Linqua Franqa at New York Times

Mariah Parker, who performs as Linqua Franqa, merges rapping, spoken word, singing, a social conscience, a sense of humor and a limber physical presence to mix the personal and the political; tracks built on ingeniously manipulated jazz samples are a bonus. She’s a Ph.D. student in linguistics at the University of Georgia; she’s also thoroughly down-to-earth.

[Link]

Eureka California at Austin Town Hall

We tried to hype you all to Eureka California for SXSW this year, and we’re right back on that glorious hype machine screaming for you to turn this track up real loud. Jake opens up this track, singing atop a steadied guitar line; you can feel the tension bend as Marie begins to build the force from the background. Then bang…distortion, smashing cymbals and a crunchy bit of guitar pop come ripping through your speakers; it’s the perfect execution of the quietLoudquiet concept. If you haven’t gotten into this band yet, well, I’m sorry, but you’ll get a chance when the group drop their new Roadrunners LP on May 4th via HHBTM.

[Link]

Eureka California at Immersive Atlanta

When artists have been playing shows for an extended period of time, the desire to evolve as a musician either becomes an obsession that rides roughshod over whatever made them interesting in the first place, or the artist gets caught in the loop of what made them successful in the past. It’s been over 10 years for Eureka California creator Jake Ward, yet so far he hasn’t succumbed to either extreme, choosing instead to explore every possible angle of chunky, organic rock and roll (please don’t sue me Campbell’s® Soup), without deviating from his roots as an insightful bedroom songwriter.

“Threads,” the first single off the duo’s upcoming LP Roadrunners, picks up where the band left off with 2016’s Versus, a fiery ode to Athens filled with a depth of insight I hadn’t seen from the band before. Ward and drummer Marie Uhler continue to confront the tinnitus hum of dead-end jobs, the mortality of relevance, and in this case, the existential threat of nuclear annihilation, which still takes a backseat to the more mundane headaches of life.

The duo have always had a bombastic charm, often barely able to keep up with their own onslaught. Each riff charges out of Ward’s amp with a mind of its own leaving lyrics and rhythm struggling in the wake. This blunt-force energy makes Eureka California tracks impossible to ignore, but “Threads” proves that Ward can tame the beast without losing the fire. The sharpened ‘90s alternative sound is a tantalizing way forward for the band, who have experimented with everything from lo-fi emo jams to noise rock. Give it a listen below.

[Link]

Eureka California at Austin Town Hall

One of our favorite duos from Athens, GA just dropped a brand new tune off their forthcoming LP. Like all great track from Eureka California this one drops in at just over 2 minutes, but it packs a ferocious punch. Drummer Mary Uhler is back there furiously pounding her kit, setting a quick pace that forces Jake to push ahead with both vocals and guitars. It’s a breakneck speed, indie rock speaking, but the slight vocal inflection in Jake’s voice give just the slightest hint at pop sensibility. They’re also going to be one of the hot tickets at SXSW, with everyone clamoring to catch them live. Roadrunners will be released by HHBTM on May 4th. Check the song out below, with their SXSW dates included.

[Link]

Linqua Franqa at Backseat Mafia

Taken from her The Model Minority album, out February 23rd on HHBTM Records, Anthens-based rapper Mariah Parker aka Linqua Franqa is about to release the third single Gold Bike – premiering here on Backseat Mafia today.

Using all the skills she learnt during her masters degree in linguistics at the University of Georgia, Parker is a formidable talent, and says of the track “I wrote Gold Bike roughly two years after my friends had kidnapped my then-very-normal bicycle, which I used to get around town, and returned it glittering on the day of my 23rd birthday; Gold Bike was also written the week after my first ever hip hop performance, which left me reeling and feeling sustainedly hopeful and like my life mattered for the first time in years. I actually met the producer at that show, too, so I feel doubly indebted to that evening. ”

Built on this wonky old time swing cut up, the rising brass gives the track drama as Parker regales the listener with the story of the kidnapped bike, with wit, skill, throwing in vivid descriptions with her laid back delivery and some good old R&B stylings. Check it out, here

[Link]

Linqua Franqa at Austin Town Hall

Sometimes you’ve got to dig to find the gems, but hopefully at the end of 2018 Linqua Franqawill be more prevalent in everyone’s listening habits. It’s the musical outlet for Mariah Parker, who calls Athens, GA home; she’s kicking back and offering a more linguistic approach to modern hip-hop. I love the soulful vibe that rests in between the verses she’s putting out, not to mention the lines that open and close this track. Ultimately, it’s her flow and her sharp turn of words that elevates this tune above others, offering true poetry at a blistering pace. Nod your head, and revel in all that lays before you as we await the release of Model Minority on February 23rd via HHBTM.

