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Interview: Logic Talks New Album, The Biggest Misconceptions About Him, Being Biracial

Looks can be deceiving—just ask Def Jam signee Logic. The 24-year-old MC has fought against misconceptions most of his life because of his cream colored skin aka he’s biracial. Logic grew up in surrounded with poverty, violence and substance abuse which forced him to have to use his better judgment at a young age. Now he has escaped the madness and is gearing up for his major label debut—slated for a fall release. During his last press run in New York City, the Maryland native stopped by the VIBE offices to talk about his upcoming album, misconceptions about him, his worst job and more.

VIBE: You’re from Maryland. What does the hip hop scene look like there?
Logic: I think it looks like a lot of other places. Just like in New York everybody is in their own different worlds there are people who are known but its hard to break out on a national level. [In Maryland] only a few people who can do it. There’s a lot of love, there’s a lot of hate. There’s a lot of grinding. There’s a lot of people who never make it so I find myself very fortunate. So when I think about it the only other rappers that have really made it out so far are myself, Wale and Fat Trel. Shy Glizzy is doing a great job too. So yeah, its kind of crazy to know that I’m repping my state which is really cool.

How did the DMV inspire your sound because when I listen to your music it doesn’t sound like go-go or Baltimore Club Music?
I grew up on Wu-Tang and Tribe and Nas , all the raw, very New York driven music. Then when I got older in my late teens early twenties and that’s when I started to listen to Drake and J. Cole and so it wasn't just East coast. Now I was trying to make really cool songs and something melodic and something fun and listening to Wayne and just all of these different people and really opened up my mind and I guess that made me it less regional and more universal. So it was something that everyone could enjoy, just innovative music. So it definitely does not sound like where I'm from where there’s like a lot of go-go. My dad played with Chuck Brown and EU and all them out there.

Listening to your music, I hear you talk about there being a lot of misconceptions about you. What's the biggest one?
The legitimacy of my story and who I am. I think a lot of people look at me and--first and foremost not take into the account that I'm biracial. There's a lot of soul to the actual flow and shows how much I love this genre. Not to name drop but like how Wale is from the same city and I can talk about narcotics and the guns in my household and all these things I witnessed as a child growing up people might think its not be legitimate just because of how I look. The fact that I look 100 percent white or because I carry myself in a honorable manner-- which is really funny to think that if you're positive or a good person and that's what you're about its almost of corny or not cool but if you're talking about semi-automatics or degrading women and all types of shit. I definitely think there's a difference between a bitch and a woman but its just weird to think that that’s more co-signable or believable than someone who looks like me and went through shit that's just as bad as some of their favorite rappers sometimes its even worse. I think that's something I face but I think its something that people are going to get over. Another person who I feel went through that is Eminem . He's from Detroit. He witnessed a lot of things, went through a lot of things and at the end of the day I think his perseverance not only through his music but his talent is undeniable and that's how I feel about myself as well. By all means I'm not trying to sound arrogant but I've worked for 10 years and I'm a student of the game and I'm still learning everyday and I know how good I am and I think that that is going to overshadow everything at the end of the day.

Speaking of hard work, at a young age, like 16 you had like two jobs and you were living on your own.
Yeah, long story short I was living with my dad and he was getting social security checks and he was on welfare and food stamps as well.

And he wanted you to pay rent?
Yeah!! He wanted me to pay rent and I was like 'Get the fuck out of here!' You’re getting assistance from the government and he was like ‘it’s my house my rules’ so I moved out. I didn’t have my own apartment because I was still working jobs that suck so I wasn't making that much money so I had to rent a room out.

You worked at Jiffy Lube, right?
I’ve worked at Jiffy Lube, a flower shop, a day care center, Giant which is the supermarket where I’m from, Safeway which is a supermarket, Joe’s Crab Shack, I’ve worked at a lot of places man and it really fucking sucked. Wingstop with the chicken. But I was kind of like the cliche’. I was in cooking the fries and rapping and shit like on some 8 Mile shit.

