Southern Hip-Hop/Rock group I4NI have teamed up with former Motograter guitarist JR Swartz and a full rock band to unleash the video for their new single “No Sleep.” The video and track capture I4NI embracing their hard rock roots, performing a song about never sleeping in the highly competitive business of music. The video also features Jonny Knight, a session guitarist who has played on many records in the AmeriFlow genre for the likes of Colt Ford, The Lacs, Montgomery Gentry, Rhett Akins, Moonshine Bandits, and Upchurch. The track will appear on their highly anticipated new album for Thirteen Skulls Entertainment which will be released later this summer.
Rock Confidential is excited to share the premiere of I4NI’s “No Sleep” video:
During the early 90s, East Nashville wasn’t considered the heart of the city, but more like the bottom of the barrel. Long before it became gentrified as a hotspot for swanky hipsters, East Nashville was made up of a collection of outcasts, misfits, and thugs. It was here amidst the chaos, that two childhood friends, Robbie Phillips (a.k.a Stump) and David Stevens (a.k.a D-ray), would form a musical bond that would last to this day and together they helped to create a sound that would influence the culture of southern rap. All Phillips and Stevens had was their ability to craft head nodding beats and write intense emotional rhymes and that would be the genesis of what would become Southern Hip-Hop/Rock group I4NI.
Producer/singer Jon Conner was the final missing piece that completed I4NI. Conner was an accomplished producer in the country rap scene, having breakout success as the producer responsible for Big Smo’s now classic album Kuntry Livin’. That album went on to sell a quarter of a million copies and was prominently featured on TV shows like Duck Dynasty, Bar Rescue, and Showtime’s hit series Shameless. Together with Jon Conner in the fold, I4NI was able to solidify their signature sound. I4NI are leaders of the AmeriFlow musical movement, a genre that is out to blur the lines of musical lines between country, rap, and rock.
“Our music is more than just mud, trucks, and bonfires,” says Jon Conner. “We’re not just country rappers; we all come from a background of traditional hip-hop, but we also love rock n’ roll. The term AmeriFlow is a better way of describing what we do. People listen to a lot of different genres and there are no musical boundaries now. We are fusing a lot of these genres together and we just organically came up with our own sound.”
Currently, I4NI features a full rock band in their ranks with the addition of DJ ORIG, Jonny Knight on lead guitar, and JR Swartz (formerly of the metal outfit Motograter) on rhythm guitar, and drummer Kareem Thompson. Together, they bring out a full rawkus sound during live performances that perfectly complements Stump, D-Ray and Jon Conner’s potent rhymes.
“It’s hard to compare us to anything that’s currently out there because we come from the rap world and fuse it with the rock. We’re rappers with a band behind us. We walk in a number of different musical worlds,” commented D-Ray. “We can walk in both the urban side and mix it up with rock, but there is always be an element of country rap to what we do. We’re a lot more aggressive and urban than a lot of the country rap stuff.”
Rock Confidential caught up with Jon Conner to discuss the beliefs and values of I4NI, the new “No Sleep” video, and how they’re creating “music with a meaning.”
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you? How do you guys write new material?
It all starts with the production. Once we identify a track bed that we all like, we will start giving to the track. Music will give you a feeling. So, depending on the feel of the particular track, we will tap into that feeling and craft a chorus that speaks to the music. We will usually identify a melody that fits the music and then the words come easy. Once we have a direction for a track will will write our verses that coincide with the chorus.
We’re partnering to premiere the video for “No Sleep.” What can you tell us about that track?
The track is a high energy anthem for hard working people that can relate to the message of working so hard that you barely have time to sleep. It’s not out of the ordinary for us to pull an “all nighter” where we literally don’t sleep.
What part of your lifestyle do you think appeals to your fans the most?
The fact that we work hard. We also run a painting business on the side and are not shy about letting our fans know we aren’t scared of an honest days work. We do not glorify selling drugs or illegal activity to make our money. Our band’s motto is “God, Family, Loyalty.” Our core fans identify with our spiritual beliefs, family values and loyalty among our group.
What inspires you as an artist?
The pursuit of writing timeless music. Writing music that our fans message us and tell us it helped them get through a hard time or saved their life. That is the most gratifying aspect of creating music.
Who are some of your influences? Was there a particular artist that had more of an impact?
We are fans of great songs. We have been making music so long that we don’t draw our influence from other artists as much. Early in life, we looked up to and aspired to make music as good as the musicians of that time period. However, as you become a professional and get to the point that you’ve written 1000 songs, the influences you have are more about creating great art and come from life experiences and expressing your thoughts and ideals. We respect a lot of artists and like a lot of different styles of music. When we hear a great song, it motivates you to create. We all grew up loving Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tupac, OutKast, George Jones, Dr. Dre, and Michael Jackson, just like everyone else. But those early influences give way to trying to top your own last song as you grow as an artist and find your own sound.
What are your thoughts on how new music is promoted now?
Music is digital. The internet is the best and most cost effective place to promote your music. Everyone has a smart phone and access to the internet. It’s more effective to reach them that way than trying to reach them in the real world.
A quote from I4NI on the Thirteen Skulls Entertainment website says “Its more than selling music, it’s about reaching our listeners and teaching them as well.” What do you hope people take away from your music and videos?
Our fans have called our songs “Music with a meaning.” We take the lessons we’ve learned and wisdom gained through years of trials and tribulations and express them in our music. This allows our fans to have access to this knowledge and hopefully apply it to their lives. Superficial music and trendy music lasts for a few months. Music that connects with someone on an emotional level and speaks to them on a deeper level lasts forever.
What was the first album you bought with your own money growing up?
For me it was Eric B. and Rakim’s Paid In Full.
Thank you again! What would you like to say to wrap up?
Make sure you check us out at www.i4nination.com and follow us on all social platforms to stay updated on our new music and videos.