Ugo Blk

How did you get started? Tell us everything!

I'm Ugo Blk of the Igbo Tribe born & raised in Southwest Houston, TX. Music has always been a part of my life because we were immersed in the most diverse playlists from an early age. I remember the CD changer going from Fela Kuti to Aerosmith to ABBA to Sting to Snoop Dogg and then maybe some Ray Charles after Bob Marley of course. We were fortunate to develop a good taste as kids. My father was a DJ so that also played a role in my love for music. However, because I was so focused on athletics, I didn't pursue music seriously until 2017 when I dropped my first EP. I started to spend weeks in the studio building up the confidence to be an artist, how to deliver my flow, wordplay, learning how to mix, what a good record consisted of, etc. I owe a lot of my development to my friend and mentor Kelly-T. He believed in me when I used to be on the fence about it all. He gave me the basics and my interest kept driving me forward. There's no better feeling than creating. I love having a hand in the entire process and figuring out how to sonically achieve a goal. Understanding music from a composer/producer’s aspect helps with that a lot. Previously, I would just listen to enjoy, but now I listen, learn, and dissect. I know exactly how the engineer mixed the record and a good idea of what plugins were used.

When you devote that time energy and passion to the craft, it pays you back tenfold. I think that my production started to grow exponentially when I lived in Atlanta. Something about being in an unfamiliar environment excited me and challenged me to really get on my grind. The tempo was different, we all love 808s but I really started to make sure all my beats had some knock in it. Although I was still putting records out, I found myself spending more time just talking to engineers and producers to really pick their brains and understand their processes of creating to develop my own workflow.

I vividly remember going to video shoots with my good friend Chuko (@chukofilms) just to listen to different artists and gain a better understanding of where we are musically. There, I learned to network and build a rapport with people; meeting them where they are for who they are and they did the same for me. I started to work faster and develop a sound of my own. I also worked with a small label making records with a few really talented engineers and producers and that experience taught me workflow and efficiency. I maximized my studio time and would always pull up with at least 2 of my own beats so there were no excuses. It was rewarding to see them marvel at the fact that I was such a multifaceted artist. That mutual admiration and respect caused us to really attack and get the best out of our time spent together. I've got a ton of influences from many different genres so I can draw inspiration from thin air it seems.

Often I'll sit at my studio desk and close my eyes and start jamming to a beat that doesn't even exist yet, humming different arrangements as I open up FL and before you know it, the drum pattern is already made. That's music for me; it's life for real. This path isn't for everyone and a lot of times it gets glamorized and fictionalized. I have yet to make a liveable income from my music and that's just me being transparent with y'all. I didn't start doing music to get rich, I did this to release, to create, to mastermind. However, that doesn't mean that I don't take it very seriously. I've been afforded the luxury of meeting other people that are just like me, talented, gifted, maybe even misunderstood. The ability to create that we share unites us and it's an experience I can't put into words.

I'm most proud of the ability and opportunity to grow. Before I only wrote music. Now I produce my own records, I engineer, I shoot my own videos. In other words, I've spent the time and money to invest in myself and control my destiny because I know how meticulous I am and how much I like to steer my own ship. Along the way, I've bonded with people that believe in me the same way I believe in them & that makes the grind something I look forward to every single time we link and create. Going to war with my team no matter how big or small. Patience is a virtue and I can't stress that enough. I'm a very hands-on person so most of the time I am the catalyst and the facilitator, but in this industry, its a game of chess, ownership, teamwork, and game planning and I'm excited for what the future has in store.

What is your experience in the music industry? Do you have any formal training or schooling? If not, are you self-taught and how did you learn your craft? What is your learning style? What are your favorite educational resources (ex. college, Youtube, etc.)?

I am as self-taught as humanly possible. I'm an analytical person so I first watch, take notes if need be, and then I do. I'm hands-on and failure doesn't scare me. YouTube is my go-to for anything technical. I've learned chord progression, vocal EQ-ing, etc. I also bug Kelly-T a lot whenever I know he's in the studio and has a second to spare. He can always break stuff down to the point where I apply the technique and it works. Teamwork!

What are some credits and achievements that you have? Who have you worked with? Who have you collaborated with?

I've yet to work with any mainstream artists. I'm operating with people on my level so we can all elevate and shake things up. I love our shared hunger and passion for music. I've finally started to sell my beats to a few artists here and there. Off the top of my head, I've got to shout out Nubiana (@nubianaofficial), Jackboy Scooter (@jackboyscooter), Charo Knight (@charoknight), & Dino Wallace (@dino_wallace). They're used beats of mine and I appreciate that. I've started to collab with producers and that's just as fun because again I get to witness another workflow and fuse with another creative.

Who are your biggest influences growing up and why? Who do you like to listen to now and why? Who’s on your playlist right now?

Fela Kuti, Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Young Dolph, Puff Daddy (producer), Master P (Mogul). My list can keep going but I've studied these people and their success because in some way or another I felt as if I could relate and they made me feel like, " damn right I can do it too." I'm from the south so we have so much culture. I'm also Igbo so the African culture is deeply rooted. You take all of these elements and I'm the product. Right now, Key Glocks "Son of A Gun" is in heavy rotation. I love that aggressive down south bravado. I will listen to old school R&B a lot; it's inspirational. Larry June is in the mix and the rest I just let shuffle. I can go from Sade to Young Thug in one click.

What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered or faced in this industry?

The entire process is an obstacle but that's why I love it. You have a new mission/challenge every time you write, record, go to the studio, drop music, promote, etc. I am learning to be more patient and explicit with my thinking and decisions. I also run my own campaigning, marketing, website, etc. so that's realistically the toughest part. I just would rather focus on the music, but I realize the importance of it all.

How would you describe your sound and style?

Versatile. I do a lot and it personifies me perfectly. I might be with my brothers or I might be trying to serenade the woman of my dreams it really is no telling. I use it to just express myself whether that be deep or shallow. There are no wrong answers here. Just make them feel you.

What are some of your goals this year?

This year I want to put out more music videos. I have a lot of music out and I need to make the visuals match that. Content overload. I want to keep growing and gain precision in everything I'm doing. If things go how I want, I also want to begin making & selling Ugo merchandise.

Who are the top 3 artists, producers, engineers, videographers, or others you would want to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?

It's hard to name just 3 because I like so many different artists. One thing I will say is that it has to be mutual. If an artist doesn't want to do a record that's perfectly fine. The work has to be organic and the vibe has to be right.

What is your creative process like?

Like a madman of course. I exhaust everything. In the beginning, everything is a great idea then I realize I have to calm some of that excitement down and get focused. If I'm making beats and I come up with a hook or verse fast I pull it up in Pro Tools and get after it. Other times I'll save a beat for an artist I know would work perfectly on that and see what they think. It doesn't take much time to come up with something because as an artist its a feeling thing. It just kind of erupts from your creative soul.

What’s your favorite go-to order?

You no go order fufu wey compare to how my mama prepare am. But if we're going with the non-Igbo chops you can't go wrong with some Tex-Mex.