The Making Of While You Were Sleeping
It was 4 a.m. and me and my manager Matt sat up smoking and emailing the album out and all I could think to myself was wow, it's really over. I really have another project out. Will people really like it, will people throw it away to comparisons, will my stories be ignored and will my work be worth it? For once in my life I'm happy to say I don't care about any of that any more. I sacrificed so much to live in my purpose that anything other than growth is a step back. I inhaled deeply on the last bit of my roach and shed a tear because I know that my real journey is far from over. If people only knew the story behind this album and the hidden messages that mean different things to different people.
I started shaping this album piece by piece in the summer of 2016. I intended for it to be a departure from my bright, jazzy boom bap hiphop style. I was tired of being confined to rapping. I wanted to showcase my songwriting and test my vocal skills. This was also around the time I had quit my job and I was sleeping on a friend's couch. My phone had gotten turned off and I was living dime to dime scratching to eat every day borrowing money from friends. I was also doing shows almost every other week performing songs like "The Family" and "Get Rich". Through it all I got the blessing of having studio equipment provided to me to finish this project. So I had to become an audio engineer in a month and not having money on a day to day was eating away at my spirit. As hard as it is, I will break down track by track like this....
DREAMS. I made this song at 3am with the lights down, blunt in hand zoned out. I stopped writing alot of things on this album and relied strictly on first feelings. I didn't wanna recut records because I didn't wanna lose the emotions and I was getting used to recording myself and honing my voice on the mic. Tears in my eyes I was stressed about my job, not being able to feed myself and mad at anybody who ever doubted me and still is. I remember talking to my mother that night and she started going in. My mother is tough on me. She doesn't allow complaining or sulking in anyway. She pushes me to stay focused and suck it up. Shout out to Jules Drucker who agreed to do the guitar solo for me and Paul Gee who came in the month the album was posed to be turned in and laid down amazing background vocals. I wanted to add female background vocals but a few people dubbed me and I was running out of time but I initially wanted a choir on this song.
THE CITY. Another late night early morning creation. A while back a high school friend of mine was shot and killed in my hometown of Newport News and before that another friend lost his life to drug addiction. I was out here in NY barely able to feed myself struggling to chase a dream and my friends were losing their lives to the emptiness. My city on my mind I cried wishing I could help my friends, I couldn't remember my own streets, people forgot my name and essentially that I exist and it just hurt feeling so disconnected to a place I consider home. People even started saying I was from NY because I hadn't been home in so long. This song was hard to get through. I also wanted to test myself of making a song with the least amount of words
ALONE. I remember having this hook in my head for a while for this song and I just didn't know who was gonna sing it. Then I remember my old boss who happened to be an amazing singer. I asked her if she wanted to be on the song and she nailed it. I distorted her vocals to give it this cerebral feeling. I wanted the song to take place in my head. I had a few friends man who were posed to be like family and they never came to any shows, never posted my shit but wanted to be friends. I had people hitting me as if I had answers when the truth was I was broke starving living on a fucking couch. I just felt so much pressure and I was caving in inside myself. That was the same year I sheltered a friend who ended up robbing me and taking off. I was hurt making this song
WYWS. If there is any song that proves I didn't forget my hiphop roots its this song. My goal was to lure people in with flows they were familiar with and then body the next verse. I knew the comparisons were coming and I honestly would re deliver the vocals if I could go back and change anything but I still feel this record showed my skill level as an emcee. And I got to address some personal feelings I been harboring
WE UP. I can't stress enough how hard I go for this man. Like I don't sleep, or even have time to eat. I work till my eyes open and then close from exhaustion. Like I function on high intensity. So this song is the embodiment of that feeling. I don't want to hear nobody's excuses or reasons as t why you cant win. I made this song as a chant to subconsciously program people to win!
THE FAMILY. I'm really annoyed with mediocrity. It kills me when I'm really giving it all I have despite the circumstances. This song is just me being annoyed with alot of shit. I chose to have Violin and pianos added the last month of mastering. Shout out to Ezinma Ramsay and Simone Acosta who also helped me at the last min. If I had it my way this would be a complete orchestra piece but time and resources can be a bitch.
GET RICH. This was one of the first records I made when working on the album. The live performance love we got made me include it on the album. Its something I want to perform with my day one friends and family when I start doing shows. To chant something as powerful as "now its time to get rich" is a great feeling.
GREATNESS. This is my favorite song just because of my tone of voice. It was the best vocal performance I've ever done in my opinion. I learned new layers of my voice I never thought I'd knew. This album was really me finding the range in my voice and what I could and couldn't do. More positive affirmations and vibes.
COMMITMENT. I was convinced Kita P didn't like this song at first till she came back and Eminem'ed me on my own song lol. Naw but one night I had a bunch of dope artists at my friend's crib and I played this beat and Kita started humming random shit. I was DO THAT SHIT ON THE MIC BROOOOOOO. And she did and I had a 4 min demo of Kita's mumbling. I sent it to her and I put effects on it and drowned it in the back as if it was a sample. I loved it. She came bakc with that verse and the rest is history. I was going through a tough break up transition as well with this record. Feeling like I didn't know how to love someone when I was so in love with my goals. I didn't have time, I wasn't focused on the things you should care about when your with someone. I just felt confused, annoyed and unsure if love is really what I want. Being friends doesn't seem to be enough any more.
CHANGES II. Despite my friend robbing me and taking off. I was hurt inside for life. All I want for everyone is to be happy and successful and this song is me forgiving him for what he's done and praying God help him find his way. Its very possible to want more for people then they want for themselves. Shout out to Paul Gee and Sahlence. Sahlence came to my crib at 12 midnight and we didn't finish this record till 4am. She came all the way to East NY just to contribute those vocals and I love her to pieces. Paul stuck his foot in the vocal arranging for this song. This was the last song added to the album at the last min
HAPPINESS. This was another last min addition. Diving back into my tarnished relationship with my friend I couldn't help but still want peace of mind for someone so troubled. I wreck my brain wondering how someone can hate you for wanting them to be focused and successful. Words can't describe how much this set of events shaped some of the messages on this album.
CONSISTENCY. Let's be honest man, I bust my ass every day for this. I been through hell and still day to day manage to show results. This was my word for 2016. To never stop working no matter how bad things got. I would sit in the train station to get wifi. I set up shows while in the train station. I uploaded music, IG promos and everything with no working phone, just running around NY looking for wifi. I want it all and I won't stop till every goal in my head is achieved and manifested.
All in all, I am very happy about this project. There are alot of things I wish I could have done with the album but I know my desire to want to do these things will manifest in the coming months as I work on newer material. I am not afraid to show people my growth no matter what. I won't sit back and hide, I will make mistakes, I will stretch my voice in ways I never tried even if I don't get it right I will still experiment and try. I just want to push and challenge myself to try new things. I will never make the same album twice. NEVER. I want to do new things every project. Thank you all for listening to this album, and I can't wait to share more moments with you like this one!