You’re a young rapper. You read all the right blogs to know what’s happening in the world of independent rap (is anything really underground when everything is available? is everything underground because the world is so fragmented?). You might even listen to the radio and get a sense of the landscape at the highest level. You pull together beats–maybe from your own producers, maybe from the vast corners of the internet–write for months, even years on end, and step to the mic. You’re good, you might be great. You’re ready to show the world. Friends serve as managers and PR people; you send an endless stream of e-mails.
Perhaps you get noticed, garner a few thousand plays, plant the seeds of a reputation. Perhaps, and more often than not, nothing happens as you toss e-mails into what seems like the void, hoping to get noticed. Some of this difficulty to gain attention stems from the fact that so much rap–hell, so much music–seems unoriginal, whether because of sound, image, or some combination of the two. The difficulty compounds: There’s a treacherous line between finding a compelling, unique hook and slipping into gimmickry. To an extent, New York’s Salomon Faye provides an example of how to craft a sound that plants a flag in current rap fixations while cutting through a bit of the clutter.
This is not to say that Faye has cracked some sort of code for guaranteeing exposure (full disclosure: His music was initially passed to me by a friend, but I remained skeptical until I heard February’s “Fool’s Gold“). It is to say that his rapping possesses a certain purposefulness that differentiates it from the pack. Faye’s flow is more deliberate than what might be expected in a sea of wannabe Bada$$es, an inheritor of Mos Def’s occasional mystic energy and clarity that places special, measured emphasis on each word (so much so that when he occasionally speeds up and tries to pack more words into his bars, he loses a bit of the gravity that his style projects). Combined with his ad-libs (“hold up!” and “blow up!”) and a bass-y voice, Faye holds the building blocks for idiosyncrasy. His video for “Alchemy” is simple–a performance clip in a variety of New York locales–but it showcases the rapper’s striking look (another piece of the puzzle that could potentially push him forward) and focuses attention further on his developing style.
Watch the video below and download “Alchemy” here.