If you think making your first solo album is going to be easy, think again. It takes a lot of hard work, long hours and determination. But it’s not all a tough grind, if you’re living your passion then every moment is exhilarating, even if there are challenges along the way.
Due for release in May 2019, my new rap album and first solo album, "Road to Carnegie Hall“ has been a labour of love. The hard work started well before the idea of a solo album crossed my mind. I’ve always been inquisitive and keen to learn new things, letting my curiosity get the better of me. But all of the skills that I’ve developed and the knowledge I’ve gained from a young age, have contributed to this once in a lifetime experience.
At around age 12, I was to drawn to hip-hop music and started creating my own beats, and as I grew older, I was not only passionate about rap but I was drawn to many subjects that I could use as creative outlets. Marketing, website development, graphic design and videography have all added to my depth and range as a professional, giving me the skills I needed to take this journey.
Having varied musical influences as I was growing up like rap artists Eminem, DMX, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan as well as Linkin Park, Muse and The Prodigy helped shape my hip-hop style, leading me to create melodic rap music that conveys personal messages from my past, present and future.
As my passion for hip-hop music and other creative subjects grew, I started building a network of colleagues and friends in these industries, many of whom are extremely talented at what they do; artistic minds, visionaries and pioneers.
My new rap album wasn’t planned, my path led me to a place where it was intuitive and developed into something more than just a single hip-hop song.
How did I create my new rap album?
Well the answer is that I was resourceful, opportunistic and creative; my budget may have been limited but my ideas weren’t. I soon realised that making a new rap album isn’t just about the music, I had to think about everything from branding and digital marketing to music videos and so much more; each piece of the puzzle had multiple parts to it. From recording rap vocals in a simple bedroom type studio setting to designing my own website, I used every resource I had and I knew that the sky was the limit.
I started producing the tracks on the album; I have never had a formula for this so I just started with an element that felt right. It could be a drum beat, an 808, a string pad or whatever I felt was a good base for the track I was working on. My process has always been instinctive, once I started feeling the vibe, I would create the vocal melodies and lyrics. While I have an ear for music, I can’t play any musical instruments, so to complete my new rap songs and fill in the gaps, I reached out to musicians that I thought could add melody to my music; some I gave direction to whilst others created their own tunes and the result was almost always amazing.
While I have some knowledge of mixing and mastering, I soon realised that I wasn’t necessarily the best person for the job, so I partnered with Bryan Shortell, from the New York based band Northern Faces, who I had previously worked with. His work was professional, high quality and exactly what I needed for my new rap album; working with him on this project was one of the best choices I made.
Besides all of the fun I had creating the music with so many talented people, this project helped me expand my network that now includes people from around the globe; it helped me to develop the skills I needed to know how and where to find the right people.
I was fortunate enough to have one of the most creative and innovative graphic designers in the Netherlands as an ex brother-in-law, Gryzz Lee Design. He works with some of the biggest record labels in the country creating unique artwork; having him on this project was a dream come true.
I understood how important it would be to combine my hip-hop music with striking visual content. I enrolled Nathanaël Lumoindong to the task of creating my photographic content. I really loved his street photography style and knew that his work was in line with the vision for my new rap album.
Something that I knew I could do was create a one of a kind website; it would be one of the many ways that I would communicate with my audience. I created a WordPress website and added the visuals that Nathanaël has taken, together with New York photo's made by Atze Oosterhof to make it look distinctive. Although creating lyrics comes naturally to me, writing website content is not my strength so I reached out to my global network and enrolled Louise Reynolds, an Australian content creator, to write all of my website content including my bio.
My advice for you:
Go for it! Whether you’ve been thinking about it for a while or you’ve just come up with the idea, there’s no better time than now. Use your imagination to come up with creative solutions to solve your problems. Creating hip-hop music and a new rap album was the best thing I ever did; your dream could become a reality. Visualise the bigger picture and then come up with a plan. The internet has endless online tools that will help you make that vision become a reality. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, reach out to your networks and engage with talented creatives.
Watch the first official video: Kynn - Jacob (ft. Bryan Shortell)