flying lotus selects jeremiah jae
Transcendental beats destined for higher ground
Sonic space explorer Flying Lotus: “When I met Jeremiah, it struck me how deep the cat was, right out the gate. He was this super-young dude, and he was just so far ahead and in tune with the way of the world. It was his DXNCE EP that really did it for me. It felt like a vibe that I’d been seeking out in my own sound, and he’d nailed it in just a few tracks. I did what I could to spread his sound, regardless of whether I was going to release his work. I just wanted people to hear it.”
Jeremiah Jae is sat in a cafe in Chicago unravelling the truths of his mind-bending Rappayamatantra EP (released on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder imprint) over a cup of tea. “It’s a really personal record,” he says. “You can compile an album with the dopest beats, the dopest verses and the best punchlines, but I’d rather make personal choices that are a bit more human, and shed light in different areas. Rappayamatantra is a struggle to reach and tap into a higher plane of existence while your lower self, attached to the ego, tries to fulfill its own set of goals. Essentially nothing is accomplished except the distorted communication of both worlds.”
Esoteric beliefs aside, each of his releases – from his selfreleased DXNCE, to his Lunch Special compilations – reflect the duality of the two very different worlds he grew up in. On one side, he was surrounded by open-minded musicians whenever visiting his father (a jazz composer who has worked with the likes of Miles Davis, Carlos Santana and R Kelly), and he quickly learned to explore spirituality and transcendence via music. However, living on the tougher edge of Chicago’s south side with his mother gave him a different view of reality, which he describes as “expression through limitations” – “I learned how to make something out of nothing.”
The producer, lyricist and visual artist ended up making something that flows between rap at its most earnest and intimate, and dense and complex productions driven by an abstract experimental vibe. Describing songmaking as “communication with drums”, Jae’s jagged sonic textures are curiously mixed with obscure samples culled from “tape noise, weird movies, butterflies...”
With hip hop placed subtly and firmly at its root, it’s music that moves, as in transports – music of the heightened mind. He points to a speaker, blasting the latest chart huggers. “There’s no searching when you listen to pop music now,” he says, gently. “It’s easy access, easy entrance. There’s no grand foundation to stumble upon.” There is now.
Text Danna Takako Hawley photography MARGARET durow