S4EP7: Summer Vibez ft. Aaron Bates
Hi ºF-TV family,
I've missed you! I hope that you are well, safe, healthy and finding peace this Summer.
Speaking of Summer OMG it flew by. Its one of my favorite seasons because I love the longer days of sunshine and the joy of having something to look forward to but I have to admit, it was different this year. COVID19 is still alive and fresh and affecting communities all over the world. It seems like every time I check the news (and by that I mean my Instagram/Twitter/Youtube news feeds) it looks like its going to be our unfriendly neighbor for awhile, probably until the end of this year and more. We can't blame Sir Rona either, we've made it possible for it to comfortably overstay, its stay. People are still protesting against wearing masks and President Orange (#45) is their fearless leader. I also understand that there's people who don't wear masks because they simply no longer care. I can't blame them fully, it's so easy to lose hope nowadays. Even unapologetic optimists like myself are struggling BUT we have to find hope! We must find those pockets of hope, must embrace ourselves in moments of joy, must give the ones we love their roses and more and must continue to fight and protect our futures, like our ancestors did for us.
In the month of August, I personally was struggling to find those pockets of hope. A lot was changing financially for me, Black Lives were still being unjustly murdered by the police and ignorant people each week and a few Black leaders transitioned into ancestors. #ChadwickBoseman It's been, yet again, another emotional month. I am still emotionally overwhelmed and I really wish we could get a break from all of this tragedy. Since we sadly can't realistically control everything that's going on in the world, we can control our world to a fault. I decided to bring more joy into my world and one of the best ways was listening to music.
Music, like this month's current ºF-TV guest, is therapeutic. Life would be impossible without it for me and its one of the universal languages that unites people, uplifts them in times of disparity and honestly, brings you joy! Joy is something so precious to experience nowadays and when I listened to Aaron Bates latest project, 'Pollen,' I had a big Colgate smile on my face!
If you take a look at Aaron Bates profile on Instagram, he can come off as a shy and introverted soul but the talented lyricist has A LOT to say. He conveys it uniquely through his music. I first noticed a snippet of Aaron Bates greatness when he shared a track with me on Instagram. It was cool and I loved the beat and I made a notice to myself to check out his full project when I had more free time. Then COVID19 happened and my world was suddenly filled with lots of more free time but also lots of emotionally triggering realities. I needed a break, so one August morning, I went on Soundcloud and pressed play on the 'Pollen' project and boy did the universe bless me! Every track made me feel like I was living in a dream world full of sunflowers, smells of BBQ (Vegan BBQ for me now lol) and Black Joy. Lots of Black Joy. It really made me think of my childhood, my teenage years and Summers before COVID19 when the season was still full of a range of emotions, but mostly positive. For one moment, it felt like things were normal again. It was the Summer Vibes I needed and the vibes YOU can still experience.
Aaron Bates grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston and had a love for music ever since he was a child. He first discovered Hip Hop from his father. Although they don't have a close relationship, he was grateful that his dad was able to share that gift of music with him. Eric B & Rakim, Mobb Deep, Red Man & Method Man were some the Artists he admired and looked up to. Aaron credits the Hip Hop pioneers of the 80s and 90s as his idols. "Tupac taught me how to be honest. KRS-One taught me how to be true. Pete Rock and C.S.L. Smooth schooled me too." He first starting experimenting with creating music by writing poetry at school. He shared that he would write all the time, but was too shy to share it. It wasn't until he met his cousin, who also shared a love for Hip Hop music, that he started writing lyrics. In fact, Aaron gives his cousin major credit as the one who encouraged him to take music and songwriting more seriously. Aaron admits,"I'm an introvert. I'm very insecure. I'm still learning how to get out of the insecurities but that's a work in progress." Music has definitely become a tool that has allowed him to step out of his comfort zone and speak his truth to the masses.
When it came to finding his unique style in music, Aaron wanted to draw inspiration from all of the music he was ingesting with a twist of his own greatness. "I wanted to incorporate every coast into my music...I never want to sound the same on no project." R.A.P. (rhythm and poetry) was first introduced as a way for people (particularly Black & Brown Artists) to tell their stories before it became commercialized. Aaron wanted to bring back that true essence of Hip Hop by creating projects full of depth, unapologetic perspectives and dope beats to keep you coming back for more.
