Harlem raised Salomon Faye’s is a lyrical altruist. Whether it be him laying stellar verse on Ratking’s “Take” or jamming with his fellow gangly artists in the IlluZiON collective, the elusive artist doesn’t rap just to obtain monetary riches.
For him, it’s about adding a new dimensions to his listeners’ lives. VIBE caught up with the upcoming musician at Manhattan’s Ace Hotel to talk about his nomadic life, influences on his Stimulation EP (which is available on iTunes), the model’s hustle, and more.
VIBE: You were born in Paris, raised in Harlem, lived in Brooklyn, and now moving back to Harlem. Did moving around affect your music at all?
Salomon Faye: Yeah, because it built to me the person I’ve become today, like the different experiences I’ve had. I’ve even got a song called “Brooklyn 11233”. That song is really like a direct expression of what I was going through [then] in Brooklyn. Every song is an expression of the experience.
“Fool’s Gold” was out on iTunes two or three years ago, but “W.T.F” just came out in March. Is there any reason for including songs even with such a time gap between them?
This is just like to introduce myself. I feel like this is the perfect package because it’s some old, some new. I didn’t want to leave anything behind.
For those that aren’t familiar with your history with the illuZioN collective. Would you mind talking about that?
The name is an interpretation of society and the industry as an illusion. Our first step in speaking truthfully is identifying ourselves as the illuZiON, being that this is the vehicle we’re speaking through. We’re a collective of artists. We plan to takeover by producing content that is honoring and uplifting culture.
You’ve mentioned before spirituality is one thing that drives you guys, or at least you specifically?
I’d say me specifically, but I think the word “spiritually” takes away from the point I’m trying to make when I say something because it has extra connotations. My whole growth I’ve seen in my life — that people will see through my music — is a person who has realized the relationship between like man and spirit. I lean away from it being too much because it scares people away.
So that’s part of what goes into you creating a track?
Yeah. But what I do to represent that is the effort to know myself and communicate myself honestly at all times. So it’s all about being real. And for me, as a musician and a lyricist, it’s about using my influence responsibly. Just making sure that I’m using it to benefit my listeners to a way where they can perhaps use it. I’m just trying to be a healthy addition to hip-hop.
You discuss some social issues on your older tracks, but with your recent work such as “Black Power” and “W.T.”F”, you’re blatantly stating that something’s wrong. What inspired you to be explicit?
“Black Power” for me was about looking around at some current issues: a lot of problems with racism and addressing it. A lot of it seems self-defeating for a black man. It’s like “Okay, but what about the power that we do have, the power to overcome this?” I felt there needed to be a voice that strived to recognize that so we could focus on empowering ourselves and being stronger instead of asking a system not really in our favor to do better by us. And we can create and cultivate a strong community. From just an artist standpoint of view, I want to speak to the heart of the situation and from the position where my heart is in it.
“W.T.F.” on the other hand is a message to the haters?
It’s an expression of frustration really when I wrote that. It’s not anyway as political as “Black Power”. It serves the purpose of doing something hard—you got the hook, but when you listen to the lyrics I’m saying real things. You know [Rapping] “Niggas acting like they doing something, doing nothing, waiting on something to do/Don’t talk about it if you bout it/ be about you don’t gotta speak about it if it’s true.” It’s always going to be honest and beneficial to the listener.
i-D called you a modern Basquiat. Does that influence your music at all or do you keep them separate?
I was gonna make a song like [Rapping: “I got model bitches, I got I got”] ’cause it would’ve been funny. It influences my music in a sense of what I learn in about presence and being able to create value of a presence. Maybe I mention it because it’s part of the daily experience when I’m doing it.
Weren’t you in an Adidas shoot?
Yeah. It was the first time I was on big shit. I walked into the store and it felt weird. You realize people have these huge ideas of you because your picture is in the Adidas store. That’s when it came to me like, ‘Wow, perception is crazy!’
So Stimulation EP dropped this week, and you have the Book of Salomon Faye on the way, Do you have any recording or touring plans for the rest of 2015?
I’m sure I’ll push [the EP] and do shows. But I’m already working on Book of Salomon. It could come out anywhere from six months to a year, but I’m just focused on putting out music. Book of Salomon is gonna be a more multi-dimensional experience. It’s a variety of real instrumentation, singing, rapping. Real atmospherical experiences. We’ll see how people respond.