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Photo by @35MMGOLD. Photo illustration by Kaushik Kalidindi for Okayplayer.

Cavalier is Getting it All in Due Time

Skilled lyricist Cavalier drops his new project, Different Type Time, on billy woods’ boundary-pushing label, Backwoodz Studioz.

Cavalier is not new to this.

He’s rubbed shoulders with some of the best to do it, and he might just be your favorite rapper’s, favorite rapper. He’s recently been on well-received, multi-city tours with the highly regarded producer and emcee, Quelle Chris, and the critically acclaimed duo, Armand Hammer. And earlier this month, Earl Sweatshirt mentioned his name when giving flowers to his favorite emcees of the moment.

The Brooklyn-raised, New Orleans-based slang spitter also happens to be part of Okayplayer’s in-house creative team — the man wears many hats. On the eve of dropping his latest full-length project, we spoke with Cavalier about his new album, extracurricular artistic pursuits, binge culture, and his place in rap’s multi-tiered ecosystem.

Okayplayer:What's the science behind the album title Different Type Time?

Cavalier: The name came to me at the realization that I was not obligated to operate in the demands that “binge watch and stream culture” place on an artist. My last full length album dropped in 2018, and all my releases up until this point have been completely independent. I do not think the average listener understands what effect stream culture, not just streaming platforms, have on a creative. I had to get comfortable not just creating, but creating work for consumption when everyone is being driven to consume at an unhealthy rate. I was no longer signing up for that, I was on a “different type time.”

How did you go about choosing the production, overall sound and features for this project — and how long did the recording process take?

I did not know I was working on this particular project to start. I was in residency in Oakland during 2021 and began recording songs while exploring visual timelapse and self portrait photography. As I moved around, it allowed me to reach out to producers I respect and long had unrealized plans of collaborating with. Sometimes these collaborations brought me to the cities these contributing producers were from which only added more inspiration to the visual process that was budding along with recording.

How many albums is this now in your total discography, and how do you gauge your own evolution from project to project?

Counting specifically formally released solo records, this is only my 3rd full length project.
If we count direct to fan releases, EPs, and joint projects you can double that number.

On "Deja Vu/Tydro '97,” you're spitting exotic and vivid lines, almost like how vintage Ghostface Killah used to paint colorful sonic canvases. What's your song crafting approach on tracks like those?

I wish I could say the process was so specific. Sometimes I am hearing the song or lines as I am writing them, if that makes sense. On “Deja Vu,” it all came out in a singular moment. Other songs were built completely differently. I love color and texture in the use of language. I like double and triple entendres that are so fluid you nearly don’t realize how it translates right away. “Deja Vu” may have been one of the first songs I wrote on what became the album before I knew it was one.

On "Pears,” you exhibit a more braggadocious flow — are you at the point in your career where you feel like more people need to recognize your talent and place in the culture?

I have been blessed to receive recognition from artists I not only respect, but that are key figures in the culture. There is nothing like the acknowledgement from those respected in your craft, even my pairing with Backwoodz has an element of that. But in some ways, yes, it is time for a broader audience to be tuned in.

Earl Sweatshirt recently gave you some very high praise about you being one of his favorite artists right now. How did that make you feel?

Earl is a great artist with a great ear. I’m excited that he received the work that way and that it moved him to be vocal about it. He is not a stranger to our wave nor many of my go-to collaborators, but it felt good to get those flowers specifically.

So being that this is an independent project, how do you plan to get as many eyeballs as possible on your project?

Well this project is not as independent as the others I have released. All my other releases were done for real "independent," not like faux-indie where I was somehow secretly being financed or supported by insiders in the industry. But this project is my debut working with a label and I am grateful that it is with Backwoodz Studioz. billy woods has a hot hand of critically-acclaimed releases as both a soloist and as part of duo ARMAND HAMMER. He is expanding that reputation with his ear for talent. Touring recently with them and Quelle has definitely opened up more eyes and ears. Other than that, I've been navigating by fuckin’ with whoevers fuckin’ with me.

Your music's aura naturally lends itself to visual, cinematic translations — are you planning a slate of music videos/short films to accompany this project?

Absolutely. Those who are familiar with my work know that I create multi-medium. My last work, Private Stock, boasted five short films, one of which made prominent strides at film festivals including debuting at New Orleans Film Festival. This time I took a different approach by incorporating my learning process and experimentation with time and photography. There are visuals for all 21 tracks and a visual version of the project will soon be available. By the time this drops, about five of these visuals will be available on youtube.

What's the grand vision for your future, and who are the emcees that inspire you and make you want to continue perfecting your craft?

My vision for the future is to continue to make memorable, forward-pushing contributions that build an unquestionable catalog. I think even with all the ways we are currently being shown otherwise, we will come to appreciate anthologies and full bodies of work. I make art that can exist wherever high art and cultural artifacts can live, and will continue to see where that takes me. There are a LOT of amazingly talented emcees out right now, many of whom I have the privilege to know personally. Quelle Chris, billy woods, ELUCID, Denmark Vessey, Earl, Fly Anakin, Pink Siifu, Moruf, Maxo and Loji are a few that come to mind that have recently inspired me.

The final two tracks "Axiom", "Flourish" have positive uplifting themes. Is that the type of energy you're trying to leave all your listeners with Different Type Time?

I was once told that when you give a tarot reading that you never end it on a down note. Similarly, all the moments on Different Type Time are a spread, and I want the message of that spread of events to leave us looking upward.

You can cop Cavalier’s new album, Different Type Time by clicking here.