[Link]

Linqua Franqa at Magnet

It makes perfect sense that a rapper would be interested linguistics. (That’s “the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of morphology, syntax, phonetics and semantics,” for those of you not into, well, linguistics.) But Mariah Parker has taken this interest to a whole different level, earning a master’s degree in linguistics at the University of Georgia. The Athens-based Parker (a.k.a. rapper Linqua Franqa) just released debut album Model Minority via HHBTM. The 13-track LP features collaborations with fellow Southerners Wesdaruler and DopeKNife and tackles important issues such as depression, addiction, race, politics, feminism and more, all set to an R&B-influenced backdrop.

“Midnight Oil” is one of Model Minority’s standouts, and we’re proud to bring it to you today. Says Parker of the track, “Midnight Oil is mostly a true story. I recall a day where I did indeed spy a pile of powdered orange crumbs in the corner of my room and got down on my hands and knees to taste test it. The rest of that verse is fictionalized, but highly plausible, thinking back to previous periods of my life. I can imagine a younger version of myself licking floorboards with ease.” That’s the straight story, girls and boys. Download and/or stream “Midnight Oil” below.

[Link]

Linqua Franqa at Immersive Atlanta

If you haven’t been paying attention, Mariah Parker is killing it right now. In one year, the Athens-based rapper and linguist, better known as Linqua Franqa, dropped her debut EP, started managing Tommy Valentine’s campaign for county commissioner, steered the good ship of Hot Corner Hip Hop, and dazzled thousands with her phenomenal opening set for ESG. Her surgically sharp bars cut to the quick, spilling truth like blood on tricky subjects, even as suave beats from the likes of WesDaRuler (aka Space Dungeon cult leader Wesley Johnson) and Murk Daddy Flex (aka multitasking groove master Terence Chiyezhan) surround her. Safe to say, if you haven’t heard Linqua Franqa yet, you’d best amend that.

Now, Model Minority counts as Parker’s first actual full length, yes. Technically, though, HHBTM Records has more or less reissued that first EP, and padded out the rest of the album with two new tracks and three remixes. Of course, if you missed the waves that Linqua Franqa made last year, then this is essential. As far as I know, no one else in 2017 tackled the stigma of abortion with such buttery soul or aching candor (“Eight Weeks”). And I could be wrong, but I doubt anyone else also crooned like Erykah Badu about her ongoing affair with drug addiction in that period, either (“Midnight Oil”). Yep, yep—in the proper underground tradition (I’m thinking Billy Woods here, especially), Parker can condense complicated matters into bangin’ choruses, the kind that you will definitely raise your fist and yell back at the show, and that hasn’t changed in 2018. If you haven’t yet pledged with 100+ other strangers to wake up at 7 and eat your vegetables (“The Con & the Can”), you’re not living correctly.

So, there’s that. Then there’s the new cuts, particularly the two versions of the scathing ode to suicidal tendencies and lyrical substance (yup!) “My Civilian Life.” We premiered the faster, glitch-warped mix from Savannah beatsmith Dope KNife, but the snazzy bossa nova flute and slower tempo of WesDaRuler’s hot take just might top it. Speaking of which, the elegant brag track “Raw” boasts some fine guest verses from the local king of boom bap himself, reminding everyone that he’s earned plenty of turf in the rap game with his stoic delivery. Elsewhere, a piano-haunted mix of “Midnight Oil” strings together the “Breathe In/Breathe Out” monologue, painting the complete picture of Parker’s candid drug abuse confession. Only the a cappella cut of “Gold Bike” seems like a disposable extra—everything else lends another angle to tilt and admire Linqua Franqa’s genius from.

