Making a flawless album takes time, dedication, persistence, and confidence. If the process gets ‘hard’, many artists rush it, or even quit. There are still a plethora of rappers who stick with it till the end, and actually put out some dope content. In my eyes, this should be standard if you want people to support you.
A few months ago Newman, from North Carolina, sent me a demo of his unreleased EP, Elminá. He took the time to give me a background on what the project actually stood for. I was enthralled with his intelligence, the way the music was laid out, and even more so, the way he challenged himself.
Elminá is finished, and surprise surprise, I’m hosting the premiere. This isn’t the first time I’ve debuted his music. Exactly a year ago we collaborated on the premiere of his excellent record Placencia. I was excited to hear what Newman could do with a full length. He exceeded my expectations with his diligence and thoughtfulness. Not only that, the music is groundbreaking, genre-bending, and pure ear candy. Our conversation below is ESSENTIAL to your experience with Elminá. Stream the project above, and peep our interview below.
So tell us a little about you.
I’m Newman, I’m from North Carolina, and I just finished up this project called From: Elmina.
I’ve heard it and I absolutely love it. You broke down Elmina into act 1 and 2. What is the significance of the title and the acts?
Elminá is a slave castle on the coast of Ghana, where my family is from. My last trip was in the summer of 2016. I had a lot going on personally and a lot of music recorded up to that point, but at the time I hit a wall. I had been to Elmina a couple of years before that last visit, but going back at that time resonated with me and was a point of inspiration.
I originally titled it “Postcards From Elmina”, because I wanted to frame it as a letter, or each song as its own story. The acts came with the contrast in sounds between the two. The first part was a lot of the main concepts and initial feelings from that visit. A lot of the second came from when I went to Italy. I was thinking a lot about the idea of freedom, different ways that might look and feel etc.
That story, and the creativity involved around that theme is absolutely incredible. Did all the music come organically? Was it hard to write all of those experiences and feelings?
Yeah it did come naturally. It started off of that visit, but a lot of it was a metaphor for things I was going through so they ran parallel in what I was trying to say. I wouldn’t say it was hard to write, but for how I wanted to convey the idea as a whole it took some time for the pieces to come together.
That makes sense as this is no throwaway project. Who did you grab to produce?
I appreciate that. I worked with a lot of different producers. I don’t think anyone had more than one song up there. But my guy Boujie, who I’ve been working with since I started rapping helped shape a lot of it through feedback or mixing and is on there. And a good amount was from NC based producers. The homies Señor Bennett and Simon SMTHNG hit me with some. BLVC SVND and Pelley, and I did some myself.
It sounds like you were very meticulously and selective of how this was put together, as you should be. How long would you say it took to fully complete?
I had started recording some of the ideas on that same trip, so around 2 years.
Do you feel happy with the finished product?
I do. The new ideas don’t feel apart of that idea anymore, and I’m cool with that.
Gotcha. What are your biggest influences as an artist?
Late Registration Ye, Cudi, Jay, Lupe early on.
When did your musical aspirations take place?
In high school me and my bro ended up getting a mic one day and built a set up over time, so that’s when it started.
How do you feel you’ve progressed as far as your music?
The way I approach things now as far as structure, production and melody has grown for sure.
What are your hopes for when Elminá drops?
I hope the ideas come across how I intended, but I hope those who hear it can take their own ideas from it too.