First Look Friday: Oslo MC Ivan Ave Talks 'Low Jams' + Debuts "Obedience" [Official Video]
Photo courtesy of Mohamed Chakiri.
Oslo-based MC Ivan Ave has quietly been putting tracks to bed since his early ventures with Fredfades on their collaborative Hands and Breathe projects. A keen ear for seamless production and a profound respect for the culture have quickly made him the sixth man on a number of short lists boasting the coldest rising MC’s. Approaching the game with profound humility and a hunter’s bloodthirst, Ave has proven himself a lyrical technician whose approach to the mic is as much about what he’s saying as how he is saying it; the careful word placement and delicious adlibs at the core of his rhymes often find him approaching tracks in the same way that a seasoned horn player might capitalize on the nuance and negative space in the rhythm.
Just a month out from Jakarta Records‘ formal release of the Low Jams LP – a small masterpiece of a sonic appetizer produced by Mndsgn – Ivan Ave returns with the debut of the official video for the project’s opening track “Obedience.” The project is an enveloping headnodder that peppers irresistible grooves with vivid double-entendres and exists in the same elusive strata of true school perfection occupied by Nas’ debut Illmatic LP. While carrying the torch may be a daunting task for some, Ivan – clearly above average – is the unassuming keeper of the flame. Check out the text below to read our exclusive interview with Ivan Ave. Scroll down to check out the official video for “Obedience” directed by Jonas Meek Stromman and edited by Isak Gundrosen. Purchase the Low Jams LP via Jakarta Records. Stay tuned for more from Ivan Ave.
Okayplayer: Why Ivan Ave? There’s nothing average about what you bring to the table as a hip-hop artist.
Ivan Ave: I used to go by Ivan Average as an inside joke, because I was something like a George Costanza of the local scene. I didn’t know what I wanted in this game and I didn’t dress, sound or mean mug like someone who does. So I couldn’t call my self “Mr I’mma Get It”–like half of these rappers do. I had to shorten it to Ave when I realized I actually wanted to get somewhere, though.
OKP: Some people are getting their first taste of you with the Low Jams LP produced by MNDSGN, but you have been around for a while. What was your goal with this project from EP to full length?
IA: Low Jams was the product of my musical correspondence with Ringgo. We just wanted to do something interesting together. I would send him samples from my record collection, rip some parts that I felt he could flip. He sent me a bunch of beats and I selected the ones I felt the most. I had a plan to release the first four tracks on Soundcloud, just to let the world have a listen. And then expand on those and make an album with other producers, some of my own beats, etc. But things happened when I put those first songs out. People started listening. When I got some distance from the tracks, I felt like it was a piece in its own right. Jakarta reached out and we decided to do a 12″ with instrumentals on the flip. Peace to my brother Mohamed Chakiri who did the cover photo.
OKP: How does Low Jams compare to the Hands and Breathe EP’s you dropped with Fredfades?
IA: I hope to always keep looking for an honest expression musically. I think I’m getting closer. So the main difference is I feel more like myself on Low Jams. It depicts a very real winter in my mid twenties. I’ve always tried to tell the truth lyrically, but you also have to provide a vibe that communicates that truth effectively.
OKP: How did your relationships with those producers (Fredfades and MNDSGN) come about and what would you say is unique/best about each?
IA: Fred is one of my best friends. We linked years ago through the graffiti scene here. He has always been a mentor when it comes to record digging, DJing and production. Oslo is a good place to be for music heads, because of people like him. He keeps it rugged one hundred percent. If the SP-1200 cult had a suicide pact he would be pouring the Kool-Aid. Ringgo I got to know through a shared friend, shouts to Tania. I was in LA last summer and since then we stayed in touch and finally got some tracks together. I love his work for its uncompromising soulfulness. Layers and layers of that raw feel.
OKP: Your flow is very distinctive and rhythmic but so is your wordplay. What would you say drives your attention to lyricism? Who are some of the MC’s that influenced your style? Any unexpected sources of inspiration?
>>>Click Through to Page 2 for the Premiere of “Obedience” Official Video