The rapper from Detroit known as Aye Em is releasing his latest extended-play album, “I'm Listening.” It contains 14 tracks for a total listening time of nearly 40 minutes, making the album closer to a full-length, in fact, than it is to a typical EP. It is being proudly published on the SUNHI Entertainment independent record label without the support of the corporate music industry. Booming with bass, filled with rat-a-tat and bringing the lines and rhymes of one of hip hop's most promising modern MCs, “I'm Listening” from Aye Em is one of the most creative works of urban poetry to emerge in 2015.
Aye Em cites as main artistic influences Big Joe, Eminem, Nas, Tupac Shakur, the Notorious BIG, Mob Deep, Hans Zimmer, Mike Shinoda, Fort Minor, Rakim, Linkin Park, Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, T.I., the Wu-Tang Clan, the Isley Brothers, Funkadelic, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. His own sound takes some of the most striking characteristics of many of these, Tupac and Big Joe in particular, and stirs them in new ways to arrive at a polished, lyrically based style that is all his own.
In terms of tone and overall groove, “I'm Listening” is the work of a man with as much meaning in his music as there is feeling, and both exist on the EP in great amounts.
“I respect all forms of art,” writes Aye Em. “Dancing, culinary, painting, poetry, photography, etc.”
This open-minded appreciation of art in general shows in his attention to lyric detail, mood, and effect. His rap is evocative and earnest. His writing shows much deliberation. The powerful record has a surprising amount of texture and is far more than a rehashing of the same-old, same-old hip-hop stereotypes.
Asked to describe his EP's overarching message, Aye Em writes: “The meaning is that I've heard all of the criticism, the praise, the disbelief, the faith that people I've encountered have in me. I've sat and listened and watched a lot of changes in hip-hop music – some good, some terrible. So I decided to create a response to all of it, what's real to me, where I feel hip hop should be and where I feel it should go.”
The album isn't just music criticism, however. It's largely a courageous autobiography.
“The tracks are journeys into my world, my head and what goes on in it,” Aye Em writes. “I'm crazy and I'm proud to admit it. On this project you have tracks that'll have you thinking and vibin', some will have you dancing and turnin' up, some will have you on the edge of your seat and some will make you reminisce about how it used to be. I wanted to make an album that plays like a story and sounds like a classic.”
The rapper and the writer coalesce in this effort, the rapper having been recording for six years and counting, the writer doing so with pen and paper for more than 14.
“All of it is me, my life, what God has done, the lessons I learned and good music,” writes Aye Em.
In addition to the considerable talents of Aye Em, “I'm Listening” also includes the skills of producer/engineer Justin “Killa Smuv” Merritt, manager/executive producer Jamal “Gino” Carey, artist Andrew “Drewskizzle” Garrett, poet Darron “MC Lyricz” Baston, artist Stephen “GP” Fair, and artist Jai'laye.
The “I'm Listening” EP from Aye Em is available online worldwide beginning 6 November 2015.
The following is a written statement from the artist, faithfully reprinted here.
“Never judge a book by it's cover. People see me and never expect me to do music but it's who I am and what I chose. My past made me and I wouldn't change nothin about it. To all my supporters and fans, I promise to give you me anytime you hear me rap or talk or when you see me in the street. Hear my pain and vision and learn from it, my brothers and sisters, keep your faith up and grind it out. Music is life. S.H.E. or nothin'! A!.. Y!.. E!.. Waaa!”
Lead Press Release Writer