[THE SIX is a regular interview feature on 206UP.COM with a simple format: One member of the local hip hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.]
You probably know the story: Seattle rapper on the come-up graduates from the University of Washington and, just as his buzz starts reaching ears nationwide, promptly flees the country for parts unknown. If this sounds unfamiliar, then you haven’t been following the path of Sol, former winner of the EMP Sound Off! competition and, according to many Seattle rap denizens, perhaps the next to pull a Macklemore and blow up on a national level.
In the meantime, Sol continues to do it his way and on his terms alone, drawing respect and admiration from all corners of the Seattle hip hop community. He’s playing the long game in an industry holding a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude, preferring quality over quantity — a unique precept that many Town artists, from The Physics to Blue Scholars, seem to share.
206UP managed to steal a few minutes of the MC’s time for this edition of THE SIX. Here Sol sheds illumination on his recent globe-trotting and what it means for his return to the proverbial “rap game”.
First off, Sol, welcome back to the United States. Before you left on your trip, what sort of trepidation did you have about going, especially as it pertained to your music career?
These days, people are so afraid of disconnecting from their routines and their comfort zones. On top of that, as [hip hop] artists we are constantly battling to stay relevant and competing for listeners. So the idea of detaching from this grind for a year brought about those obvious fears. But, ultimately, those are the same concerns that lead me to go on sabbatical in the first place. As an artist, you need to break that routine in search of inspiration. You must creatively operate outside of your comfort zone both artistically and physically. And finally, I plan to have a life in music and hope to make songs that stand the test of time. So a year away from the “rap life” is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Do you think your travels will affect the way you make music in the future?
I hope to be fortunate enough to enjoy a lifetime of travel. This last trip alone has instilled that as a priority for me. Every day, every time I write or perform I feel the experiences pouring out of me. I think as I tour and more new music is released other people will see it too.
What was the most interesting discovery you made in regard to how people in other parts of the world make or experience hip hop music?
Great question. Everywhere you go, youth are connecting with hip hop. The culture translates over and helps them express and deal with hardship. Seeing how the music sonically differs from continent to continent and country to country was super dope.
You talked somewhere about going to places that you specifically “shouldn’t.” Why was that philosophy important to you?
Most barriers come from within. We construct ideas of what we should be doing or where we think others go and follow. I, however, choose to abandon that approach and instead follow no path but my own. Both musically and personally it has led me to success and happiness so far, so why stop?
What was the last great book you’ve read, or movie you’ve seen?
Super random actually. I just re-read the 1897 original Dracula book by Bram Stoker. That book was so dope; it has had a cultural impact lasting for more than a century now. His ancestors should get Twilight royalties.
Tell us about Eyes Open, your next project due in September.
I came back to the United States after ten months of traveling around the world and had absolutely no idea what would happen next. I hit the studio heavy with my team Nima Skeemz and Elan Wright and created something beautiful. What this project is for me is the answer to a lot of questions. With my previous album, Yours Truly, I was figuring out who I was and defining my sound. With this project, Eyes Open, I am absolutely sure of who I am and what my purpose is. This is when I build my legacy.