The New York native is making waves with his stirring, ambient hip-hop.
Something wicked this way comes, and it’s the nuanced, simmering flow of New York native Akinyemi – a self-assured new voice on the hip-hop scene.
Tracks such as “Seaworld” spring to life via thoughtful ambient production, with introspective spit layered over the top talking of the pressures on the Nigerian-American artist of being a first-generation immigrant.
The artist’s upcoming album Warrior’s Fate (Ep. 1) is a translation of Akinyemi’s name, which comes from the Yoruba tribe in his family’s home of Lagos, Nigeria – exploring what being a “warrior” means to the artist, focusing on mental strength.
We caught up with the artist and talked early inspirations, his upcoming album, and fulfilling fan feedback…
When did you first realise you wanted to get into music?
Sophomore year of high school. I was part of this “guitar club”, which really was just a teacher who donated his equipment to the school and would pull up with amps, mics, drums guitars, you name it. It was my first experience performing and to be honest I felt really comfortable behind the mic off rip. Around that same time I had an iPod Nano with no music on it except Tribe’s classic “Beats, Rhymes & Life” album, so I just would listen to that shit over and over, so you know it had raw impact on me.
Who did you listen to growing up?
This question is always a funny one, it’s like “damn which ones can I remember first,” but I just think back to what was on the radio around 2010 – 2013, which is when I was in high school and developed my whole love for music. It was Kanye, Jay Z, Biggie, Alicia Keys, Drake, J Cole, Linkin Park, Red Hot Chili Peppers, CeeLo Green & Sean Kingston.
How would you describe your genre?
I rap on whatever I’m feeling when I’m recording. As long as the beat slaps, you know I’m gonna come correct. In the past my music was often cooled out and borderline hypnotic, on some lo-fi hip-hop type-ish. But on this coming album, I’m kind of rebranding and refocusing that conversation into more natural bops, while talking about understated topics. The intersection of conscious rap and trap I guess, you know just making the music I want to listen to. My genre is a bit varied and I consider myself someone who can be a chameleon in the studio. I can hit a quick flow, sing-songy flow, or throw down some straight R&B. It’s really a matter of mood.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
I used to answer this question by giving a list of artists that flipped the norm, like Andre 3000, Kanye, Uzi, & D’Angelo. But lately I feel like people-watching, random conversations, and internal conflict/resolutions fuel about 90% of my music these days. I’m a really analytical dude. I’m that person at the club who’s just in the corner watching everything unfold. I grew up a really introverted person and music allowed me to get outside my shell a bit. My biggest inspirations besides those are my friends honestly. I’m blessed to be born and raised in NY, where I can do close to 12 studio sessions a week if I want to, or just be at the crib and cook up by myself. Everyone is so close and accessible. The close proximity factor of New York is both inspirational and overwhelming.
Warrior’s Fate (Ep. 1) explores your heritage and topics of immigration – why was this important for you to look at?
My stage name is my last name. Akinyemi. If I’m gonna represent my family like that, I might as well talk about where my family came from, the Nigerian heritage behind it and the origin of my name. I’m blessed to be Nigerian-American because I know where my true roots come from. If I have access to my roots and that story, I definitely need to share that and expose that to the public. Also nobody fucking with my mom’s Jollof rice. Deadass.
And how much does your Nigerian background impact the music you make?
At its core it eliminates complacency and makes my work ethic unmatched. I think Nigerians are resilient as fuck. I think Nigerians are also really good at negotiations and can also be found in your spam in your email. On the real though, being Nigerian and having a strict upbringing makes me more freeform when it comes to my music, because it’s where I’m able to escape.
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever had on your music?
One time a fan DMed me on IG and said that they were on the brink, feeling really suicidal. They said listening to “Breathe” and “I Feel” made them reconsider. The fact that my music not only resonated with someone else but fully impacted them, especially on that level, is everything.
What’s next for you?
My debut fucking album. It’s called “Warrior’s Fate [ Episode 1]”. It’s an episodic series, and this debut album starts the whole story. It’s here, it’s done and it’s weeks away from being in y’all AirPods and Bluetooth speakers. It feels a bit unreal. I made about 4 different albums before I landed on this one. No cap I’ve been crafting this record since mid-2017, and I’m finally able to drop a debut album that I’m extremely happy with.
To all the people who thought I just make “chill” music, y’all are in for a rude awakening. It’s a time of rebirth really, and I’m gassed about that. I’m bout to turn some heads. Watch me.