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Bones' Slow Grind Pays Off

The Leaf

Many rappers might describe their fanbases as “cults,” but few have built a dedicated following like BONES. That devotion is owed as much to the honesty of his image as it is to the quality and consistency of his output—BONES has never wanted to play the game, he’s never given into the machine, and he does everything on his own terms. While many young artists with his influence and vision might cash in the clout early and burn out hot and fast, BONES has let his career simmer, slowly bubbling like a witches’ cauldron while the competition goes up in smoke. Now he’s turning it up to a boil. In a culture and industry riddled with counterfeits, copy-cats, and knockoffs, BONES’ integrity as an artist and originality as a musician is a welcome relief.

BONES was bred in Michigan, a place associated with chilling winters and the cold steel of industry. But it’s known as much for the warmth of Motown-manufactured soul, one of the many kinds of music BONES was exposed to at an early age—along with classic rock from his father, a former graphic designer for bands and photographer for Creem magazine, and rap from his older brother. Though he’s made a home on the West Coast for many years now, those two tendencies resonate in an artist known as much for his cut-throat flow as his emotional, intimate crooning. He’s icy and white-hot all at once, mixing devilish tongue-twisting and a technically-impressive rap delivery with earnestly-felt ballads. On his earliest tapes in the 2010s, BONES was blending styles that are only now mixed by the mainstream, long before the words “emo” and “rap” were ever put next to one another in a sentence. With each new release, BONES confidently charts new sonic territory: sometimes a more syncopated Southern-style flow, other times a more classic boom bap delivery; a little indie pop here, a little alt rock there. His ever-changing moods aren’t just costumes to try on; each is a fully-formed extension of his musical identity. There’s a palpable confidence to every genre BONES tries his hand at, as if every sound reflects a different feeling or part of himself. The only thing more impressive than his constant innovation is the prolific rate at which he works, dropping multiple projects a year under the BONES mantle as well as tending to side-projects like surrendorothy, OREGONTRAIL, and Th@Kid. As a teen, BONES moved out to California to live with his brother and now manager Elliott, who encouraged him to take music seriously like any other 9-5, resulting in the exceptional work ethic and steady longevity BONES has become known for.

He takes the music deadly seriously, but he doesn’t take himself that seriously; his face is murky and blurry in videos, more a presence than a persona, foregrounding the sound and not the self. BONES is as much about others as it is about the artist who wears the moniker: since his genesis, he’s been a collective, not an individual, working closely over the years with collaborators and friends like Chris Travis, Xavier Wulf, and Eddy Baker, who together form the SESHOLLOWATERBOYZ, as well as the tight-knit posse of producers that forms TeamSESH. BONES may now work with iconic legends and personal inspirations like Juicy J, Project Pat, and Danny Brown, but TeamSESH is all about the day-ones.

As BONES embraces the next stage of his career, he’s bringing a literal team with him, spreading the shine his hard work has helped earn. Many artists call the people they work with family, but TeamSESH takes it to another level, always putting emotional well-being and communication over celebrity or success. BONES doesn’t need to hog the spotlight in order to claim his crown; he’s making moves not just to take himself to the next level, but to show a younger generation that you don’t have to destroy yourself and your mental health to make good music.

Follow Bones on IG @teamseshbones


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