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Underground Hype: Justin Hale & 5thLetter of Soul Doubt Records

By: Carrick Wenke

You can definitely find influential traces of OVO in certain aspects of whats coming out of the Soul Doubt Records camp, however there’s enough creativity and talent in there to set them aside from the pack. After seeing Justin Hale live at the first LIT night, I could see his passion and personality with the crowd interaction and participation. Always a planner, Justin, who has known his Co-Ceo and founder of Soul Doubt since their younger years in Italy, plans on many things coming out of their camp this year. Whether that be one of his next couple scheduled projects coming out, or putting on another artist on his label, Justin is always busy working. 

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Justin Hale

Who are you? What do you wanna tell the world about yourselves?
Justin HaleWe are Soul Doubt Records, spelled S-O-U-L, like “soul”, “doubt” spelled D-O-U-B-T, Records. It’s a play on words. Basically what we wanna tell the world and really kinda what our whole base of being is, stems back to why this really started, or why this really started for me. That really came from having issues with suicide growing up and music being the only thing that really made me feel like I had something nobody could take away. Through that it taught me to never doubt the worth of my soul, which is where we ended up coming up with “Soul Doubt”. You always hear about artists selling out and selling their souls, and that’s a real deal battle that you deal with. That’s something we decided to make a negative to a positive, kinda like how Biggie said.

What/Who are your main inspirations for making music?
Justin: Lemme swing that over to the co-CEO and Executive Producer of Soul Doubt Records, and that’s 5thLetter.
5thLetterThat’s a tough one. I would say Kanye for sure, even though that’s kinda cliche but more so for the fact of his innovativeness to the game. Kanye has been in the game for a while and he was so persistent in getting in touch with HOV and HOV still wouldn’t fuck with him and HOV took that chance on him, and he ended up changing the game. He don’t get enough credit for that but it’s just being ambitious, it’s being persistent. Jay-Z, just for his business mind, and I would say J Dilla, just for the impact he had on beats. Whether you make soul beats, trap beats, EDM, whatever type of beats you make, you know J Dilla. More so anybody who has longevity in the game and has a stamp on the game. Dre is another one. Anyone who has made a stamp on the game is an icon to me and an inspiration to me. My top 4 would be Kanye, Dre, Jay, and Dilla.
Justin: If I could kinda piggyback that coming from the artist standpoint, when it has to come to inspirations definitely a couple he named off that list, Kanye, Jay-Z. Kanye, mainly for being a writer myself, his whole artistic take on the process is completely backwards, upside down and inside out. That’s what makes it the truest most purest form of art, and that’s something I really aspire to replicate and kinda do in my own workings. From there I’d go in a different direction and say Tupac, specifically for his ability to tell a story. It’s deeper than that though, his ability to put a message into your vibe and you can’t help but feel it. If it’s a club song you can’t help but bounce to it a few times, and then when you really sit and listen to the lyrics, you’re really gonna fuck with it. We aim with both the artists we sign and ourselves to do that with every project. Not only is it mainstream as far as marketability but also has that heavy hitting power when it comes to consciousness. Really trying to show people you can really put the medicine in the food, you know what I mean? Kinda just disguise the truth in there with something they’re used to vibing to. I would also say Bob Marley. Lot’s of people say that for the weed aspect, but that has zero to do with it. I would say Bob Marley because he’s the one performer that I can say left it all on the stage. When he came, he came to give it his all and then he left. That’s a big thing that resonates with me with Soul Doubt, Soul is in our name, but really once you make that decision to be all the way in your soul is in it. You can see that in their eyes, you can see that in their passion and energy.