What was your worst job?
Probably working in the supermarket because I had to work in this bakery and we worked with this bitch. We all called her the ‘bread Nazi’. Have you ever seen Seinfeld where they joke around about the ‘soup Nazi”? It’s funny because she was just like this real bitch unfortunately. Like she was such a bitch that like I would be doing my job and putting the bread together or whatever and there would be a woman next to me and that’s my co-worker so we would be having conversation while were doing our work and she’d be like ‘you cannot talk to each other!’ and I’d be like holy shit! Bitch!

Wow! It sucks when you have a terrible boss.
But you know what? It makes this that much better. I think about how we just did this tour and I have a lot of things going on in my life that people don’t see behind the scenes and there’s no reason for them to see. When there’s a Behind the Music on me they’ll know one day. But now its like I’m dealing with a lot things from personal to business to shit that’s so overwhelming and it’s kind of hard where the person that’s leading the pack because by all means I feel like I’m partners with everybody on my team. Everybody is there holding their own with what they do but at the end of the day I know I’m the leader of this circle. So you have to be strong all the time which is hard because you just wanna let everybody know that everything is gonna be okay and that everything is fine. I say all that just to say my worse day doing what I love couldn't even compare to my best working at some regular fucking job. You know what I mean?

I know you talk about what you go through a lot in your music especially with your family with the substance abuse.
Yea like I never really delved into that. I smoked a little weed but it wasn’t really crazy. I think I witnessed these things going on in my household with my brothers selling it and even selling it to our own father. I think that had a great effect on me in a positive way because I’ve been through a lot of shit and a lot of people are like I can’t believe you’re not fucked up mentally like for real. I think it just comes down to God and what I saw. I was just like ‘let me not do this dumb ass shit that everybody in my family is doing’. It just happens.

Watching them just makes you not want to do it and makes you want better for yourself.
I think that’s rare though.

Definitely because substance abuse can be genetic.
Oh 100 percent! That’s why I never delved into it. I’m just weird. I don’t know I just never really wanted to take any drugs because who knows what could happen because its so deep in my genes.

You talk about your biracial heritage in your music as well.
I was raised in a black household. I am the only one who looks white in my entire family besides my mom. I was raised with this beautiful culture around me. Everybody has culture, even white people have culture but its different with me. So in high school I was hanging out with the black and Hispanic kids. I’m not hating on white people. I hang with white people too but that’s where I felt most accepted because I could relate to them more. Especially here I’m from in Montgomery County. Its like multimillion dollar homes and you go down a little bit and there’s Section eight housing. I was the kid that was over there. So when we went to school I couldn't really relate to the kids who had summer homes. I related to the other kids who have never left--like I’ve never really been on vacation. I’ve never really been to any other state until music. For awhile I didn’t want to talk about it because it was so annoying but then I embraced. I was just like I think people should know this. I remember one day, it was like a year ago, I tried to find other mixed people like myself and its like impossible, totally insane.

Mixed Rappers?
No just mixed people who look white and its really hard to find and its so funny. I just try not to think about it too much. I know who I am and I know my story and the things that I talk about are authentic and real and I always say this: I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not.

Yeah it doesn't define who are, it’s just a part of you. It’s really not a big deal, like look at Drake.
Yea look at Drake! He’s Black and Jewish and even Cole. I think my situation was a bit more dangerous in the household as far as my brothers and the things that they were doing. But for the most part white mother, black father. Black dad was no where to be found and I was raised by this white woman. My family is big so I had the other brothers and sisters at a different time because I’m the only child between my mother and my father. So all my siblings are different moms and dads. They weren’t there for a majority of my life because they were with their father over here or with their mother over here. It was just me and my mom growing up and then they came into my life.

