Grxwn Fxlks sojourn
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Grxwn Fxlks’ Inspiring Journey: The Story Behind “Sojourn” – Exclusive Interview

Grxwn Fxlks, the visionary duo of Masai Turner and Akil Esoon, is back with a thought-provoking new single, “Sojourn,” that reinterprets a classic and challenges the status quo. We caught up with the genre-bending duo to discuss their creative process, social commentary woven into the lyrics, and their commitment to artistic authenticity. Get ready to learn how Grxwn Fxlks is pushing boundaries and inspiring change in the world of hip-hop.

Congratulations on the release of “Sojourn”! Sampling The Commodores’ “Zoom” for it adds a unique touch. Can you walk us through the creative process of reinterpreting this classic and infusing it with the distinctive Grxwn Fxlks sound?

Masai Turner: Our songs always start with the music. Akil Esoon is the initiator of the creative process because I don’t write lyrics without the beat. He is also a multi-instrumentalist so he spent weeks listening to “Zoom” dozens of times and learning how to play each instrument in the song before ever sampling it. This gave him a significant amount of familiarity with the record which maximized his ability to create something unique and powerful. It’s not only that we sampled an amazing song, it’s HOW Akil produced something brand new while paying respect to the original.

Once the beat is created, it’s my responsibility to listen to how the drums, melody, and vibes are speaking to my soul then reflect that feeling through my lyrics, style, tone, and cadence. Our mission is to push the culture forward, so I want to make sure every line could become it’s own conversation. If I listen to the beat and I’m honest about how I feel and what thoughts come to mind when I hear it… we can’t miss. The result of that approach is “Sojourn”.

Grxwn Fxlks challenges societal norms. Within “Sojourn,” is there a specific aspect where you consciously addressed a social issue, and how do you see music as a platform for initiating change?

Masai Turner: Yes – As a relatively elder statesman in Hip-Hop, it’s my responsibility to share the lessons and experiences I’ve had in life in an interesting way that catches people’s attention and makes them think. Hopefully they factor these lyrics into real life decisions one day. On “Sojourn” I consciously challenged the glorification of murder and drugs within the culture and industry. There are corporations that are profiting from marketing violence and addiction in communities that aren’t prepared to combat it. We’re training young people to be experts in death and destruction instead of how to appreciate, respect, and value their lives and the lives of those in their community. Here are a couple of lines that I feel address that poetically/figuratively and directly/literally.

  1. It’s wheels up on the soul plane 
  2. And the pilot won’t glorify the violent vibes or the dope game
  3. Besides them brick of cocaine lyrics is so lame
  4. There’s more to life than iced Jesus Christ on a gold chain
  5. (We just might own the whole lane) 
  6. And frequent the flight path
  7. Cap’n & Facts ain’t adding up these rappers don’t like math
  8. And they’ve been typecast to write trash that I swipe passed
  9. Experts in death first enlightened by life last

Music has always been a platform for change. From John Lenon’s “Imagine” to Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up”. From  Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”. All of those artists were able to utilize their unique talents to make timeless art that has just as much meaning today as it had the day it was released. Today, we have the added ability to utilize technology in ways that the aforementioned artists didn’t. Millions of people have heard and seen Grxwn Fxlks around the world through devices that didn’t exist 20 years ago. It’s our responsibility to ensure as we influence as many people in the culture as possible with our messages.

As a visionary musical collective, what role does authenticity play in Grxwn Fxlks’ approach to creating music, and how does it set you apart in the hip-hop industry?

Masai Turner: Once the art form and culture of Hip-Hop became an industry, the goal became to make money with the least risk possible. That meant that record labels needed to encourage artists to be more like other artists that were making money. The second you start looking at someone else trying to reflect their light instead of shining your own, there will be a significant dip in authenticity. My “rap name” is Masai Turner. That is also the name on my birth certificate and that I’ve lived with for 4 decades. It’s a great reminder to just be me when I create and everything else will work out. We don’t chase sounds or waves – we create our own. No one in the world is better at being Masai and Akil than we are. 

Grxwn Fxlks sojourn
Grxwn Fxlks

How would you describe the evolution of your sound from your earlier releases to “Sojourn,” and what inspired this musical progression?

Masai Turner: I think the sound has matured and become more consistent. When we first started making music we were trying to find our sound and honestly what our audience responded to the most. Our first album has a lot of quality and variety, but everything was on the table and I think we had too many “SKUs”. Today we are have this dialled-in Sankofa approach of reaching back to the past to design the future. In this season, you’ll hear a lot more dense, highly technical rhyme schemes written to fit the illest sample chops like a glove. Next season, it will be something totally different. Our maturity as artists gives us unlimited options/directions to take the music. That’s what keeps us going — The possibilities, because they are endless.

In your journey as artists committed to elevating Hip-Hop culture, what challenges have you faced, and how do you overcome them while staying true to your unique style and message?

Masai Turner: I think the main challenge that I’ve faced as an independent artist is Time. I’m having to wear so many hats on a daily basis — Label owner, financier, manager, booking agent, producer, video director, social media guy, designer, photographer, editor, tour bus driver, runner, chef, stylist, security, and the list goes on and on. I’m not complaining… this is THE JOB. As we gain more momentum we have been hiring and adding the right folks to the team to own some of these responsibilities. Overall, I’d like to dedicate more focused time on the art and elevating the sound, but I also love the learning that comes with being so attached to every component of realizing our vision.

Collaboration is a significant aspect of hip-hop. If you could collaborate with any current artist in the rap scene, who would it be and why?

Masai Turner: That’s easy. Nas. His talent, maturity, volume of output, and quality over the last few years has inspired us in so many ways. Especially since his last 3 albums were one producer and one emcee (just like us). He is a 50+ year old, multi-millionaire (at least) that continues to make music for the love and the culture. The couple of coins that come back to him from music I’m sure pales in comparison to his other business ventures. Grxwn Fxlks is also not in this for the money. We have real jobs and other ways of making money – so we don’t have to make music to pay bills which allows us so much artistic freedom and experimentation. We actually ran into Nas (and Hitboy) at the Grammy’s in LA this year, but it wasn’t our time to talk about a collaboration (yet). The next time we see him… it will be. 

Looking ahead, what are your long-term goals for Grxwn Fxlks within the music industry?

Masai Turner: Long term we want to see growth and inspire change. 

  1. From a growth perspective I want to see that our messages are travelling and making an impact. We want to see more people sharing, saving, and having conversations about our music. We want to see concert attendance doubling each time we return to a city, and we want positivity, progress, and culture to be a bigger part of the conversation in the industry. Our piece of the pie is too small and needs to grow. 
  2. From a change perspective I want to see more artists take our example and not let typical industry norms dictate your movement or message. Bet on and be yourself, take risks, saying something that isn’t going to be popular with the masses, find your tribe, cultivate a community, retain ownership of your art, ignore the doubt… and the list goes on and on.

As we conclude our enlightening conversation with Grxwn Fxlks, we’re left inspired by their unwavering commitment to authenticity and their bold mission to redefine the landscape of Hip-Hop. From their creative process rooted in deep respect for the classics to their conscious efforts to address societal issues through their music, Grxwn Fxlks exemplifies the transformative power of artistry. Stay tuned for more from Grxwn Fxlks, and be sure to check out “Sojourn” – it’s a guaranteed head-turner.

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