Who are some producers that you work with?
Justin: I’m gonna be completely honest, the nigga that shits on everybody that I’ve ever worked with is my nigga sitting next to me, 5thLetter. I’ve known him since middle school and he’s the one nigga, ugly as fuck, but he’s the one that stayed down. He knows more than anyone that if I say I’m gonna do something I’m gonna do it and as far as producers being able to keep up with the energy and the fact that sometimes I write a song in 15 minutes or sometimes I write a song in an hour or 2 weeks. He can give me enough ammo to kinda feed that hunger. Another producer I personally work with is Cxdy, he produced a lot of the last tape, Let It Breathe, he did really well. Another producer I’ve worked with recently would be 52Kings, and this young producer coming up now named Simon.
5th: Producers that I collab with, DJ Bido, outta Houston. The homie Sir Hood, and the homie Sensei Mu, and the homie Brian Spencer. That’s the very few select people that we click on all cylinders. I have a very long lasting relationship with those few individuals and I trust they input and they creativity. If it’s not a vibe and you don’t have the courage to tell someone “yo, I’m not fuckin’ with that”, it’s pointless. I feel like a lot of people collab for the name. I’m not even gonna say “collab” it’s just making beats. Whatever beat comes out, comes out, and it just happens to be some hard shit every time. It’s more just those are the homies and that’s who I make beats with. Same with Justin, that’s the homie that I make music with. I can have 5 beats, for instance “Love Again”, I didn’t have any…I just did the beat bro, no joke. Did the beat, sent it to him, he was like “Ok this is tight” and I kid you not, 1 to 2 days later he sent it back. I can’t tell you where I pulled the energy from that beat from and he can’t tell you where he pulled the energy from that song from, it just the universe. I try not to put myself in a box. I wanna make some Uzi type shit, I wanna make some Migos type shit, I just let that shit flow. 50% me doing the beat, 50% him, you get the whole 100 right there. I feel like people put themselves in boxes because they gotta keep up with a wave but you gotta make your own wave.

Are you affiliated with any other artists or crews?
Justin: To be honest, I wouldn’t say affiliated with any artists or crews in a skewed way. An artist that is under our label that we’re about to be putting  on and you’re about to be feeling for a minute is Andre Ferrari. He’s probably one of the realest Rn’B singers I know, I promote his shit a lot. That’s somebody we respect. As far as other affiliates we affiliate with locally, Kings Radio and 52Kings. We got some stuff we’re working with with TXTME206, they’re really down. We’ve done some work with the Blow Up Co, as far as interviews and stuff goes, they’re always really cool. We just collabed with this new event called LIT, and we got a few things coming with them down the line. The most recent, we just made a connection with RIOT!, who are also local to the area. Just making sure people know about us since we’re not from here, and that could make things a gift and a curse. It makes things a bit harder to let people know you’re serious, because a lot of your competition are people they’ve been knowing for years so they’re more confident in spending their bread to go to their show. It’s real humbling but we try to be nice and real and down to jump on anybodies ticket. We humble ourselves. We don’t give a fuck if we’re opening, we don’t give a fuck if we get one song, we don’t give a fuck if we get three songs. As long as they give us a little time to introduce ourselves and do our thing, it’s all love. At the end of the day we gotta respect the fact that we’re in their city and we gotta play by the rules until we can make our own rules. Until then, you gotta play by the game and stay humble around everybody.

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Andre Ferrari

Who are some artists you wish to work with in the future?
Justin: That’s a crazy question, off top I’m gonna say Travis Scott. I’m putting that into the universe, I’m gonna do something with Travis Scott. I’m definitely gonna be on a Drake cut. I don’t know what the fuck I’m gonna do because we both sing, but you’ll see it. As far as big artists like that, it has to be Gucci, off top. Let me do some shit with wop. As far as producers go I know Metro Boomin is someone I definitely wanna work with. I gotta get a “Metro Boomin want some more nigga” on one of ’em. I definitely wanna work with J Cole because I feel like analytically and structurely he’s someone I could learn a lot from. It would almost be like a class. I pride myself in being a pretty talented writer myself but I also pride myself in being someone that loves to learn and grow to better myself and I feel like that’s being someone I could learn some things from. But I love doing this shit, so any local artists that deem themselves serious and wanna work, I would love to work together.

