Visto, one of DC’s most talented and trendsetting rappers, will have a very busy weekend. Friday night (July 25th) he travels to New York City and performs at the Lit Lounge (93 2nd Avenue, Lower Manhattan), and the following evening (July 26th) he returns to the DMV and headlines a show at the Howard Theatre (620 T Street, NW).
Visto is a contemporary artist with the spirit of a true 1960's revolutionary. He espouses a “Love Not War” philosophy and he created the Hippie Life Krew, a group of local rappers that resemble the legendary Native Tongues collective from hip-hop’s golden era. But don’t let the flower child persona fool you, Visto can lyrically match the intensity of any gangsta rapper, and one of his top selling singles is the graphic “How That Pxxsy Taste”.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Visto about his contradictions, his creative inspiration and his brand new single “Shinobi”.
ST: Tell the world who you are, what you do, where you're from, and what clique you're claiming.
Visto: Hello world, I am Visto. I am a recording artist that offers myself to philanthropy. I am originally from Norfolk, VA, but I've lived in Southeast DC, Prince George's County and pretty much all over the DMV. I represent CCCLXVIII (368 Music Group) and Hippie Life Krew respectfully and wholeheartedly.
ST: How did you become interested in music?
Visto: Music has always been a part of my life. My older brother had a studio in our house so I would hear his friends recording and rapping, and it really intrigued me. I have always wrote poems so it was natural for me to write songs. I would study the radio to the point that I would know every song that came on the radio. Michael Jackson heavily influenced me as a child. The art of performing is my true passion in music.
ST: Who were some of the artists that you listened to while you were growing up?
Visto: I grew up loving acts like Sade, Erykah Badu, Tupac, Biggie, Scarface, Nas, Total, TLC, Marvin Gaye (my favorite artist), Otis Redding, Al Green, Smokey Robinson (for his writing), Michael Jackson, Clipse, R. Kelly, Cher...all the greats.
ST: What's the story with the "Love Not War" movement?
Visto: Everyone has been asking that, which is good! Right now we are getting it together and working with others to plan events to further the love awareness movement. It's not as political as it is about spreading love – self love, love for others. The "war" is the battle we fight within ourselves and each other. There's so much hate and conflict and selfishness. We're just raising awareness to counteract that and show that there are people who are about positivity. You will see a lot of #LoveNotWar based projects very soon.
ST: Talk a little bit about Hippie Life Krew.
Visto: Hippie Life Krew is a lifestyle brand that I started in 2012 with hopes of linking up with other like-minded people through music, fashion, and humanitarian work. The musical members of HLK are Itz2Eazy (based out of ATL), Pinky KillaCorn from Uptown DC, Bonnie Rash the "RashHoles" of HLK, and myself. We also have a big team (outside of the artists) that work very hard to make sure we are excelling. Taco is our social media director; DJ Ratchet is our official DJ; Brit, Murph and Theo are our dancers; Justin helps with creative direction and aesthetic at shows; Fatimah helps out with organization and management; and Seth and Doesha are the jacks of all trades.
ST: You got a lot of people talking about your "How That Pxxsy Taste" single. What was the most memorable feedback you received from the song?
Visto: That was the song that started everything. I still think it hasn't gone where it will go. The most memorable moment was to have Raheem DeVaughn singing on my song and using a bit of my melody! That hyped me up so much because I am a big fan of his work. The most memorable comment would have to be when people tell me it got them some after a date. I'm helping people out here!
ST: I might have to play that song for my wife tonight, lol! You also had a successful debut album with Before Euphoria. What was your inspiration with that project?
Visto: My inspiration, honestly, was my personal life. A lot of people don't know all the things I go through every day. I smile and I mean it, but there's always something in the back of my mind. The inspiration was to have something to say I'm good at, to have something to be proud of. I'm a high school dropout with intellect but no proof. I needed something that I could love myself for. It was solely about the music.
ST: You rap and sing on your album. How do you define yourself?
Visto: I define myself as an artist, a true artist. Not one that just says it. I really live through my art...I need my art. So, I'm just a recording artist, no specifics, just whatever the record calls for or I feel. I live and create based off of how I feel.
ST: I've heard the new single "Shinobi" getting played on WPGC (95.5).
Visto: "Shinobi" is really getting love! I didn't expect people to like it this much. Much love to DJ Reddz, DJ Flexx, and all the good people at WPGC for playing my single at least 4 times a week this summer. It's been crazy! It was also placed on Hip Hop TXL 43, a mixtape which is at over 150K downloads. Bless to Alex from DatPiff for believing in the record enough to push it to Hip Hop TXL's DJ Reddy Rell and DJ Iceberg.
ST: Tell me about the show in New York on Friday.
Visto: I can't wait - it's my first show in New York. I'm excited but nervous because I respect the craft so much. New York plays a heavy role in pop culture and music. I want to do a great job, make new fans and meet new artists. The show is July 25th, 7:00 p.m. at Lit Lounge, presented by Nate Richezz of the LOUDMusicTour.
ST: And then on Saturday you're back here in DC at the Howard Theatre?
Visto: Yessir, right back to DC for my "Before Cloudalia Live!" show at Howard Theater. This is a big moment - my first headlining show! It will also be my first time performing live with a band. The Legendary Cloud 9 Band and I will be bringing out of this world. energy. Much love to Main Girl, Gorilla Slim, Runway Avenue, Trey Morset, Dirty Du, Mick Swagger, Pearis J, Robbie Celeste, Laelo, and all the other artists on this show.
ST: What was it like working with Cloud 9?
Visto: Incredible. They work so well together. Those guys deserve all the success that's coming their way. They are great hippies and dope to work with. Wait until you hear "Shinobi" live!
ST: What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
Visto: A3C of course, finishing up my next album Headed to Cloudalia, focusing my energy on building HLK, and pushing my team. Everything else I'm taking one day at a time.
ST: Where can people purchase your music?
Visto: My music is available on iTunes, Google Play, and every major digital music store. You can stream my whole Before Euphoria album on Pandora. Visit my website www.officialvisto.com, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @VistoHLK.
ST: Thank you for your time and good luck with your show in New York.
Visto: I just want to say thank you, and good energy to everyone who supports me, my Hippie Life Krew movement, and this DMV culture scene. Love to the world and love for ourselves.