Over the past few years, Virginia Beach native ROBERT MCFARLAND has been coming up as one of the need-to-know names in hip-hop. Through social media, he has been steadily building a following under the nickname SKICOBAIN, but recently he has decided to embrace his own identity and let his true self shine through in his lyrics. McFarland chooses to embrace the old school and make it his own on his upcoming project Nineties, which features his hit song “MC vs. Rapper”. We spoke with McFarland about how the 90’s has influenced his music, his upcoming move to New York City, and the influence social media has on how he markets his brand.

How would you describe your rapping style?

It’s more so old school. I don’t listen to anything new today on the radio, or like Pandora. It’s like a mix of NAS and other 90’s rappers, with lyricism and consciousness. I’m more interested in being a socially conscious rapper with a positive message to society.

What sort of message are you trying to push?

The message that I am trying to push is about coming from nothing and making something of yourself. I recently released a song called “The Wire”, which was inspired by the television show of the same name about life in the inner city of Baltimore. My song is about adapting to your environment and not letting nostalgia control who you are. One of the clips in the song that I sampled from the show is with METHOD MAN, and he is saying that you can’t live in the past. I can’t let my upbringing define who I am now.

How has your video for “MC Vs Rapper” changed things for you after being posted on

It didn’t change things for me, but it did give me more credibility. Their website has over 100 million subscribers, and it helped open other doors for me to work with new people. It didn’t do what I thought it would, but it helped me to garner people to my brand. My producer Git Beats did a great job with it.

So did you drop your nickname SKICOBAIN to use your real name as a new brand for yourself?

Yeah, it’s just me now. It’s just me giving off my experiences, and it’s much easier to do that and rap about my life, while making it rhyme. SKICOBAIN gave people the opportunity to define me as something I’m not, even though I did want to pay homage to Kurt Cobain. I wasn’t trying to be him, and I wasn’t trying to rip off BLACK COBAIN either. I still keep the name for my social media handle, but not for my artist name any more.

In your opinion, how important is social media to the entertainment industry?

Unfortunately, it’s very important. It takes on a life of its own, but it’s another form of marketing that is essential. I got the opportunity to be featured on all through Facebook. It can be a very good outlet, but it’s a double edged sword.

Have you ever rapped about social media?

I’ve never made a line about it; I just take it as it goes. I am more focused about my life decision making and other social issues. For example, my song “Fuck The Police” is about racial profiling. I called it “Fuck The Police” to draw attention to it, but it has a much deeper message. Also, in the song, I have a few lines that pay homage to KANYE WEST, NWA, and PUBLIC ENEMY.

Why did you decide to move to New York City?

The biggest reason for why I chose to move there now was my girlfriend, but I have been planning to move there since 2011, I just didn’t have the right avenue. There are so much more opportunities there to make it in music than there are in Virginia.

I heard you already booked a show in Brooklyn? Can you tell me the details about that?

When I was up there training for the job I’m at now, I met another rapper named HOLLIWOOD in So Ho. He books shows at this venue Spike Hill. His last show just passed on May 4th, and he invited me to open for him at his next show on June 29th. I’m gonna be doing three to five songs, and it’s gonna be a great opportunity to meet and network with new people.

I saw on your Instagram the hashtag “#leadersofthenewschool”. What’s that about?

Leaders of the New School is a rap group that BUSTA RHYMES started back in the 90’s. Personally, I think music is transitioning back to that era when rap was about real stuff that concerns people and not just gyrating and swag. With the hashtag, that was my way of asserting myself as the leader of this era of the new school, while also paying homage to the old school.

Can you tell me about your upcoming project Nineties?

Nineties has a double meaning. In addition to paying homage to music from the early 90’s when I was growing up, there will be nine tracks, or “nine-T’s”. All the songs will have a vintage sound with lyrics that will make people think. The biggest thing about it is the theme of going through life. The last track is “1999”, and it the end of the song is the Time Square New Year’s Eve Countdown, which signals the end of the record, as well as me transitioning to a whole new sound and into the new millennium. I can’t stick to the same sound for too long.

When do you plan to release it?

I want to do another video, and I leave Virginia for good this Saturday. So far I’ve got four out of the nine songs completely finished, and I’m hoping to get it done by June 29th so I can give it out to people for free at my show. It will most likely be out by sometime mid-June.

For more updates on ROBERT MCFARLAND, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel, and follow him on Instagram and Soundcloud.

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