May 23, 2010
CooLikeDat Exclusive: Interview w/ Esso!
Esso: I got started around 2005 working with my boy Disco D (RIP) in his studio. We knew each other from college (University of Michigan) so that was my first real introduction to the industry. Between 2006 and 2008, I linked up with Sickamore and we released the ESSOcentric trilogy. It was that trilogy that led to me getting Unsigned Hype in the Source, and appearances on BET's Rap City & MTV's Sucker Free. Since Mid 2008, I've been independently building up my company Y&I Music, and we've released 4 projects: The Gardens, Lifestyles of the Young & Ignorant (EP), Off The Wall, and most recently The Anti-Socialite.
CLD: Congrats on The Anti-Socialite. Describe the process that went along with dropping that project.
Esso:The Anti-Socialite is probably my most complete work so far. It's the first time that I'm really presenting my sound to the world in its current state. The process of making it was pretty collaborative. I have 2 producers (Rena1ssance and Woody) that did that majority of the production work. I would send them ideas or samples to check out and then they’d get back to me with tracks. With Woody being in LA, I went out there twice during the course of recording for the project. The second time I was out there we did 9 songs in 4 days. Luckily I work with people that inspire me and have a talent for matching wherever I think I want a certain song to go; So once I had the concept and ideas nailed down we just had to bring them to life.
CLD: What inspired you to title it “The Anti-Socialite”?
Esso: I think it was both a personal commentary and a social commentary. We're living in the middle of what I term a "Socialite Culture;" where people are famous just for being famous and don't really contribute anything to society through their platforms. I wanted to make it clear that I'm not a person that fits into that category. I have something to say, I stand for something and I want to be heard for those reasons. For people think that I'm saying I'm anti-social or socially awkward, it's not that at all.
CLD: What makes this mixtape different from the other projects you’ve dropped?
Esso: The other mixtures that I've dropped with the exception of Off The Wall were more like traditional mixtures…freestyles, industry beats, and a few original songs. The Anti-Socialite, I look at more as an experience. It's definitely more personal than anything else that I've written, and I think it's more musically complete than anything that I've ever done. I always try and set the bar high, and then outdo myself. So now next time I drop something I have to outdo The Anti-Socialite.
CLD: What is the message you want listeners to leave with at the end of listening to “The Anti-Socialite?”
Esso: More than anything, I want the listeners to feel like they identify with the things that I'm talking about throughout the project. If they can understand my angle, where I'm coming from and feel like it's something that they may have seen in their own lives, then I've achieved what I set out to.
CLD: Can you name some of the rappers that inspire you and your work?
Esso: My early inspirations were Nas, Jay-Z, BIG, Big L, Snoop, Master P & Cash Money for their business sense and a whole lot more. I also grew up listening to Motown and a lot of the music from the 70's and 80's that my parents listened to. They were never really that much into Rap so I absorbed whatever they would play as I was growing up.
CLD: Theme music! Name any song (not yours) that you would want to play as your theme music every time you enter/appear, and name any song of yours that you would want as your theme music.
Esso: I don't know that's a hard one. Right now, with The Anti-Socialite, I'm rocking with NERD's "Anti-Matter" when I come out. It would probably have to change depending on the mood. As far as any song of my own, probably "Young & Ignorant" but I actually just wrote a song called "Theme Music," so who knows?
CLD: In “Dressed Smart” you give an ode to your fashion lol. What is your fashion vice?
Esso: My Motorcycle Jacket. Hands down. Until I find the red windbreaker from the movie Rebel Without A Cause the Motorcycle Jacket is my favorite. That and also my 2 Varsity Jackets from High School and College. As long as I have those 3 in my closet I'll always be good.
CLD: What else can we expect from Esso for the rest of the year and beyond?
Esso: We're going to continue pushing The Anti-Socialite throughout the year. The video that I show with my Director Puma just got approved by MTV so that's going to be in rotation soon. We're going to be shooting a few more videos throughout the summer and getting out and doing as many shows as possible.
CLD: We here at CooLikeDat would like to thank you for your time, but as a last question we always like to ask, what makes you CooLikeDat?
Esso: Because I'm me, and I don't ever try and be anything but that. Cool is relative. You have to understand your own cool before anyone else ever will.
Download Esso's latest mixtape The Anti-Socialite Here!
Follow Esso on Twitter!