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Under The Influence: Artistnameleon Is The New Face of Chillwave Rap & R&B Trap

Hip Hop is gaining a new champion in New York-based wordsmith artistnameleon. His cadences and flows are solid within his signature blend of Chillwave Rap and R&B Trap. The Georgia-born artist is determined to create music that’s relatable while worthy of bringing top-notch party vibes. The strongest aspect of his polished sound is how universal it can be even with hints of Dancehall and Pop. If you’re in the mood to bump up your kickback with bright and danceable tones, his single “I’m Ready,” is the perfect one to blast. The track is one of the many bangers from his latest EP “Closer Than Before.”  artistnameleon shares with Steereo that this project speaks to vulnerable parts of his life even as it maintains his undeniable ability to rap enthralling lyrics to lo-fi beats.

 

Alongside his “Closer Than Before” EP, artistnameleon has reached notable heights in his independent career thus far. He gained over 440K streams on Spotify, released a music video on BULLETT Magazine, and even landed #78 on the Global Top 200 AirPlay Charts. In this exclusive interview, artistnameleon delves into what drives his entrepreneurial spirit, creating his own clothing brand ANL Tees, and of course the meaning behind the music from his new EP.

Listen to “Closer Than Before” by artistnameleon

Tell us about yourself, what got you into music?

Both my parents loved music. Anything from Johnny Gill to 2 Live Crew. I became fascinated at an early age mimicking what I heard on the radio or in movies. As I got older I began to use my own words and that later transitioned into creating songs.

You have two EP’s under your belt, “Closer Than Before” and “Never Too Late,” as well as many singles. Can you tell us what you’re music career has been like so far? Has there been an unforgettable moment that you can share?

It’s been great so far. There have definitely been some tough moments but overall it’s been amazing. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a bunch of cool people. We put together a music video late 2017 where we shot a basement party scene in LES and it got so packed so early we had to turn people away. It was crazy. That was definitely a night I’ll never forget. But 2018 was my biggest year yet bringing in over 440K streams on Spotify and starting to see my fan base really take off. It’s been a blessing. This year I’ll be traveling abroad to Europe – London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris – and when I get back I’ll be headed to LA for a while, so I’m excited to see where that takes me.

 

You’ve been called a “humanitarian” and “entrepreneur” for creating your own clothing brand and being a successful independent artist, can you tell us how this impacts your approach to music?

I think that’s the game now. People want to feel like they’re apart of what you represent as a brand. And I think the smartest way to do that is to have merch. It’s a great way to get your brand out into the world by offering something more than just music. You wanna give them a lifestyle as well. Plus I’ve always loved drawing so it just made sense to actually put it to use by creating my own T-shirt line.

I think as an independent artist it can be tough, but if you believe in yourself and want it bad enough, really nothing and no one can stand in your way. You do what you gotta do to make it happen. As far as the Humanitarian element that came from my most recent magazine feature on Results and No Hype December Issue, some people may say that because I’m one of those artists that truly believe in building each other up and showing support. In this industry artists always want to be in competition with each other and throw jabs, but really there’s room for everybody because everyone has their own path and timing is everything. I’m not trying to come for anybody’s spot, just trying to stay in my own lane and focus on what I need to do for me and the people ridin’ with me. I’m a vegetarian too and try as much as possible to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. So, sometimes that can come off as ‘advocate-y’ or philanthropic but as a public figure and more so just as a human being, I think it’s important to take accountability for your actions and role in society and how what you say and do can impact/ influence those who look up to you.

 

Your latest EP “Closer Than Before” has such a range of songs from R&B to Trap stylings. What drove you to create it and what was your creative process like?

I wanted this project to reveal a side of me that I typically keep buried beneath the surface. I really wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something different. Songs like “I’m Ready” and “In My Life” are good examples of me being more vulnerable and letting my emotions run free. I also didn’t wanna overthink things too much on this project. The creative process was more of a “be in the moment” type approach. Thankfully it just worked.

How do you feel about the Rap genre and where do you see yourself navigating it as a rapper? How do you describe your sound?

I think rap is the most flexible genre out there right now. You don’t have to be the most lyrical or the most popular. You just have to do you and everything else will fall into place. I guess I would describe my sound as being melodic rap and R&B but I honestly just feel that it’s real. Real emotions, real situations. I like to think I speak for the ones who are super sensitive people who keep their true feelings bottled up. I wanna be the voice for them and share not only my stories but theirs as well.

 

In your song “In My Life,” you mentioned Aaliyah lyrics. What other artists and rappers inspire you and do they have an impact on your music (sound, message etc.)? 

Aaliyah definitely had an influence on my music. My sisters and I would sit in the living room and play her albums back to back. I can say early on I got a lot of my deeper writing style from Pac and Jay Z but I got my slowed-down flow from Pimp C. In high school I was drawn to the trap sound with people like Gucci Mane and Jeezy but I was more intrigued by the smooth melodic nuances of Kid Cudi and Drake.

Can you share why it was important for you to create the song “Storyofleon”? What do you want listeners to take away from the song?

That song to me was a moment of ventilation. I really wanted to connect with my audience and let them know where I’m coming from and what I represent. A lot of my songs deal with partying or relationships but I felt this was the perfect opportunity for me to tell my story.

 

Photo by Corey Higgins Courtesy of artistnameleon

Your song “I’m Ready” is another stand out track, which you released before your EP. Can you share with us what went into the song and the inspiration behind its dancehall feel?

“I’m Ready” was a fun track to make. I had fun writing it and recording it. Everything about it was so different from anything I’ve done at that time. I chose the dancehall style just because that’s what I was feeling at that time. I had been to a few island-themed parties and I just felt the vibe. If you’ve been to La Marina in uptown Manhattan in the summertime, you know the feeling.


You have striking lyrics in your EP, from songs “Reckless” to “Rain” can you share with us some intentional and meaningful lyrics from one (or more) of your songs that stick out to you the most?

“New year, same me, same team, same dream” I love that line just for the fact that it’s so simple but it really resonates. Like yeah, we’re at a new time in our lives but it’s still me with the people who believe in me and we’re all working toward our goals. I also like the lyric “believe what you do and what you say, no matter what they do or what they say.” I wrote that for my nephews but it ended becoming one of my favorite lines.

 

On Instagram you mentioned you have a new track coming out, can you tell us anything about it?

It’s gonna be something fun and new. I’m always pushing myself to do something different but staying consistent. Right now I’m working on the trilogy to the ‘Never Too Late’ and ‘Closer Than Before’ projects, and this new track is going to be the first released single off the project. I can’t say too much else about it just yet because my team and I are still working out the final details.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share about your career, music, or yourself?

I’m working on another video to follow for the next single and I’ll be dropping the trilogy EP very soon! 2019 has a lot coming, so stay tuned!

 

Watch The Official Music Video for “Make It Work” by artistnameleon

 

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Kai is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.