Fri. Dec. 6
460 Meeting St.
When rapper 9neintu went into a photoshoot dressed in a suit and tie and doused in fake blood, he didn't realize that he was laying the groundwork for an alter ego. Somewhere between the flash of the camera and the photos being processed, the local hip-hop artist began to wonder how far he could take this burgeoning character he named Sebastian Slick.
"I always try to live in a foreshadowed mindsight," says 9neintu. "I want to speak everything into existence and just live forward. Sebastian is ultimately who I want to be."
The Life and Times of Sebastian Slick, released Sept. 30, took the rapper roughly a year to record and write. "I think it took me a lot more time because I wanted to perfect it and put out an album instead of just a mixtape where I'm just rapping and mulling over things," he says. "This is a background story from an alter ego and my real self. Listening to that and then seeing how I move, as a person, as an artist, you can definitely take that and grasp it."
To represent the dual personalities on the record, 9neintu had to draw a distinction between himself and Sebastian Slick. The former is a rapper — in your face and lyrical — while the latter is a different side of the equation.
"Slick is more subtle and smooth," 9neintu says. "That's where a lot of my vocals as far as singing and harmonizing come from."
The way 9neintu fluently switches from one persona to the other is like ice melting to water; it's the same substance, although its form is drastically different, and the change is rarely permanent.
On songs like "Coordinates," Sebastian's smooth, melodic style takes center stage. 9neintu's vocals emphasize the texture of the music's speaker shattering low-end. Even in the verse, he takes his time instead of rapidly tossing lyrics at the listener.
"Pesos (ft. Blvme Chu Chu)" abandons the album's largely dark and minimal production for a bright, tropical, and Latin-influenced beat.
If there's ever a distinction between 9neintu and Sebastian, it's most apparent on the LP's breakneck-paced track, "Germ." For the majority of the song, 9neintu spends his time looking to the next bar, avoiding a conventional hook just to add more lyrics.
"She giving her brains out like a nerd/ I'm blowing that cannabis smoke/ I make a move, never say a word/ I'm focused on playing my role/ you know where I go," he quickly and calmly raps.
"Damage," according to 9neintu, is the track that best finds the dichotomy between himself and Sebastian. " 'Damage' is the ins and outs of my life, ins and outs of what I feel like the industry's going to be like," he says. "Get rich or die trying. I feel like that's the goal. Ultimately, it's about establishing what's within yourself, as a person, as an artist. For me, it's about being known."
Local producer DBLCRWN worked on every beat with 9neintu, providing a cool, self-assured darkness to represent Sebastian that the artist could rap over.
Although the LP's got plenty of content and a story behind the music, 9neintu says that Life and Times is not a concept album. "It's more of random pieces of literature," he says. "[It's] a book made up of small books. It has a concept, which is a storyboard, but from there I'm telling you so many different things in different ways."
The opportunity to swap personas was a liberating change of pace, he adds.
"Building this project — it's helped me to release because I'm a serious person," 9neintu says. "If I'm messing up, I'm beating myself up about it, but to be Sebastian Slick is carefree. It's like, 'I don't care, I'm gonna do what I want to do, and you're gonna feel how you want to feel.' "
"It's an adventure," he laughs. "It's more eventful being Sebastian Slick."
Sebastian will probably make a comeback in the future, the rapper speculates, for a second volume, but he wants to make sure that the character's persona doesn't take over his career. "I think that 9neintu will be unveiled again, very soon," he says.
Burnless Flame Production will celebrate 9neintu's most recent LP at the Slick Affair on Dec. 6. Entry is free, but attendees are required to dress well. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and libations will be provided.