So Dad came in later?
Dad was peppered into the years. Dad never really lived with me and when he did live with us he would steal things. I remember one time he stole my identity. My name is Sir Robert Bryson Hall II and his name is Robert Bryson Hall and he used my social security card and got like 10 credit cards under my name and was buying and doing all these things and potentially could have ruined my credit before it even began but I was 10 years old and the government realized it. But its insane man. There’s a pre-release center back home and when you are released from jail you go there. I remember I would go visit my father and even my stepfather. I don’t know why I’m bringing this up but there was this pre-release center where I lived where the drug addicts are and I went and played chess there while my mother was visiting her mans (laughs) I would visit with these other criminals at seven and eight years old and eventually learned to play chess. I don’t know why I’m bringing this up but I’ve never told anyone that. I guess what I mean by all this and this story is that the dark times and the negativity when I grew up I always did my best to find good things there so its like I learned to play chess at seven at the pre-release center. I try my best to look for all the good in every situation. That’s why when I look back my childhood was terrible like it was so fucking bad but in hindsight when I look back it was great too.

You mentioned people having misconceptions and being accepting of you because you’re biracial. There are gay rappers on the rise...
I support everybody for the most part as long as they are positive people and what they’re doing is positive and they’re not forcing shit on other people.

Do you think its going to be hard for gay rappers? Because now in hip hop people are allowed to be themselves. Do you think they will be able to comeup?
I feel like if someone is able to market themselves the right way then they could do it, you know what I mean? Not every homosexual man is flamboyant.

Right. So let’s talk about the music. When’s the While You Wait EP coming out?
That should be coming out. Honestly, I am so focused on the album and the fans are so focused on the album that I’m probably going to drop it but who knows. Certain samples could get cleared and we could just drop the first single for the album and ain’t nobody gon’ care about the EP because its the free songs I’ve been putting out anyway. So hopefully that should be coming out. That’s the plan but the album is my main priority right now.

Do you have a name for the album yet?
I know what I’m going to name it but its a surprise right now. The only thing that is not out there is the album title and the release date but its looking like fall and a lot of things in between.

Any collaborations on the album?
No collaborations on the album just because I wanted to tell my story and I didn't want anybody to tell their story on what I’m doing. I kind of wanted to “Illmatic” it for the most part. However, that doesn't mean that they won't be any dope ass features on the deluxe or the bonus. Just because it’s a very raw hip hop album doesn't mean there isn’t going to be anything for the radio on the deluxe.

Dream collaborations?
A lot of those are happening and have happened which is really cool. But definitely Nas.

You met him and he was a really big fan, right? You’re one of his favorites.
Yea he’s a really great guy. Very honorable and he has like the presence, you know what I mean? And he looks 22. I’d love to work with Drake, I’d love to work with Cole who is also a homie of mine, Kanye obviously. More than a verse I want a Kanye beat.

Speaking of beats who are some of the producers on the album?
The main producer is Six who is my in house dude. I’ve known him for years and we started together on the mixtapes and everything so he’s done a large majority of the entire album by himself. I did a couple of records on there which is weird to think about.

That was your first time producing?
Well I produced a little bit here and there but to this extent yes it’s like the first time. NO ID has a joint on there and S1 who did the song “Power” for Kanye. Tae Beast from TDE is on there too.

How will the album be different from your previous projects?
On the mixtapes I told you my dad smoked crack, I told you my mom has been stabbed I told you I grew up poor but now I’m going to show you. I’m going to open up that dialogue and explain what it was like to view this or to be here or experience that and paint that picture of that bedroom or the street that I was living on or the gunshots going off outside as a child and just explain that and depict in a way where you feel like you’re there and you can just close your eyes and do that in a coming of age story of me in my adolescence and childhood into my manhood.

So it’s going to be a story sort of like how Kendrick did it on GKMC?
Its not all over the place but it definitely shows different points. So the story is all there but its not like how Kendrick did it. Where it was literally a day from chillin with his homies to being in the backseat on “Backseat Freestyle” to the “Art of Peer Pressure” so no it’s not like that. But it does have that feel of that honesty and its very grand and its very musical with the live strings and basses and guitars and pianists and there are very few samples on the whole album. It’s very musical. The album has been done for almost six months. I didn’t want to rush. I wanted to make sure everything was perfect.

What are some things that the fans would be surprised to know about you?
I love movies. I own like every movie ever.

