How did you get into music?
When I was 10 or 11 years old I had a childhood friend who introduced me to audacity. He recorded all his songs in his Dad’s Logitech headset and I would get dropped off at his house on the weekends to record remixes to Lil Wayne and Jay-Z songs with him.
What was your introduction to hip-hop?
I was introduced to hip-hop when I lived in Zimbabwe as a kid. Living outside of the west allowed me to have more of a romanticization of the culture. The first rap song I fell in love with was “I’ll Be Missing You” by Diddy and Faith Evans which was the tribute song to Biggie Smalls
Which artists have had to most influence on you musically?
I’d say Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, Drake, Passion Pit and RadioHead
Your parents are from African countries, how do you think those other cultural influences have affected your tastes/approach to music?
I think growing up in a house with afrobeats and highlife music taught me that music could be rhythmic but also spiritual at the same time. Our cultures are very much about celebrating life and being grateful for having it. I speak a lot about my own struggles in my music but I try to keep the beats dancy and still show there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
What’s the music/hip-hop scene like in North Carolina these days? Is it safe to say that J. Cole has had a huge impact on the music landscape there?
It’s honestly pretty colorful here. I’d say that the impact of J Cole is somewhat felt but he’s not the north star for the artists here. Most people don’t realize there’s a heavy underground rock and folk scene. Electronic and house music is prevalent here as well. I’ve been to more house shows here than any other kind of show or venue in my life. You could see an alternative rock band perform under the same bill as a rap artist. I think because most realize it’s not a place with many resources and opportunities and the artists realize they need each other to draw a crowd. I’ve done a few of those myself, and even performed at an art museum we have downtown called Elsewhere.
How would you describe your sound?
I honestly dislike this question mostly because I don’t know how to describe it myself. For the sake of answering you though I’d call my music alternative hip-hop. I’m just a lover of music though and I pretty much don’t leave any genre untouched. I’ve been thinking about making a doowop song for the last couple of years.
What’s your process when it comes to crafting a song?
It can be different each time but say I get an instrumental from one of my producer friends and I’m hearing it for the first time, I always make sure I’m in front of the mic to catch any ideas that come to me. Even if it’s just me riffing and recording mumbles or melodies. If I don’t find the exact words for that record in that same session, I’ll bounce that rough version out to listen to on the go so as I live life I can find the right things to say.
Tell us more about your collective Call More.
We’re by way of the United States and Canada and we’re composed of artists, producers, and one engineer. Justice Der and I found each other on a Frank Ocean subreddit and started working on music together in 2017 and since then we naturally brought people into the fold.
Congrats on the release of your album! How has the response been to the project?
Honestly, it’s not like we expected for it to blow up in its first month of being out. We spent two years crafting it and we always anticipated it being a slow burn being that we knew how dense the project would be despite its quick runtime. I’d say the people that have reached out so far have had some visceral reactions to it and that’s what we hope for everyone else that eventually decides to give it a listen.
What do you want listeners to take from the project? Any specific themes?
I’d like for people to walk away from this project acknowledging how triumphant and yet traumatized we human beings can be. That light and dark aren’t two opposing forces but rather two opposite ends of a spectrum we all dance on and that achieving balance in this life is like the finishing courtesy.
With music, and hip-hop in particular, moving more towards singles and playlist ready songs, why an album now?
Well Justice and I just grew up on really impactful albums with concepts and thoughtful sequencing and I guess we just haven’t been able to shake that. I believe that there still is an audience that appreciates that sort of thing. Just because the world goes in one direction doesn’t mean that we will too.
Do you all have a favorite song off the project? If so, why?
Right now my personal favorite is “Hedonist Theme.” I have a cousin who said it felt like hearing “Thriller” for the first time. He has some wild references I must say but I kind of knew what he meant. It does have a vibe that feels like vampires and zombies would rise from the dead to dance to. Justice and I also really love “Sprites” and we’re hoping to do a visual to that one next.
Your sound is very reminiscent of ‘90s era hip-hop, which we see more upcoming artists kind of gravitating back towards. What draws you to this sound and era of rap?
I just think that era of music was very formative for my early beginnings as an artist in general. I had an uncle who put me on to Rakim, A Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z, Lauren Hill, Biggie and he told me that if I wanted to take the rap side of things seriously, I had to study the greats. I also think that things tend to come back around and with TikTok bringing artists like Three Six Mafia and Project Pat back into the zeitgeist it just shows that good music will always be timeless.
What do you think about your style of rap being considered “alternative” these days?
I’m not mad at it because it is objectively an alternative to popular rap. I think it’s strange to call someone like MIKE or Navy Blue that maybe because they tend to go straight down the middle when it comes to classic rap. I tend to blend genres a lot more though and just because I rap on most of the songs I guess it’s just easier to just say “alternative.”
What can people expect from you in the future? Shows?
Expect me to do some shows for sure. My first will most likely be in Toronto because that’s where most of the Call More members are, but New York and Los Angeles are on the radar as well. Definitely expect more music and visual content. We’re working harder than ever this year.