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.

Con­nect with Cap­it­al X

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MJ Savino

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 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"!