Is your bitch bad or boujee?
Justin: Both.

How did the two of you come together? What’s the story of Soul Doubt being created?
5th: Back in the day we met in Italy, way overseas. This nigga made a song called “Beast Mode”, shit was trash. I was a freshman or sophomore in high school and he was in like 8th grade, this nigga was like “Yeah man I just made a song called ‘Beast Mode'” and everybody was talking about it. I was doing music at the time too but I wasn’t advertising the shit like that so I was like “Yeah that’s tight”. We heard this shit…this man had animal growls in the background and I’m just like “Oh word..”. From there everybody lowkey kinda dogged him and after beast mode he made another one called “I’m Outta Here” and I was like “Ok you’re getting there”. From there he had some more and went through an early mid life crisis, and this man has had like 4 or 5 names through the years. We kept in contact and I graduated and moved to Portugal and he moved to Cali and Phoenix, and I was in LA interning and he hit me up. He hits my phone and said he was looking for a spot to record, he updated me on all the music and shit he had going on and wanted to shoot out this way and record some shit. I told him I couldn’t finesse any free time but if he could get some bread I could get him a homie discount. He was like “alright bet”, kid you not and called me back in a week max and said he would be out there tomorrow. I went to the studio later that day and said “Yo, I got a homie from Phoenix that wants to record. Everything is done he just wants to get in the booth and lay that shit”. They kinda threw out a crazy ass number like $1500 and I was on the phone with him and told him and he said “Bet, I’ll be out there tomorrow”. Sure enough, the nigga pulled up knocked out his mixtape in like 48 hours, and shot back. That was the Green State Of Mind mixtape. We moved past that, kept grinding and had left LA, moved back down south. He hit me up and said “Yo I got this tape called Let It Breathe I need somebody to mix it”. After all the crazy shit that happened to me in California I wasn’t even up to doing that but I did it. He sent me the songs and it was fire. Life happens so it never came out but we kept in contact and he was like “Man lets just do this shit bro”, and the rest is history.

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5thLetter

When Can we expect your next project to drop?
Justin: As far as what’s coming out, my next follow up project is called Pages 1-5. As far as people don’t know but need to know now, Let It Breathe was the last project I’m dropping on Soundcloud for right now. That’s to be determined, down the line I may drop a Let It Breathe 2 that could be Soundcloud exclusive but don’t quote me on that. As far as what’s coming out, Pages 1-5 which is a prelude to the album that is already finished which is called Black Book. You get the first 5 pages of the Black Book. Now does that mean those are the first same 5 songs? Absolutely not, but think of that as a lead up to. We are working on a video for “Shooters” which was one of the songs on the Let It Breathe mixtape, so keep your eyes open for that. Andre Ferrari is working on a new project right now that he just dropped a single off of, called “City Dry”. That’s on Soundcloud right now and I strongly suggest playing that. There is an unnamed project that I have been asked to work on with a couple different local artists that I won’t release the names to yet because I don’t know if they’re ready to release the names yet, but it is something that has been discussed and is in the early footing. We got a lot of things coming in the rest of 2017. Consistency is definitely a big motto in Soul Doubt Records because without consistency what do you really have?

Anything else?
Justin: Other than just thank you and a huge shout out to Carrick Wenke for helping us out with interviews and linking us with the Blow Up Co, free my nigga Trap Taylor. Ironically that’s something that’s been floating around my modeling career ever since he facetimed me during one of my shoots. “Free Trap Taylor” has been a think kinda circulating around us. My nigga is a really good producer in the area out here too, he’s gonna be coming when he gets out. Shout out to LIT, RIOT!, 52Kings, Keezy and Sky Div. I got a lot of love for what those people are doing over there. Shout out to Nyles Davis and what they’ve been doing with FTB. Let’s put Seattle on the map and not cause no violence.

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