A former martial arts instructor and tutor for a youth organization run by the Black Panthers, Finale is about to both kick your ass then school you.
He gave himself six months to pursue music “100 percent” – and it ended up becoming eight years. Having left college early to work as an automotive engineer for the Big Three (Chrysler, Ford & GM), Finale noted that he didn’t just “blindly leap” into the rap game – he wanted to make sure he had enough experience under his belt so he’d have something to fall back on. I was impressed; high five to all my hustling artists holding down regular jobs and 9-to-5’s. Responsibility is cool again!
“My music is a mixture of the things I've seen growing up, my community work and an example of all of the influences I've gained through different cities/scenes,” explains Finale. While aiming to tell impactful stories with morals about growing up a young black male, he also relishes in the idea of playing with the writing craft and faithfully showing off like your other favorite rapper dudes.
Able to produce the hard, drum-heavy “Detroit sound” the area is known for, Finale enjoys reaching outside the box and making unlikely choices as well. Letting the beat dictate his flow, he thrives on challenging himself artistically via delivery, lyrics, and beat selection. He shares, “I definitely don't want to be stuck in a box so I try to go as far left as possible, but not too far as to where I'm looked at as crazy (lol).” Hey, as far as I’m concerned, the crazies are cooler than the normals. Much more interesting; I have no qualms, homie – do what you do.
Finale’s upcoming projects testify to this versatility. The next album slated features Detroit veteran DJ House Shoes on production and appearances from some of your favorite Detroit emcees such as Invincible, Marv Won, and Guilty Simpson. Next up is an electronic/hip-hop album with Dabrye, Mark De Clive Lowe, Dimlite, amongst others. As someone who’s more a soul head than a hip-hop head (yes, gasp), I am super excited about the prospect of a hip-hop album featuring the likes of Mark De Clive Lowe. *Rubs hands together* Yessss.
But, hell, why wait for all that? Finale recently dropped his debut album, A Pipe Dream and a Promise, and let me just say, dude snagged a crazy production lineup: Kev Brown on the bounce-inducing “Style,” Khrysis banging on the choppy “The Waiting Game,” Black Milk on the dirty “Motor Music,” and the late great Dilla on the dark and hypnotizing “Heat.” That’s only to name a few.
Aside from all that goodness, one of my favorite tracks is the melancholy “Brother’s Keeper” (featuring dope sample-age by producer Nottz) where Finale talks about the incarceration of his brother and the tolls of the legal and prison systems. The more upbeat love song “What You Mean to Me” (ft. M-Phazes) asks his partner of 10 years to be there with him in his career journey – another fave. What can I say? I’m a girl and like the gushy stuff (sometimes). OK, OK, and one more fave…I actually also really like the intro track “Arrival and Departure” (production by V-Tech and Apollo Brown); It creeps towards that more experimental approach Finale speaks of – on the first half, V-Tech’s beat features what sounds like an electric guitar underwater and Finale’s play with the flow and inflection is just fun.
A quieter dude when you meet him in person, this former crouching-tiger-hidden-dragon jumps out on stage and owns it. I’ll leave you with some words from the revolutionary kung-fu panda when asked about his split personality:
Off stage I’m definitely quiet and reserved because I tend to keep my issues/business to myself. I don’t just go around town blabbing to random people who don't really know me. I'm a studio rat, meaning that I feel most comfortable in the lab and that’s where you can find me if I'm not on stage or in the back of the club. When I do step on stage that's where I give you the person you normally don’t get to see or build with. Music is my outlet and since I keep a lot of things bottled up, I use that pen and pad as an escape or way to build with people around the world I wouldn’t normally get to meet.
People say I have two personalities, and in some ways it's true. But I look at it as more of a way to keep myself out of the limelight, because as rappers/DJ's/entertainers or whatever it's very easy to get caught up in that lifestyle. Once it sucks you in it's easy to lose track of what's real and we begin to change. So in order to stay grounded and have a more realistic outlook, I detach and re-attach myself to this game whenever I see fit. Hip Hop is my outlet. That's how you get to know me.
Preach. Why does he have to be so sensible? I can’t even make fun of him.
Seher Sikandar is a Bay Area-based photographer and writer who covers art and lifestyle events. Check out her portfolio at rehescreative.com.