/5. You’re in rarefied air currently on the local scene with that rating, how are you going to improve on it?
Slim Stario: Glad the people are feeling the music. I wanna improve by staying humble, hungry and active. Through life I learned by traveling, you can learn a lot from other cities, because what’s hot in NY is not hot in GA, what’s popping in GA is not popping in Cali, so I just take it all in and push the envelope.
A-Jaxx: Lets say the next mans says you aint nicer than his mans. What do you offer to make him, me and them say otherwise?
Slim Stario: Tell’em to put his money where his mouth is, lock me and “his mans” in the studio and see who murks the track, and since he cheer leading, I’m tell’em to bring his pom-poms! I love pressure and competition, I seem to thrive when challenged, FYI I’m not the best, for one I don’t curse because I don’t have to, and that’s what separates me from a legion of emcees.
A-Jaxx: Define competition.
Slim Stario: My biggest competitor is the man in the mirror, I’m not gonna front, cuz! He be getting out on me, but I’m still fighting. Elsewhere I like songs that make me wanna write, like Em’s verse on Renegade, Jay Electronica Exhibit A, competition makes thrive, its how we grow!
A-Jaxx: Name something that’s missing from your style.
Slim Stario: Collaborating, I need to step my collab game up and get in with other 412 emcees, FYI I don’t charge for verses/hooks, my gift was given to me for free so why should I charge a fee, especially when life pays you enough!
A-Jaxx: Tell the people them where they can get a hold of you…
shoutout to Dem City Boyz and my granny! i love you grandma!