Hey, I'm Zen. ZENtheRapper. I just released my second project available on streaming everywhere, "Philosopher Stoned:"
My first project was the 5-track mixtape called the "The ZEN Tape;" which remains very special to me as my project of origin, my genesis tape if you will. You should check that one out too if you've got some time.
But with this second offering, I executed a more specific creative vision. In this first year of writing raps and recording music, I noticed very early on that my sound was "different."
Now, this may be a function of the type of hip-hop artists I listened to in my headphones growing up. When I started sharing what I was working on, I would get comparisons to some of my favorite artists and biggest influences: Earl Sweatshirt, Joey Badass, even the occasional Capital Steez and MF DOOM (rest in power to both). But the primary element that made my sound different out the gate were the "spoken-word" style flows, accentuated by my naturally raspy voice that seemed to work in some "this has potential" way on boom-bap and soulful beats. To me, lyricism was always there. I have a background in writing and took every liberty available (and still do) to stretch and play with the English language when writing raps, including being very loose and dynamic with perspective, inundating verses with hidden entendres, and using both personal and pop culture references to move ideas forward in songs.
Here's an older song I made that showcases this well I think:
What I've always loved most about hip hop are the creative and comprehensive ways Emcees could rhyme words together to craft a message. As an Emcee myself now, I challenge myself to rhyme a high percentage of my words together; a la MF DOOM. Listen to this older track to try and hear what I mean by the way I rhyme:
I see Philosopher Stoned as my 'adolescent offering' that begins to bridge these deep valleys of potential to the crossing on the other side. When I first started making music, it was a therapeutic necessity. I wrote the thoughts in my head that I always struggled to communicate to the people in my life; the thoughts that I've struggled to make sense out of for myself at times. Writing, in this way, became a healthy way for me to talk to myself in my own language.
When you listen to Philosopher Stoned, you'll hear themes of memory, imagination, and remembering. You'll hear a little bit more about my personal story as a continuation from The ZEN Tape. You'll also hear my unique brand of conscious hip hop, fueled by a knowledge of the past, ambitious hopes for the future, and a schizophrenic peace with the present.
It's groovy. It's deep. Bit dramatic even. ITS ZEN.