Rapper perseveres to release new album 'Isosceles'
“Everybody wants to have a purpose,” Tymework raps in a conversational style on “And So, I Spoke,” which borrows its atmospheric instrumental from an XXXtentacion track. “What if you've known yours and fought for it for years but feel that you don't deserve it?”
Though Tymework, born Jonathyn Arthurs 20 years ago, is speaking more broadly about human ambition, he could just as easily be detailing the internal drive that pushes him to continue to pursue music through financial upheaval, emotional unrest and the nagging self-doubts that can often accompany the creative process.
“[Music's] one of those things I've contemplated quitting many times and I just can't do it. It's part of me,” said Tymework, who visits Double Happiness on Saturday, April 29, playing in support of his new full-length, Isosceles. “I don't know if it's just because it's all I know, or if it's just really embedded in me. I like to think it's the latter option. I really think it is.”
The process of making Isosceles — a nearly two-year ordeal that included a May 2016 van accident, a low five-figure financial investment and a months-long period where the rapper struggled with problems both at home and in his romantic life — tested this bond.
“Everything took a tumble and I just went and laid low for a minute,” said Tymework, who was born in Groveport, raised by a bank employee mother and a father who worked as a welder.
Tymework's retreat started following the May accident, which happened after he fell asleep at the wheel commuting to work. “I was working 40 minutes from my house and 68 hours a week just nonstop,” said the rapper, who crashed 500 feet from his jobsite. “[After the accident] I figured I'd take a break and focus on finishing the album, and it just never happened.”
Instead, Tymework stepped back for six or seven months before resuming recording in late 2016, weaving together personal songs (he wrestles with depression on the harrowing “The Purist”) and narrative tales informed by his love of storytelling. On the keyboard-spiked “Enemy Soil,” the MC unravels the story of a soldier torn between duty and the mental strain of being forced to take enemy life on the battlefield. Guest rappers pop up throughout — Killah Priest, Chino XL and Diabolic included — but the perspective is Tymework's own, shaped by a fondness for the darker sounds that initially led him to pursue a death metal project as a youngster.
“My first album was called Nowhere, and it was about [my father's 2003] death and everything I went through coming off it,” said the rapper, who released the project under the name the Dark and the Bleak. “I cover a lot of the same topics [in hip-hop], and it's still a darker form of music. It does allow a touch more of the softer side to show, though, because you can't really do anything soft in death metal. You can move all over the place in hip-hop, and that's something I've found I like about it.”