What's up Leafers? Welcome to the latest edition of On the Rise where we interview upcoming hip hop talent. Today's guest is rapper, AI. AI hails from Mesa, Arizona.The rising MC is buzzing in his home town so we had to tap in with him. Check out the interview below.
Westleaf Staff: What's up, AI? Your sound is dope! When did you start making music?
AI: Back in my freshman year of highschool I hit a low point emotionally ,because my mother had died. I was lost I didn't know what to make of it. Then one night doing some homework i stumbled upon Eminem's Without Me. It was right there, that's when I became hooked on Rap. Songs like Mockingbird, Bad Husband, Castle, Beautiful, and Headlights. All those songs made me feel again. Eminem just does things that few artists can do. So I tried it, I got down with a pen and pad and tried to give it everything I Had and from there i found serenity.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! What city do you represent?
AI: I represent Mesa, it is the city where I grew up and lived most of my life in. I couldn't Imagine picking anywhere else.
Westleaf Staff: Shout out to Mesa! So how did you create your stage name?
AI: When I was in highschool I had this friend named Josh who would call me Big Al. It lasted about maybe two weeks at the most. It all ended when he started dating my sister. Then it became step bro and that got old. So it just became Al. Trust me out of all the rap names I've tried out Big Al, Razzberry, and Xander Mercury. I think It’s Just Al is here to stay.
Westleaf Staff: That's a dope name. So how did your early life shape your interest in music?
AI: Growing up I wasn't rich ,but I also wasn't starving. During the recession I lived on Center St in Mesa. To be specific it's the house made of red brick and right in front of the train tracks. Not having money for extra stuff made it tough to pursue a music career. So when I was old enough to work, I worked. I saved every dollar I got and with no help from my dad, I had to make sure I spent it wisely. So growing up I had to learn on how to save and focus on my dreams and take every opportunity I had.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! So who is your biggest Musical influence?
AI: Yelawolf without a doubt. He has flow, story telling, and aa trailer park personality. Really though, some of my favorite songs by him are You and Me, Hillbilly Einstein, and The Last Song. Part of myself does like to relate with him. We both grew up not having much and we both had a parent absent in our childhood. So that's why I think he's great because despite all of his struggles he found his people by making music.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! I feel that. Love Yela. What's been the defining moment in your music career thus far?
AI: While my career hasn't been around for that long I do have one defining moment. It was may 16th I just got out of Saltmine Studios. I was on Mcdonald and Main St. given two choices, either go straight and take your own path or be around others who would take me down. I chose to go at making a music career on my own. That was the defining moment of my career.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! So what makes you a unique artist?
AI:I can make positive music that not only sounds good, I can also make it clean. That is something that very few artists can do.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! So what does art mean to you?
AI: Art to me is just expression to an emotion or idea.
Westleaf Staff: That's deep! Where do you see your music career going over the next few years?
AI: I plan on retiring from music when I turn 21. As much as I love it, I have to move on and focus on the more important things in life. I'm Looking to start a ranch, get married, and have kids. When It's all said and done I think the greatest thing would be for my kids to listen to my music and for them to like it.
Westleaf Staff: I wish you much success! Before we go, describe music in three words.
AI: Chill, Unique, Vibrant.