Although indie rapper Erinem has been releasing music for the past seven years, her new EP "Y.B.A.L.A." serves as her second studio project. An acronym for You Bitches Ain't Listening Anyway, the 5-track project features Bizarre of D12 and will become available on March 25th. Erinem brings her A-game along with an endless supply of potent, yet infectious punchlines, which is what keeps her fans across the globe coming back for more; her originality with a unique style and flow can't be mimicked. Before diving right into the EP check out the full interview below with Erinem. She talks about the concept of the EP, working alongside Bizarre, what's next, and more.
“I refuse to fit the mold that other female Hip Hop
artists have created before her, or lean much into sexuality, as my brand doesn’t
come off as particularly feminine.
MJ: For those who might be living under a rock and
not familiar with who you are, introduce yourself to the world.
Erinem: My name is Erinem, and I’m a rapper,
producer, avid lyricist, and an all-around student of the game. I write rhymes every
day, always trying to keep my hand in. Hip Hop is constantly evolving and
changing. Studying the art of Hip Hop is one of those things the more
you learn, the less you know — because it’s just so much bigger than any one
person. That’s what I love about it, though.
MJ: Share the backstory with your artist/stage name,
as it holds an impact on how your music is delivered and resonates.
Erinem: People want to know if my artist name, “Erinem”
has anything to do with Eminem, given how similar it is, and given how much my
lyrical and vocal style align with his. But my artist name comes from a
combination of my first and middle name, which is Erin Emily. It’s not like I
didn’t think about the implications of having an artist name that was so like
Eminem’s, especially when my music was already so similar to his. I liked the
fact that Erinem was both true to my own name and true to the homage I was
already paying Eminem anyway, in all the influence of his that shows up
continuously in my work. I like to think of it as the kind of homage or
association you can find in the A$AP prefix.
MJ: Take us into the new album from the thought
process, title, production, etc.
“This album is a way of saying “I’m done trying to
please the industry, to please the audience, to please the people. I’m done
pursuing popularity and pleading with people to listen to what I have to say.
Instead, I’m just going to say it. Why should you care that I’m not what you
want me to be? You’re not listening anyway.”
Erinem: One thing I’m proud of when it comes to
Y.B.A.L.A. is how planned-out it was. Down to the last detail, everything was
meticulously planned and put into motion, like setting up an intricate series
of dominos and trying not to knock any of them over before its time. After my
last album, some opportunities I thought were in the works for me just kind of
fell through. It was devastating. So, I knew I needed to throw myself into work
again because, with all the time I had just lost to snakes in the grass, there
was no time left to waste. So, I started planning a new album, one that I could
fully creatively control and one where I was in charge of what went into it and
when. That has become critical for me in these last few years. That’s really
what “Y.B.A.L.A.” became about; not listening to anyone else when it comes to
my own success, and not expecting anyone else to care about it the way I do. The
idea for the album title came to me suddenly when I woke up one morning, and I
just made some incoherent, cryptic note about it on my phone. It was something
like “Idea for a 5-song EP: Called YBALA, and it stands for ‘You Bitches Ain’t
Listening Anyway’ - with each song’s title being one of the words from the
album title” and when I got serious about making the album, I brought it up to
my producer, Guy Bartov. I was like, “Guy, man, what do you think about making
this album?” Guy is an extraordinary producer and finessed those mixes down to
the most minuscule detail. It was amazing to watch. As a producer myself, I
learned a lot from sitting in on those sessions.
MJ: How was the experience working with Bizarre?
Erinem: Working with Bizarre was great. I met up with
him in Detroit a few years ago. We went over to FBT to do some work together.
It’s crazy to be there and to see how that studio has stayed true to the era
it came out of. There were some dusty drum pads and stuff laying around that
were still there from the D12 era. Bizarre and I got some ideas going and did
some recording that day. It was his birthday coming up, and he asked me to come
chill at his birthday party later that week, so I stopped by for his house
party, and that was a crazy time. Afterward, I met up with Bizarre again by
chance at a studio called Bravo Ocean in Atlanta. We were both there having a
session, and so we hung out for a few minutes between things. It occurred to me
that now would be the perfect time to release his verse because I had this
idea for a song that it would be perfect on. We reworked it some, and it ended
up on “Bitches” which was really the ideal place to showcase his subject matter.
MJ: What are your expectations for the project? Is
there one track that you feel will echo the most with audiences/fans?
Erinem: My expectations for it are to get it out to as
many ears as possible, and that people love it the way I do. I think Hip Hop is
hungry for substance again, for lyricism that doesn’t lack in intelligence but
also doesn’t get preachy or just bore you out of your mind. And that’s what
this project delivers. For the casual listener, they’re just good tracks. But
for the avid fan of lyricism, there are punchlines and references all over the
place, like little easter eggs for deep divers to find. In the end, I hope that
the quality and spirit of this album proves its title wrong and a little
ironic; that people will be listening anyway. I didn’t title it that way hoping
it would end up being inaccurate, but what started out as me being resigned to
my past failures ended up being a glowing tribute to what’s yet to come. I hope
others can find some inspiration in that, as I have. My favorite song from this
album is definitely “Ain’t” even though it’s probably not the most commercially
appealing song on the album. Still, for me, it was like a grand gesture: me,
flipping off the industry-snakes who wasted a year of my life, selling me
nonsense. That track feels triumphant. But honestly, to my ears, there are no
skips on this album.
MJ: What's up next for Erinem?