In 2017, Aaron released his his first EP entitled,'The World Is A Hideous Piece Of Art.' Aaron shared with us that this first project was his therapy. At the time, he was dealing with a lot of challenges in his life. As a Gay Black man, Aaron explains its hard surviving and living freely in this society without judgement or fear. This project, also known as Act I of his catalog, allowed him to let go and find healing. "After I recorded every song, I felt so relived." He wrote the whole project within a week and at first was nervous to release it but he got great feedback from his peers. It meant a lot to him to find people to support him during a rough transition in his life and to have music as his main source of healing. It also made him realize his superpower and mission to use music as a tool to express other people's realities as well. "This project was emotional for me but also for other people... I gotta tell their stories."
In 2018, he released his second project entitled, 'No Fucks Given.'
"It's called No Fucks Given for a reason. Each song is questioning your own beliefs and my own beliefs as well." Listening to this project feels like you've entered the inner thoughts of Aaron Bates in 2018 while questioning your own morals and perspectives. I love that it challenges the audience while incorporating some new sounds in the production. 'No Fucks Given' aka Act II, mixes more jazz sounds with the popular Trap beats us Millennials and Gen Z folks love. As always, it's honest and poetic, a trait he keeps up in his latest project, 'Pollen.'
Act III, aka 'Pollen', is the perfect Summer album to vibe out to."I'm not going nowhere, ya can't get rid of me, I'm Pollen." Aaron made this project to not only create a Summer album but to confidently stand in his power as an Artist. I'm so personally grateful for this album because it made me feel like I was living carefree, without any worries. In fact, I think its an album you can listen to anytime if you desire the feel-good and chill-out vibes it delivers.
In our interview with the talented Artist, Aaron breaks down the inspiration behind each song and talks about the emotional waves of summer. Summer is so short but a lot can happen within that season as we all know. There's of course joy but there's also sorrow. Many people who live in urban environments can attest to the increased amount of violence during the summer. There's also the experience of not really enjoying working that 9-5 on hot summer days and of course the adventures behind cookouts, late night drives and spending time with your tribe. 'Pollen' gives you a mix of all of those emotions and more. "Each song is a certain event that we all experienced." Technically you can play the project backwards and still get the same feeling.
"I want to put this city on the map because I want the voiceless to be voiced and that's always been my thing because I never felt like I had a voice growing up. I come from a very bad background and I want to share my story, my faults, my insecurities, my selfishness, my bad times, my good times...I want to share other people's stories in my music because I want them also to be heard just as much as I want to be heard."
Through all of his projects, Aaron wants his audience to know that,"it's okay to be vulnerable." Through his music, Aaron often talks about his struggles with self doubt and the lack of support and collaboration there is in this city. It's something he and many Boston Artists have shared with me. We need to do better and actually support each other, especially embracing the caterpillar stage of our local Boston Artists. It not only encourages them to invest in their craft but also pushes them to really blossom both professionally and personally. It's one of the many reasons why ºFarenheight TV was born.
In our interview, we also talk about what Black Liberation can look like. Something I think many Black folks are thinking about even more during this year's election and the multiple pandemics. "Black liberation is making sure we all get our messages across and make sure everybody understands us no matter what. Black liberation means that we ALL come along on the fight." He also shares some great wisdom on how to deal with self doubt and the importance of moving forward whenever you're faced with adversity. "You have to have your own belief in yourself and keep riding. Don't stop regardless....It's okay to doubt yourself. Acknowledge the doubt and move forward."
Watch our Part One of our interview with Aaron Bates on our YouTube channel here. Hear the stories and inspiration behind his projects, his aspirations for the future and what we can look forward to from the talented Artist. Follow and support Aaron on all social media platforms @OfficialMrBates. Listen to all his projects on Soundcloud here and experience great vibes all year long.
Our next episode premieres Thursday, October 15th @ 8:30pm on the Boston Neighborhood Network (Comcast 23, RCN 83 & Verizon 1960). Wishing you always peace and love.