To conclude, then—even if you were paying attention last year, Model Minority serves as a potent gut-punch reminder that Parker is that rare complete package of a superstar in the making. With fearless honesty and undeniable charisma, Linqua Franqa’s proper debut already feels bigger than what Athens can handle.

Model Minority is out today.

[Link]

Linqua Franqa at Flagpole

It was hard to miss Linqua Franqa in 2017. The linguistics doctoral student turned Athens It Girl—known to friends and family as Mariah Parker—released her self-titled debut last February and quickly took the Classic City by storm, bridging cultural divides and injecting a hefty dose of sociopolitical awareness into local music in the process. Her skillful turns of phrase, magnetic live show and nonstop activity paved the way for a best hip-hop artist win at last summer’s Flagpole Athens Music Awards, and she wowed at ensuing slots opening for of Montreal at AthFest and ESG at Athens Popfest.

With Model Minority, HHBTM Records’ impending vinyl re-release of her debut, Linqua Franqa is prepping for the limelight once again. The reissue includes a new track, plus a slew of remixes from her beatmaker-in-chief, Wesley Johnson, aka WesdaRuler, as well as Savannah emcee Dope Knife. But as attention continues to mount for the gold-bike-riding rapper, Parker is staying grounded, keeping her performing alter ego and musical ambitions in check with another personal passion: local politics.

“By some metrics, my life is in shambles,” Parker jokes over a beer at Walker’s Coffee and Pub. It’s a little after 8 p.m., and she’s just now finding time to decompress, revealing her secret to how she manages to wear so many hats without completely losing her mind. “At some point, when you’re so passionate about so many different things, and you feel called to do them… you learn to operate at a lower threshold,” she explains. “You have to either go insane or accept that 50 percent is good enough.”

It’s likely that Parker is her own harshest critic, though. After all, she’s partially responsible for putting Athens hip hop back on the map.

Parker adopted the Linqua Franqa name (then Lingua Franca; the spelling was recently changed) in 2015 after moving to Athens from Asheville, NC, new to the city and eager to create a fresh identity. As a regular at The World Famous, it wasn’t long before she approached a friend working there about organizing a hip-hop show. It drew an unexpectedly sizable audience, convincing Parker that there was more work to be done. “When I saw the amount of people that coalesced around it, from that first show, I knew that we had to keep doing this,” she says. “I knew we had to keep cultivating that.”

From there, Parker became instrumental in reinvigorating the local hip-hop scene, booking Hot Corner Hip Hop events, connecting like-minded artists and bringing outsiders into the fold. “She’s provided a platform for local hip hop to thrive,” says her friend and producer Johnson. “It’s even brought life to movements that were already in place, but struggled to continue [growing].”

With the scene thriving, Parker felt it was time to decentralize. She didn’t want to be viewed as the gatekeeper or spokesperson for local hip hop. She had also been taking a much harder look at the rooted issues permeating Athens’ political and socio-economic framework.

“It’s so much deeper than just getting people to come to shows,” Parker says. “Why do you think it was that there weren’t a lot of black people in the music scene? Those questions are not just a matter of, ‘Well, this bar is too kitschy and white,’ and that’s just it. It’s way, way deeper than that. If you want to have a really thriving and diverse and fruitful culture, one that’s constantly generating cool shit, you’ve got to fix the underside of it that’s creating [those] conditions.”

One particular message started to resonate more and develop a life of its own. As Parker raps in her song “The Con and the Can”: “Cuz everyone wantin’ to complain about the state of the system, congratulate themselves on Facebook for paying attention/ And homie, I know you’re right, but if nobody mobilizes and noble fights, shit/ We staying slaves for centuries.” It’s a comment on the trappings of being social-media woke without making motions towards progress in real life, but it’s also a personal call to action. “The only way I have to fix it is cashing my chips in,” she concludes.

“When it comes to Mariah’s music, the lyrics are what sets her apart, in my opinion,” says Pity Party house show organizer and Perfect Attendance Records head Taylor Chicoine. Chicoine and Parker have encouraged each other’s projects, and he recently produced the video for Linqua Franqa’s “Gold Bike.” “It’s real, raw truth,” he continues. “I’ve seen people become uncomfortable upon understanding some of her lyrical content, but that’s the point, I think. There are lots of issues in our society that don’t get properly dealt with because they make people uncomfortable.”

