Let Me Learn You Something: Side Effect

I remember hearing an interview with Q-Tip probably twelve years ago.  He was talking about how suddenly everything in hip hop had to be “blazing” or “hot in the streets” or “on fire” or such and such is the “hottest out right now”.   “What happened to just being good?”, asked The Abstract.

Side Effect is good.  Really good.  I’ve performed with him several times.  He is devoid of swag or self-important posturing.  This is a big part of his music, his live performance, and his skills as a writer.  He’s smart without being smug.  He’s lyrical without being Canibus-ian.  His flow is sharp and fluid, but doesn’t foreshadow his content.  And he’s paid dues in Philly for years while being fresh and current on new records, no easy feat in a town where every time a middle finger is flipped at a Mets fan, a new rapper is born and another rapper becomes jaded.  

To me, Side is a combination of OC and Jadakiss: steady, knowing, wise, funny, slick, and plays to his strengths admirably.  After laying low for a minute, he’s strategically flooding the internet with quality original material that is true to his older work like Grown Man Grizzly and Dirt Hustlin’.  You can hear him now alongside Torae and Burke on the Cimer Amor produced cut “Another Classic” from Cimer’s coming project on Coalmine Records or with Reef the Lost Cauze, Jake Lefco and the rest of the KRU Records cats on Happ G’s fresh new EP Seven Touches

It’s time for Side Effect to learn you something

1.  At what point did you realize music was what you wanted to do?
It was somewhere in between performing in the mirror to Michael Jackson songs as a little kid, and writing a letter to EPMD when I was like 13-14 asking them to sign me…LOL. Somewhere along that timeline is when music really captured me, especially Hip Hop, and I knew I would be involved in it in some way or another.

2. How has Philly shaped your sound or molded you as an MC?
I feed off of Philly for my sound. When I’m driving around in different neighborhoods, I visually record what I see, and somehow try to incorporate it in my music. Lyrically, I come from the era of the slick-talk, battle-rap type of emcees. I feel like I’ve outgrown that style, but that’s the basis of where I come from. I was influenced by early Philly Hip Hop, Three Times Dope, the Hilltop Hustlers, Schoolly D, Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince all had influence on my style. I also love soulful beats, so that Sound of Philadelphia soul is in me too.

3. Who are the people you look up to and learn the most from?
I would say I look up to older people mostly. People who have life experiences and lessons that they can pass onto me to help me be a better man. I especially like to listen to older men talk and take heed to any jewels of wisdom they can offer. In the realm of music, I admire a lot of my peers in the Hip Hop scene who are still doing their thing musically and staying creative. Seeing others making moves helps to keep me motivated with my music.

4. With everything you’ve learned thus far, what do you wish you could have told yourself at the beginning? Would you have done anything differently?
Nah, I think I’m pretty much on schedule as far as what God has planned for me. If I really analyze it, I probably could have invested more time and money in myself in an attempt to get my music out there more, but that’s all 20/20 now. I’m just glad that I’m able to make the kind of Hip Hop I like, and hopefully a few more people will enjoy it too. I’m cool with that.

5.  What’s hard for you?  What do you struggle at
What’s hard for me is finding time to do music. I’m in school finishing my Bachelors degree, I work full-time, and I’m a husband. So finding time to write songs, record, and make beats is currently a struggle for me. But I see that changing soon.

6. Here’s a scenario: tomorrow you become the CEO of a major label. What are the first 3 things you would do as the boss?
I’d probably sign a legendary G.rap type of mc, a mid 90’s Nas/ Sean Price type of mc, and a new school Jay Elect type mc, and tear a page out of the Rhymesayers/ Rawkus blueprint and put out some great music.

7. What are some of your favorite albums?
Amerikkas Most Wanted is my favorite album still till this day.  Mr. Scarface is Back, Life is Too Short, Warriorz, Moment of Truth, Shadows on the Sun, The Listening, Illmatic. Those are a few that come to mind.

8. What is inspiring your work right now?
I get inspired to write by listening to other rappers. Some of my favorites right now are Bobby Creekwater, Jay Electronica, Guilty Simpson, Jadakiss, Joe Budden, Brother Ali, Psalm One, Cee-Lo, Sean Price, Andre 3000, Jean Grae….I enjoy lyricists who incorporate pieces of their personal lives in their rhymes. I also get inspired by the producers that I supply me with heat! Cimer Amor, Stress, Happ G, all those guys inspire me to be a better writer.

9. What advice would you offer to someone getting in the business at this time?
The music business is not for everybody. I hardly know if it’s really for me. Do your homework. Go to college and learn different aspects of the music business and business in general. I wish I did that right after high school instead of doing it now. You can definitely make more money off the mic than on it. My problem is the rhymes won’t leave me alone. It’s like Pookie with the crack. The way I see this going is I’ma be an old Hip Hop grand pop.

10.  Any words to live by?
You can be too early for success, but you can never be too late for it. Everybody out there stay focused on your dreams, find your passion and roll with it. I can’t ever see myself not doing music, so hopefully the fans out there will like it and continue to support it. “Cabin Fever” is available now, Krush Unit album is next, then “Canis Majoris” with Cimer Amor will follow….it don’t stop. Thanks Zilla


Side Effect Primer

Side Effect “Beards” & “Gone Like the 80’s f/ Jake Lefco”

Snowgoons f/ Side Effect “Knockatomi Plaza”

Happ G f/ Scandal, Jake Lefco, Side Effect “Nothing No Nada”

Preview and purchase Side Effect’s new CD Cabin Fever, a collection of joints past and present, new and unreleased, via Karma Response Unit Records and grab one of his catalogue joints for free.



  1. I hope you can look out for a brother tomorrow if not don’t forget me Tuesday buddy, enjoy your weekend 1

  2. very dope interview, side effect is one of the illest and his live shows are always packed with energy and freshness

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