Renowned nation­al and inter­na­tion­al Hip Hop artist/producer Cap­it­al X releases the offi­cial video for “Truth Be Told.” The single, self-pro­duced is taken from his forth­com­ing pro­ject titled ‘Beats & Rhymes.’ Below, X chops it up in detail about the eye-awaken­ing con­tro­ver­sial video, upcom­ing album, his con­tri­bu­tions to Hip Hop and com­munit­ies, life in NY versus over­seas, and more.



MJ: When people hear the name Cap­it­al X there’s a lot that comes to mind and res­on­ates, from Hip Hop cul­ture to act­iv­ism.  Your career began in the late 70s and the early 80s first as a break­er and then as MC. Talk about your entrance into Hip Hop and your trans­ition from break­er to MC.

X: Though I was from New York, I was actu­ally first intro­duced to what would become the cul­ture of Hip Hop in Patil­las, Puerto Rico in 1977. I was vis­it­ing fam­ily and my cous­in Flex was a mem­ber of the Dynam­ite Kids, an Out­law Rockin crew. I instantly fell in love with everything about it. I get an adren­aline rush all over again just think­ing about it.  Upon return­ing home to NY, I sought any­one that was into Up-Rockin. I ended up get­ting down with the Sep­a­Rock City Crew. Sep­a­Rock was a col­lect­ive of MCs, DJs, and B‑Boys in the South Bronx. They were all ori­gin­ally from the West Indies. So I not only found a crew to throw down with, but I also got to be around MCs and DJs doing their thing. I was also instantly drawn towards the mic, but I loved Rockin so much, I stuck with it. We star­ted work­ing on routines that we would per­form loc­ally and we also battled who­ever wanted it. I kept dan­cing till 198283. The last few years I was break dan­cing. I star­ted writ­ing rhymes on the DL. I just pretty much nat­ur­ally evolved. The mic had a grav­it­a­tion­al pull on me. I made my first pro­fes­sion­al demo as an MC in 198384 while I was in Cali­for­nia. I was out there break­ing and the oppor­tun­ity presen­ted itself. From that moment for­ward I con­sidered myself retired from break dan­cing. I divorced the floor and mar­ried the mic.

MJ: You are ori­gin­ally from Brook­lyn, NY but moved to Nor­way back in 2010. How is the Hip Hop scene over­seas? How does it dif­fer from here in the States? Also, talk about that major cros­sov­er and the decision that led up to it.

X: I was very for­tu­nate to have star­ted tour­ing in Europe around 2005. I was shocked at the Hip Hop scene out here. I felt that the states being so over­sat­ur­ated took the cul­ture for gran­ted com­pared to Europe. In Europe, they appre­ci­ated every aspect of the cul­ture where every­one and their broth­er was out to be a rap­per in the US and everything else kind of got ignored. In Europe, they pay homage to the pion­eers and just have so much respect for the found­a­tion that Hip Hop was built. France and Italy had the best scenes in my opin­ion with Ger­many fol­low­ing close. Tour­ing through Italy and France felt like I was liv­ing Hip Hop in New York in the 80s all over again. I even­tu­ally made my way to Scand­inavia. I first rocked in Den­mark which also has a dope scene, then I got booked in Nor­way. There was and still is some­thing about Nor­way that just does it for me. Though the Hip Hop scene in Nor­way falls short com­pared to oth­er European coun­tries in my opin­ion, I fell in love with the peace­ful atmo­sphere and chill people. Com­ing from the hec­tic back­ground I was used to, Nor­way felt like I found para­dise on earth. I remem­ber telling the pro­moter that booked me as I looked over a fjord for the first time in my life, that if I lived in a place like this, I would become Gandhi-like in no time. The oppor­tun­ity presen­ted itself for me to move to Nor­way and it was a no-brain­er. I was tired of the killing in the US on the streets and by the states them­selves. I was tired of being preyed upon by law enforce­ment agen­cies. The stress was killing me for sure. Nor­way remedied all that, and it healed many of the battle wounds I had sus­tained through­out my lifetime.

MJ: You wear many hats as an MC, record­ing artist, pro­du­cer, graph­ic design­er, and video­graph­er, as well as own your own indie label. What are some chal­lenges, if any, that come with being a one-man army? What are the wins?

