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These 5 albums truly inspire rapper SonaOne and his music

SonaOne’s latest single Again comes from an emotionally vulnerable place with a hopeful ending.

Again is a story specifically about overcoming the emotional trauma from being in a failed relationship. A lot of people have been in a relationship, and then break up.

“It really affects them and they don’t want to commit anymore. This is coming from that place where you thought you cannot fall in love again or look for anyone else. Then, someone comes along and you think to yourself, ‘Oh, here we go again. Let’s give this (love) another shot’,” he said during an interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Opening up about life experiences is going be the core subject in SonaOne’s upcoming album, with the working title Moments. The 28-year-old rapper (real name Mikael Adam Lozach) hopes to come up with an album which will serve as a reminder to some significant moments in life.

“It’s about capturing moments, either emotionally or some sort of thought process and embedding it into a song. So, you can revisit that moment again and again.”

SonaOne teased the possibility that Moments will drop some time this year.

“Personally I want to be able to finish this album by September. If not, hopefully by the end of the year”

In the meantime, the Anugerah Industri Muzik-winning rapper shared five hip-hop albums that have inspired him.

Donuts by J Dilla

SonaOne is currently working on an album that would document his life experiences.

“J Dilla’s body of work as a producer is just incredible. He was the go-to guy for the underground hip-hop movement in terms of style. You know the “boom bap” (a production style in hip-hop)? He was pretty much the grandmaster; the way he sampled music, the way he worked his drums – even until today, people still have a hard time mimicking it. Donuts was an album that he made when he was in the hospital. He was diagnosed with a rare blood disease. It came out of nowhere and he was told that he only had five months to live. The story goes that he asked to have all his music equipment in the hospital as he wanted to make music until he dies. That inspired me big time. This was way back in 2006. I pre-ordered the vinyl (Donuts) from Amazon. The day I received it, was the day he passed away. I remember listening to the whole album and it hit me so hard.”

Ready To Die by Notorious B.I.G

“This is a classic. Till today, not a lot of rappers can do what B.I.G was known for – the way he did his narratives, cadence, rhyme patterns and perspective on street life. On this album, he touched on his past dealings as a drug dealer, his newfound fame and his love for his mum. And of course, his love for hip-hop and rap. It was a lot of things I can relate to. Except for the drug bit (laughs).”

The Struggle Continues by Looptroop Rockers

“Looptroop Rockers is a rap group from Sweden. As a rapper, there’d be a point when you would do graffiti, breakdance or deejay. These guys were very active in the graffiti culture, especially the lead rapper Promoe, who was a prolific graffiti artist in the 1990s. Too Phat actually did a collaboration with him back in 2003 with the song 6 MCs. When Looptroop Rockers started making music in the late 1990s, a lot of it was graffiti music (songs about graffiti culture). It was something that no one else was doing. At that time, as someone who was also involved in both hip-hop and graffiti, I found the marriage of the two elements relatable.”

The Minstrel Show by Little Brother

“Little Brother comprises two rappers and one deejay-producer from North Carolina. The deejay-producer, 9th Wonder, has a big influence on me musically. When I started making beats on the computer, I didn’t have money for gears like a keyboard or an MPC (music production controller). So, I had to use this programme I got online called Fruity Loops. It turned out that 9th Wonder was also making beats using the same programme and his beats were amazing. One of the rappers in the group, Phonte, was an inspiration as well because he had so much wit, humour and lyrical complexities when he wrote. His wordplay and metaphors are just out of this world. He made everything sound so natural and effortless.”

The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem

“Eminem is the artiste who got me into writing rap music. I remember watching the American Music Awards back in 2000 with my mum. Dr Dre was there to perform Forget About Dre, then this white guy (Eminem) came out and started rapping. I was like, ‘What is going on here?’. I tried to look for the song. Red FM used to have this hip-hop programme every Friday, and one day, I called in to request for the song. When, the deejay played it, I immediately recorded it on my tape recorder so I could hear it over again and again. I even did a paper on hip-hop for a music class and, at the end, performed the song. That’s when I knew it, hip-hop was for me.”

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