Erinem: Singles. I’m going to be dropping a single every
month or so, and just build on the trajectory I’ve already created between my
two studio albums. I’m really excited to see how everything grows and builds on
itself over the next few months.
MJ: Is there anything else you would like the world
of Hip Hop to know about your new album Y.B.A.L.A?
Erinem: This seems like a good place to give some
credit out to the people who made this project possible. While I write all the
lyrics and record all the vocals, there’s a lot more than just that going into
a full-on studio album. Like I said before, a lot of what people will probably
like and appreciate about this project comes down to solid mixing skills, which
I owe to my producer and loyal friend Guy Bartov. I had a fantastic mastering
engineer, Brian Lipski, who hustled to meet my ridiculous deadlines, so I want
to give credit to him as well. The album art for this project was done by my
long-time favorite artist, Elia Colombo. AnyWayWell made the beats, and he’s
great at it, so, that made it easier when I was starting from good bones. I
also obviously want to thank Bizarre, for being my sole feature on this project
and doing such an amazing job with it.
And you, of course, MJ. For taking an interest in the project and for
taking the time to write about it. And thanks to everyone who supported me and
uplifted me along the way. I’d be nowhere without the loyal listeners I already
have now, and they all mean a lot to me. To everyone else, I hope you enjoy “Y.B.A.L.A.”
as much as I enjoyed making it.
Without further ado, let’s get into the album…You sets off
the 5-track EP with the perfect blend of lyricism and wordplay canvased
effortlessly by complex rhymes that ultimately set the tone for the rest of the
project. A relatable track that makes the hook resonate and echo in unison.
Erinem describes an altercation between a couple and the antagonization involved.
But at the end of the day, although she can put one of them on blast to end
their world, is it even worth the time and energy. “Fuck around and show you
at your worst/I could clap and collapse your universe/but I’d rather stack up a
track with all this crap/then put you in a verse” There’s plenty of ironies
and a bit of comic relief as well to pull from this track. “You don’t really know me, you did not just
‘bro’ me, you are not my homie, you gon’ meet the old me.”
Bizarre jumps in on Bitches, who underlines the track’s
golden era of Hip Hop aesthetic. It’s evident through her intricate lyricism,
Erinem’s soul also emanates through that era. “I miss when rap was bout/
drugs and bitches/ not fashion Page 2 of 5 brands, or the gram/ or your riches/
back to when thugs/ was givin' hugs in the club/ bout to show you all how/to
give bitches some love.” The track details a house party hosted by the D12
artist in Detroit. The punchlines in Bitches push the bar and are sure to have
listeners going back and exhausting the repeat button. “Bitch is doing
side-kicks, spastic/ In skin tight elastics/ Acting like it’s magic/ Bitch
you’re like the title of M*A*S*H/ All ass-tricks! (Asterix).”
Ain’t serves as a true narrative based on an experience
Erinem had in 2021 with some music execs. She holds no bars with this track to
spread awareness and bring to light A&R’s, labels, and others in the music
industry who mask their snake-like moves and venom. “I ain’t the one with
the problem/you’re the one hollerin’/I’m bullshit intolerant” and “ask you for
my split/and accuse me of entitlement/ but I ain’t the one with the loft/ this
is kick off…” Although each verse begins with negativity, there is a
message of triumph and adversity. Anyone branching out into the music industry,
take notes while listening to this track. Both the intro and outro are sure to
have listeners grip Erinem’s unfortunate experience along with her unyielding emotions.
In Listening Erinem addresses just that and the difficulty
folks have with the concept of listening and actually listening. Another
relatable track as we all often feel that others don’t listen to us or hear us
out, professionally and personally. Erinem nailed the concept by delivering the
track in two perspectives which bodies the age-old complexity of you’re not listening
to me when either party is listening. Rather, they are mentally preparing a
comeback instead of listening. “So I was speaking/ all freaking evening/ you
didn’t hear a damn thing today/ you were daydreaming/ and missed the meaning/ you
don’t hear a damn thing I say…” The frustration of not being heard is
echoed by Erinem’s use of potent punchlines that allow audiences to envision
the narrative loud and clear.
Erinem concludes the EP with empowerment and dream chasing
in Anyway. She transcends us back to teenage years where the want and desire to
achieve or conquer something is overbearing, in an exciting fashion. “I have
heard so many say/ they don’t think there’s any way/ dreams that we just throw
away/ feelings I can’t downplay/ feeling like a runaway/ in my room I hideaway/
hoping for some better days/ I go on anyway.” Erinem also points out some
of life’s contradictions. At early ages we are encouraged to live out our
dreams and that we can be whatever we want to be. Yet as maturity kicks in that
narrative seems to shift to what others and society deem fitting. That might resemble
a cookie-cutter life of working a 9-5, raising a family, and becoming stuck in
daily routines. To the naysayers, Erinem proclaims “Sometimes I don’t know/
how I’ll even get by/ on my wits I rely/ it’s a wonder why I try/ when it
didn’t work the first/ or the nine-hundredth time/ let’s just call it well rehearsed/
guess conviction is a crime.” The track is bittersweet, yet through Erinem’s
poignantly polished lyrics those naysayers are sure to take a seat on the
One thing for certain that can be noted about "Y.B.A.L.A." the honesty it brings forth from Erinem's personal experiences is emotionally gripping. She displays her growth both personally and professionally and stands pillar tall, holding her own. Erinem's raw talent to weave together rhyme schemes and quotable punchlines keep her music prominent in Hip Hop, as it continues to ever evolve.
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