I sensed that you like comedy from your last mixtape.
I love Sci-Fi , like that’s my shit. I’m a fucking nerd. I think the reason I love Sci-Fi is because of time travel and distance and visiting other planets because that’s something I wish I could see so fucking bad.

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Steve Morris @stevemorrism

Afrochella Sets Sight On Connecting The African Diaspora, One Festival At A Time

African music and culture are going global.

There’s a concerted effort to create and connect on the continent and to the continent. In Ghana and Nigeria specifically, a number of events, festivals, concerts, and activations have grown to prominence over the past five years, attracting newcomers and serving locals. This year, December will harvest a crop of opportunities for those abroad and at home to tap into the music, art, food, and fashion of the new-wave vanguard.

“Ghana remains home to the global African family,” Ghana Tourism Authority CEO Akwasi Agyemang said in an interview earlier this year. "We are positioning Ghana as a gateway to the West African market," Agyemang added. As African cultural productions popularize abroad, Accra and Lagos have become the go-to grounds for people of the diaspora to initiate immersion into experiencing Africa. 

The Ghana Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture have lined up a slate of activities in an effort to boost the country’s tourism industry. The government has taken initiative to further pushing for mobilization, galvanizing both descendants and diasporans to visit, invest, and live in the country.

Certain factors make Ghana appealing for visitors. Along with it being one of the more stable nations in West Africa, according to a 2011 Forbes report, Ghana was ranked the 11th -most friendly country in the world, ranked higher than any other African country. But as of last year, according to the World Atlas, Ghana didn’t rank amongst the top 10 African countries to visit for tourism in 2018. There is already a history of diasporans permanently relocating to Ghana. The government attempted to facilitate this process when it waived some visa requirements and passed amendments to a 2002 law that permits people of African origin to apply to stay indefinitely in Ghana. 

But this year has been a particularly important one for visitors. This December marks the ending commemoration of the Year of Return. Ghana 2019 is an initiative of the government formally launched by the President of the Republic of Ghana in September 2019 in Washington, D.C. as a program for Africans in the diaspora to unite with Africans on the continent. The mission transcends a marketing strategy. The year 2019 commemorates 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were brought to Jamestown, Virginia. The program serves to recognize the surging people and the following generations of achievements, sacrifices since then. 

The past year has seen a steady influx to West Africa. According to a report in Quartz Africa, Ghana’s tourism sector contributed 5.5 percent to GDP in 2018, ranking in fourth place after gold, cocoa, and oil in terms of foreign exchange generation for the country. And the government is hoping for more growth. Ghana is reportedly projected to rake in an annual $8.3 billion from the tourism sector by the year 2027 in tandem with an estimated 4.3 million international tourist arrivals.

But with the opportunities for connection and investment comes a slate of new concerns attached to old ones. Tourism, for example, can be lucrative for local business, but also can have a broader disruptive impact on the nation’s economy. Then, there are the issues that programmers face to bring locals and visitors the sought-after idealized experiences of Ghana— a taxing and a challenging feat to execute in an environment that’s still developing its infrastructure in multiple sectors. Along with improper documentation of visitors, the 15-year development plan put in place to help push the numbers, in ways, has not been implemented in full force.

But a rush to Ghana is still projected, and there’s a slew of events coinciding in the region at the same time this year aiming to accommodate this. One of the events slated for a return is Afrochella, the annual art, music, and food festival happening in Accra from December 20 to January 5. Separate from the official year of return events, each event also aims to fulfill a similar mission and market individual appeal amidst similar events. There’s AfroNation, the popular Europe music festival holding its first-ever edition on Ghana’s coastline at the same time as Afrochella, while Nativeland is planning a selection of panels and immersive activations with Melanin Unscripted focusing on music, art, and culture in Lagos right before it.

