Matt Harlo is not your commonplace, bog-standard Hip-Hop Artist. From the suburbias surrounding Chi-town, and under his Nom De Plume, "OUTTATUNE," this versifier uses profoundly descriptive storytelling utilizing his affecting passion derived from a love for Spoken Word poetry and the experience he's gained throughout his own existential tribulations.
On "Dear Sophie," his talent as an Emcee shines radiant and excels, empowered with an ethos that infuses his fleshy songs with an effusion of vulnerable sentiments and a melancholic cipher flow that enchants this genre-amalgamating mix with some melancholic vibes.
The opening strums sound warm and soaked by vintage fog, forming the perfect ambiance for this Emcee's militant unbroken flow. His striking picture painting cipher grants remission from the continuance of his minimalistic production—but the words he versifies pull us right back down into the cleverly designed love note he's writing.
"Now I see myself in a greater view, I don't beat myself up like paper view," he jokes, before offering up more lines that de-obfuscate the narrative behind his profound letter, "I used to be a mess, but then I met you, you swept up the pieces when you didn't have to, and I thank you for that. Sincerely, Mathew." As Harlo repeats it at the commencement of each stave, the title, "Dear Sophie" represents the gratitude he can't fathom expressing any other way than in an eloquent cipher that divulges effortlessly over a mellow-nostalgic beat.
When did you begin your artistic journey as a rapper, and did you have any interest in poetry before endeavoring in a creative career comprised of storytelling and wordplay?
Initially, I was exposed to fine arts in elementary school but the connection to hip hop/rap really developed in high school when I joined Spoken Word. The experience provided a greater understanding of poetic forms and helped me overcome being nervous to perform in front of live audiences.
What's been the most challenging sentiment or experience to rap about lately, and can we expect a release about the experience of that struggle soon?
The most challenging experience that I ever wrote and rapped about was the loss of my friend Jimmy. Jimmy passed away at the age of 22. We were born only one day apart. We shared many common interests and were attending college together at the time of his death. His passing was sudden and unexpected. He was a wonderful person, a talented musician, and a positive influence in my life and I will probably write more about him in the future. His presence in my life continues to impact me in many different ways, some good (like the other friendships I cultivated through him) and others not so good (like knowing I can't collaborate with him musically or just talk about life concerns). Simply put, the answer to the question is yes; expect a release in the near future.
How have you been fueling your creative energy, and what could you recommend for someone experiencing a creative block right now amongst the chaos happening worldwide?
Recently, I have fueled my creative energy through online collaboration with other emcees and producers. Much of my creative process involves revision. I also take time to reflect on the ever-changing world around us and try to identify topics I can write and rap about with the hope it will connect with my listeners. In 2020, it has definitely been a challenge to stay inspired to create. To those experiencing creative block during this time, I suggest they stay positive, be contemplative, be patient, and try to make sense out of the apparent chaos. The creative spark will appear.
Where do you expect to see yourself in 2021, and are you excited to get back in the studio for more sonic cookery?
I hope I will be recording myself in 2021! As much as I love going to the studio, I would also like to learn the process on my own.
What would you say is a goal that you'd like to achieve with your music, by the end of 2020?
My goal is to release a couple more songs by the end of the year. It’s a simple yet achievable goal! In addition to a few new singles, I hope to begin recording songs for a new album centered around environmental topics.