In the past, we have covered the releases of the rapidly up-and-coming young rapper Jirias, and we are thrilled to be writing this article covering his latest release, the Castle EP! This is the second EP from Jirias, and well…to put it simply, this isn’t just a step forward from his previous release (the New Year EP), it is a large JUMP forward, and on the right foot, no less.
Featuring a song list of 8 hip hop delicacies, the Castle EP shows the maturation of Jirias as an artist, and features several collaborations with featured guests, giving this release the feeling of a major release, which it most certainly is. Below is a Spotify link for the EP, before reading deeper please go through it, preferably several times, it is worth it!
The following is an interview we have conducted with both Jirias himself, and then with his Producer RKG. It was an absolute treat speaking with them both, and further made fans of us here.
SFT: How do you compare this EP to your last EP?
Jirias: I would say that this EP is more of album, but still has aspects that you’d see in a mixtape or EP. Honestly, RKG and I just started making beats and matching lyrics. Everything you hear has been listened and re-listened by myself and RKG for months. On our last EP, that was also the case, but I would say that New Year was more fun to work on because it was essentially still just us experimenting on what would/wouldn’t sound good.
SFT: There appears to be more features on this EP, is that something you planned on from the start?
Jirias: Not exactly, I decided to hit up Gonage on Instagram because I’m a huge fan of some of the work he’s done with Donald and Stephen Glover. I was actually kind of surprised he even responded, but after talking to him I could tell that he’s just one of those people thats honestly a genuinely good person. Momentum wouldn’t be a song if Gonage didn’t decide to give an Arab kid in NJ a chance to rap. Meant a lot to me especially because I’m a huge Childish Gambino fan. As for the other features, like Wells and Soundfont+, these are guys that I’ve been lucky enough to meet and become friends with as I’ve progressed as a musician. I was in a combo at my college with Soundfont, and Wells I met through Soundcloud, if you can believe it.
SFT: How was writing this EP different from the last?
Jirias: This EP was different because I had a vague goal in mind for what I wanted to do with this album, and the entire time making it I wanted to produce something that would solidify myself as a solid MC. It’s a difficult thing to say things that some people might care about and want to listen to again. With that in mind, I wanted as many people as possible to say, “Wait, I have to re listen to that.”
SFT: Is there any themes that run through the EP?
Jirias: Sort of. I guess you’ll have to listen to really find that out. I would say that a huge element of this album is about the growth I’ve experienced as a person. I think that in the album, you can really tell when I’m actually getting emotional from what I’m talking about. I wanted people to feel that. I also wanted people to understand that I am not a perfect person, and a lot of this album is coming to terms with emotions and frustrating situations that I’ve been stomaching for years. People who finish the album will realize that I am more self-aware than my lyrics might suggest.
SFT: What was your mindset when creating this EP?
Jirias: Make really edgy music. Haha.
SFT: The art for this EP is very different from your last EP, can you tell us a little about that?
Jirias: Well, the cover for the first EP was hand drawn by myself. This time around, we asked a buddy to draft a couple potential album covers based off of song demos that we sent him. RKG and I really liked the final product — it’s slightly reminiscent of the beginning of a children’s book. Definitely contrasted the amount of cursing and explicit content in the album, which we thought was cool.
SFT: If you could have had any one guest on this EP, who would it have been?
Jirias: Honestly, I can’t answer that question without first saying that having Gonage on this album was a very pleasant surprise. One day soon I would love to work with Stephen and Donald Glover.
SFT: Why release on Halloween?
Jirias: It just felt right.
SFT: What words do you have for a listener before they hear the EP for the first time?
Jirias: Listen to it again after you finish it the first time.
The following is from an interview we conducted with Producer RKG:
SFT: What went better than you expected with this EP? What was a big roadblock?
RKG: Jirias and I both grew substantially as artists over the past year. I spent a lot of time honing my production skills and Jirias improved his delivery and writing. It was really satisfying to work together on something that sounded more professional than New Year. One roadblock was definitely mixing and mastering. Jirias and I don’t live in the same place, so there was a lot of back and forth, along with countless of hours of tweaking sounds and trying out different effects on the vocals.
SFT: If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?
RKG: On my end, I would have been more organized with the stems for each song so the mixing/mastering process would have gone smoother.
SFT: What were your influences on this release?
RKG: I’m influenced heavily by the greats like Kanye and Dr. Dre – a lot of these songs were created after hours of listening to songs on YouTube just to find the right samples.
SFT: If New Year’s colors were purple and yellow, what are Castle’s colors? Is that reflected in the composition of the songs?
RKG: Castle is really dark in places, both in terms of production and vocals. Dark purple makes the most sense to me.
SFT: It has been almost a year since the last EP, what have you learned since then? What have you improved upon?
RKG: We’ve evolved a lot as a team, and we’re not as uncertain about our direction as we were for New Year. Our workflow has improved so much over the past year.
SFT: Are there any non hip-hop influences on this EP? There are a lot of TV references in my production on the album. In The Hole is a sample of the theme song to The Wire. Rick and Morty and Ali G both have vocal samples from those shows. I also really love incorporating heavy/distorted guitars into my production.
SFT: What are your closing words for the readers?
RKG: This is just the beginning – we’ve improved so much over the past year, and we hope to put out an even better project in the near future.
With that, we come to the end of our look at the Castle EP, but that is certainly not the last we will be seeing of Jirias and RKG! Be on the lookout for their next release!