Afrochella was conceptualized by Abdul Karim Abdullah in 2015. Abdullah, along with co-founder Kenny Agyapong, and COO Edward Adjaye, launched the full-scope festival with the hopes of curating a connection to the continent this year, focused on increasing visibility to the rising talent on the continent. Their 2019 theme is “Diaspora Calling,” aiming to promote networking within the Ghanaian community and diaspora, ensure African youth value and celebrate their native cultures while connecting communities through education, fashion, art, music, and business in Africa. 

Community involvement representative Emmanual Ansa states they want the event to become “the impetus and mecca for the celebration of African music, culture, and art.” But amidst the many options on the ground this year to fulfill these missions, where does Afrochella stand, and how does it stand out?

VIBE sat down with the Afrochella co-founder Abdullah to talk about the structural challenges of executing this initiative while appeasing the demands of a growing consumer base, the cultural significance of the event, and envisioning Ghana as a premier frontier for a global black connection.

Can you talk about the origin of Afrochella? What inspired it?

I went to school in Ghana for about seven years, and then I came back to the US and I went to high school in the Bronx—  High School For Teaching And The Professions. I went to Syracuse University in 2006 and got my bachelor's in psychology and biology. And then I got my master's in 2016 at CUNY Hunter college in public health. I've been working in medical research for eight and a half years. But this has been a passion of mine that I've always done on the side, which is throwing African-inspired events.

That’s when my team came together. It started out with me wanting to do a festival here in New York called Native Tongue festival, and that was geared towards food. I just wanted to explain the culture and engage people within the diaspora. But then, on our yearly trip to Ghana, I found that we would gather and we would have a great time, but we couldn't really have that much of an effect once we left. I felt like we could have an effect; we could encourage more people to reach back home and do certain things by creating a space where we can engage each other. I thought there was so much talent coming in from all over the world that were from Ghanian descent or African descent and if we could create a place where we can galvanize all of that and the people that are doing amazing things within those industries, we would be able to create something pretty good. [In] 2017, we decided to do something like that.

How has it changed since 2017? Has it been easier to translate what you're trying to do in terms of this new interest in Africa — Ghana and Nigeria in particular? 

My team is battle-tested. We understand what we have to do in order to make the event successful. But, I wouldn't say it's been easier; each year presented different challenges for us. In year one, it was financial. Until this year, it was navigating bureaucracies. Last year, it was navigating governmental agencies. This year is navigating competition, navigating finding more funding.  One of the things that we noticed about events in Ghana specifically is that once it [nears] completion, people tend to not attend it anymore. What we want to make sure we do is every year we want to increase the amount of people that attend— and each year we have at least by 30 percent. Each year, we've been able to define our message more clearly. 

Talk a little bit about the government in Ghana. How has it been dealing with things on the bureaucracy level?

I would say our event is doing a big service to Ghana. Afrochella has definitely given people an opportunity to visit Ghana. The government should support us in a way that makes gaining access to certain government facilities easier. But that has not been the case. We've had to be very proactive about that with regards to certain policies that may exist that are not written on an online forum. Like in America, if I wanted to do a special event in the park, I'd be able to go to an online source. I'd be able to see all the things that need to do in order to get a specific permit for a specific venue. In Ghana, these things don't exist.

For instance, this year we received an email from some agency. Out of all of the years, we've never communicated with them and in the third year, they're reaching out to us about musician copyrights and, apparently, we have to pay a tax. Those are the kinds of things that we've faced. You can end up paying people that are not actually supposed to get paid. And there's no way of you knowing whether or not it exists or doesn't exist. 

Last year, we had a very weird incident four days before the festival. We were told by the Ministry of Aviation that our stadium is right by the takeoff of the planes leaving Accra. I would think that the venue that we're renting out for this festival would be able to let us know, “hey, you need to do this with the Ministry of Aviation,”— they did not. The day before Christmas, we got a notification that we have to change venues because they feel our lights will interfere with flights taking off. It's, of course, an accident. So, we reached out to the Ministry of Aviation, sat down with the director and devised a plan in order to allow our event to continue. Those are the kinds of things we faced as an event that we are still trying to navigate. Hopefully, as we grow, it will get easier.

Do you think it'll get easier when some type of infrastructure is built to help those types of events move more smoothly?