X: Great ques­tion. I love my free­dom. Free­dom def­in­itely comes at a high price though. The biggest chal­lenge of being a one-man army as you put it is time man­age­ment. There just nev­er seems to be enough time in a day. I of course get/seek out help from time to time to light­en the load but for the most part, I enjoy being inde­pend­ent. You have to be good at rolling solo. Years spent in sol­it­ary con­fine­ment pre­pared me well for that. The wins are first of all the free­dom. Answer­ing to no one but your­self. Tak­ing on all these dif­fer­ent aspects truly hones one’s craft of being a cre­at­or which is also a win. Not owing any­one any­thing is anoth­er huge win. I remem­ber sign­ing my first deal back in the day. My crew all believed we had made it when we got that check. I felt that yoke being locked around my neck. For me, hav­ing less is actu­ally hav­ing a lot more. I am not a com­mod­ity any­more to any­one. Being this inde­pend­ent allows me to be a true cre­at­or. That is the over­all win for me.

MJ: Out­side of music you are an act­iv­ist, which stemmed from your time in pris­on. Dur­ing that time you lost out on some major music deals. Upon your release, you went full throttle into cre­at­ing a lengthy music cata­log includ­ing 2 albums, an EP, 20 singles, and 17 videos. Talk about the moment of empower­ment you thrived on fresh out of the gates, versus giv­ing up on your career.

X: Though there was a time when I hoped to “make it” I nev­er really looked at what I do as a career. For me, this is a way of life. Of course, get­ting paid to do what one loves is the ulti­mate goal for many artists. But get­ting paid or not I love what I do. Not liv­ing Hip Hop was nev­er an option for me. Dur­ing my last pris­on bid, I worked hard on myself. I trans­formed myself into who I am today. I was inspired and motiv­ated by Mal­colm X and how he trans­formed him­self. I was so obsessed with the life of Mal­colm X for many years. Cats star­ted call­ing me X while I was on Rikers Island and I ran with it. I did look to get signed again when I first got out from my last bid but as a solo artist. That was in 2002. I was quickly reminded of how shady the industry is. I was spit­ting con­scious lyr­ics and they offered me a deal if I would rather write gang­sta raps. I wasn’t about to com­prom­ise myself so I walked. Meet­ing rap­pers such as Slug of Atmo­sphere, Ill Bill, and Immor­tal Tech­nique motiv­ated me to be an inde­pend­ent artist. I star­ted out well, but relo­cat­ing to Nor­way leveled me off for some years. Now that I have my feet firmly planted, things are once again start­ing to pick up. But I nev­er stopped being/living Hip Hop no mat­ter what.

MJ: This leads us to your new single/video “Truth Be Told” which is taken from your forth­com­ing album ‘Just Beats & Rhymes.’ You hold no punches when it comes to expos­ing harsh truths on how Social Media brain­washes and turns humans into robots, attack­ing cap­it­al pun­ish­ment, call­ing out rap­pers who use their music to glor­i­fy viol­ence, drugs, and street life, and you even, so boldly, exploit the music industry…Take us through the jour­ney of “Truth Be Told” from the thought to cre­ation, to pro­duc­tion, to the final can­vas, and to what audi­ences can expect to take away from the video.




X: When I get on a mic I feel I need to be say­ing some­thing. One of my biggest influ­ences when it comes to being an MC is Melle Mel. Melle Mel’s verses back in the day hit me so hard, that I can still feel the impact. I can’t rhyme just to be rhym­ing. There are plenty of lyr­ic­al acrobats out there that are way bet­ter at doing that than I ever will be. But there aren’t many slang­ing truths. I always loved the MCs that chal­lenged my mind with what they were say­ing. Kool Moe Dee, KRS ONE, Rakim, Wise Intel­li­gent, Chuck D, Guru they made me want to seek know­ledge and I did, and still do. What bet­ter way to share know­ledge and wis­dom than in a rhyme? I once lived blindly and I see mul­ti­tudes of people liv­ing that way today and it’s pain­ful to watch. The micro­phone is where I speak the truth, you can take it or leave it. Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, I got back into pro­duc­tion. I had toyed around with pro­duc­tion back in the day. I actu­ally sold my E‑mu SP-1200 to help me move to Nor­way. After pro­du­cing a few tracks for the legendary Lifers Group which is now out and doing their thing, I decided to self-pro­duce an entire album for myself. Truth be Told was one of the first tracks that came to me. I love that you said I “boldly, exploit the music industry”. That’s how it should be, and not the oth­er way around. With so much inform­a­tion out there I find it hard to believe how many artists are still will­ing to sign deals. To be owned. The demise of so many rap­pers in the last few years was def­in­itely a motiv­at­ing factor behind the track. I have also kind of grown tired of hear­ing the coke and gun bars as well. I lived that life for real and paid dearly for it. Our com­munit­ies are nearly look­ing like when the crack epi­dem­ic hit back when and I feel as though as artists we can be doing bet­ter. Aside from what I have spent on equip­ment which isn’t much hon­estly, the record­ing, release, and video for Truth be Told didn’t cost me a dime. I want artists to know that. I shot the video using my old Sam­sung Galaxy S9+. I edited it in an out­dated ver­sion of Adobe Première Pro that I jacked from a friend like 15 years ago. Mak­ing some­thing from noth­ing is what Hip Hop is all about. That’s what it was in the begin­ning and should still be, not no mil­lion-dol­lar budgets. I hope that one per­son is moved by what I am say­ing enough to take action at least in their own lives. If I move one per­son, I am good.

