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EXCLUSIVE: Elujay Discusses Oakland, “Jentrification,” & Honest Soulful Music

Fresh off the release off his album, “Jentrify,” hypefresh sat down with the Oakland native to discuss music influences, his hometown and liberation.

Elujay is a multi-talented rapper and producer from Oakland, CA. The 20-year-old emcee began creating music when he was 14, after a friend of his uploaded a beat-making program to his laptop. Inspired by D’Angelo, Musiq Soulchild, and Kendrick Lamar, Elujay started producing instrumentals and creating raps that represented his love for both soul and hip-hop. The Bay Area emcee has been on a mission to create “honest soulful music” ever since that expresses his feelings and experiences growing up in Oakland.

Elujay’s style is refreshingly unique, due to his organic ability to take control of his entire creative process, including making his own instrumentals. Although Elujay has seen early recognition with his previous singles, the indie rapper is determined to hone in on his style with the goal of reaching fans all over the world. We had a chance to sit down with Elujay and pick his brain about everything from music to his hometown and the future of his career. Read the full interview below. 

So.. Jentrify. This is a dope album. What is this sound you’re going for?

The sound i was going for was something sonically next level and modern.. mixed with a big deal of musicality. I stand behind this evolving type of music we call “future bounce”. It’s limitless. It’s free. That’s what my music is and it’s especially what this album meant to me… freedom.

Tell me about the project & how you came about with the concept of “Jentrify.”

I came up with the concept “Jentrify” through my experiences witnessing my city fall victim to gentrification and being a victim of it myself. I thought it would be dope because its a Oakland-themed project that could be universal to the world because a great deal of America is enduring gentrification.

Your growth process thus far online has been very gradual. From your Pigeons & Planes debut with “Soul Food” featuring Saba. Your Fader premiere with “We Don’t Mind” with Samaria and CALEBORATE. & now you’ve landed Noisey with this project. How have these publications helped you with sharing your music?

They’ve made garnishing a fanbase way more simple. They definitely helped me become more well-known through out the digital world so big ups to these publications for the love they’ve shown me with my last few releases. Pigs & Planes launched my collar with Saba, and from there on, it was an upward win for my career. These sites have made sharing my music a less tedious task because now a days, fans share my music literally everyday and i just retweet it or repost it.

Who were some of the people that were involved in this project and how did they help you overall with presenting such a sonically appealing body of work? 

Wax Roof is a producer that produced 60-70% of the project. He knew i wanted to use live instruments and a lot of singers and he fostered that with his studio and his ability to play multiple instruments. I really also think that working with people like him, on top of the fact that I was being 100% me is why people are resonating with the album so much.

Which record would you say was the most special to you during your recording process?

I feel like sonically, “Pastlife” provided me with a sense of completeness to the project itself. It was the last track we added a week before the release. It’s such a good song production/vocal-wise. It also spoke to what I was enduring in the last month leading up to the release. Grief over a dead friend and transitioning back into college

Who are some of your favorite artists that you’d say definitely influence your sound? 

Some of my favorite artists that have absolutely influenced my sound are definitely Kanye West, Musiq Soulchild and Kirk Franklin. Picture that type of mix in artistry. The fact that you literally can picture something like that in 2016 says enough about what i’m aiming to accomplish with my music. Having artists like these guys as direct influences has created a pathway for my art to blur the lines and incorporate pieces of each sound into one.

Tell me a little about your hometown out in The Bay Area & how the region has contributed to you musically.

Oakland is in the top 10 most expensive cities to live in America and it use to be in the top 5 most dangerous. That right there shows a huge contrast between both sides of the worlds that coexist in Oakland and i know both sides of them. Just being around a lot of poets, rappers, singers, and musicians has influenced my ability to make music the way i do. Most importantly, the city itself has influenced me. The scenery that i looked at and being around that type of environment makes people creative because everyone in Oakland is really unique and has there own sense of individualism..

How do you feel about the scene out there? How do they receive you?

The scene out here is cool its starting to get better. I think its kind of corny though because people don’t tend to really respect you until you start getting love from outside places. Like many other areas in the country, I’m sure. When i first started coming on to the scene, people didn’t necessarily understand me or my sound so i mean i didn’t expect the scene to really make such a big difference on my career.. it was just a stage in my career where i had to play my part and do the best that i could. Back then they didn’t want me, now I’m hot & they all on me, lol. But it’s all love, nonetheless. I love Oakland. I know the politics that come with chasing music. They really rock with me at my shows now. A lot of publications that stem from the area show love now. That’s awesome.

What is something that you would like the people to take away from your album?

I would like people to take away the fact that they can be free. Listening to this music grants people freedom to be whoever they want to be, wear what they want to wear, and live how they live. Liberation is the word that comes to mind when i think of a take away from this collective.

What can we hope for from you in the future as the project resonates on us still?

I will continue to make honest soulful music and the projects will continue to top each one significantly. I will make something that will be one of the most influential bodies of work in the last 5 years of its release of the 2nd project. Remember I said this via hypfresh Magazine.

Any last thoughts?

2016 is my year to introduce myself to the world. 2017 is my year to take over.. Onetime!

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