Music driven by reality, from the perspective of someone who can relate with people. When the bars are behind eyes that have witnessed traumatic events. A mind that is capable to tell their story in vivid and clever detail. With the heart equally passionate about the rap itself. That is Long Beach artist Adonis.
Growing up in Long Beach at a time where the murder rate was skyrocketing. Watching people around him lose their lives and get locked up regularly. Negativity surrounded him and his friends, it would not even phase him eventually. Nowadays he has separated himself from the negativity. The pain and suffering still follow, he puts that into his work. A gifted storyteller and lyricist, with a past and present that make his music hold a heavy weight.
Speaking on his life with total awareness. Bars that come straight from the gutter. That is his specialty, his pièce de résistance. Years of practice and experimentation have brought that style full circle. Focusing on the rawness of real Hip-Hop. Working selectively with producers who are going to deliver that sound. V Don, Thelonious Martin, and Tedy Andreas are a few of those producers. Staying true to that sound blends his work across the board. It gives him an identity.
As an artist, he is creatively superior. His writing is superb. Vivid imagery is always present. Metaphors, similes, a profusion of poetic devices throughout. Words themselves that hold a purpose, this puts him into a select pocket of rap that is rarely in plain sight. Which is a shame, himself and others in this pocket are what rap is all about. They are the staples, the ones who know that being real is essential. No gimmicks, but absolute and unapologetic talent.
We spoke on his life in Long Beach and went in-depth on his music below:
Has Long Beach always been your home?
I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I moved to Long Beach at 5. Been here ever since. Long Beach is definitely my home.
How would you describe growing up there?
It went from a very normal childhood, football, skateboarding, Pokemon cards, etc. to a very traumatizing childhood. I wasn’t very old at all by the time I had seen a friend murdered right in front of me. Nonstop gang activity. Mexicans beefing with Blacks, riots at school. Shoot outs at every house party. These type of things almost became normalized after a certain point. To where gunshots didn’t even make me and my friends flinch anymore. I’m very lucky to have survived the era I grew up in. A lot of the people I grew up with are dead or in prison. 2003-2007 had one of the highest murder rates in the country but I made it out alive on the other side of it.
That’s a stressful way to be living. I’m glad you made it out, how has your life changed now?
I’ve just matured. I don’t do the same little knucklehead things I use to. I got wiser. I chose what to put energy and time into, I separate myself from mindless things and people purposely. The era I’m from, we just move differently than how people do nowadays.
When did rap start to come into the picture?
I recorded my first song at 18 on an MF DOOM beat called “Arrow Root”. Did it in one take, called it “Planet Vegeta”. It’s a classic song but I lost it, still searching for it to this day.
Did you start to take it seriously right off the bat?
No, not necessarily, it was more of a fascination to me. MF DOOM really got me into wanting to rap. He took Hip-Hop somewhere I didn’t know it could go. So when I got into him I gave rapping a shot. It became so natural to me that I just always continued writing and recording. I eventually put out a mixtape under my first rap name Arise named Sunrise. I posted it on DatPiff. It’s still up there, then I recorded another tape called Sunset but never released it to the public.
His Special Herbs series seems to be an essential set for most artists. How has your music changed since your earlier work?
Yeah, I got that box set and listened to everything every day. Super inspiring shit right there. Well, I went through a lot of phases, but honestly, I feel like I’ve come back into my roots of just dark, deep, raw Hip-Hop. Which is kinda how I started. In between that, I did some other shit, kinda went through a trap phase on my second mixtape, which is partly why I never released it to the public. As of now I just want to get more personal and deeper into myself. I want to give my fans and potential future fans more of myself. So they can have something human to relate to.
Is that the most important thing to you about your lyrics, the humanization behind it?
I think it plays a very important part in music. Spazzing on a beat is always nice but the records where Biggie explained his pain and troubles, or when Pac told us what the ghetto was like to him, those stand out. Even when Drake gives you insight into his relationships with women or goes in on his past, those records resonate with the everyday person. Which is why I want to go more in depth in that aspect.
Would you say you’re picky when it comes to what beats you get on? You strive for a particular sound.
I kinda am, but at the same time I love what the West Coast is doing with production, and I also love trap production. But gritty Hip-Hop is definitely my forte. It really depends on the project the music will be on. I want my projects to be cohesive sonically, so everything needs to blend well. Don’t want anything standing out of place. There may come a time where I venture out into different sounds though. I’m always open to different styles.
Who are the producers you can always count on to deliver for you?
V Don, Thelonious Martin, VHS, Tedy Andreas, DJ Skizz, and Quis Star. That’s just for right now. Hopefully that list grows in the future.
Is there anyone you would like to add to that list?
MF DOOM, Alchemist, DJ Muggs, Madlib. Hopefully one day.
What does your average day look like?
Get up at 7, thank God for another day, hop in my whip, get my hustle on, write some raps, eat some good food, and speak positivity with the people I love. That’s an average day for me.
Where do you get the most inspiration for your writing?
Real life, shit I been through. Shit that’s happening in my reality. Life, pain. The hard moments in life. The moments of in between.
What are you currently working on?
I’m wrapping up my next project with Thelonious Martin. It’s a tape based on the era of the samurai. No gun bars, nothing to relate to the current vibe. A completely singular based project on one certain theme. This is the most creative piece of art I have ever done thus far, I’m extremely excited for my fans to hear what we’re cooking with this one. I guarantee satisfaction with this one, for sure.
I’m excited to hear that, you’re already a strong storyteller. I can only imagine putting yourself into the mindset of that era how gratifying the work sounds. Are you planning on focusing more on specific concepts for all your projects moving forward?
Nope! As I create, each project’s purpose and inner projection will come to me. I am completely open to different sounds and any experimentation moving forward. As long as it fits on to the complete project, I am willing to branch out. I think the future will be promising to the people that are expecting true divine art from myself. I can’t wait to deliver.
What are your goals for the rest of the year?
I want to drop at least five projects and I want to shoot at least five visuals. I also want to tour the country in any aspect in 2019. Those are my serious goals and I want to accomplish them before this year is through. That is the vision.