DHH Exclusive: Push Discusses Desi Hip-Hop

Push aka Shawn Cayce is a rapper who has had us impressed with his daily drops. With so much music and ambitious plans, we caught up with Push to find out more about the music and the man behind the music. Check out our exclusive interview here.

DHH: Often artists who go by alias names conceal their real ones. What is the story behind your name “Push aka Shawn Cayce?”
Push: Well, Push is my real name. Short for Pushpinder. It stuck on since first grade cause white folks couldn’t really pronounce my name. Shawn Cayce has a more interesting history. Back in high school I was in a rap group called the Outsydaz, and we felt having rap alias were being played out and they were like superhero names, and one of my group members proposed the idea to make up literal alias’. So, how I came about creating the name was, one day I was sick and missed school and I caught this documentary on Edgar Cayce, who was the sleeping prophet. I really connected with the documentary and with the individual especially. Then, Shawn I got from the show “Boy Meets World” which was my favorite show growing up and Shawn was the character I most identified with in the TV series.

DHH: Now we’ve got that out the way, tell us who Push is.
Push: Push is a normal individual in an abnormal society. I guess I say that because I feel society as a whole has a displacement with the person that I am. People are so attached with culture, race, color, tradition, and what they’ve been trained to recognize, that when someone like me comes across their path; I’m often met with a bit of a shock. I suppose I’m a walking talking culture shock, which is why I created H.E.M.i. N.A.T.i.O.N. which stands for Help Every Man in Need And Trust intuition Over Nurture (the “i” is lower case to emphasis that the individual is second to the whole nation, so to speak). My music is basically telling people to trust that voice in their head (that gut feeling) more than the voice of society. I like to think of myself as the watcher, which is beautiful to me because as artists the initiator of motivation usually is observation, so to sum it up, Push is an observer of life who transposes his observations in art.

DHH: Being raised in California, how prevalent was Desi music and culture in your upbringing?
Push: Honestly, it was a duality. Desi music and culture existed downstairs in my household, while upstairs it was television and video games. The older I got, the less time I spent downstairs. By the time I was 9 or 10 I was rarely seen with my family. The main reason was I naturally never related to the topics they would like to converse about, and being the observer I’ve always been, I found too many contradictions in our culture. Later in life I realized all cultures period are filled with contradictions, and to an intellectual and spiritual individual, culture is really a personal thing. I think everyone has his or her own culture. Personality is culture. I also spent 4 years in India as a youth, and from that I realized our culture really exists there more so then it does here. It almost has a different hue to it. I started to feel that culture was almost being forced in the western world, so I began to no longer identify with it as much. In actuality, I believe all people do that. If you’re in the western world and you’re not white, you basically have two personalities. The one at home and the one not at home, which I think is sort of misleading to yourself. If you can’t act in a constant then, I believe the Universe (or God if you prefer) looks at it as you living your life in a compromised fashion. So, Desi culture was prevalent until I decided to venture off and find myself.

DHH: Will we catch you watching a Bollywood movie?
Push: If it’s good, which most Bollywood movies seldom are. I loved “3 Idiots” though. A lot of people told me to watch it because when they saw it they thought of me, they said. Usually, I find it hard to not have a negative bias towards Bollywood movies, not because they’re supposedly “cheesy” but because Bollywood is the biggest movie industry in the world, and the product they put out could look a lot better, cinematically speaking. I watched a lot of Indian movies when I was really little, and though most of them came off as really formulaic, the ones that were geared towards British Imperialism, I really enjoyed. Mostly because growing up, my grandmother made sure I knew about the history of India and the British Empire. Besides that, I’d take Independent movies over Bollywood and Hollywood, actually.

DHH: Back to the music, you seem to have no shortage of inspiration. What keeps you creating tracks?
Push: A lot of practice, I guess. Making music really isn’t challenging to me. I never really ask myself if I’m inspired or not when I write. I just simply do it. I suppose looking from a third person perceptive, it may come off as me having great work ethic or being really good at what I do, but the truth is I just have a lot of fun when I’m rapping and expressing myself.

