1st Class Dro: Long Island Rap interviews Lisaan'dro
About a year after Marcberg, Lisaan'dro's name resurfaces with a solo track called "Foam Cups & Foamposites," on which, as one critic said, Lisaan'dro "pitches his voice higher and more nasally, and absolutely rips shit over a No ID instrumental." The rapper gave us a high-end Nike over a pair of huge breasts, three high-quality verses over a huge beat, and then...
Over the next five years, not a line was heard from Lisaan'dro, until in early 2017 he released "Something Greater," a song which definitely lived up to its name. Soon thereafter, he dropped four songs in about as many months, each every bit as exciting as, arguably even better than, the last. Why the disappearance and sudden resurgence? Where had Lisaan'dro been, and for that matter, where had this remarkable MC, who'd debuted on a bonafide classic, come from in the first place?
The answers to these questions and more in LongIslandRap.com's first long-form interview, below.
Tell us a bit about your background. Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school?
Thanks for asking, homie. First and foremost, this is my first interview ever. So shout out to you and your staff at LongIslandRap.com. I sincerely appreciate you for taking the time to do this. Dead ass. Now, my background is pretty clear, cut and dry.
My Moms and my Pops are Panamanian immigrants that had me at an early age, and I was born in Brooklyn. The relationship between my Moms and my Pops didn’t last long, and I was sent back to Panama for a while to live with my Grandmother until shit was sturdy enough for me return back to America. Once I came back, it was just me and my Moms in Brooklyn, but the majority of my uncles, aunts and older cousins was in Queens. So, I spent a lot of time out there as well. My uncles and older cousins in Queens were in the streets heavy as fuck at that time. As a kid bouncing between Queens and Brooklyn, I was absorbing some of the foulest shit that you can see at an early age, and my Moms didn’t like that. So, she decided that moving to Long Island would prevent me from following my cousin’s footsteps. Her intentions for me were pure, but the location that she chose to relocate to wasn’t. Hempstead is like a twin sister to certain parts of Queens, so it really didn’t make any difference in my eyes.
I went to Uniondale High School and to this day I’m happy about that. Uniondale always had flyer bitches than Hempstead had by a landslide. So, I did my numbers there and high school was fun as fuck for me because I was a young pimp on the rise.
What was your first introduction to hip-hop? Who were some local MCs and DJs who you looked up to as a youngster?
My first introduction to hip-hop was through my older cousin Steve a.k.a. “L.S.” from 105th St. and Northern Blvd. Bless the dead. At the time, Milk & Giz’s “Top Billing” was the song that him and damn near everybody in New York was playing. Then, once I seen the video, I was captivated because it was different from all the other rap videos I saw before them. Them niggas left an impression on me because they wasn’t extra with it and was relatable. They looked like regular older niggas from off the block who just wanted to do hip-hop and rep where they was from. No gimmicks, no costumes — just a hard beat and a catchy hook about getting to money. It made me want to grow up early and become a teenager quick, because them niggas looked like they was having fun.
But, as far as local shit, when my mother moved me from Brooklyn to Hempstead, I ended up living on Grand Daddy I.U.’s block. He lived directly across the street from me. So, as a youngster, I looked up to him as well, because he is a Hempstead Don. Even though me and my niggas were just pups at the time, we knew what was going on when it came to hip-hop. To keep it a hunndo, on some Strong Island shit, we knew that Suffolk County was getting the one up on Nassau County, because they always had Rakim and E.P.M.D. to brag about. So, when I.U. came out, Hempstead finally had a gangsta nigga that was making an impact. It meant a lot to me, because when I would go back to Brooklyn and Queens to see my cousins, they used to try to play me because I lived on Long Island. After they found out that I lived on Grand Daddy I.U.’s block, shit changed. Niggas couldn’t say shit and showed more respect. Hempstead was on the rise in my eyes thanks to him.
When did you start rapping? Did you ever go by a name other than Lisaan'dro?
