As the product of his 90s golden-age Hip-Hop influences Unlearn The World, prospers in his lyrical manifestations of the Urban American experience. Throughout years working as an Emcee, and sharing the stage with the likes of Killer Mike and the icon Big Daddy Kane, he's worked at establishing the association his moniker has with a raw and unrelenting wordsmithery that could only be found in a veteran Emcee's catalogs. His productions drip with cohesive arrangements, from the old-school back-beats supporting the measure or the Cali-based producer's crisp, fluent and sticky flow. This year, with the release of his latest musical crusade, the Bay-Area notoriety swoops in channeling from a low-rider smooth cruising attitude over the highlight track, "MoonLit," as it reaches us of the hyper-charged full-length record hitting us this summer titled, "Light Years."
With samples and productions that draw influence from masterful Hip-Hop predecessors Emcees, "MoonLit," presents as a fresh rendering of the new-age lyricist's ability to paint a detailed and captivating narrative about struggling, overcoming, and thriving on his journey to the highest status of creative wisdom and lyrical proficiency. He doesn't fall short of the mark, as this intense track is insulated with the apparatus of a magnetic topline-hook that provokes a callback chant when Unlearn croons, "It don't stop, and it doesn't quit (and uh), it don't quit (and uh)." The Emcee is so intuned with the olds-school personas that he sneaks in clever nods to The Notorious B.I.G. over the verse, "killing it like Biggie, at my party and bullshit."
When we focus on the beat production, it's clear that the Cali-wordsmith utilizes subtle and verbose grooves supported by the warm textures of a saturated and bouncy bassline, while tastefully lo-fi samples vibed-out amongst each other; think back to the Oldschool productions of The Sugar Hill Gang and mix in a new age lyrical cantor cleverness that mirrors M.F. Doom. This quality of lyricism and artistic adventurism has rarely been featured in the contemporary music environment we live in, until now, with "Moonlit" approaching as the cynosure of what you can expect to experience on "Light Years."
Who has landed as the most impactful influencer for your artistic personality and sound?
I would say my style in terms of delivery would have to be Nas, meets Busta Rhymes meets KRS One, aggressive delivery, but heartfelt and introspective. My content is very Tupac, Biggie inspired all the big wigs from the golden era of Hip-Hop, which is the sound I'm the closest to but also trying to give a futuristic sound to make those classic feels and vibes. Can you run us through how you approach a writing session? Does the material just come to you naturally, or are you sourcing some creative energies from somewhere else?
Of recent, my writing sessions start with making or listening to the beat I wanna work on. I just got LED lights in my workspace so I put them on to either Blue or Purple to set the mood. I can't explain what it does, but the light in the room makes you hear the music differently. You start noticing sounds and frequencies that weren't there before. When the beat plays, I start developing melodies and cadences by freestyling the words and the rhythm. I've been freestyling since I was 10, so my formula to work on songs is very much rooted in improv. Sometimes the beat will play and the words just pop in my head. I'll know exactly what I wanna say or at the very least the emotion that I want to communicate. I imagine my life as a movie and depending on the beat, I think about what is happening in the movie of my life and that will end up being either the chorus or the first sentence. If there's a specific vibe or subject I wanna tap into, I'll listen to whole albums from some of my favorite artists; Sade, Frank Ocean, Drake, Kendrick, whoever, I start studying and directing what they are doing on a different project, the evolution of the formula that works for them. I would like to think after years of getting it wrong, I now finally have a system and a formula that works for me making the best song possible for my brand of artistry. What has been the most challenging part of the recording, curating, and release process of "Light Years," and why do you think this record hits differently from your preceding catalog?
It's interesting, I wanted to create a summertime project for myself, upbeat, flashy with replay value. I consider this album to be my "Graduation", like the Kanye West album. Then COVID and Shelter In Place happened and I had to pivot from songs that would play in the club or the car to songs that would play at home and the cookout. This album is different from my other projects because I'm not using my music to process anything emotionally. My first two albums were legit therapy. I needed to sort out some of my personal traumas through the music. With this project, I'm in a good place mentally, clear-headed, successful, and stable, but still trying to heal from things. This album celebrates those moments of my life, like now, where my inspiration is on 100+. I'm living a purpose-driven life that is the products of different eras of inspiration and that is reflected in the music I'm currently making. What can we expect from your artistically for the last half of 2020?
I'm gonna keep writing and recording for myself and other artists, refining and developing my style and how it works for myself and others. Also trying to navigate the "New Normal" in the world of live events. Since a lot of my career was directed toward live shows, I've been focused on producing content that still has that real Hip Hop energy, but also feels big and connects to the people on a very human level. A multifaceted approached to promoting this album. I'll be releasing a clothing line based on some of the bars and lyrics of this album, but also a lecture series and documentary. So many endeavors and opportunities to spread the message. You gotta meet people where they are at, sometimes the music doesn't do that so you have to find a different content language to convey the same message. One way or another, you're gonna UnLearn The World. What has been keeping you inspired in 2020?
2020 itself! What we are experienced in our world is unprecedented in the history of man. Theses are uncertain times where many of us are feeling isolated and disconnected but at the same time, looking deep within ourselves to determine what's really important. This is a great time for my kind of music because people are recognizing the needs to reconsider their circumstances and question the establishment, the status quo, and challenge and disrupt all the people, systems, and societal norms that keep us compartmentalized. We're slowly awakening, the question is, can we keep this energy going to transform and transcend. My album Light Years is my attempt to do that for myself, but I want to take as many people as I can on that journey with me.