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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Choppin’ it up: Avant God

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Levar Dawkins
Levar Dawkinshttps://theinternationaltelegraph.news/
Editorial Team Rating: 4-AAAA Primary Journalism Sector(s): Entertainment, Sports

Been in El Paso for two years now, and in that time, I have met some good artists. With that said, I will be “Choppin’ it up” with different artists I have either met, or worked with, while I have been here. First up is “Avant God”; he is a rapper, producer, his own recording engineer and a painter. He is one of the first artists I worked with after I moved to El Paso, so it was only right that I reach out and talk about his latest released project, “Hell Til It’s Heaven”, as well as why he chose to do music. Hope you enjoy. #StayGrinding #StayWorking

Avant God showing off his grill

What’s up, man! Introduce yourself and state where you are from?

My Name is Avant God and I’m from Central El Paso, Texas; originally born in San Diego, California, at 6:50 a.m., on August 7th 1994. That info is for all the cute astrology honeys that wanna see my natal chart. Shoutout to y’all.

How would you describe your music?

A dark-induced Texas swang, with sprinkles of soulful, psychedelic, airy atmospheres; cinematic, at times. It’s what I imagine 8pm on a Thursday, in the middle of October, to feel like. Purple. Real pretty and cold. Sometimes kinda painful and esoteric.

What sets your music apart? What’s unique, or at least, uncommon?

Out the gate, it’s the vocals and the lyrics. I play so much with my voice, as far as, the deep pitches and the high pitches.

I wanted the music to feel like the continuation of what DJ Screw was doing, but with that mix of cocaine/speed on it. The lyrics are not easily comprehendable. It’s like I’m trying to describe a feeling, or a situation, that isn’t complex, but I make it complex by adding some poetic language in there. The instrumentation sets it apart because it’s not the average trap beat, with the average tripplet flows they done rehashed to death. The most uncommon thing about my music that sets it apart is the fact that it’s experimental, and that isn’t happening in hip-hop, outside of a few artists.

Who are your major influences?

“Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” by Raekwon, Jim Morrison, MF DOOM, early Punk Rock, DJ Screw. So many different albums, and artists. Anywhere between Eazy-E, Kanye, and Mobb Deep. The spectrum is large; outside of hip-hop, and in. I’m a student of music. You can study how metaphysical Jim Morrison’s lyrics can be, with how much of an incredible performer James Brown was, mix it with the grimey sound of Mobb Deep, and the combination is infinite. My influences are infinite.

Have you always been interested in music? Was there a particular song or performance that made you say “Woah, I want to do that?”

These turning points happened multiple times in my life. I remember being like 7 and hearing “Juicy” by Biggie Smalls come on the radio. I remember him talking about selling drugs to support his daughter, and how much of it being a very confusing thing for me. At that point, drug dealers were the bad guys, but that intro made me question the whole idea of what it meant to be underprivileged in America. I started listening to hip-hop religiously after that, which in turn, made me start writing my own lyrics by the time I was 12. It was more for fun tho’, and I never thought I’d actually pursue this music thing, until I walked into my uncle’s living room and saw him watching a music video when I was 15. It was “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” by Nas. That, for whatever reason, made me want to actually start rapping for real. At that time, I was super into West Coast hip-hop, but I wasn’t in deep with the East, yet. It all just kinda started happening; I was out here writing poetry that didn’t rhyme, to actual raps. By the time I got out of high school, I knew I wasn’t going to no college. I wanted to make this music thing happen.

What do you enjoy the most about being an artist?

One of Avant God’s paintings

I enjoy the creating. I enjoy that more than anything. I like listening to records and finding the perfect sample, chopping that hoe and then laying the drums. I love writing to it. Coming up with the concept, waiting for the inspiration to hit, writing something, possibly hating it, writing it again. Messing with the sounds, blending it all together to a song. There’s something about chasing perfection that’s really exhilarating. I like it when people loving it; I enjoy the attention. I enjoy that flawless feeling of being a creative artist. It feels like nobody in the world is as cool as you, cus they can’t be you, cus there’s only one you, and you do what you do in the flyest way. Every original artist should feel that way. 

Why this album? Why now?

