Words by Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)
Numerous critics and fans have called 2014 one of the worst years for hip-hop music in recent memory. Album sales are down. Many who we deem the kingpins of the sport haven’t yet or aren’t slated to drop LPs this year and the few who did, primarily misfired. Recently, Killer Mike & El-P’s Run The Jewels 2, Stalley’s Ohio and Logic’s Under Pressure have been well received by critics and fans. Add Vibes to that list as well.
What is Vibes? It’s a culmination of every lesson Brooklyn-based rapper Theophilus London learned over the past two years. It’s a representation of every teaching and experiment the 27-year-old has taken on. To understand Vibes, you have to understand the players who created the album. One of those is Kanye West.
You see, Kanye didn’t feel inspired and call Theo into his studio immediately. It took a lot longer for Theophilus to work with one of his heroes. It all began when West was cruising the streets of Paris. “Neu Law,” the most prevalent single London released at the time, was echoing through the system of ‘Ye’s whip. It was then that Kanye knew he wanted to become creatively involved in Vibes but it would be long after when the two would have their inaugural sit down and work on music. First, Theo had to learn though experiencing a slice of West’s life.
“We didn’t work on music right away,” Theophilus said in describing his initial encounters with Kanye. “We just did lifestyle like shop for things or like when I was supposed to go to L.A. to work with him for his verse for ‘Can’t Stop’ and he’d be like, ‘Yo, I’m going to an Opera with Kim and I want you to come.’ And I’m like, ‘Why do you want me to come to an opera?! I’m trying to write with this guy, why are we going to an opera?’” Theo admits spending time with Kanye and experiencing his lifestyle helped make working with him more seamless. The same goes for Leon Ware–another player on the album. Ware may not have the current pop culture relevance of a Kanye West but his contribution to music history is no less. Ware has worked with a slew of luminaries in the business. Everyone from Michael Jackson to Tina Turner has called on Ware for his services.
“He’s like real spiritual man,” Theo said regarding his relationship with Leon Ware. “I’ve never met a more spiritual guy than Leon. So beautiful, great family and he treats me like I’m his family.”
The two-year process that is Vibes and the culmination of learning, experiencing and improving finds its official release on Tuesday (November 4). Nah Right recently talked with Theophilus London about the album, his relationship with both Kanye West and Leon Ware and how his creativity shined through on his sophomore release.
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