Parker’s rhymes often make those raw truths more palatable, so it wasn’t much of a jump when she dove headfirst into introducing those ideas to an even wider audience by joining Tommy Valentine’s campaign for Athens-Clarke County commissioner. Valentine saw a Linqua Franqa set and continued to run into Parker at activist circles before having a long conversation about music, language and politics and extending an invitation to join the campaign. Now, Parker serves as Valentine’s campaign manager. On their docket: improving community relations with police, fighting for a living wage, securing better public transportation and creating more opportunities for continuing education for adults.

“From the moment we started this campaign, we said that we hoped it would be about more than a moment. We wanted it to be a movement,” says Valentine, himself a former Athens emcee. “Thanks to Mariah, we feel like we’ve succeeded well before Election Day.”

As the campaign narrows in on the May 22 election, Parker continues to advocate on Valentine’s behalf by canvassing, organizing town halls and more. And while politics has taken the front seat most recently, Parker still has plenty of musical plans, and a few beats ready to go for a new album. She’s still mulling over subject matter, though it shouldn’t take long for her to piece things together once she gets into the studio. “Until I sit down with a beat and let it tell me what the story ought to be, I don’t really know what the story will be,” Parker says.

One issue she is interested in tackling is combating inaction. “It’s something I’ve wanted to write about and foresee being a very prominent theme in my next work,” she says, “especially as I deal more and more with trying to empower people politically, and [find] that a lot of a certain kind of person feel[s] very paralyzed with guilt into not acting. Like, ‘Oh, well everything’s so terrible, and I’m so terrible; I can’t do anything,’ and having to work around that with folks.”

Whatever the calling—politics, music or language—Parker is eager to continue bettering herself and her community. One thing is certain: She’s going to stay busy as hell.

“I haven’t worked around that with myself, of like, ‘I’m a garbage human; I’ll never amount to anything,’” Parker admits, before her tone turns from critical to hopeful. “People need more than that from me. People of the world need more of that from everyone.”

UPDATE: After this story was published, Parker announced her candidacy for Athens-Clarke County Commission in District 2. Read more here.

[Link]

Linqua Franqa at Impose

Amid any era of turmoil, both universally & locally, the first step to facing down adversity & obstacles in our shared world begins with working from within to enact the outward change one wishes to see in their own lives. In the timeless lyrical wisdom of Lauryn Hill, How you gonna win when you ain’t right within?—the balance we wish to see in our community starts by centering ourselves to impart beacons of knowledge & care to loved ones & acquaintances that comprise our daily lives. By regrouping & re-organizing ourselves, the collected & consolidated inward aspects of confidence allows one to bestow a power to be reckoned with that they & few else have ever known.

Exemplifying these logics, truths & a whole lot more is Athens’ upstart Linqua Franqa who presents the world premiere advance listen to one of the year’s best releases—Model Minority. Otherwise known as Mariah Parker, the artist shares a stunning full-length that was created while attending the University of Georgia where she achieved a master’s degree in linguistics displaying a remarkable & original gift of expressive gab that shines further on the new album. Slated for release February 23 from Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records (HHBTM), Model Minority is Linqua Franqa’s relentless autobiographical narrative that delves into ultra-real aspects of addiction, reproductive rights, coping with depression & so much more that illustrates the intimate experiences of women in color living in an America that is in need of an urgent wake-up call. What you are about to witness is the state of our fractured union, where Linqua lyrically tells real scathing truths that exhibits issues of self-care, cultural conflicts & the unbound ambition of the human spirit in ways that the six o’clock news & talking heads could never-ever convey.

Linqua Franqa pulls no punches & begins Model Minority without apology that places a super frank form of honesty on display. This is reinforced with an enlightening passion that speaks to all with hearts that can comprehend human empathy & souls that understand the process of healing. On “Up Close”, Linqua immediately zooms the lens up close on everything from chemical dependency and the pressures of what family wants you to be, who you want to be in life & the long, complicated road to getting where you want to go. “Eight Weeks” is one of the most earnest & unusual tracks about the untold conversations surrounding abortion that are not had, but reserved for the sectors of secrecy. In the same way that Linqa dispels the stigma & taboos of addiction of depression, the concepts of reproductive choice are illustrated in terms of both importance & all the involved complications that a woman endures internally & emotionally (with further perspectives on the generational rifts in dialogues that often go undisclosed & unsaid).