I think that Ghana is going to have to look itself in the mirror. We all don't know what to expect in December. Because there are a lot of people going to Ghana in December, the anticipation is very high. All the major hotels in Accra are sold out. How Accra responds to the influx of people I think should inform the government on how they should prepare for events and things like this for the future. I do hope that there is an effort created to streamline policies. 

I would like for the government to encourage events. I think events is one of the major drivers of tourism. And if they're paying attention, they will notice that a lot of people are coming to Accra for Afrochella and the events that exist during that last week of Christmas. The double mission is to take a deeper look at this creative industry and figure out a way to encourage that positively in a way that it affects both the people on the ground and the people within the diaspora. 

The government has not been welcoming this with open arms or does it not have any type of structured initiative to help this run smoothly?

I'm not saying that. I just feel like in general, we do not know what changes in infrastructure or policy being made to accommodate the amount of people that are coming in. For instance, with Afrochella we understand that because there's going to be so many people—there was an excessive amount of traffic coming into the stadium last year—that we need to figure out a way to get people to the festival in shuttles. If we can get people that are shuttles, then we could reduce the amount of cars. We reached out to the Ministry of Roads to help us so we can avoid traffic in front of the stadium and that we can make sure that there's a safe way for people to enter. This is some of the planning that we have done. Until now, I personally have not seen any information come out, access [to] policies that exist. 

One of the major complaints that people from the diaspora face when they go to Africa during Christmas time is we feel that we should be having the same sort of customer service that we enjoy abroad. With the influx of people, I think that it's going to get worse.

We just wanna make sure that infrastructure exists to make sure that people that are coming do not disrupt the way of life in Accra.

There are a lot of other events happening around the same time as Afrochella. What is the concerted effort to kind of stand out from the rest?

Our goal is to highlight the thriving millennial talent from within the continent. So we take pride in making sure that we're highlighting people within various industries of food, fashion, music. With our Afrochella Talk series, we’ve been able to highlight people that have been doing amazing things within the creative industry. In December, we'll be doing one on music. And this is an opportunity to be able to educate people on opportunities that may exist within their field or create a platform for people to be able to discuss questions they may have. 

We're also involved heavily in charity. Last year, we supported Water Aid to help provide clean water to families in need. The year before that, we gave out school supplies to kids within Madina Zongo. This year, we're doing charity twofold. We're rebuilding an orphanage school, in Jamestown, Accra and also providing them with school supplies. We call this initiative Afrochella Reads]. We’re also doing Afrochella Feeds on December 26th. 

Our goal when we bring people to Ghana is not just to come and turn up, not just to have a good time, but also to give them a feel of the vibration of the country, what the culture is.For us, it's a holistic approach.

What does the full festival entail?

The festival itself is art, music, food, fashion and all of that culminates in our eyes what culture is. We believe that each part of these is equally as important. Not one part is more important than the other and that we should celebrate them together. In addition to people getting to go to our festival, we also give them the opportunity to be able to engage with the country through our tours, through our charity. The tours and the charity that we do is to make people understand that yes, Africa is a good time— you can go to all the clubs— but we want to make sure you leave and provide an impact at the same time. 

Talk a little bit about the Audiomack rising star challenge and that effort to kind of curate the connection with music and culture.

With the rise of afropop music in America, I feel these artists deserve a chance. Right now, the popular, mainstream artists are the ones that are getting the looks they deserve. But I think that there are a lot of talents that exist from the continent that deserve to showcase their talent.

The other aspect of it is, I feel that people in the continent are using all of these apps and all of these different services and they hardly get to connect with representatives from those services. One of our goals is to make sure that we partner with these companies and give them the opportunity to invest in the talent directly. With Audiomack, we're doing exactly that in that we're giving seven individuals an opportunity to perform at Afrochella. And the one with the most streams, we’re giving them $1,000 towards their career and we’re giving them an opportunity to for a studio session at our partners BBnZ Live. This is one model of the type of partnerships we want to, we look to create with companies in the future. 