My memory is fucked up, bro. My life has been moving at such a rapid pace for so long that certain shit is a blur to me. I honestly can’t pinpoint exactly when I started rapping at all. Dead ass. But I know I started with Roc Marciano when we were young kids growing up in Hempstead. He was way more serious than anyone one at our age and also way better than the niggas that were older than us. I always wrote a rhyme here and there, but I was more focused on basketball and bitches when I was young. My first rap name was Pimp L and that was years before a nigga knew UGK existed.
In "For You and Yours," you said, "I used to rap with a crew but yeah I left it alone." What was the name of that crew? Who were the other members?
We called ourselves BTP. It wasn’t nothing major like that. It was just me and my niggas just holding down our set on some local shit. It was me, Bacardi Nard, Kenny Bruckshot, Tee, Renaissance, Hempstead Jimmy, Shawn, Allo, Mid-Way Grady and Corona Will. BTP stood for a bunch of shit. Big Time Players, Betting That Paper and Blasting Them Pistols. But the foundation of it came from “Boys To Pimps,” which accurately illustrates my journey to adulthood. It was just our set, and in every set you had to have at least two niggas that could rhyme and that was me and Bacardi Nard. He chilling right now bussing moves with Cappadonna. They cooking a fashion line together. I still keep in contact with him and all of the other niggas that I mentioned with the exception of a couple.
Most fans' first introduction to you was the "Ridin' Around" hook. Was that the first thing you ever released?
Yup, that’s the first. Shout out to Roc. There’s not too many niggas that I would go to war over, but he is one nigga that would go to war for without hesitation. He’s not a music-friend to me — he’s my friend in real life. I was at all of the nigga’s earlier recording sessions when he decided to elevate his career as a soloist. I was just there to support him like everybody else was. Nothing special. But “Ridin’ Around” came out special though. Shit was organic. There’s nothing else on me that ever was released until now. I recorded a bunch of shit with the homies, but I was never satisfied with how I sounded. It wasn’t because my bars weren’t sharp, it was just that the music did not sound professionally mixed and sonically correct. So, I never wanted shit out.
The next track we heard from you was "Foam Cups & Foamposites." What were the circumstances of that recording?
My nigga Kieran was behind that. He’s one of my closest friends. The god hated to see me waste my talent but he also witnessed a lot of the shit that I was going through at the time. He knew that music was the last thing on my mind, but he kept pressing for a nigga do something with it. He arranged all of that. He found the studio, he suggested the instrumental and the whole shit. I appreciate that. Honestly, I half assed my way through that song. Lyrically, I was above average and I cooked those bars up on the spot. However, I forced myself through that record, because I didn’t have the passion for music. I was on autopilot. Honestly, if it weren’t for my comrade putting forth the effort for that session to happen, that song would have never been done or it would be in a vault right now.
Between that song and "Something Greater," there were five years, but in the last three months you've dropped four tracks. Why the long gap?
I had a miserable run during that time, homie. Damn near everything was going wrong in my world. I was in an ill car accident on the Cross Bronx Expressway, had multiple surgeries and shit like that. So, a nigga was on injured reserved for way longer than I wanted to be. Shit was depressing as fuck, because I’m the type of dude that passionately hates asking for help and having to depend on people. I had no choice under them circumstances, because I was jammed up and that caused me to miss out on a lot of opportunities.
Then, when I finally got back on my feet and bounced back with full strength, my cousin “LS” from 105th and Northern Blvd. died. A month later, one of my close friends, B-Flat from 112th and Northern Blvd. died. That shit devastated me because I lost both of my mentors. With so many fakes around, it really hurts when you lose real ones. Being on probation and doing damn near 2,000 hours of community service didn’t help matters either.
Then to top it of off, I took a disgusting L at the trap gate in Hempstead. I got lined up magnificently, homie. It was a lowkey home invasion and niggas got me for everything. I was in Far Rockaway with my peoples when it happened. One of my day ones that I no longer fuck with was holding down the gate when it popped off. It wouldn’t have happened if I was there.
