Sol’s “This Shit” was one of the best introductions we’ve had to a new rapper in 2011. We almost forgot what it was like to get into a new rapper based solely on a good new song. Time after time, new rappers popped up, but there was always some backstory that made their big introduction a little more interesting–it was big name co-signs, viral videos, and quirky character development plots. With “This Shit,” we just had some simple, timeless, feel-good hip-hop that had us nodding along and adding Sol to our short list of guys to look out for.

Starting off on such a strong foot is a double-edged sword. Sure, we took notice, but the bar was set high. Sol didn’t disappoint. Soon after “This Shit,” we got a collabo with Rhymesayer’s Grieves & Budo and a solid EP. And now, P&P is happy to premiere “Stage Dive”. The Nima Skeemz-produced track is the first official single off of Sol’s upcoming album Yours Truly, which will come out on January 20th, 2012.

Stage Dive by Solzilla

In the spirit of doing things right, we also took some time out to talk to Sol and get a backstory. Music first, story after. Read our convo with the rapper below.

Interview by Midas

First question is how do you pronounce your name?
[Saul]. Some people say [Sole], which is okay with me, but the proper way to say it is [Saul].

And that’s just your first name?
Yeah, just the name that my mom gave me.

What made you not want to rap with a moniker?
Well, I’ve been rapping for a long time, since I was a young kid. And I went through, like, a million rap names. And basically it kind of got to the point where the name that fit me the most, as both an artist and as a person, is my real name. It felt natural to me. Everything else felt contrived.

What were some of the best ones you tried out before settling on going with your own name?
[Laughs] Well, probably the best one was something that one of my producers gave me while working on my first album, and that was Solzilla. And that one kind of stuck, actually. I didn’t ask for that but it has become the name that, if I did have an AKA, it would be that.

That was basically just, I don’t know, he said cause of my work ethic and stage presence.

How long have you been rapping? You said when you were a kid?
I started rapping when I was ten years old. And I’ve been taking it seriously since I was around 12. Although I wouldn’t say that I found my sound since I started working, and it’s been a process. Over the past few years, since I graduated high school, I’ve stopped working on mixtape material and everything’s been working towards where I am now.

How old are you?
22.

No, wait dude, shit – my bad. I just turned 23 [Laughs]. Like, a week ago.

Well, happy belated!
Thank you.

And you’re from Seattle, right?
Yeah, born and raised.

You’ve got a really simple, classic sound from all of the tracks I’ve heard. What did you grow up listening to?
Man, my first intro to hip-hop was from my eldest cousin. He listened to a lot of really hard shit. DMX was probably my first favorite rapper. After that it was 2pac and Nas.

When I really kind of had my own renaissance was when I went back and listened to people like A Tribe Called Quest. De La Soul had a huge influence on me. And then, even people like Dead Prez, even at a more influential phase. And I’ve gone through everyone from Kanye to Kendrick Lamar – but the really important years, it was definitely De La and Tribe, those sorts of things.

OK. You’ve definitely got a Native Tongues-esque vibe to some of your stuff. Why do you think that this kind of music, being made today, can resonate with people more than the modern trends in hip-hop?
I think that there’s a certain balance that I try to reach in my album, and it’s having a more timeless view on the music that you make. Thinking about things less in a temporary or disposable fashion. Even where people’s business models and the way you put out music these days is a response to Twitter, YouTube, spit things out really quickly model. And that’s okay, that’s the reality. But I think, as far as music goes, to keep it natural and pure and try to make timeless music.

I don’t think that I work within a time capsule or anything. I think a lot of my material ends up with that description you made, but from me having permanence with my music rather than following the current trends.

Tell me a little bit about “Stage Dive”
That was the last track I recorded for the album. It’s probably my favorite track on the album. Actually, I don’t know. It’s kind of hard for me to choose. It’s basically the culmination of the past two years. I’ve been finding myself as an artist, and the process has been documented with the album, with the EP’s – I’ve put out three free ‘Dear Friends’ EP’s and those were me working through my sound and finally finding it. The result is this album. And this song, being the last song on the album, is kind of me trying to conclude everything.

I think it’s the most developed and most proper introduction to who I am right now. As far as content of the song goes, it’s really about being appreciative of where you are and who you are, and embracing that. And diving forward to the rest of your life, or whatever. Not holding back at all. I don’t know.

When’s the album set to come out?
January 20th.

Pigeons or Planes?
Shit, man, why not both? That’s why we have the ampersand!