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Updated: Aug 17, 2021

(Photo by Ally Schmaling)

1) Tell us something about yourself that your fans may not know.

A: Hmmm… I care too much about astrology, I hugged Beyonce once and I despise pretzels.

2) How has Boston had an impact on your music style, if at all?

A: I was just talking about this with my homies yesterday. I don't know that Boston has a distinct style in sound, but I do know that we’re a tough crowd, so that pushes me constantly to evolve and level up every time I do anything. It’s part of being from the East coast I think.

3) Who are some artists that influenced your style?

A: Ooooooh… I never know how to answer this question. I learned how to rap from Jadakiss, Eve, Lefteye, Ludacris, and Twista so I’m sure they’re in there. Style-wise, I’ve always looked up to Busta Rhymes and Missy. Musically, I have always been obsessed with 60s/70s soul, funk, and R&B across all times. Specifically - James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Kendrick, and Cole.

4) What was the inspiration behind your single LEBRON?

A: I really was just trying to process the impenetrable confidence I’ve been feeling in myself lately and was thinking of who must always feel like a baddie. Despite the naysayers, the obstacles set up for him to fail, he is always on top, as one of the greatest. Because he plays his game his way. And not only do I aspire to that, I am embodying that. And black people /poets love turning a non-verb into a verb. So, I Lebron.

5) What's the process like for you heading into the studio?

A: It’s actually changed a lot across my last three records. I used to write fully in isolation, no studio around, and would try to maximize my dollar by going in and wasting no time and getting it done. By the second album, I incorporated a little bit of fun in the studio but was still feeling very much the pressure to be efficient. This time around the process has felt more amorphous but then shaped itself some by the end. I bought a bunch of studio equipment during this pandemic and have learned some basic things about mixing and recording myself. As such, it has unlocked a lot of play for me. I go in the studio and could be trying to make a beat then get an idea for lyrics, or I can get a beat and then, like I did for a lot of this project, freestyle a lot of little parts together and then piece that together like a collage or a puzzle until I had a fully formed idea.

6) What story do you want to tell with your upcoming album UNBOTHERED?

A: I want people to know by listening through my discography that joy is possible. It is not always easy but is always possible. I wanted to teach myself that healing is slow and non-performative, so this time, the ugly stuff is off the record and between me and the necessary parties holding that. I wanted to create auto-biographical science fiction, meaning people like me being happy fugitives trying to escape this matrix. In a time where death and sadness seem so prominent, I wanted to write a world for myself that didn’t center that. It is certainly not a world devoid of it because this is not an album about Euphoria. But about questioning what if I used all my spoons to chase joy and being creative as a way to choose to stay on this Earf? What if in this world I am so present and Unbothered?

So sonically, I think the music gets less and less somber and more and more quirky, until we reach an apex--into ecstasy even--in a song called Deep. At that point, the world becomes aware of how fugitive its inhabitants must be if they’re chasing joy, presence, and healing and reaching ecstasy in it. But let me ruin it for you now: they get away. With smiles.

I think I keep trying to make words to justify the freedom I felt on this project. The truth is, this project was not about being a better rapper, a better musician, airing personal grievances, or trying to convince anyone of anything. It was just about me having fun, imagining a world I could both be happy in AND live in real life, and about talking my junk while doing it. I did not see that as possible a year ago and that nearly killed me. So this was just about chasing that for myself below the surface. What came out is but a byproduct. If people happen to see my growth or love it, amazing. I imagine there will be folks disappointed by it. But I did something this big for me this time, and Me is my target audience in life right now.

7) How did this upcoming album help you develop even more as an artist?

A: My process definitely became one I enjoy so much during this album. I didn’t have a chip on my shoulder and didnt have a need to prove I can rap better than the rest of them-- I did that already. I just went in with a love for music and wanting to try things/be curious. I bought a bunch of equipment over the pandemic and inherited a lot of records from my second family. So I just remembered the kind of music I loved and tried a bunch of stuff. Most of the songs on this record were me freestyling bit by bit over a beat I loved and making demos like that, where I wasn’t worried about the clock or the bill like I would be in the studio. I just made stuff I liked and tried stuff when no one was looking. And in this process, I discovered what we all want to rediscover (I think) when we make: the power of play. The process that most mimics our inner childness. This album was all play. (and then work--shoutout to my team for partnering up heavy on that part). Even when I got into the studio with Dephrase. Dephrase is always ready to play and try and be curious, and I NEEDED that. This is a discovery (or rediscovery) that freed me creatively. I feel like I’m further from understanding my personal sound, but I feel so much closer to who I am as an artist. It’s kind of an intangible feeling that I don’t know anyone else will see or understand.

Follow Oompa:

Instagram - @Oompoutloud

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