When up-and-coming indie hip-hop star Ponce De’ Leioun discovered the Swisher Sweets Artist Project, he was on a nationwide tour with Waka Flaka Flame, who happened to headline at the Swisher Sweets ATX Takeover during SXSW in Austin last March. Ponce immediately knew he wanted to collaborate with Swisher Sweets as his mother had worked for Swisher International in Wheeling, Virginia, years ago. He reached out to the Swisher Sweets Artist Project on Twitter after the event and impressed us with his smart lyrics and skillful deliverance, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Earlier this summer the Swisher Sweets Artist Project dropped a Convenience Store Session with Ponce De’ Leioun for his hit “Applications” just as he was plotting to take over the Internet and launch his mixtape project Yellow Tape with the legendary English DJ Tim Westwood.
We recently caught back up with the talented performer to find out what he’s been up to since the release of his first Convenience Store Session. And he hasn’t slowed down one bit. Touring the states of Texas and Arizona with hip-hop artist Riff Raff, launching his new album, and doing features with some heavy-hitting artists is all in a day’s work for the West Virginia born and raised rapper.
Check out the full interview below, and watch out for his second Swisher Sweets Artist Project Convenience Store Session “The Man” dropping soon.
You’ve been doing big things lately, from touring with Riff Raff to getting a distribution deal. Share with us how that all happened!
I’ve known Riff Raff for a minute now. He’s always shown love to me. At first, he was a fan of my freestyles; then he became a fan of the movement. Riff is aware I manage myself. I gained his respect, just as I did with Waka Flocka Flame, Tim Westwood, and others. Now we have a single together on his latest album, which is currently No. 2 on iTunes. Every time we link up on the road, it’s crazy. The last show we did in Texas, we shut it down because there were too many people.
As for the distribution, it’s long overdue, but perfect timing. I just made placement on Riff’s album a month before my first album is set to release.
I brand myself year after year. My YouTube page is my resume. I’ve made appearances with Waka Flocka Flame, Migos, Lil Yachty, Tim Westwood, Snoop Dogg and more.
You’re a rapper with a college degree in marketing. Tell us how you used that knowledge to grow your career.
I learned that no matter what sort of business you do, the basics of marketing are the same: product, price, place, and promotions. You create a brand, give it a price, decide where it sells the best, and promote it to its target audience.
Once I learned how to manage my time, everything else came easily. I put all my time and money into making sure my brand was the best. I’ve self-managed myself throughout my entire career by applying the principals of business marketing to marketing my music. Rather than creating the image of an artist, I created the image of a brand that acts as a walking billboard.
Like many other rappers, I didn’t come from money. I also didn’t come from a state where hip-hop was popular. There’s never been a famous rapper from West Virginia. However, I was able to gain the respect and cosigns of individuals from all over the world, like Tim Westwood (London), Snoop Dogg (California), and Sway Calloway (New York), due to how I branded myself.
Your social media game is strong. Give our readers some tips on how to grow their audience and leverage that to help advance their career.
Communication is key. It’s pointless to have an active social media presence if you aren’t going to take advantage of it. I speak to as many of my fans as I can because it creates a relationship and keeps them wanting to come back to support me. I’ve branded myself this way since I started. Your presentation is also key. You can’t expect anyone to respect you, or take you seriously if your brand doesn’t look serious. You have to make sure your graphics, photos, audio, and videos are all professional. The look is what will attract people to your page, and if you can’t get them there, it’s impossible to grow your fan base.
You collaborate with many artists. Tell us some of the latest artists you have worked with and how you like to work with collaborations.
I’ve worked with a handful. My album will showcase a few of those collaborations such as Riff Raff, RichTheKid, Famous Dex, Sam Adams, Lantana, and Dorrough. I’m at a stage in my career where cross marketing is very effective, so I like doing features, especially when working with established artists. Collaborations help artists grow. I never think locally. I always think globally. I’m not one to get comfortable with being in one place or having clout in a single location. When I collaborate with others, it’s so I can create a buzz in their state and with their fans.
What is next for you?
I’m planning on releasing my first album November 2016, touring with Riff January and February of next year, and then heading back to the UK. I’ll also be performing in Tokyo and Africa. I plan on doing a lot of traveling next year, releasing a lot of music, and, hopefully, grabbing that XXL Freshman slot.