MJ: Some might con­sider the video to be con­tro­ver­sial, some might con­sider the video dif­fi­cult to digest, some might want to sweep it under the rug, and for some, it might open eyes. What do you think about the adverse reac­tions you might receive?

X: I am used to adverse reac­tions to all the music I put out. For well over a dec­ade I only spoke about the death pen­alty, the pris­on indus­tri­al com­plex, and the crooked crim­in­al justice sys­tem. I got more hate mail than fan mail and more death threats than I could count on my fin­gers and toes. Either way, it goes, I pro­voke thought and spark up dia­logue. I’m good with that. I think it was Pla­to that said “No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth”. I believe our his­tory reflects that. The bot­tom line is I would rather be hated and des­pised for speak­ing the truth than be loved for spread­ing lies.

MJ: Does “Truth Be Told” set the tone or theme for the upcom­ing self-pro­duced album ‘Just Beats & Rhymes?’

X: Actu­ally it doesn’t. Though there are oth­er tracks that sit well next to Truth be Told, “Just Beats & Rhymes” goes in a few dif­fer­ent dir­ec­tions. A few tracks are older rhymes I dug up and felt they still deserved to be heard as they are still very much so rel­ev­ant. So I cre­ated beats for them. The new­er rhymes are def­in­itely more about cur­rent social issues and top­ics. I also have a couple that touches upon my per­son­al growth com­ing into Know­ledge of Self. There are even a couple of tracks where I am just hav­ing fun with it. But you will still find a gem with­in those tracks. Over­all the album is just what it says it is, Just Beats & Rhymes. No col­lab­or­a­tions, no fancy pro­duc­tion. I even went as far as using no vocal effects on nearly all the tracks. It’s just straight-up dry vocals not even a hint of reverb. Just Beats & Rhymes will drop later this year.

MJ: As a vet­ted artist liv­ing his life true to the cul­ture, ele­ments, and essence of Hip Hop for over dec­ades, what are two essen­tial gems you can share with the new­er gen­er­a­tion of Hip Hop?

X: Two gems I would drop here is one: learn the his­tory of Hip Hop. Embrace the roots of this cul­ture we all love so much. Without roots, there will be no real growth. Know­ing the true his­tory of Hip Hop is empower­ing to say the least. Secondly: be your­self. If you have yet to learn who you truly are, work on that, and find out. Dig deep till you reach the real you. Those in our cul­ture that are now in their late 40s, 50s, and 60s are still act­ive, is because they are true to them­selves. They are the ones to look up to. It’s not about who has the biggest bank account trust me.

MJ: Is there any­thing else you would like to share with the world?

X: In clos­ing, I would like to say I love this cul­ture of ours. It has giv­en me everything I lacked com­ing up. It gave me a his­tory, an iden­tity, a pur­pose, and a reas­on to live. I don’t have a man­sion or fancy cars. I am far from being rich, but because of Hip Hop, I am as wealthy as they come. I don’t have mul­ti­tudes of fans, but I have some real die-hard sup­port­ers and I love every one of them. By soci­ety’s stand­ards, I ain’t shit, nev­er was and nev­er will be. But “Truth be Told” I have lived Hip Hop for over four dec­ades. To me, in “My World”, I am a huge suc­cess. Nev­er allow oth­ers to define who you are, are what your suc­cess is, or should be. Peace be unto you all.

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MJ Savino

MJ is Hip Hop Blog­ger, Pub­li­cist, Book­ing Agent, Act­iv­ist, but fan first and fore­most. “Hip Hop saved my life, it is only right I give back to the culture”!

About MJ Savino

MJ is Hip Hop Blogger, Publicist, Booking Agent, Activist, but fan first and foremost. "Hip Hop saved my life, it is only right I give back to the culture"!