We can’t deny that the world seems to get crazier every day. Stories of violence, corruption, and abuse fill our media. But remarkably, it is often in states of oppression or repression that creative minds produce the most unique art. Recently, I’ve been watching Netflix’s newest show, “The Get Down,” which tells the story of the very beginnings of Hip Hop music and culture. Hip Hop itself began in the ghettos of New York City, with strong roots in the South Bronx. During the 1970’s, the South Bronx was a borough known for its highly impoverished population of low-income black and Hispanic people. Remarkably, pioneer DJs like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa took old vinyl records, began “looping” beats, and developed “scratching” and “cutting” techniques that changed the entire sonic experience for the next generation of music listeners...and that new sound was Hip Hop. Today, Hip Hop & Rap has not only grown into a multimillion dollar industry, but has also developed into a cultural lineage that is now two to three generations deep and growing.
This brings me to Leair, a very good friend of mine, who despite faced many challenges growing up, has worked hard and continues to make a name for himself as an all around artist. With skills ranging from singing to songwriting to producing, Leair’s music brings elements from R&B, Hip Hop, Acoustic Soul, and Neo Soul together to create his own experimental sound. His latest single “Earth” was released earlier this year, and showcases his unique writing, arranging, and performing abilities.
The song’s hook echoes “I’m from the ghetto of the universe,” which Leair states is a reflection of how he feels about the planet earth and the people that inhabits it. “I wanted to correlate this song in the the same way as someone given an outsider a tour of their neighborhood, like what really goes on,” states Leair. “In a lot of neighborhoods I grew up in and around, you would hear things like, ‘Bruh dont go down this street it’s fonk, or on this block, such and such happens.’ I took that same approach with the world to show that this entire planet is most likely a ‘ghetto’ to possible outsiders. But in the majority of ghettos, there’s always room for improvement, a lot of spiritually nourishing ideas, movements, and out-of-this-world creativity that sparks from them. I simply broadened that lense of how people view the ghetto, and painted the entire world with the same brush.”
With the same elements as the origins of Hip Hop, Leair realized that he can used the world that he sees, and transforms it into a piece of art through lyrics, imagination, creativity, storytelling. Leair is a 26 year old musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and producer from the Bay Area. Although currently based in Oakland, the artist has lived in many cities including Hayward, Oakland, East Palo Alto, Stockton, Oklahoma City, and others. Leair always had an appreciation for music as a listener, but it wasn’t until he was 17 when he fell in love with music while taking a class in high school. From there, he learned how to play piano, guitar, and read and write sheet music, all while teaching himself how to sing from a kit he bought online. Leair highly credits his Bay Area upbringing for giving him the inspiration to create and perform music. His very first EP, “The Musician Next Door,” was released last Fall. He continues to perform around California and build his fan base around the world through videos and social media. “Music is my heARTwork. I’ve also learned on this journey that to be treated like a professional, you must carry yourself as a professional. As an Indie artist, it’s tough business wise and promoting while working full-time. But, I’ve learned that you have to learn your own numbers, know your value in your market and other markets, and surround yourself with genuine people who can guide you toward the right direction ,” said Leair.
OTDHipHop is an independent music blog and network, curated by Rapper/Blogger Jehzan Exclusive.