I hadn’t released a full project since 2018; and I had a compilation of new music, a lot of it produced by me, some produced by Faith In Riches, multiple features on the board. It was just time to put together the album that told the current story of what me and everybody around me was going through. I really wanted to get to other things as well, but those other things couldn’t happen until this was done and released. You can’t make visual art until the audio aspect is finished. You can’t create merch for an album that isn’t out. Things like that. The sooner this could have came out the better.

What is your current music project about?

“Hell Till It’s Heaven” album cover

“Hell Til its Heaven” is exactly what it sounds like, that “Get Rich, Or Die Trying” attitude that drove 50. That ideaology of we stuck in Hell, so we raising Hell til we get our Heaven. It’s about what I was going through in 2019; dealing with a major loss of love, wrestling with addiction, losing friends, making new ones, loneliness, feeling everything on the emotional level, as far as dealing with every single frustration that I was having at that time. Those are the main themes. It’s the experience of a broke Hispanic from West Texas, dealing with spiritual, metaphysical, and romantic change. It’s a lo-fi experience, cus that’s how everything felt like at that time. It’s like my life hard turned down into a low-fidelity vibration that was blurry and cold in the summer, and hot in the winter. Everything was upside down and in reverse.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your current release?

The whole thing was a struggle. Having to deal with mastering, having to deal with album covers not being allowed through certain copyright laws; all the stuff that a manager should deal with, I was dealing with. So that made it the most challenging. The fact that I have to do all of it by myself and at the same time, not trusting anybody enough to give up the creative control that would probably ease the work load. I need a manager more than anything. I’m doing it all on my own out here.

When did you start writing this album?

I started writing for this album around the very beginning of 2019. Faith had done some instrumentals, and at that time, the pieces weren’t placed together at all, yet. It didn’t come out how I originally intended it because my life that year switched up on me; and it shows from the subject matter of my writing, all over the project. Everything was affecting the writing process; down to that terrorist that shot up the Walmart, where he specifically targeted Hispanics, not far from my spot… to the club scene on Cincinnati. It feels like the writing might of started before then, but it’s really hard to pinpoint it because of the constant change I was dealing with at that time. 

Where was your current project recorded?

There was multiple recording spots all over the city that I recorded this at. I’m talking “Hustle & Flow” style, where I was bringing the computer and microphone to multiple cribs. Some of it was recorded at a trap house in the Northeast, even though the person living there wouldn’t call it that. But, I’m sure you can put two and two together. Some of it was recorded at Faith’s apartment, where multiple artists have stepped into. That’s where a lot of the beats get made, and where a lot of my paintings are kept. And of course, my apartment, where I’m at my most experimental, cus I don’t got to deal with any outside forces talking out of turn. My favorite place to record was my last apartment. It felt like I had total control there. I could put on an old Mike Tyson fight in the background on mute and zone out. I watched the whole Sopranos series while recording this album in my apartment. Shit was depressing as hell. But, it made it fire.

Do you plan your music releases or do you just finish a song and release it?

Everything is planned and I rarely, rarely release singles. I don’t believe in singles in the way that it isn’t tied to any project. If I drop a single, it’s because it’s on a project that will see the light of day eventually. Right now, I actually have a collaboration project where I produce all the songs, and I’m rapping with Truluvve on every single song in the making, right now. The idea got started as an EP in the beginning of October. And now, it’s a ten song mixtape and all the recording is finished. We’re in mastering mode now, and it’s the last project I’m finna release for a while. Everything after that point is music videos, interviews, and merch. No more music, strictly promotion.

If you were talking to a younger version of you, what advice would you give yourself?

Young Avant God

If you see a dollar and you have to step on someone to get to that dollar, then you step on that person. Just kidding. I would tell him not to worry about a thing; you got the juice. Learn how to make music sooner. Don’t bother with any outside influences. These people don’t love you like they say they do. Friends are temporary, and you hold the keys. There ain’t nobody that made you, and you gonna get farther sooner if you believe in yourself, above all else. Don’t waste time hanging out when there’s a check with your name on it. The devil is a lie. Manifest, attract, and do.

Ok, thanks for your time. Anyone you want to shout out? Also, let the people know where they can find your new album and where to find you on social media.

As far as the new album, you can find it on campsite and you can follow me on instagram, twitter and youtube. Now time for shout outs… I would like to shoutout my homie Omar La Faith Martinez, can’t forget my boy Truluvve, the homie INeedMoneyMarco, Var-Don and my bro Faith in Riches.

INeedMoneyMarco and Avant God

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