I told you about e.d.g.e. very recently, with his latest video for Tetsuo Shima and it is now a great pleasure for me to present an interview with an artist I’ve been following for quite a while and who never disappoints.
He released his latest album All Flow Everything barely two months ago and he’s already working on multiple projects and collaborations. He is, as I said previously, one of the most productive artists I know and it’s always a pleasure to give him a little shine. Without further due, here is e.d.g.e. in his own words, telling us about his previous albums, Japanese culture, “penwork” and more…
First of all, for people who are not familiar with you and your music, who is e.d.g.e. and why this name?
I’m a man who enjoys structuring words in multi-syllabic patterns, conveying various emotions and themes in my work, and pushing myself to remain both relevant and prolific while raising a family and pursuing a career. My name is an acronym for Eternal Determination Grants Everything, which is an ideology I apply to everyday life, whether it be music or otherwise.
One of your previous projects was entitled The 29th Year EP and was a look back on your life up to that point. You are now 30, how do you feel your music has evolved over the years and maybe since this project?
Songwriting-wise, I’d say I’ve grown since releasing The 29th Year EP. The progress I made over the course of a year is definitely evident in some of the standout tracks from the All Flow Everything album, such as “One”, “Keep Me Baby” and “Day 81”. Over the years, artistically I have begun to shed the reckless choices I made as a young MC, and have begun to look at a wider range of topics, as well as censoring myself from certain lyrical content that I wouldn’t want my daughter to hear when she gets older.
One of the interesting things about you and your music is your fascination for Asia and its culture. How did you become interested in it and how does it inspire you on a daily basis?
I have been fascinated with Asian culture (mainly Japanese) since I was young, which definitely correlates with to the number of Asian friends I had in elementary and high school. We would watch anime straight from Japan with English subtitles, and I was instantly amazed by the concepts, the art and the storytelling in comparison to American cartoons I was used to. From there, I also became intrigued by the Japanese language, and taught myself to read Katakana (a form of Japanese writing, specifically for English words that had no Japanese translation), some Hiragana (for Japanese words in Japanese cursive characters) and even a few Kanji (complex characters shared by Chinese and Japanese language). Inspiration-wise I would have to say I learned a lot as a student of martial arts (Taekwondo and Shito-Ryu Karate), and applying some of the ideals to everyday life.
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Another of your trademarks is “penwork” and I have to say your writing skills and wordplay are quite incredible. Do you feel people recognise this talent in general and give it due praise?
On the one hand, I would like to believe so… but pursuit of perfecting my penwork has been a strange journey. When I was younger, my vocabulary-heavy style was criticized for being “too wordy”, and people would often look at me puzzled while listening! I learned to read at a young age, and since English was always one of my strongest subjects in school, it came across in my work (and apparently still does). The actual term “penwork” is just my way of describing the process I use to write, as I approach creating music like a job that requires a degree of mental capacity, as opposed to just writing for the sake of doing so. As I began to release more music, I learned that sometimes toning down the penwork for a broader audience would work in my favor, without compromising the integrity of my projects.
Your first solo album, All Flow Everything was released in June. Could you tell us a bit more about this project, the concept and inspiration behind it?
All Flow Everything is the result of my need to fully express myself over the course of an album. To date, I have released 16 projects (including mixtapes, EPs and collaborative albums) and I was always hesitant to put an album together. Mainly, the stigma attached to an artist’s first comprehensive work led me to believe that if it wasn’t going to be amazing, there was no need to rush… I took my time and actually had over 10 different tracklists before deciding on the final version! The album is a collection of work that shows my range, lyrically and songwriting-wise, and at points, paints a very personal picture of me for the listener. There isn’t a general concept tying the songs together, although the balance between light and dark definitely becomes apparent after listening to the whole album. Something done subconsciously, the album can actually be divided into a “light, or introspective” section, and a “dark, or destructive” section. Strangely enough, it’s easier for me to write the more meaningful “Iight” tracks, while the technical, braggadocio-laden “dark” tracks took me almost twice as long to pen.
Some of your tracks touch upon social issues, such as racism or more generally about life, with some interesting insight. Do you think it’s important that you spread this kind of messages, to get people to reflect on your lyrics and be inspired by them?
I honestly never write with the aim to inspire. Personally, it’s been about expressing myself through my music more than trying to be seen as someone for people to draw inspiration from, although if that is ever the case, I am truly grateful! It is important to spread the messages that I often convey in my work, but I had never really set out as an MC to be looked at for spreading these messages as my modus operandi. This is part of the reason why I touch on various topics instead of narrowing it down to just a few and repeating patterns over and over again.
You’ve recently gotten in touch with talented producer Sinitus Tempo, who obviously shares your passion for music but also for Asian culture. You’ve released a couple of tracks already and really complement each other perfectly. Is it important for you to connect with like-minded artists and create music together?
Sinitus Tempo is amazing! We are actually planning to record an EP together sometime soon. To be completely honest, the first song we worked on, “Metallic Merlot”, is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever recorded. I feel it isn’t ultimately necessary for MCs or producers I work with to be like-minded, but it does help the creative process a great deal. Knowing that a producer might enjoy listening to Curtis Mayfield as much as I do could lead to him sampling a song I’m a fan of, which in turn means I can create a song that would highlight his production.
You are a very productive and hard-working artist, releasing music very regularly and seem to always have new ideas and projects. What keeps you going and inspired you to create and share your music with the world? Do you have any projects you’d like to talk about?
Thank you! I try to stay prolific despite my personal life becoming busier by the day… I would have to say most of my inspiration comes from life in general, my family, and listening to everything that’s going on in music and trying to differentiate myself from most of the MCs in the public eye. I haven’t reached the level I’m pursuing yet, so my work ethic is a result of aiming for a goal. I also listen to my previous projects before I start new ones and try to outdo myself lyrically and sonically each time. There are 3 projects in the works, 2 in the planning stages and one that’s being recorded as we speak, but those are all of the details I’ll give right now…
Anything else you would like to add?