Vice Souletric

Hip-Hop Artist

Vice Souletric
Ken Blaze

Scene in the Tower City food court.

Born in Louisville, Souletric grew up in Lorain. While in high school, he got into rapping while freestyling in art class. "Me and my buddy Johnnie used to be in art class at Admiral King High School, and we'd start freestyling right in the middle of class," he says. "That's how a lot of rappers get started. I came up in the Golden Era with Jay, Biggie and DMX, so I emulated them."

He'd eventually form Play Havoc, a group in which he rapped and produced under the moniker Ill Advice. "All we wanted to do was make one song over a beat," he says. "We started doing local shows in Cleveland and this local promoter Tyler Lombardo used to throw hip-hop shows and we opened up for the Beatnuts at the Agora." That group put out an album in 2007 but Souletric says he never took it "all the way serious."

He took a brief hiatus from making music but began writing and recording again after he got married. His 2015 solo debut Vice for President suggests just how serious he became about pursuing a musical career. His sophomore album Vice for President 2, released in 2016, includes a cameo from rapper Talib Kweli from the acclaimed hip-hop duo Black Star. "I just reached out to the management via email and they reached back out and gave me a chance," says Souletric when asked how he recruited Kweli.

Vice tackles many topics on his albums, including police brutality, even before it was commonplace on hip-hop albums.

"I wanted to talk about the things happening in society," he says. "I think what leads to great music is true inspiration. I didn't think many rappers were talking about it, and I thought it was kind of irresponsible. It's funny because now it's become the norm for people to drop something political."

Last year, Souletric released "Soulections," a freestyle series on which he spits his "coldest 16s over 3 different beats with an eye-catching video for each." Souletric says of the release, "It was something different to do and gave me the opportunity to work with other producers and give them a chance to be heard. One producer was from North Carolina and the others were from Toledo and Chicago."

Earlier this year, just in time for the Cavs defense of the NBA title, he released the tune, "O-H, UH-O-H." Produced by Nottz (Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg), the song finds Souletric chanting the refrain and spitting out lines like, "I'm not Snoop but my Dawg Pound is real famous," over an infectious synth riff and snarling guitars. "It was all about doing a Cleveland sports anthem," he says. "At the time, the Cavs were in the championship run. We're going to cut another version of the video for the Browns and, if the Indians get to the World Series, we'll do a baseball version too."

Souletric will release his next album, T.R.A.P. (The Reality of All People), later this year. "Vice for President had rap features but with this one I'm getting all outside producers," he says. "The theme is hip-hop music that appeals to a broad range. I talk about subjects that affect all people. I'm really excited to put it out." — Jeff Niesel

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