Dependencies on others & substances run parallel lines on “Midnight Oil” that examines the pangs & attachments to comforts with a sharp academic wit & cathartic rhythmic delivery. On the interlude of “Breathe In”, Linqua Franqa exhibits the visceral connection to narcotic fixations & their effects that are revealed in a poetic honesty that recreates the experience in a prosody matched by measures of breaths & the corresponding heart rate acceleration. Mental ecosystems & states of mind are examined in ways that exhibit expansive thought processes of making life plans & all the fears, anxieties & everything we over-think when we’re alone (that closes with a spirit assuaging voice mail style message from Mariah’s own mother). Old world backpack boom-baps are blended with classic calls & responses on “The Good Feels” that kicks it in ways that are meta & self-assured that shines with what could be the definition of the Linqua Franqa style & sound. Mariah makes bold moves with further trademark sensibilities on “Gold Bike” that could serve as the the artist’s own entrance theme whenever the emcee arrives on the scene with a bicycle emblazoned in the luster of ore with a supportive posse rolling deep in toe.

With the Linqua Franqa movement strolling onto the second side, “Raw” features a collaboration with local Athens artist WesDaRuler that keeps the mood lively in ways that are bombast, super honest & above all—ultra-real. Wes also lends a hand remixing “My Civilian Life” that accentuates the beauty that surrounds us all despite the daily obstacles (both internal & external) with a quick spitting woodwind-themed production that paints pictures of a thousand gorgeous sunny days. Collaborating with Dope KNife on another remix of “My Civilian Life”, the moods & tensions of the personal expository delivery is given a cinematic musical treatment that heightens the elements of suspense & high stakes that stands in contrast to the previous rendering. WesDaRuler returns for a new take on “Midnight Oil” in a remix that adds piano loops that underscores the emotional energy & layers of a track that trades in narratives of life aspirations & all the absurd & odd attachments that make cameos along the way. Model Minority closes out with an acapella version of “Gold Bike” that presents Linqua Franqa’s genuine aesthetic form with an isolated vocal that underscores the fierce & raw presence of the Athens artist.

We had a chance to catch up with Linqua Franqa in the following candid interview:

First off, tell us what sorts of enlightenment you can impart to the rest of us in the world of semantics & more now that you have acquired a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of Georgia.

Haha, I can’t tell if you’re being serious here. Assuming you are, I think the most important thing that I learned during my master’s degree is this. All dialects are rule-bound and systematic, be they the Southern drawl of the Waffle House or the oration of Queen Elizabeth. Doesn’t matter. What in the 90s we called Ebonics but today call African American English is as internally consistent as the way middle class white people talk. That’s just scientific fact, backed up with many thousands of pages of research, so if anyone who tries to tell you that some kinds of English are degenerate, they are an asshole.

What lead you to discover your own unique & original voice in the world of hip hop?

Being a really bookish kid and forever attempting to harmonize with my mom’s singing in the car were probably heavy factors from my childhood.I think discovering Aesop Rock, as late in the game as I was to that, really gave me permission to be as outlandish and technical in my writing as I am today. I have always loved unraveling word puzzles, but being given license to build them as well, as an artist, has been incredibly freeing.

Describe the relationship between your own lyrical bouquets of brilliance to the organic back beats & production. Do the rhymes come first or the arrangements? Which component inform the other, or is it a mutual symbiotic relationship?

The rhymes generally come first, in bits and pieces. The beat then explains to me how the rhymes should be organized. Take, for example, Eight Weeks. Both those verses had been written and floating around in my head for months until I heard the beat and with it the story arch that would hold those verses together. Most of the album was composed that way, with the exception of a few beats I knew in an instant I had to write to and sat down right then and there to do so– Raw is an example of this.

Tell us too about how collaborations with WesDaRuler, DopeKnife & more have further impacted your own approaches & creative visions for Model Minority and more.

Well, let me start by saying that Wes and Knife are geniuses. For the remixes, Wes finger drummed the beats live in the studio on his MPC, which give them the subtly shifting and unstable feel that I love so much. Early in our careers, a lot of rappers make do taking a beat as it is first presented to them and just running with it, but having the chance to work more like a band, the way Wes and I have on this project, has been a gift.

