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First Look Friday: Welcome To The World Of Jimi Tents [LP Stream + Exclusive Q&A]

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Is BK still "home to the livest one"--? Jimi Tents, a sensational 19-year-old rapping storyteller from Brooklyn, is putting his stamp on the game with an eclectic style of music. Breaking onto the scene earlier this year with his hauntingly melodious true-life cut, "Elmer Fudd," this East New York native has seen his brand of young-sage rhymes launch him into the public's consciousness.

After graduating from high school, Jimi Tents, who was equally influenced by Kanye West, 50 Cent, Lauryn Hill and Pink Floyd, dropped out to attack music full-time. The aforementioned "Fudd" served as the debut single from Jimi Tents and featured soul singer Moxie Raia, standing out amidst the hardcore '90s boom-bap love of Pro Era while discussing what atrocities today's youth face involving violence. But this is no one-hit wonder; Tents easily changes course on any given track and proves that he has a sound worth dedicated listening.

Tents' drive to build out a stellar narrative while merging a message with his music is important to note. He represents another generation that shifts from the "meme-a-minute" raps to something with some deeply rooted substance. With "Elmer Fudd" boasting major streams on Soundcloud, anticipation grew for more of what Jimi Tents had to offer. Thankfully, he was able to grace us and the game with some heat in the form of his 5 O'Clock Shadow LP.

An extended 14-track version of his 5 O'Clock Shadow EP, Jimi Tents presents a focused, jazzy and very hungry offering that showcases his ability to be ill (like on "All Of It") and full of variety ("The Way"). Jimi Tents' music isn't made for the bloggers and the Johnny-Come-Lately folks. Finding a way to create a solid record and perform music as his 9-to-9, Jimi Tents is our choice for "new artist to watch."

This truly intriguing rap newcomer is our selection for this week's 'First Look Friday,' so be sure to stream his EP below and check out our exclusive Q&A with Jimi on the following pages.

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Okayplayer: Peace Jimi! Please share with us how you got your start in music and highlight some of your influences?

Jimi Tents: I have been around music my whole life, not to be the cliche artist [laughs]. I started rapping around the age of 8 years old. Get Rich Or Die Tryin', The College Dropout, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia were the albums that I played repeatedly in my CD walkman which helped the infatuation with rap to blossom.

OKP: Talk a bit about how the changes to your own neighborhood environment possibly affected the stories you rap about in your rhymes.

JT: Well, coming from East New York, Brooklyn, I saw a lot of things growing up. This ranged from witnessing violence to extreme poverty to now — gentrification. All of these things play a part in my music because my ultimate goal is to give the consumer a tour of my environment and an opportunity to use their imagination to bring my words to life.

OKP: Before music lovers and the press heard "Elmer Fudd" can you talk about how your life was before you decided to get into rap full-time?

JT: Life was the same as it is now. The only things that have changed is the work load and the amount of people that know my name. Rap was always a full-time lifestyle for me, it just became more apparent after high school that this is what I was going to have to do if I want this life that bad.

OKP: "Elmer Fudd" was a bananas-type of song, which made its debut on Billboard and enabled your LP to drop via The Fader. What sort of impact are you attempting to make on the game and why?

JT: I'm extremely blessed. That shit is still super surreal to me. My goal is to be as groundbreaking and innovative as possible to impact the generations to come 20 years down the line and have fun doing it, y'know?!

OKP: You chose to forgo your college education to pursue music--how did you square this choice with your goals and what did your family and crew think?

JT: With music being my main priority right now, I chose to put school temporarily on the backburner. I know it's not impossible to rap forever and I have goals outside of music where school might be necessary, so I will go back. But my family and a collective amount of members of my crew are nothing but extremely supportive in all of my decisions.

OKP: Speaking of crew, as a Brooklyn good guy, what should the people expect from the homies Jay Bel and Sleepercamp?

JT: A head's up, man, but we're more of a brand or an imprint than a crew. That'll become more clear as things continue to unfold. As of now, you can expect nothing but pure fire from my brother Jay. The best part about us is how different our sounds are. As far as the guys in Sleepercamp, they got some surprises and we have weapons up our sleeves. Stay tuned!

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

OKP: Groups like The Underachievers, The Flatbush Zombies, Pro Era and the like have created a narrative tying themselves to deeply rooted hip-hop. What is Jimi Tents' story that he wishes to add to the game?

JT: Shout outs to all of those guys, they're dope individuals. I'm honestly trying to carve my own lane as a solo artist and be as diverse as possible when it comes to spotlighting my vision and sound. It's full of real cutting edge music. I have quite a ways to go as far as growth is being concerned, but I'm looking forward to it. Just be ready to grow with me.

OKP: There was much noise made about how the record labels mistreated fellow Brooklyn rapper, Bobby Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel. What key components have you taken away when sitting down with possible labels? Or are you bypassing that route for an independent experience altogether?

JT: I honestly don't know too much about either side of that situation, but I do hope that they free them guys so they can get back to doing what the people love them for which is great music. As far as labels and the like goes — it's still pretty early for me to say that I'm interested in signing [a deal] because I don't mind putting in the work to build an organic fanbase. But, at the same time, I'm not saying f**k the labels just yet... if the business is right and the deal is right, anything is possible.

OKP: What is the sound of Brooklyn and New York, in your opinion, in 2015?

JT: There is none at the moment, to be completely honest with you... but it is definitely starting to take shape.

OKP: Can you pinpoint the difference between singing and rapping on a song? Is there even a difference anymore?

JT: Not too often in the creative process [laughs], it just kind of happens, y'know? There's definitely a difference when it comes to the feeling. My process is more free-form and then once the concept begins to flow the base of the song is mapped out and then it's structured.

OKP: 5 O'Clock Shadow has a very dusted, jazzy sound and mood, specifically the track, "Jazzy". What is your own relationship with Jazz music? Do you have any favorite artists or records?

JT: I was trying to be as subtle as possible with the live instrumentation while still showing that I have a taste for real organic sounds. I've also always had a great appreciation for jazz and s**t. It would probably have to be Herbie Hancock, and as of recent, it would be Kamasi Washington.

OKP: With the #BlackLivesMovement, there's been outcry against the murders of Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and others. We must ask what message do you have for any other "Elmer Fudd" types?

JT: I genuinely feel that it's only a matter of time before there's an uproar. There's only so many times people that are constantly devalued in society based on race or class are going to stand for it. I partially blame the media for race baiting the people and intensifying conflicts, but that is the world we live in. Thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and people affected by the senseless violence and police brutality.