Surviving in today’s indie rap scene is no cakewalk. Philadelphia native Sean Falyon has been mastering the grind for years now and with the release of his newest project SFBE III: Do Me No Favors coming (August 21), he’s finally seeing some much-deserved light shined on his movement. The “BE” in SFBE stands for “Be Everywhere,” which is more than just a catchphrase for the Atlanta-based MC; it’s the mantra that guides his tireless approach to his career. Liable to show up at any industry event with the intention of networking, the self-managed rhymer’s hustle knows no end. With Do Me No Favors dropping this week and more new music in the works, Falyon spoke to BET.com to explain his survival tactics, his vision for the future and why he doesn’t agree with artists using social media to spark beef.
BET.com: As an independent artist, your grind goes further than just writing rhymes. How do you define everything you do?
Sean Falyon: I look at it as just life. If I wanted to do something else, I’d approach it the same way. I kinda grew up with the attitude of people ain’t gonna do nothing for you so you gotta do stuff on your own. It first came from a place of being bitter from being overlooked, but then it became somewhat empowering just thinking, ‘Why you acting like you can’t do certain things? Go out and do it.’ That’s really how I treat everything. Not just the music, just life in general. I’m one of the type of people that if I can’t do something, I’ll ask sometimes just to find out and learn how to do it on my own. So that’s how I took the approach with getting my music heard and being an independent artist. Everybody wanna get signed, but if no record labels are looking at you, you gotta put the spotlight on you. So I think moving around and stuff was a good way to do that as well as putting out content.
What are you hoping to give fans with next week’s release of SFBE III: Do Me No Favors?
Really man, it’s the third project and trilogies always kind of sum up a journey. I can’t even say the Godfather trilogy because, being a fan, I hated number three (laughs). But you know, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, it always sums up things and gives people a clear perspective of what they bought into. The first two projects were really me just finding myself, finding my fam and still giving people a little peek into my life on the journey to becoming someone people can feel… I had to let people know this is some of the stuff that I dealt with being an independent artist. When you make music, you can’t just make music you think the people wanna hear. Make music that you wanna hear and that you wanna put out for the people.
You’re from Philadelphia but you’ve been making moves in Atlanta for a while now. How is the music scene different there right now than up north?
A lot of cities are looking to Atlanta for music, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Atlanta is the place you need to go to get popping music. It’s a different beast down there, man. I don’t wanna say it’s a totally different beast because ultimately if you got some records playing on the radio, you got some crazy visibility; you’re more than likely to get on. Atlanta is a club city. It’s feels like there’s a lot more DJs out here that people actually go to the clubs to hear. With a lot of DJs being on the radio, it just feels like there’s just one big circle of entertainment and people just wanna dive into it.
A few artists stay in the news for wilding out on their Twitter accounts. You use social media very effectively as a tool. How do you approach Twitter?
It’s just another way to conversate with people. I feel like you shouldn’t say something that you can’t say to somebody’s face. I come from an old school way of respect. If you see me call somebody out on Twitter, I could probably be in front of them within the next hour. That’s just me. I’ve had my instances where I’ll see somebody respond to something I said and then somebody I know took it the wrong way. But it’s like, ‘Yo, dude, I know you, I know you’re government name. I’ll talk to you on the phone or I’ll talk about it to your face.’ I don’t feed into that other bulls--t like with beefing with different people. You can’t let social media take over your emotions. I’m not one of those people who are like, ‘this isn’t real life,’ because it is to a certain extent. You gotta understand what you’re there to do… it’s an easier way to connect with people that are not sitting in front of you. And if they use it for something different, that’s just they own demons they fighting. I use it to promote anything I’m promoting — my music, my events and sometimes I talk about my life.
It seems like you’re making all of these moves on your own. Do you have a team behind you or a manager?
I’m self-managed. I’ma put it to you like this, I had peoples’ help. I had people help me, but a lot of things is me. I get an idea, I act on it; I plan it out, I act on it. It’s really just me. When songs get mixed, songs get added to a project, it’s me. Sometimes with singers, I’m writing their parts, too. Sometimes I want stuff done and people don’t move fast enough for me. And it’s not that they didn’t move fast enough for a reason, they just don’t move fast enough because it’s not their interest it’s mine. So you can’t really depend on people. Whenever people get down about certain situations, I’m like, yo, this is your baby. You might trust a babysitter with your kid, but you know that babysitter is not gonna look after your child like you are looking after your child. If they don’t do it in the timely fashion that I need it to be done, I handle it on my own.
You’re doing your own marketing, business strategy, everything. Did you study any of this in school?
When I signed up to go to college, I was gonna be a marketing major. Until I realized that marketing was more numbers than creative at the school I was going to. First and foremost, I’m an artist. Like, a graphic designer, painter, I illustrate and stuff like that. And my whole thing was I wanted to do creative advertising when I got into college. But it was more of another thing and I switched my major, but at the time I switched my major I realized I wasn’t in school for myself, I was in school for my parents. Cause I didn’t really wanna be there. It was like, you gonna get a job, you gonna go to college like a lot of Black families (laughs). So what I did from there, what school helped me to do was learn how to network and learn how to talk. It was just learning people. I don’t want to say I’m a great judge of character, but I can pretty much understand the people that I’m working with to the effect that I know how to handle this situation this way, and I know how to handle this situation that way.
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(Photo: Sean Falyon)