Making an exemplary start in his parents’ basement under the watchful eye of his older brother, Sean Armstrong aka DJ Face is both a fully-fledged member of 9th Wonder‘s True School Corporation as well as the Black Jedi chapter of The Universal Zulu Nation — and thus a hip hop artist gaining steady traction. While he furthers his efforts in preserving the culture of hip hop, his latest project Marble Cake Diaries reveals his recent artistic evolution. Here he tells us about his role in creating a peaceful movement, how hip hop is returning to its socially-charged roots and what it’s like working with Grammy Award-winning producer 9th Wonder.

Let’s begin with the basics. How did you make your start in the music industry? And what attracted you to hip hop?

When I was little my older brother was a DJ. I was always around in our parents’ basement just watching him. Eventually he ended up teaching me how to DJ and exposing me to this thing we call hip hop. From that day, I knew that this is what I wanted to do — DJ and make music.

You started off as a DJ and later transitioned into a hip hop artist. What prompted this transition?

As I got more involved in DJing my brother started taking me out to parties he was doing. I would go and DJ for maybe the first 20 minutes of the party, then the rest of the night I was in charge of mic hype. My brother quickly realized that I was pretty good on the mic and keeping the crowd hyped, so from there I just started freestyling all the time and writing rhymes.

What role comes more naturally to you?

I think they’re equal. It all feels natural to me. I mean, DJing is where I started but I like being behind the mic just as much. I thank my brother for giving me that stage early on so I could grow and become more comfortable in all facets.

I found this sentence in 9th Wonder’s biography: ‘In the United States there are millions of Black Americans between the ages of 28 – 40 that grew up in a time where hip hop was diverse, informative, and soulful.’ What is your take on the current state of the hip hop industry?

9th is correct and I feel that the current state of hip hop is actually coming back around to that. Everything goes in cycles and today there are more and more artists emerging that are really bringing that feeling back.

It’s time for substance, fun and lyricism to take center stage again.



How did hip hop go from being a positive and socially conscious movement in the 1970s to one that today is often associated with violence and misogyny?

I think with anything, what’s going on socially and politically kind of goes hand in hand with the music. It’s a sign of the times and back then I think people were just more socially and politically charged. Having said that, hip hop is still a very young genre and during the ’70s the music was just getting started. It was growing and evolving and it was only a matter of time before hip hop would start to encompass ALL aspects of life — including misogyny and violence.

Conscious, positive hip hop is still out there but misogyny and violence sells so that’s what gets pushed.

You’re a member of the Black Jedi chapter of The Universal Zulu Nation — a hip hop peace organisation founded by Afrika Bambaata in 1973. Can you tell me a bit more about your role in it? What needs to be done to promote hip hop as a peaceful movement?

My role is to continue to preserve the culture of hip hop, and to reach out, teach and assist our youth as well as our communities in any positive way possible. We need to promote positive hip hop events, create more music and arts-based programmes to educate our youth and keep them off the streets. Hip hop is a powerful tool but in the right hands we can create change for the better.

You’re one of the DJs in 9th Wonder‘s True School Corporation. How has this platform affected you as an artist? What’s it like working so closely with 9th Wonder?

Becoming a True School DJ is where my career sort of took off to the next level. I was able to travel places I might not have been able to go before, I received more work due to the expanded network that True School reaches, and I’ve been able to meet a lot of people in the music industry I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Working with 9th is like a dream come true.

People know how dope he is on the beats, but he’s just as dope on the turntables. I’ve been able to travel with 9th, DJ a ton of parties with him and also been able to witness him at work in the studio. He’s given me a ton of great advice from life to music, and it’s a blessing to be in this position. FYI, my album art layout was all 9th’s idea.



Tell me a bit about Marble Cake Diaries. What would you say was the biggest challenge making it?

Marble Cake Diaries is an album that I think best represents me as an artist at this point in my life. I think there is something on this album for everyone. The biggest challenge making this album was not the making music part, but more so the process of deciding what to put on the album and which songs to cut. There were a lot of other challenges as well, but I think this was the biggest one.

Would you say that the album is a product/or an answer to how hip hop has developed and evolved today? How influential was history in the making of it?

I don’t think this album is a product or answer to how hip hop has developed and evolved but more about how I have developed and evolved as an artist and a man. I know people are just getting familiar with me but this album has come a long way from where I used to be on previous projects — in a good way. The importance of knowing the history is always with me, so naturally it will shape my music. I know where this music came from and how important it is that I pay homage to the pioneers, because without them there’s no me.

What projects are on your agenda for the future?

For the future I will release several EPs with different producers from Marble Cake Diaries as well as some other producers I would like to work with. So look out for those, but for now I’m fully focused on promoting Marble Cake Diaries which people can find at

Interview by Nicole Francis