Looking to build off of the success of her first full length project “Off The Burner”, Atlanta rapper/singer AdELA is poised for serious mainstream success with her upcoming project “Dreamers & Thinkers”. I recently got the chance to speak to the South African born rapper for an exclusive interview. We discussed her evolution as an artist, working with hip hop legends like Fat Joe, and much more. Check out the interview below, and make sure to go pre-order “Dreamers & Thinkers” before it drops on September 22nd.
You released your first project, “Off The Burner”, in 2015. What kind of progress have you made as an artist since then. How has your style and music evolved from your first project to now?
When I did the first project, It was just to kind of tell a story and show people I can create a body of work that was cohesive and well put together. After dropping “Off The Burner” I was able to build relationships with other artists, and from there I thought it would be cool to do a big collab project. It started out as just a collab between different producers, and then slowly morphed into this EP with some of the greatest emcees to ever live.
You have a slew of features from artists who are heavyweights in the game, from Fat Joe, to Royce Da 5’9 to the legend Kool G Rap. What was it like working with these artists and vibing off of their energy on tracks?
It was amazing. It didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t a quick process. I was working with rappers who are very successful, touring, and working on their own projects, but initially when I sat down with StreetRunner (AdELA’s producer) I had an idea of who I would want on each track. I totally lucked out because when I sent each of these rappers the tracks they loved them, and everyone brought their A game. To hear these guys on one of your own tracks, and hear them vibing off your verse or hook was incredible. I still think it’s the coolest thing to hear Kool G Rap say my name in his verse on my song. It’s amazing. “Love For You” and “Main Attraction” are the two songs I have already released, but some of the other tracks are fire. Having a verse from Fat Joe is amazing, Joe always has a hit single, he’s timeless in my opinion. Royce Da 5’9 is in my top 5, and him, myself and Jon Connor have a really big record.
On songs like “Main Attraction” you have several references to hip hop legends like Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Luniz. It’s refreshing in today’s rap world to see someone in the mainstream pay homage to these legends of hip hop, especially when many other artists seem to not care much about lyricism or the roots of rap.
Yeah “Main Attraction” kind of sums that up. When I recorded the record, I sent it over to Kool G Rap, and I did not give him any direction…because he’s Kool G Rap. He kind of took the vibe and took the same route of paying homage, and my mind was just blown.
Your album art is crazy. You’re in front of the American flag wearing a sweatshirt covered in newspaper headlines about Trump and Police Brutality, it sends quite the message. With today’s political climate, how important is it for you to send a message to your listeners in your music?
What’s crazy about the cover is that it was created a week before Trump was nominated President. I thought to myself for a moment, what if he turns it around, you know what if he isn’t this villain that we all keep seeing? Three weeks ago I sat there getting ready to release this project, and he didn’t. The political climate didn’t change, it got worse. When we did this artwork it was not so much like “I’m gonna send you my message” or “I’m gonna push my message on you”, it was more so the fact that these are all real headlines. None of this is made up, and when I was creating these songs this was what was going on. I think it’s important for us as artists to always keep some sort of message going and say “Hey, here’s what’s happening, here is what’s unjust”. On the flip side though I have party records too, that’s just life, I have to be well rounded.
It seems like were seeing a little bit of a resurgence of women in hip hop with artists like Remy Ma, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B. How does it feel to be apart of this elite group of female rappers making a name for themselves in an industry that is so male dominated?
It’s always amazing to watch other women do this, because it is very male dominated, but the thing I think any female rapper would say is call us “rappers” not “female rappers”. We’re all in the same industry, and I think it’s great because as women we sometimes have to step up our game and set our bar much higher than the guys, it’s almost like we have more to prove sometimes. I’ll go to a show and there will be seven rappers, and I might be the only female there. So I feel like I have to bring my A game all the time, and that’s what all these women are doing. We’re seeing this wave of girls taking over and I think it’s amazing. There’s room for everyone. Women have always been apart of the culture and I don’t think much has changed, I support all these women and they’re all amazing in their own right.
I know you have a lot of big time features on this project, but do you have a dream collab aside from the artists you’ve already worked with?
Nas. I don’t even need you to finish, Nas would be my guy. He’s my dream collab. He’s always been an idol to me and someone I looked up to musically. On my first album I was thinking “I’m making this project so one day if Nas hears it, he will be a fan of it”.
What is your creative process like? Are you someone who just punches in when you’re in the booth and freestyles?
No, I feel like when I work on each project, it’s quality over quantity. Take a track like “Main Attraction”, there were so many elements going into that, we even had DJ Precise, who is a really well known battle rap DJ in Atlanta, do all the scratching on there. It’s a process and every record has to be right. Because this was a collab project there were a lot of moving pieces, a lot of these rappers were in different cities or on tour so there was a lot of cutting your verse, sending it over and asking “What do you think?” or hearing something and saying “Oh this is dope”. It was a longer process because it wasn’t just me. Everyone is different, but for me last night when the pre-order went up, and I looked at the artwork and the track list I thought “This is perfect.” In my mind, I want people 20,30,50 years from now to listen back and go “Yeah, this is still good. This is good music”.
Make sure to follow AdELA, and click the link below to pre-order “Dreamers & Thinkers” before it’s official release September 22nd.
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