Do you think he was involved?
Nah, the nigga wasn’t involved. I had money at that time, but that nigga had way more paper than me. It was really his gate, and I was basically enforcing it once he left the hood to bus moves in Maryland. We caught that L together, but I just lost way more than he did. Plus, it was some Mexicans that lined us up, and he didn’t have any ties with them.
The crazy shit is that the Mexicans are so united and so powerful in Long Island that there wasn’t really shit I could do about it, bro. My niggas got love for me, but they don’t love me enough to wage war against a tribe of Mexicans on my behalf. We wouldn’t have had a fighting chance anyway. They would have washed us up quick. It would have been no bueno for the gods. So, I had to hold that elbow at the end of the day. But all praises due to The Most High for providing me with opportunities that made me bounce back quick from situations that take people a longer time to recover from.
How'd you link up with Flashius Clayton?
We linked up off Twitter after I put out “Something Greater.” We had a mutual respect for each other’s craft too. He emailed me some fire-ass beats, and I did what I do. I fuck with Flash’s music too. His shit is special. His wordplay is sick, and his delivery is like an angry nigga from Cali holding a bullhorn inciting a riot on the streets. The ill shit about the homie is that he don’t be yelling and screaming in the booth, but his vocal aggression gives off that type of energy. That’s a gift. Plus, way too many rappers try to sound extra smooth when they rhyme. Flashius Clayton ain’t about that. He’s gonna bark all over the beat. Shout out to him.
Are any of these songs you've put out together over the last few months from a project with Flash, or are they just loosies?
Certain shit is in the works and whatever we do is going to be fire. So, between my solo shit and his solo shit, we found the time to cook up a few songs together that came out crazy. The first joint will be coming out shortly. For the most part, the songs that I’ve been putting out have been loosies though. I just want to get my name up to the point that it will financially make sense to put out my project.
Aside from Roc Marc, have you worked with any other Long Island-based artists?
No, but I’m not against it. As long as the beat is fire and the situation is right, I’d be with it. However, right now I’m more focused to work with niggas from out of town though. They can bridge me to an audience that the hometown can’t reach. I want to get my name in the underground scene heavy in Cali, the Midwest and in Canada. Those are the regions that I’m targeting to hit. So, I’d rather link up and put out some work with niggas from those areas.
But right now, there’s a youngin from Uniondale that got the golden touch in the booth. His name is Jimmy Jump. Look out for him. He’s only 21 and has the potential to be an extra blown-up superstar. All he got to do is stay focused, keep out of trouble, and the world could be his. He’s the young homie from around the way. I’m going to send you some of his music.
Excellent, please do. What's your favorite food spot on LI?
Tropical Jerk in Uniondale.
What else can fans expect to hear from you in the future?
They can expect consistent fire, and I vow to never lyrically disappoint them. It ain’t like I got a large fan base though, but to those that fuck with me, I can promise to never let them down. I appreciate these niggas more than you can imagine. They are the ones who are going to spread the word about me and put on more people to my shit. I view it as if each one of them are personally vouching for me and a nigga like me take shit like that seriously. I want it to the point when these other up-and-coming rappers’ names are mentioned to my fans, they redirect the conversation to me. I want them to boast with pride that Lisaan’dro shit is superior in comparison to the rest of them niggas. That’s the goal.
Are you trying to make rap a full-time gig, or is just something you do regardless?
I got too much shit going on in my world to make anything a full-time gig at this point. I juggle multiple hustles at once, and I’m so accustomed to it that I doubt it will stop. For me to focus on just one thing fulltime, it’s going to take a real solid Everlast heavy bag stuffed with so much bread that it will break Tyson’s wrist if he tried to punch it. But I will be putting out a lot of music for the rest of the year, and with The Most High’s blessings, that will set me up to be in a better position in 2018.
Peace to Lisaan'dro for doing this interview. Follow him on Soundcloud and Twitter.