June 1 marks the beginning of African-American Music Appreciation Music Month. I have had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing many talented African-American musicians throughout the state of Mississippi and the South. I have decided to dedicate the month of June to all the talented musicians I have crossed paths with. I am starting my Music Appreciation Series with the talented rapper/poet Myles Ellis, 23, of Macon, MS.
“Music has always been a part of my life to the point where I know my overall well-being has been changed by it. I don’t know where I’d be mentally without it,” said Ellis. Ellis was inspired to make music just by watching people who looked like him. He said he was inspired by the creative stories the artists told and the way they performed on stage. Just last year, Ellis released his first EP titled Soule of a Grio which he says took him about five months to complete.
Like many other talented artists, I discovered Ellis on Instagram through several accounts, one being OMNI Starkville, a company who also uses its platform to celebrate the talent of Mississippi musicians, and I must admit, Ellis’ music instantly became a favorite. Soule of a Grio is fused with poetry and rap that presents a strong message. When asked how Ellis describes his type of music, he said, “Not to be corny, but I describe it as very soulful,” he continued, “I feel as if I can stick my hand in any type of sound. I can go from Trip Hop to trap drums and 808s without losing comfort. I just make music for the creatives unheard.”
Ellis considers himself “a tad bit of a perfectionist” when it comes to his recording sessions. “It may take a few hours just on one verse sometimes,” he admitted. “I mess up a lot in the booth sometimes just thinking either too far ahead or skipping lines on my phone. It’s usually pretty chill though,” he said. Ellis said he likes to have friends around to shoot ideas, but no “yes men.” He added, “My eyes get wide in the studio just marveling at what technology can do when you play around with it.”
Ellis and I went even further in conversation about his music. He explained what each track meant to him on Soule of a Grio and his future plans for his music. Continue reading below to learn more about Ellis in our Q&A session.
Ellis has already begun writing songs for his next project and has hopes of releasing them by late August or early September.
Happy African-American Music Appreciation Month!
Jar Brown: I know as an artist, it is sometimes difficult to get yourself out there as far as your music. What hasvebeen some of your biggest challenges and how do you overcome them?
Myles Ellis: You said a mouthful. My biggest challenges would have to be the fact that there is not much opportunity around my area for artists to showcase talent. I pretty much have to travel an hour or more to perform a lot of times. No pay. Just building experience. I also find it hard to build buzz on social media. That’s so important now due to how fast information moves. Money has also been a challenge. (Laughs). It costs to rap. Paying for beats and artwork and all that jazz.
JB: Back to Soule of a Grio! Tell me about the story behind it. Track one was my fave because it set the tone for the entire album. Tell me about the creative process behind each song.
ME: The Difference is special to me because it was the very first song I recorded for the tape. It was a statement song saying, “Look, I got some soulful s—t, but I can spit, learn about me.” I wanted it to be a slight surprise in the last verse.
Summer Chant was my attempt at the fun summer song that you could smoke, drink, ride with the top down to. I brought my friends in the booth for it so they could help with the hook and the “twerk some” part. Also, the two voices during the verse were me recreating the typical dialogue for two friends about to go to a function. (Laughs). I had fun with it.
2 Shots were me showing duality. I love the trap beats and the hype factor that goes with it. It made me feel alive, then I thought, I have to show my other side at some point. So I had the idea of putting two totally different beats into one song and kind of fusing it to show that I’m good in both worlds. It’s the warning song that I come for what I deserve and won’t tolerate disrespect towards my craft. That’s why the ‘black mass’ quote was such a temp setter in the song because it’s like, you can take your shot, but you better make it good because when I come back, I don’t show mercy.
Metamorphosis was my first ever attempt at a slow jam. I wanted people to have something to put in their late night playlists. (Laughs).
Do My Thang was me confessing my lover boy side. Anybody who knows me knows that I’ve been through hell and back in relationships. It’s basically my proclamation that regardless of what happens, I have to move forward with life and prosper.
JB: What about 47th Scripture? I have a close relationship with number 47. Is it your favorite number? If so, why?
ME: 47th Scripture is one of my favorite poems ever written. I wrote it at a time where I was completely content with things going on around me. Releasing things that hindered me from having peace.
47 is my favorite number. It’s a numerology and spiritual thing for me. The four represents the 4th chakra which is the heart chakra, and the seven represents the 7th chakra that is crown. I see it as the complete balance of knowing myself as a king but also having a heart that allows me to humble myself throughout life.
JB: Who are some of your favorite artists and why? In what ways have they influenced you musically?
ME: A whole lot to name but a few that come to mind would be Wale, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Drake, Kevin Gates, Isaiah Rashad, Lil Wayne, SZA, etcetera. The list goes on, but influentially Wale inspired me to take on spoken word. He’s the coldest poet to ever live in my eyes. Cole inspired me to teach the world lessons through storytelling. I think Zay (Isaiah) flows on the craziest beats that suit my style and represents the underdog for me. Kendrick inspired my thirst for shock factor in my raps and also to do the unconventional and try new things to expand.
JB: So what did you think on Cole’s new album, KOD?
ME: I love it. Cole has never disappointed me on a project, and it seems as if they get better as he goes. Conceptually one of the most creative albums out right now if not the most. I think he’s quietly watched the state of hip-hop take a hit in the last couple years and the world also and decided to gather us all up as if we were his pupils in a classroom. There is a lesson in every song.
JB: Now back to your music. What are your future plans for your music?
ME: I’ve already been writing songs for my next project. Expect more shows and different ideas to pop out and collab projects with other artists I dearly respect. I honestly just plan on keeping my music as close to the heart as I can and never losing myself. I want to make money to support myself. I want to bring my friends on the road and put them in positions to succeed. I want to perform at SXSW (Southwest Music Festival) and A3C (Atlanta Hip-Hop Festival), amongst other things. I just want to be remembered as a young prophet.
JB: Speaking of performances, I see that you have performed quite a few places during the past weeks. What has it been like performing in front of certain audiences?
ME: Performing is the same rush every time. There is nothing like spitting your lyrics and seeing and hearing the crowd react to what you are saying. It’s all euphoric.
JB: Lastly, what kind of advice would you give to an aspiring musician who wants to share his or her work with the world?
ME: Start now. Whatever age you are. I don’t care if you’re five. Start writing, start studying legends and building respect for your legends. Mold your sound instead of conforming to the status quo. Fail so you know how it feels early. Don’t be afraid to perform at every opportunity you see fit. Invest in your craft so that it’s quality. Make music about your life and experiences.
JB: Well, I do have one more question. A bonus question. What do you think about FIOREME?
ME: I’m in love with. Just the fact that it gives people like me a platform to talk about our favorite things. That’s what we miss around here. The opportunity to give people a chance to be heard.
JB: Thank you so much Moe and I wish you nothing but blessings.
Click here to listen to Soule of a Grio.