Rapper preaches patience on new EP
Two years ago, after opening a concert for Red Pill and Murs at the Basement, local rapper Senseless received an email from Mellow Music Group, which distributes Red Pill's albums.
“They reached out to me like, ‘Hey, love the record. New fan of the music. Do your thing,'” said Senseless, born Jacob Engle 22 years ago. “And I was like, ‘I'M GETTING SIGNED!' I thought it was a wrap, like, ‘Where's my shoe deal?' I was just so excited in my kid-ness, which I still have, but, yeah, now I just make things and I don't expect anything from it.”
This newfound patience surfaces throughout the still-unsigned MC's new five-song EP, Yeah, Whatever, where he sets aside the nightlife (“The World Awaits”) and “hits pause for a sec” on the ambling “Mosey On In,” a piano-laced track longtime collaborator DJ Bombay constructed around a sample borrowed from the rapper's vocal coach, Lisa Clark.
Senseless' first two full lengths — Living on Land and A Bunch of Nonsense — exist on opposite poles, with the blindly optimistic Living standing in stark contrast to the turbulent Nonsense, an album that dove headlong into subjects such as the Black Lives Matter protests and presidential politics. Yeah, Whatever, in turn, is a more even-keeled affair, focused less on these external forces than the internal settings that allow the MC to create.
“When I finished [A Bunch of Nonsense], I felt drained creatively,” said Senseless, who will celebrate the EP's release with a concert opening for Milo at Rumba Cafe on Friday, Dec. 15. “I got out of crisis mode and I just had fun, like, ‘I'm just going to make some songs.'”
Senseless credits easing up on the nightlife, in part, for his newly clear mind, as well as a gig coaching grade school rec-league basketball alongside his brother. “Being able to bring something out of the kids, it just makes you be a little better,” he said. But the rapper's vocal growth can be attributed to the six months he spent working with Clark earlier this year. Senseless, who waits tables at his day job, was introduced to the vocal coach via a restaurant regular, who tipped him $100 on one meal to give a financial jumpstart to the lessons.
“I'm really throaty — like veins popping out of my neck — and [Clark] taught me to push from the diaphragm, which is sing-song 101, but it brought [my voice] more to the front,” said Senseless, who also received an assist from J Rawls, who produced two of the EP's tracks. “I definitely [noticed improvement] in my breath control. I'm a smoker, but I can still do it.”
And while the nightlife still beckons, on occasion, Senseless has learned there's often little to be gained by lingering at the club once a set is finished.
“It's OK to go home,” he said. “It's easy to act like everybody's got drinks and everybody's friends. But if you take those drinks away, everyone would just be staring at each other like, ‘What the hell are we doing?' Just go home and have your peace and be all right.”