Meet Capo Plaza, Italy’s Most International Rapper

Capo Plaza is sitting at a table on the lower level of a péniche, a boat converted into a home, in Paris. The topic from which the conversation starts is precisely that of the “Wounds” that give the title to his new album Ferite, released today (May 3) by Warner Music Italy. It is a very diverse album — conscious songs alternate with club pieces and others where he opens up to pop nuances well suited to voices like those of Mahmood and Annalisa.

With 62 platinum records, Capo Plaza is one of the biggest names ins the Italian rap scene and also the most international one, as he has collaborations with other top artists from both the U.S. (Gunna, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Lil Tjay) and Europe (Russ Millions from the U.K., Aya Nakamura from France, Morad from Spain, among others).

Capo Plaza has matured a lot and is still the “Giovane Fuoriclasse” (“Young Star Player”) who achieved mainstream success in Italy in 2017: with his precise vision of life, knowing what is important and what not; with his values; with carefully selected friends and loved ones; and with a passion always in his head that leads him to torment himself until he achieves the desired result.

On several occasions you said that the worst aspect of success is feeling alone, surrounded by people who take advantage of you. Do the “Wounds” relate to these disappointments?

I care a lot about relationships and tend to give too much to others. The wounds also become distinctive features. If I am like this, it is because I was disappointed in life, but I learned to react, I became more mature and understood how to move forward. I was left with a certain underlying insecurity. But we should all be proud of our wounds. I am deeply convinced of this.

Have you always been like this?

Of course. It is Salerno, my city of origin, that taught me to maintain a certain attitude, to try to remain humble with my values despite finding myself in an environment that’s sometimes slimy, such as the music industry.

What is an example of a wound that left a mark on you?

Leaving home alone at 18, without family or friends, and all the relationships that went wrong. I never think too much about it. If something is over, it’s over. Throughout this album, I reflect on the concept of victory and defeat. In fact, I would have titled it exactly like that, “Victory and Defeat.” But then I thought “Wounds” had a broader meaning. What I want to convey is that every achievement brings with it a downside for anyone, even for the president of the United States. Life is difficult and beautiful because it has many souls.

In the title track you say you have “few helping hands”: whose are they?

My family, my girlfriend, the few friends I have. After all the scars I’ve had, I can expect all sorts of things from everyone, but I know that those five or six good friends are true ones. We don’t talk every day, but I know that if I need them, they are there. They’re not my gang, I had that until I was 20, then things change.

In the rap scene, many say that it’s difficult to be truly friends. Is it difficult for you too?

Sure. The other rappers don’t come to confide in me, they must have other friends, it’s normal: we’re also in competition. But then we collaborate with each other without problems.

What is essential for you when asking for a collaboration?

The human side. Even the artistic one, of course, but it is a priority that there is a good feeling with the other artist.

In your career you have always tried to launch several emerging artists: do you think anyone was less than grateful?

Maybe not everyone remembers what I did, but in the end, I’ve been playing this game at a high level for more than eight years. However, I have learned to let everything slide over me, even the negative comments.

From colleagues?

No, it’s not that. I’m certainly not looking for disses, I try to get along with people, but I can’t please everyone. However, for the collaborations of this album I tried to experiment a lot, for example there are also Annalisa and Mahmood.

You had already collaborated with the latter. Your styles match particularly well.

He is a big lover of hip-hop and R&B and has an angelic voice. He was a fan of mine and I didn’t know it, and vice versa! So we collaborated on each other’s albums. I’m very proud of songs like those, like the one with Annalisa, because four or five years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do them. They have a sung rap sound that I’ve been looking for for a long time and that I finally achieved. Then I also wanted to call two of my favorite emerging artists, Artie 5ive and Tony Boy, because I believe in them a lot.

What makes you change your mind about a song you’ve already finished? You give the impression that you are never satisfied.

I always question everything, from the verses to the beat. It took me over a year and a half to complete this album. If the beat doesn’t tell me anything, it stops there. Sometimes the inspiration comes from me, other times from my producer AVA. We really like to experiment. If I get a good idea and finish it quickly, everything is fine. If I remain uncertain, I usually throw away the track. At first, returning to the studio is a bit difficult, then time passes and you acquire more awareness. At a certain point, the idea comes that there are 16 or 17 good tracks for the album.

How many of them did you work on for this album?

At least 150 that will never be released!

Were they all written and produced in Milan? You don’t go to nightlife much there, right?

Sure, they all started in my and AVA’s studio. I have a very quiet life: I go to the gym, to the studio, I have dinner with my girlfriend and we travel a lot, without posting everything on social media. I’ve found my balance. I just want to make music and hope people get the meaning of it.

Do you want to get to be known in Europe?

Absolutely. I’ve already gone on tour in several European cities and I think I’ll do it again in winter. It is full of Italian communities abroad. For example, I performed in Canada in Toronto and Montreal: so many people came to see me. It’s good to bring some of our music to our fellow countrymen. But also to the others. A lot of foreigners told me that they knew Mahmood and Måneskin, just to name two.

And what about the United States?

I don’t set it as a goal, but I don’t limit myself either. If it happens, it will be a good thing. I never even thought I’d get to where I am now. I definitely want to raise the bar even higher.

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