[dropcap letter=”N”]aptown Revival is an annual music event and competition spearheaded by Indianapolis based musician and hip hop artist Sprove. Dedicated to stimulating the growth of the Indy music scene and providing monetary compensation to hard working creatives, Naptown Revival has proven its influence while reaching its third consecutive year.
PATTERN had a chance to speak with this year’s Naptown Revival Winner, V.I.P Watts, an east side native set out to master his craft and versatility as an artist.
Khaila King: Congrats on winning this year’s Naptown Revival! Can you tell me a little bit more about yourself.
V.I.P Watts: I’m from Indianapolis, grew up on Post Road, still live on Post Road, trying to get off of Post Road. I went to Warren Central High School, then Marion and Ball State University. I started doing music when I first attended Ball State; got into entertainment before I was even thinking about being a music artist. I was doing funny skits, when vine first came out. I was making videos, just trying to make people laugh. Other than that the music thing came a little bit later.
KK: Is there any particular genre that you specifically identify with.
VW: To be honest I don’t like to identify myself with any genre at all. I like to be genre-less just because I want to be able to reach everybody that listens to music, not just one crowd or one audience. I don’t want to really say I’m in any specific genre. It is more so a feeling. I don’t want to be labeled as somebody who’s just a rapper or somebody who’s just a singer. When I say “I am an artist,” I want to be an artist.
KK: How do you find inspiration? What inspires you?
VW: I’m inspired by my parents. I’ve seen them continue to persevere through adversity. Growing up with maybe not as much as other people had, but always being able to give back to those in need, that’s my biggest inspiration. As far as music, I would have to say my brother who was actually shot and killed back in 2011. When he got killed, it’s kind of like you fall into things that that person was into just to kind of figure out why were they into this. As far as musical influences, most definitely Michael Jackson, he’s also from Indiana as you know. It’s like we talk about the greatest of all time, we talk about entertainers on that level and he’s going to be a big inspiration to not just myself, but all artists in general. Guns and Roses, 2 Pac Shakur, Wu Tang Clan from the East Coast, Outkast and even more so Andre 3000. They started the whole scene and they continue to set the tone for the whole industry.
KK: How do you think being from Indianapolis and utilizing the resources here has shaped your career?
VW: Continuing to link with dope people, that’s what its all about. People like Sprove and FreshDuzIt and others that I work with everyday, especially at the studio. I think the resources could be a little bit better and we could all come together a little bit more, but I do think its most definitely growing. It’s like an uphill battle right now. We’re trying to figure out who we are, we’re trying to find an identity for our state. We’re trying to find an identity for the Midwest. I think it’s just going to continue to get better and those influences are going to reach young people and young people are going to want to work with music.
KK: What prompted you to compete in Naptown Revival?
VW: I wanted to compete last year, but as an artist I wasn’t where I wanted to be in order to compete. I knew that I wanted to start working with different engineers, I wanted to get a little bit more confident on stage. I was able to open up for YFN Lucci earlier this year and I’ve done a couple of shows just at local spots, like Lava Lounge and some other spots on the west side. I really wanted to grow as an artist before I was able to compete in Naptown Revival. That’s why I didn’t do NR2 but as soon as Sprove posted NR3, I immediately told him, “Bro, I’m winning this show,” and that was back in February or March. I went hard in the gym just to get my body in shape so I could be able to perform on stage and not be out of breath. I cooked up the music in the studio. I have my own personal studio at home where I do all my own tracking and recording. I took it to get mixed down, I went to get it mastered and I really felt like I was in a good space as an artist to go compete for that crown.
KK: How does it feel being the winner of Naptown Revival
VW: It feels great. It feels amazing, it was flabbergasting. I really couldn’t say anything. I’m a competitor at heart, but the fact that I won was really breathtaking. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that Sprove was able to provide to not just myself but all the artists. Everybody that competed is most definitely a winner, just the fact that they went on stage and were able to showcase their talent in front of an audience who they don’t even know.
KK: What was one of your greatest challenges getting to where you are today as an artist?
VW: I think one of my greatest challenges is remain patient and stay the course and that’s for every artist. I know artists get down on themselves. Maybe they drop that single and it doesn’t go as hard as they thought it was going to go. Maybe it didn’t blow up the way that they wanted it to blow up. You just have to continue to persevere through that adversity, because at the end of the day all that adversity is going to come regardless and it’s just a test. If you can’t handle that one bad song, how are you going to handle 13 bad songs on an album and when no one is really messing with you? You have to keep grinding and keep going. Somebody out there is listening, somebody is out there looking up to you. You’re a role model to someone and you have to stay the course.
KK: Is there anything else that you would recommend to an aspiring artist who is trying to establish themselves and build confidence?
VW: The best advice I can give is for them to be themselves. At the end of the day that’s what people vibe with the most. People know authenticity when they see it and that’s what they want. They want to see who you are as a person. Also to continue to work on your craft each and every day, even if that’s taking an hour out of every day listening to instrumentals. Maybe it’s writing in your phone or in your notebook, but just continue to be creative. Lastly, do not be afraid to step outside the box and do not try to sound like anybody else. Create your own sound and just be you. Be yourself.
KK: What is your hope for the future for the Indianapolis music scene.
VW: To be the most sought after sound and to be the most relevant music scene in the nation.
KK: What’s next for V.I.P Watts?
VW: More content, I’m bringing more content. The algorithm is always changing. I want to bring more photoshoots, more music, more videos. I have to be comfortable with myself to release music and that what I’m going to continue to do, bring more content to not only my city, but the world.