Why is this year in particular so important for the reconnection of the diaspora in the context of the 400-year anniversary?

A lot of the conversation between the diaspora and the people from the continent is what makes us different, why we don't get along. What we want to do as a festival is take that conversation and change it into what can we learn from each other and how can we help each other. I think that it's very important that as you see the Chinese and the Japanese and the Americans and everyone reaching for Africa, that we engage the people in the diaspora to make them understand that there are opportunities that exist and there is amazing talent in Africa and they are interested in starting a business and you're interested in developing a space and you can engage with your counterparts on the continent and help build the continent yourself.

I think the more black people we get to invest in the continent, as a whole black will be helping each other. This year is absolutely important and I think that shoutout should go to Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana for declaring this year The Year of Return. Ghana is definitely a good site that people can visit, but we hope that as people enjoy themselves and have that experience that they use that as a platform to visit other African countries and see what opportunities are there for them to be able to leave a lasting impact on the continent.

This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

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Nick Rice

The 25 Best Latinx Albums Of 2019

As we inch closer to the end of another memorable chapter in music, the Spanish-language gap gets bigger by the day. To anyone who believed reggaeton's second coming or Latin trap was a trend were gravely mistaken as artists across the diaspora found success on the charts and in the streaming world. Artists like Bad Bunny, Rosalía and J Balvin continued to thrive off last year's releases while dropping memorable singles (and joint projects). Others like Sech broke the mold for the marriage of hip-hop and reggaeton with Panamanian pride. Legends like Mark Anthony and Ivy Queen reminded us of their magic while rising artists like Rico Nasty, DaniLeigh and Melii provided major star power and creative visuals for their tunes. Latinx music has continued to push boundaries and the same goes for our list.

Enjoy our ranking of the 25 best Latinx albums of 2019.

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Pictured (L-R): WurlD and Sarz
Courtesy of Management

Meet Sarz and WurlD: The Nigerian Producer-Singer Powerhouse Showing Africa’s Sonic Range

There’s a slow infiltration of sultry, soulful, lo-fi music in afrobeats—and the latest from Nigerian producer Sarz and his fellow countryman and singer-songwriter, WurlD, is just a taste of how the scene is evolving. Before landing at No. 1 on Nigeria’s iTunes Albums Chart, I Love Girls With Trobul was a long time coming. Backed by Sarz’ fresh instrumentals, WurlD flexes his songwriting chops to talk about all things love and lust in this eight-track EP. The project is a cohesive narrative of the ups and downs people face when grappling with relationships.

On the origin story of how this project came to be, the duo notes that a mutual friend of theirs made the initial connection for them to explore working together. Sarz, born Osaretin Osabuohien, then sent over a few beats, with WurlD delivering with 2018’s “Trobul” in less than 24 hours. Sarz says he was so in love with the song that this collaboration needed to go beyond one track. They both describe the foundation of the EP as “seamless,” and for WurlD, this was one of the few times he made a decision to work on a project with someone without overthinking it. It just felt right.

I Love Girls With Trobul is the duo’s take on balance while pushing the culture forward. WurlD comes with his relatable, minimal lyrics (he’s also worked with the likes of BOB, Trinidad James, Mario, Walshy Fire and more during his time in Atlanta) while Sarz (a chart-topping producer who’s had Niniola and Wizkid grace his beats) delivers trendsetting instrumentals. There’s a song on I Love Girls With Trobul for everybody—for those on the continent and in the diaspora alike.

“Mad” is the newest music video to drop from the EP. A continuation of the storyline that the collaborators showed us in their previous single “Ego: Nobody Wins,” we take a look at the dysfunctional insecurities of a relationship between WurlD, born Sadiq Onifade, and his love interest (played by Bolu Aduke Kanmi). The relatability of the visual and the song will surely get you in your feelings.

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VIBE: Sarz, what kind of sonic journey did you intend to take listeners through in this EP?

