If there's one person you'll see who is always smiling around town, it's Amir Tillard aka AmirSaysNothing. Our always-jovial sweatshirt-adorning friend has a lot to be happy about and his most recent album release titled "Employee of the Month" should only find him grinning wider.
Which track means the most to you and why?
“Man, I mean they all have their own significance, but if I had to go with one song it’d be “Employee Of The Month.” the title track. Just being able to take some of my dad’s early work and incorporate it into my own really feels good. It’s like, what better feature can you get than your own father, you know? Plus when I hear it, I can feel the fire inside me that I wanted to run through the entire album, but it starts there.”
Looking back on it, from Medium Rare to now Employee of the Month, how do you think you have progressed?
“Medium Rare was really great because it became more than I ever even thought it would, and in retrospect, it was me dipping my feet in. On Employee Of The Month, I was able to have this confidence I didn’t have back then, to experiment. Like with Medium Rare, I wanted to prove I could rap well; on Employee Of The Month, it’s like, ‘okay, we’re still gonna try and rap to the best of our abilities,’ because that’s what I always try to do, but it was about the body of work, the story, trying to convey something from beginning to end, and I hope anyone who listens to them both can hear that.”
Were there any tracks you recorded that didn't make it onto Employee of the Month?
“Funny thing is, I’m not even the type of artist that makes, like, 100 songs and picks the best 15 – I’m very specific when it comes to music. I’ll spend a lot of time writing something, and finding beats, so if it’s recording time, I’m usually able to come in accomplish what I wanted to. I think more than finished songs, there were probably about seven beats that I didn’t use, and maybe three songs that didn’t make the album. One of ‘em is a family dedicated record. I’ll figure out what to do with it soon.”
What was it like recording with Alexander Spit and Blaison Maven on "Bricks & Wood"? Where did you guys record this track at? (Kacey's dialogue on it is hilarious.)
“Well Spit and Blaise recorded their verses on their own time/studios, so we didn’t get to do it all in one night. (Hopefully in the future we’ll do more.) But with Kacey, ha, man, I called my dude and was like, “Man, come lay down this intro.” Basically, I just wanted him to be himself. If you know Kacey, you know how great it is to just let him go and just listen. (Kacey had done some stuff for the homies’ Jeanleon on their “ALLBAD2014” project.) He was telling me about some business dealings that were moving a little slow, so he wasn’t too happy about that. So me, I’m like “Perfect, let it out on this track.” All that 15 racks shit is some real shit, and if you know who you are when you read this, make sure you pay the man!
But yeah, so he just came through to Jamaal’s (Cy Kosis) and did about three different runs, each time getting better and better, and then the, “Nigga my direct deposit just came in, I’m going to the club, bye,” that was it. The song is named after Kacey’s brand Bricks & Wood so I’m really glad we were able to make this happen, because to me, this song, what I stand for, and what he and what the brand stands for go hand in hand. We’re (G)’s and the squad needed a song.”
What's been your favorite show to perform at so far?
“Well besides the cheesy answer, of any show where people are there enjoying the music and having a time…(Cheesy but true.)
Two shows: I’ve done a couple events with Rising Son’s Independent. They’re a label that throws events and I’ve gotten to perform there and open for guys like Sage Francis. Their events are always a good time. You can smoke weed at ‘em, peep some art, have a drink, and watch the raps. [Second show:] I did a show at UCLA, hooked up by the homegirl DJ Wavy Baby, but I was doing my shit, and on like my second song, I got a nosebleed and had to keep rapping with blood and shit all on my hand. They got me a paper towel, plugged my nose and I kept rapping. It was pretty tight, just like a natural moment. You can’t plan shit like that. I’ve been getting nosebleeds my whole life and that was the first onstage and we made the best of it.”
My favorites (if it's possible to highlight some more than others) are "Just Sayin" and this dancebeat heavy "Stoop Kid" feat. Big Knee. How did you two end up working together? (Are you talking about a literal stoop you spent a lot of time on as a kid? I know there's a metaphor behind it but had to ask.)
“So Court (Big Knee) and I started working together at our day job, and actually hated each other at first. We’re both from New York and I think it’s like this East Coast thing sometimes where you got to see what somebody’s about, like “iight who is this nigga?” But we became real tight after that obviously and started making music. (Plus I never really smoked weed until we became friends – so blame him for that.)
The “Stoop Kid” joint is a reference to the classic “Hey Arnold” episode, where they had the kid who wouldn’t ever leave his stoop and all the kids used to fuck with him, so we flipped that and made this [track]. It’s like a growing up song, looking back on childhood memories and referencing chilling on your stoop, your porch, your cul-da-sac, just wherever you used to kick it as a kid, because everyone had that, and it was real staple in our upbringing.”
On "After Work Debauchery," who are those two women?! "I'd wake up to you all the time."
“I met them that night. They were at my homie’s spot, after some partying, doing some after partying you know? Ahah, having some drunken fun (literally after work debauchery). They were really rad though. Hopefully this album can go at least silver or gold so I can send them a plaque. They made that shit.”
Overall, I think it's admirable and genius that you devoted the content of your tracks on Employee of the Month to working a bunch of jobs whilst also pushing through with your music career. It's a similar road for all of us creatives in the industry, especially the same faces we see and meet at occasional events in and around Los Angeles – bumping into each other, catching up and seeing what each of us has in the works project-wise. The track that emphasizes this "blue collar" struggle is "You'll Miss Us When We're Gone" feat. MIKI. What mindset were you at when you wrote the lyrics specifically for this track? (I love how it ends with you saying, "It's always getting better" over and over and MIKI saying "you'll do fine, you'll be good, you'll get by.") It's a modern anthem for the working class!
“First of all thank you, because in this rap shit, it always seems like you’ve gotta embellish or be something you’re not and I appreciate that you and anyone else who feels my shit does, because I’m just trying to represent for all of us, the people that aren’t “there” but are working their asses off trying to get their, sometimes music, specifically rap, paints this picture thats it’s all good, girls are plentiful, money never runs out, and it makes me miss things like DMX’s “Slippin’”, “You’ll Miss Us When We’re Gone” was just written at a time where I was really feeling beat down, my personal life was all a mess, Work was shitty, and all I had was the light of this album to really get me through, and working on this kept me sane, balanced, together, all that, so a lot of that was me talking to myself, basically, just keep going, it’s going to be ok, and as with anything I make, I hope that I can provide some kind of example of perseverance, like others provided for me.
Thank you MIKI, you really brought that joint to life.”
How relieved and excited are you for this album to finally be out?
“Those are the exact words I would use. I am excited because I have been working hard on this shit for 11 months, I’ve been sitting on the idea for three years, and just seeing it come alive has brought me to tears so many times already. I’m grateful that we made it, and I can’t wait to play these songs live, and really get it out there. So far the reception has been great, and that’s all you can hope for, just keep pushing it and pray that the music is something people will want to enjoy for years to come. It’s really gratifying because I made a point to make an album, you know, (Nothing against mixtapes.) But an album comes with so much more you have to do; it has to feel like an album, it has to feel like something – like a narrative, you know, and so far people have been saying things that have made me feel like I have hopefully achieved what I set out to do. So I’m pleased, keep bumping it, it’s free right now, you can cop it soon if you wanna, thank you all, especially ya’ll at SUSPEND for taking a chance on me, love.
EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH, 2016 BABY, WE WORKIN’ OUT HERE! AHAHA.”