Like on “Gold Bike” & other tracks, I love the way you move from swift spoken verses to melodic sung. For you what is your relationship to the conventions of sung-song & the expanses of rapped lyical bars?

There is a real personal, privy, candid & feminist forward component especially on tracks like “The Con & The Can”, “Raw”, “Midnight Oil” & “Eight Weeks”. Interested in hearing about the cathartic process of conveying intimate aspects from your own life, histories & more into your own artistic approaches of expression.

It feels good to take these shitty, useless scraps—and I mean both things that have happened in my life and the factoids about how English works that my head’s stuffed with—and weave them together into something pretty and wearable. Externalizing them takes their power to harm me away. It’s like dragging my demons out into the village square and hanging them in the stocks.

Also interested in hearing about how you were dubbed, or dubbed yourself with the awesome moniker of Linqua Franqa.

In linguistics, a lingua franca is a language used to communicate across cultures. In parts of post-colonial African, French is spoken across cultural lines, so it’s a lingua franca. English is the lingua franca of the world today. So, too, is hip hop, I think. I chose the name because I wanted my music to do that.

Other local Athens artists & activists that you want to recognize?

I gotta give props to Tommy Valentine, my friend and a candidate of county commission here in Athens. He’s radically changing the conversation we’re having about local politics in Athens and I feel my friendship with Tommy and my work with his campaign have been some of the most transformative things in my life to date. Plus he’s a former rapper, and if he can run for office, so can I, and so can you! Shout outs also to Mokah Johnson of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement; I and love that Mokah leads with soul and spirit and leaps toward challenges without fear of failure. She’s another person I’m very happy to know.

Some of your favorite emcees out there, not necessarily in Athens, that you are really inspired by right now?

I played a show with Ceschi Ramos recently and was utterly floored. His genre blending is so insane and rhyme delivery just impeccable. Goals, man. On that same show I played with Jonathan Brown, a rapper-slash-spoken-word-artist from New Orleans. His style is totally his own, his lyrics are totally vulnerable, but he’s also a really nice person and I think that’s super important. Others include Musashi Xero of Asheville, Paid in Amerikkka from ATL—their hustle is wild and their rhyme and production game so on point. Plus Son Zoo, of Athens, has always kept me on my toes lyrically, and I appreciate him for that.

What inspires you currently in the Athens scene?

The resilience of some of the rappers here is incredible. To see folks like Seline Haze and Trvy.

Further thoughts on activism in Athens and everywhere in 2018 and what we all can do to stay woke & aware of our worlds & others?

Discomfort and risk are unevenly distributed in our society. Black and brown people and women and queer folks and poor folks and differently-abled folks are asked to bear more discomfort and risk than other people. Frank and humble conversations about and direct action against these ills can be deeply uncomfortable, but it’s only because conversation and action redistribute discomfort more equitably. So I encourage people to sit with their discomfort, interrogate it, have these conversations, and show up when the people need them even when they feel awkward about it.

Spring, summer & fall plans for Linqua Franqa?

Playing at SXSW in a month, then this summer touring as much as I can. Keep your fingers crossed for me; I’ve applied to teach creative nonfiction at the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth in Hong Kong and, if accepted, plan on doing a few dates.

Linqua Franqa also broke down The Model Minority with the following side for side/track by track breakdown:

SIDE A:

“Up Close” was the first song I put together for Model Minority. Fresh out of the relationship I had moved to this city for, I was drinking hard and nightly, taking any drugs I could get my hands on, bringing home anyone with a pulse, driving off all my friends with suicidal rants. I began stitching together pieces of spoken word I had performed over the years, desperate to find a new identity in music. The second and third verses of “Up Close” were old gems, which I topped off with an opening manifesto of how little I wanted to live: I don’t give shits, damns, fucks, but up hope I give with gusto…Altogether, the song gestures broadly to how I have felt basically my whole life; crippled with self-doubt, lost in vices of various kinds, hyper-aware of identity issues, but all the same trying to construct a public persona of capability and chill.

I remember when I first rapped those verses over the Murk Daddy Flex loop, pacing around my mom’s apartment, deaf to the outside world, a few days before Christmas. I felt hope to be alive again, fleetingly.

