One of the reasons I fell in love with hip-hop was the flexibility and freedom it gives its artists, the ability we have to tell our stories however we want to. So many genres of music are still structured by specific rhyme schemes, timing, chorus and verse arrangements, and other tools used to write and record within a certain frame. I'm not saying these aren't important methods - they shaped music from its early modern stages into a lot of the songs we love. But Jazz artists like Miles Davis in the 1930s and 40s blazed a new trail, changing the face of music by refusing to be restricted by tempo or structure, and allowed their instruments to carry whatever form each record morphed into. There are still massive jazz and blues influences in today's hip-hop music, especially the sub-genre that stays true to its roots. Even mainstream artists like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar still use hip-hop as a story-telling method; their verses often contain multiple styles and schemes mixed into one other, creatively blurring lines of convention while telling complex, real-life stories.
These (and many other) artists are my generational peers. We learned from the same artists, from Tupac Shakur and Andre and Big Boi, from Nas and Jay-Z, when hip-hop was still in its "purest" form a technique to say a lot more in a compressed amount of time. Our voices are our instruments, and instead of using three four-line verses to try to craft an entire song, we can say hundreds of words per verse in any style that we want, whether they all follow a rhyming scheme or not. We can skip conventional choruses, add interludes, and create nearly anything we can imagine. Because I also sing and harmonize, within a hip-hop song I can be as expansive or minimal as I want to, experiment endlessly, and no one can ever tell me its "wrong".
My raps are a mixture of truth, symbolism, and wondering, questioning and blending real life and the world inside my head. I have a lot to say, and because I sometimes say so much, words can be forgotten or glossed over quickly, their meaning can be lost in the speed or style of delivery. I want you to be able to understand what I mean by a certain phrase, what I'm referencing in a certain line, what in my life may have influenced a phrase, and I want you to help. Starting this winter, all of my lyrics from official releases will be available on Genius.com to view and annotate. This site is a community of music and lyric lovers dedicated to finding even more meaning in the songs they love. I'll be doing quite a bit of annotation myself to explain some of my deeper lines, and to bring you closer to my art. If you find a line that you connect with or hasn't been explained yet, feel free to help the community and give your own annotation. If you just want to read along as you listen, maybe seeing the words will help you connect more to whichever song you're listening to. My hope is the words always bring you nearer to me and my sound. My words are my gift, and however I can best present them is the most important thing to me.
I'm excited about the next step in the process. As I've said all year, there's still so much more left for this year and into 2019. Let's keeping moving forward.