DHH: What sparked the daily drops and how long will this series last?
Push: The daily drops were a complete accident. After my 7th mixtape I decided not to release my 8th mixtape, which I had done by December or January, and my friend caught me listening to it, and he just said, “so you really just finna keep this shit to yourself?” I really didn’t find it necessary to release music because I honestly felt satisfied with what the public has already received from me. Music has always been about me venting and feeling at peace with my journey in life, and I really didn’t feel it necessary if people knew about what’s going on with me or not at that moment.
So, I was listening to my unreleased tape and I came across this song that had no chorus, and I just got up and hit the mic and sang the hook to the first daily drop on the stop, and I just felt so juiced about it that I just put the song out, and said “daily drop!” After my friend heard it, he just asked, “so you’re gonna drop a song a day?” And I liked the sound of that, so I started pumping out tracks. Unfortunately, my interface broke shortly after, so at the moment I can’t record new music, but I’ve made so much music, that I can go another 150 days without recording anything, and still be solid. Plus the series is only going for a 100 days.

DHH: Have you found it difficult to put out a new song every day? Artists who have weekly drops manage to miss deadlines and fall behind.
Push: No, because I have a good barrier till I run out of material. I’ve made it a routine for the past couple years to write two songs a day, and at this point it’s second nature. If I’m going to the bathroom to take a shit, that pretty much means I’m coming out with a couple songs. So no pun intended, but I’m used to dropping hella shit.

DHH: With technology today, plenty of artists are spotted singing and rapping lyrics off their blackberrys and iPhones. Do you jot down notes on your phone, or are you a pen and paper guy?
Push: Well, when I started rapping, I knew my moms and pops weren’t finna allow it, so I figured the best way for them to not find a rhyme book was if I didn’t have one. I always wrote my raps in my head. My first 3 tapes, I didn’t write a word down. However, after that I figured it would be a good exercise to write songs down to have more music written out, so I started typing lyrics. Writing with a pen and a pad never was for me because I’d freestyle a few bars and try to write them down, and the phrasing would be different. I type really fast so I literally jot down my freestyles. I used to freestyle a lot in high school, so it became a key part of my writing process. In 10th grade I’d freestyle for 5 hours a day after I got home as an exercise to improve.

DHH: You’re a young artist, is it safe to say this is not your full time gig yet? What else keeps you busy?
Push: Actually, after I decided to drop out of med school in 07, I’ve been strictly on the music grind. I reentered college, not to pursue a degree, but to simply take courses that I wanted to learn about and thought I would enjoy. One day, my friend told me to take up sound engineering because I had taught myself a great deal via the internet. I honestly believe since the internet, college has truly become obsolete. Niggas is literally throwing money away at these Academic Institutions. Like, one of my friends taught himself Japanese off Google. I spend 24/7 just improving on my craft, and thanking God for this life, real talk.

DHH: Do your parents know about your music career and are they supportive?
Push: parents do and are completely and utterly unsupportive.

DHH: Clearly Hip-Hop is the path you have chosen. What are you currently listening to?
Push: I find it extremely hard to find hip-hop music that I enjoy. I find myself listening to alternative and rock from the 60s and 70s. Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Doors, Pink Floyd, and so on. I listen to myself if I’m listening to rap, honestly. Other than that I enjoy other genres of music more. I don’t know why, because I try to analyze that a lot because I find it very interesting, but the only conclusion that I’ve come across is that it is what it is.

DHH: What does the term “Desi Hip-Hop” mean to you?
Push: Desi Hip-Hop to me basically is a phrase to let people know that this rap music is by a brown guy, honestly. Not to down play the term, but it’s almost like saying Jay Sean’s music should be under Desi R&B. At the end of the day Hip-Hop does cover us brown folks. Hip-Hop is a culture that, whether the pioneers of this shit realized it or not, started off on a diverse path, and since then it’s gotten more and more diverse. Like people should Google what niggas in Sweden are doing. It’s strictly Hip-Hop! Ill lyrics and an amazing evolution to the art form. I think we shouldn’t get to attached to glorifying how great being Desi is or forcing to create something new out of something old. Hip-Hop is Hip-Hop, so when I hear Desi Hip-Hop I just think Hip-Hop.

DHH: What do you see happening for yourself in 2012?
Push: Man, I’m someone who lives in the present, but to answer that question objectively, the past is a clear dictor of my future. What I’m doing is only getting bigger and bigger, and I feel grateful to observe this whole phenomenon. 2012 is HEMi NATiON, and every year after that is as well.

DHH: Do you have a final note you would like to end on?
Push: I would really like to thank you guys for posting the daily drops. Much love and success to your site, and I hope you guys strive to touch more than just Indians or Desis because in this day in age our reality is black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, and so on. We are a gumbo pot of a culture. Let’s strive to represent all within one.