Sarz: I was trying to make something that suits WurlD’s sound, makes him comfortable enough to express himself, and also isn’t alien to the afrobeats space. I was also trying to push the narrative with the sound because that’s what I’m known for. I’ve always been that producer in Nigeria that doesn’t really follow trends and does stuff that other producers use as a template to make music. This is just one of those projects where it doesn’t sound like anything else in the afrobeats space right now. This time next year, you’ll hear so many songs that sound like songs off this project.

How would you describe the creative process of working with each other?

WurlD: We had to trust each other—I was very open. It was all about both of us meeting in the middle. There were times where Sarz would advise me to tweak the conversation in my lyrics. Another thing we focused on was bringing Africa along as much as possible. He’s Nigeria at its core. I learned how to create music in America, though I was born in Nigeria—so I know the culture. I lived there until I was a teenager. We understood each other and I was open to the idea; we were both determined to do whatever we needed to do to make the best project. One of our biggest challenges making this was that we were both in different places throughout the process, so the ongoing support we got from “Trobul” kept us alive. We recorded the first series of songs in L.A., the body of it in Atlanta and we then finished it in Lagos earlier this year.

Sarz: We had to go back and forth with ideas because his musical background and experiences are different than mine. There were certain songs that we had to go back and forth with to make it more relatable and right for the project.

Why is a project like I Love Girls With Trobul needed in the popular African music scene now?

Sarz: From my end, I feel like when you’re genuine with your art and speaking your truth, people will always gravitate to that—because there’s someone out there that feels the same way you feel. I don’t know who’s out there who feels the same way, but judging from the reviews and feedback we’ve been getting, there are so many people that we’re touching right now with this.

WurlD: I like the idea of collaboration. I wanted to shine a light on the importance of collaborating with producers. Living in the States for so many years, I saw this happen every day. I noticed how there are different ways to collaborate and how in general there’s not a lot of love for producers. I hope this inspires other producers to put more value in themselves.

Wurld, what inspired you to be so vulnerable with the stories you share in the EP?

WurlD: I feel like when I’m creating music is when I’m the most vulnerable. Music is communication—people go through things. I like the idea of empowering people through words where a sad song can actually lift you up. If it’s done in a happy space, you don’t feel so sad after all. I can’t really explain how I balance that but it’s a free, caring space. I care about the listener. I understand how difficult it is to empower yourself through a heartbreak. It’s being vulnerable, but it’s to be free and accept a loss. I understand the need for people to feel empowered to get up and keep going, so that makes it easy for me to tap into my vulnerability and to keep the audience lifted.

Sarz, what inspired you to conjure a sinister, dark sound with “Mad”?

Sarz: There’s nothing like that in the African space right now. That was the last record we made, and I felt like the project needed a little edge. After working on a few records, “Mad” was the standout one. We just knew this is what we’ve been looking for—it was just me trying to make a global soundtrack. I feel like anyone, anywhere in the world can relate to “Mad,” even though it’s afrobeats.

Walk me through its music video. What should viewers keep in mind while watching?

WurlD: We wanted to stay close to the conversation of the song. And “Mad” goes through different emotions with an afro-dance element. The key part in the record is how I’m dealing with my issues and I’m dealing with yours, but at the end of the day we get mad and we’ll make up. This is an everyday situation. We fight, we come together. And we wanted to highlight that in the video. With “Ego,” we were disconnected. With “Mad,” we give it a try when you break up to make up. The making up part is not easy, so there’s a lot of highlighting the highs and lows of those emotions to get past what made you mad. The dance elements highlight African culture and we wanted to keep it simple, stylish and straight to the point.

Sarz: With this project, we were really just trying to do things how we feel. And the project itself sounds like a story from the first song to the last. We wanted to try and keep that visually and interpret it as much as possible so people understand that journey with the visual.

What’s next from the project?

WurlD: I feel like this project we created is the first of its kind coming out of this region in Africa. We hope to inspire and show the rest of the world the necessity of range. Africa is not just one thing, and there’s so much more that we have to offer. We’re planning on doing more visuals because we feel strongly that these records deserve A1 narratives and visuals that push the culture forward and shines a light on African art.

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