Airospace is a Washington D.C. rapper who refuses to be pigeonholed. He’s a gifted storyteller and lyricist, but he doesn’t just bring sick rhymes to the table, his production and arrangements are as eclectic and raw as they come. Music Editor Carter Moon was lucky enough to sit down with Airospace for an extended interview in anticipation of his newest release NOCTURNE. An excerpt from their conversation is below, and you can listen to the full interview below as well.
It seems like, especially since ALL DREAMS END, your sound has changed a ton.
Can I be honest with you?… I love lo-fi, like that’s where my heart is, like you get me a nice-ass lo-fi beat with a sick loop and a melody, I’m all over it, period. But I’m very expressive, like even now, I’m currently the drummer of a metal band called Louder Than Quiet and like, I love the aggression. You know, like going to trap shows, seeing all the homies and it’s just like… Yeah, your lyrics can drive, but you don’t have the proper instrumentation, the proper melody, it’s not gonna go anywhere.
Yeah, that’s good, that’s good; from seeing you a few weeks ago, it feels like people really respond to that, people respond to something that feels new in that way, is that what you’re finding so far?
Yeah, I’ll say it even from the depths of being a musician; I make music because I love it, because it’s how I survive literally, like mentally, emotionally… With having started with producing, everything was just very big, like I have this old EP called BLACK AND WHITE, this other one that’s off the internet now called COSTELLA, and another one called DEVIL AND HIS MISTRESSES, and I produced all of those and I was always wanting a bigger sound.
And it’s funny enough, what drove in this direction, a lot of people don’t know, but in 2010, and as much as I hated him, I was a very big Drake fan. And Drake did it, 40 did it, Drake was able to mix the trap sound with the electronic sound and still make it insanely emotional. And that’s what I always wanted, because when you perform the songs live, the songs knock so much harder. The lo-fi shit is dope, you get people to lift their hands up, yeah that shit is dope, but the reality is that when people go to shows, they wanna feel.
You seem to always be collaborating with a bunch of different people, how’d you find [the band you perform with], and how do you find people in general to perform with?
Funny story, Rest in Peace to the homie Vader, that’s my little brother. Last year, right before he passed, I released VOLUME III. I had a release party in Silver Lake… I realized at that release party that networking is so important. This dude… introduced me to a friend named Law… Law has a studio on Burbank, so that’s where I record now, and that’s how the band came about, Law plays bass. There’s another homie named Shakka, Shakka likes my music, he liked it, they connected, and then the band was like they’d play for me.
I hope this isn’t a shitty thing to bring up, but I’ve been fascinated that you’ve been working at Walmart and working on your music at the same time… What’s that experience been like?
I wanna put this out there first, shout outs to all my niggas at Walmart, because like, those are all my homies bruh, like even though I don’t work there… It was this weird community that was built around, like just me doing music, me being so open about it just made it so like other people there were more open about what they like to do, it just became like a community. But I couldn’t do it… I’ll keep it 300 with you, having a job is important in a capitalist society such as America, most people cannot live on minimum wage, so most people have one job, two jobs, three jobs. And if you’re chasing your dream, nine times out of 10 you’re building your business, and your business is your brand which is you, and it’s hard when you go a lot of days struggling.
Walmart was my time period where I was like “I need money,” I wanna pay this PR, I wanna try this out, I’ve never had a PR for a project before, this is a project I could see making a couple waves, let me put some real backing behind it. So I took the job at Walmart. I specifically chose Walmart and the job working backroom because I like doing manual labor… but it killed me… Listen, there’s a song on the project called “Nocturne” that was produced by Eevee, and that’s the realest song I’ve written probably ever, because I remember the day it happened. It’s about to get mad graphic, right? Like I woke up like, “What the fuck am I doing?” And then I watched porn and I was like, “What the fuck am I doing?” And then I sat back and I wrote this song and I recorded it and then I went to work that day and I was so… defeated. Like one of my coworkers said to me, “You seem like you’re not even here.” And that happened a lot of days…
I was like, “Do I really need this money? Because I can’t even write anymore, I don’t even have time to record.” I go to work at 2, get off at 11, get home at 12/12:30, go to bed at 3, get up at 9:30/10, and then I only have a couple hours until about 12:30, 1 o’clock when I have to start getting ready, to be on the road by 1:30 to get to work by 1:50, and it was like… It was only a 9 to 5! It wasn’t like I was even doing overtime or some shit like that, and it was like, “I’m grinding so I can push my artistry, but I can’t do my artistry, so what’s the point?”
