Jimi Tents' New Album is a State of Mind: 'I Can't Go Home'
If you’re not yet acquainted with Jimi Tents, you’re probably sleeping—hailing from what he calls the Mecca of hip hop (that’s New York City, duh), this rapper’s latest album isn’t just a collection of songs; it’s a state of mind (and that’s a direct quote). I Can’t Go Home puts Tents’ victories (and struggles) front and center, letting its listener in on a little secret: he’s not returning to his comfort zone until he’s got something to show for his labor.
Tents undeniably has something to show this time around, and if I Can’t Go Home is any indicator for what’s to come, we’re certainly in for a treat. Listen to the full album below, then keep scrolling for our interview (pre-album drop) with NYC’s new favorite artist.
How are you?
Good, just doing some running around for this music video I’m about to shoot in a couple hours.
Amazing. Which song is the video for?
This song “Rick Rubin” that’s off my upcoming project. It’s like really, really dope.
So that was gonna be my first question—can you tell us more about the project?
Of course. I have this project coming out towards the end of the month, titled I Can’t Go Home, and it’s just like a recap of my feelings, where I’ve been and where I’m headed, you know, for the past two years, ‘cause I haven’t released a project since 5 O’Clock Shadow, which was late 2015.
So how have you been feeling these past two years?
I’ve been feeling great, honestly. It’s like an uphill battle, you know, with trying to further yourself, and trying to continue to grow and develop. I had some great experiences being able to go on tour with Justin Bieber for a little bit, and also being able to have one of my favorite rappers, André 3000, come out to my show, two of my shows, and just show support. And then, you know, dealing with family shit, and losing my home, and just a lot of bullshit. So there’s two sides to it, two sides of the scale—the good and the bad. I touch on all of those things on the album.
So I released “Should’ve Called Pt. 2”, and then I followed that up with another single, titled “Domino Effect”, and then I released a “Phone Down” freestyle, and that went pretty viral on social media and things of that nature. But I’m gearing up to release this next single, “Rick Rubin”, that I’m really pumped about.
You’ve had some crazy success already with the Justin Bieber tour, like you said, and then also being on TIDAL’s Rising 2016 list of up-and-comers; did you imagine any of this starting out?
It’s always a weird question for me, ‘cause I only started making music just out of the sheer love of making music. There was never any ulterior motives behind why I made music. I didn’t do it for money, women, cars, clothes, anything. It was just a sheer enjoyment of making music. So, now that I fast forward, it’s almost like, I expected to see some results, ‘cause you can’t plant a seed and not at least see that shit poke out the dirt, or something, no matter how long it takes. Or even if you gotta dig it up, and you don’t see it grow but you see the roots and something will come of it. So, to say I wasn’t expecting anything, would almost be like blasphemy to myself. But, to say that I expected this much, is also…it’s just unpredictable, you know? So it’s a yes and a no. A double-edged sword. But I’m happy to see the fruits of my labor pay off.
How did growing up in New York City affect or influence you creatively?
Well New York, just being the Mecca of hip hop music, definitely influenced my music, ‘cause it’s almost like I feel obligated to do right by the city and honor the precedent that was set before I started making music. So, not necessarily the sound—I feel like New York as a city, sonically, has to progress. So as far as making boom bap and stuff like that, it’s not really my cup of tea, but as far as being lyrical and saying something, I feel like that’s something that New York has always had. We always had something to say. So I just want to speak to that and honor that, in saying something.
When I moved to New York the first thing I learned was that everybody had something to say and they want you to know what it is.
Whether you like it or not!
And I feel like that’s New York. The artists and just the people coming out of New York are so caught up on the sound of what things sound like. I don’t care if somebody’s rapping on trap music and they’re from New York. It’s about, are you saying anything? If you ain’t saying shit, then I really don’t wanna hear it. I mean, there’s a time and place for everything too. So, if I’m turning up, maybe I don’t wanna hear a super conscious record. But, bars are always respected in the hip hop world and in the hip hop community.
I know you train at Overthrow Boxing Club—is that related to your music or your live performances at all?
Honestly I just started messing with Overthrow, but I was working with this trainer, who fought in the Golden Glove out in Queens, and he’s the one that got me into it. At first I just started to build my endurance on stage and my cardio and it’s definitely a great workout. Plus, you’re learning how to defend yourself in a great way. It’s really, really dope, for me to be able to see results on stage where there’s footwork and movement or sharpness in my movements, just because of the boxing.
What else in the pipeline for the rest of the year besides the upcoming album?
After the project, more than likely we’re gonna put a tour together, hit the road, I have a lot more content visually, you know. I might just make a transitional album with a bunch of other artists ‘cause I really like the vibe out here [in LA].
Do you think you’ll ever move away from New York?
Yeah, but for the sake of creativity. I haven’t been anywhere in the world that I love so much that I’d be stationary there. I feel like, with music, I’ll go anywhere in the world and if I have to stay there for a year, I’ll stay there, for the sake of being creative, if that’s where I can tap into my creativity, but as far as moving there to stay there forever? Nah. I can’t really see that. I’m a city kid. I just hate the fact that there’s not just 24-hour food everywhere I go [Laughs]. I’m spoiled.
Do you have a long term vision for your music or what you want to convey with your music?
Most definitely. My main goal with this music is to inspire others to just do what they want. Do what you want, and don’t let anybody hold you back, or stop you, or derail you. The whole concept of I Can’t Go Home is a state of mind: like, leaving my comfort zone until I have something to offer my comfort zone…and creating an opportunity for the people that make me comfortable. ‘Cause everybody loves comfort. But I feel like for me, I’m the most creative when I am somewhat facing adversity. So, I just want to inspire people to do it themselves, don’t let anybody stop you, don’t let anything hold you back, and just get to it.
Images courtesy of PaperPlaneTy
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