Springtime came and I thought I’d survived the seasonal side of the depression. The sun came out. Grass flourished. I was over my ex. Still I wanted to die and couldn’t understand why. But I find myself desensitized by how absurdly nice it is to step outside my crib and smell the violets and the hyacinths. In February I discovered I would need an abortion and it was a saddest kind of aha moment. If everything in your environment’s conspiring to uplift you and cannot, then maybe there’s something on the inside that’s the problem. I didn’t finish writing this song til months later, when I had a second, compositional ahamoment and decide to put together these verses, which were written separately.

“Midnight Oil” is mostly a true story. I recall a day where I did indeed spy a pile of powdered orange crumbs in the corner of my room and got down on my hands and knees to taste test it. The rest of that verse is fictionalized, but highly plausible, thinking back to previous periods of my life. I can imagine a younger version of myself licking floorboards with ease.

“Breathe In/Breathe Out” I had initially formalized as a song of its own, and the original opening verse I’ll still perform acapella at shows. It’s braggadocios as hell and Joel really didn’t want it to go on the album because he sensed it didn’t fit with the vibe, and he was right. The remnants were split in half and I’m really happy with the narrative support they give the arc of the LP as a whole.

“The Con and the Can” is produced by Dexx of YOD. The voicemail from my mother at the end is dramatized, by her, which was easy for her to do since it is literally what she says any and every time I call her crying.

“The Good Feels” was my first-ever collaboration with Wesdaruler. The first day we ever met I recorded a demo in front of him at our mutual friend’s studio, and like that, he and all the boys there were visibly shook. Wes right then and there asked me to be part of his Space Dungeon collective. We’ve been good friends ever since.

I wrote “Gold Bike” roughly two years after my friends had kidnapped my then-very-normal bicycle, which I used to get around town and returned it glittering on the day of my 23rd birthday. “Gold Bike” was also written the week after my first ever hip hop performance, which left me reeling and feeling sustainedly hopeful and like my life mattered for the first time in years. I actually met the producer at that show, too, so I feel doubly indebted to that evening.

SIDE B:

“My Civilian Life” is my first collaboration I did with Dope KNife. The beat was titled “My Civilian Life” when he sent it to me and I kept the title in honor of his skill as a beatsmith. Producers don’t get enough credit. Another story: Knife is actually a big reason why I rap now. He and I met at a Sage Francis show in Atlanta in 2015 and I loved his set and wanted him to come to Athens. My desire to bring Knife here was a large part of why I booked my first show without having any songs written; I didn’t know who else here could or would open for him, so I decided I would. He couldn’t play the show in the end, as luck would have it. In short, I am a longtime fan of his and really thrilled about the projects we are planning for in the near future.

As well, it should be known that the opening verse of “My Civilian Life” was written for an Apartment Session video shot on a rooftop in Bed-Stuy while I was on my first tour. When I got the invite from Evan Tyor (of Scooterbabe) to take part, the verse poured out of me onto paper in about an hour. The idea was that I play Earl Sweatshirt, only reciting an original verse.

“Raw” is a very subtle, indirect nod to Busta Rhymes, particularly in the opening ya ya ya ya ya’s. Wes was putting together his 4da99 EP at the time, all of which was heavy homage Hip Hop pre-2000 (which everyone should go listen to immediately if they like Raw; it’s one of my favorite hip hop records, period). It was originally going to come out on 4da99, but we both really wanted something of Wes’s on wax and decided to include it as part of this collection.

The line if I died in my apartment like a rat in a cage is also a nod to Aesop Rock, my favorite rapper; it’s copied from the opening of “Dorks” off The Impossible Kid.

On “My Civilian Life” (Wesdaruler mix) and Midnight Oil remix: Wes actually finger-drummed the beats live in the studio on his MPC. The subtle irregularity of the bass and snare drove us completely insane and told us something special was getting created all at the same time.

I wanted people to remix “Gold Bike” because, of all the songs on the album, this one feels like a true dare. The original beat is so iconic (much love to Letsruntrack) that I’m skeptical it could be outdone in different hands, but I’m excited to see what happens.

Linqua Franqa’s anticipated debut album Model Minority will be available February 23 from Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records.

[Link]