Sure, yeah. Were you also making money doing shows at that time? (Airospace shakes his head no.) Shit, that’s rough.
Yeah and it gets to the point where it’s like… This is why I love Vince Staples so much, because Vince Staples will keep it 300 with you, artists do not, never, never, never talk about the times when they do a show and nobody shows up. Or you drive—for example, around ALL DREAMS END time… We go on tour, we end up in Utah, we drive to this place Club 66 and the manager isn’t there. Not just the manager isn’t there, the flyer isn’t there, no promo was done, and nobody was there. And what made it the most fucked up, but it was still dope at the same time was that there was a kid that drove there from Colorado to see the performance, and I performed for him… I couldn’t imagine doing that long-ass drive just to come there just to find out that at the last minute some fuck shit happens. Like, nah bro here’s a CD, I’ll rap for you, any song you want, ‘cause that’s what it’s about.
At the end of the day bro, I’ll be real with you, do I want Drake money? Yes. Do I wanna do shows and shit and collaboration with Kendrick and Kanye and all these niggas, yeah, but at the same time like, I understand that the importance in the music is not only self but the people you’re sharing it with. Like I like small venue shows because I feel like I can actually get connected and attached to the people that are there.
The thing that interests me so much about you as a rapper is that you’re chasing the same dream that everyone always chases in rap, but you’re doing it with an authenticity that people don’t always do. You know, like especially right now the people who you see like get big on XXL, they’re playing characters… You seem like you’re being yourself all the time, and that authenticity is something that I think people are really drawn to. Do you feel like you’ve gotten more authentic as you’ve continued recording?
I’ve started caring less. Like I remember there were time periods in the beginning where I would write lyrics and I would not record songs because I was afraid of how it might affect somebody if they heard it. And then it got to a point where it was like, I don’t really care. Like people who listen to my old music, they’ll know, and this is like kinda connecting the dots, but like the name dropping, I say exactly for what it is. Like yo, let me keep it 300 with you, me and one of the biggest exes of my life made a porno together and I sampled it on ALL DREAMS END. I feel like music is… Your job is to express how you really feel.
Like, Imma give a big shout out, rest in peace to Chester Bennington… Linkin Park was one of my very first heavy bands… You know, him ending his life today even hit so much harder because there’s a lot of times where I write music and people are like, “Yo, I like it, I love the lyrics” and I’m just like, “Bruh, but you don’t even realize… Like my mom’s actually dead, like this shit actually sucks…”
So do you ever feel people like, almost rejecting your music or pushing away because it’s like, too real?
Yep, all the time, all the time… 2015, rest in peace Helen Fitzgerald, that’s my stepmom, she’s the woman that raised me—fuck my parents, right? I came off the [ALL DREAMS END] tour, and I got a call that she had passed away. And at that point it was like there was a switch where it was like—and I’ve experienced death before, I had a close friend commit suicide, I’ve had a lot of friends die, my biological mother passed when I was eight, like I’ve had a lot of death, but her dying made something happen where it was like… What’s the purpose of me doing this if I’m half-assing it? Like if I’m not saying exactly how I feel, what’s the purpose? And I’ve learned that the more and more intense and the more real the music has gotten, the more authentic people I find. It’s weeded out a lot of people.
Going back, I love lo-fi, but a lot of the times they expect you to have one sound, but I do this or I can do that… It’s like having people understand, the only shit that changes is the beat, bruh.
You can listen to our full interview below, where we go even more in depth on Airospace’s life growing up, his process, and the circumstances of his stepmother’s passing.
If you’re interested in exploring more of Airospace’s music, you can check out his bandcamp here, and be sure to check out NOCTURNE, which is out now.