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Student musician Saz. É speaks on the poetry of rapping

By Rachel Gordon
On March 5, 2012

Osaze "Saz.É" Akerejah '14 is not homeless. He does, however, have a cardboard sign in his room that reads "Will Rap for Food." Sitting at his desk with large speakers and rows of sneakers beneath his bed, Akerejah is not your stereotypical Brandeis student. The 20-year-old New Jersey native, a Philosophy major, has known since he was just six years old that he wanted to be a rapper. Being at Brandeis doesn't interfere with Akerejah's music career: He seamlessly balances school, work and his mixtapes. His greatest challenge, however, is akin to what all musicians struggle with when first beginning their careers: inserting his work into the public's consciousness.

In his pre-Brandeis days, when Akerejah first wanted to be a rapper, he gave himself the stage name, "O'Man," before putting his music dream aside to be a zoologist. Lucky for his audience, that idea fizzled almost as quickly as it came, and Akerejah returned to the rap game after reeling from his parent's divorce in the seventh grade. A critical time that "bled him of his compassion and emotion," Akerejah used rap as a creative outlet, stuffing his lyrics with vehement passion and poetry. With his first recording completed before his freshman year of high school, Akerejah and his boys thought they would get signed, but their aspirations never materialized. Akerejah did not let this discourage him and, in his junior year of high school, took the time to focus on himself as an artist.

While currently immersed in an era of rap music in which every other lyric is either about popping bottles or shooting someone, Akerejah initially wanted to follow the trends, rapping about guns and drugs. Shortly thereafter, Akerejah realized that the Jersey boy rapping about shoot-outs wasn't his deal, and his lyrics became more emotionally driven, Lupe Fiasco-style. Fusing heartbreak, past relationships and some "real people S—," Akerejah synthesized his new beats into his first mixtape released in June 2011, The Little Black Box.

His second mixtape, Invincible Tomorrow, has been in production since summer 2010 and was finally released Feb. 21. The delay in its release allowed for more content to come into play, bolstering the tracks through a transformative, experimental process, in which Akerejah reaches his lyrical best, dropping stream-of-consciousness style gems.

"I write a rap and go through [it] line by line, question the themes and use my experiences to further push that emotive element," said Akerejah in an interview with justArts. Combined with a greater attention to technical details and an ever-evolving ear for melodies and hooks, Akerejah is using this evolution to his advantage, making sure his lines are supercharged and creating more compelling tracks.

The first lyric of the track "Letter to the Queen," a single off of Tomorrow, shows that Akerejah has no reservations when pulling themes from his past relationships: "You're a bitch/And you know this s—." Akerejah also cites his brother's death in February 2011 as a driving force behind his music: "[I'm] doing it because he couldn't do these things. … He's pushing me, he's behind me."

The tone of Invincible Tomorrow is one of hope: "Opportunities are important, hope's important and people are losing faith in succeeding," the rapper said. One of the singles, "Marylyn Monroe," features Akerejah's high school friend Tayler Green singing the hook, while Akerejah spits about a woman who wants to be a star, becomes romantically involved with her manager and crumbles as the press rips her to her downfall.

Citing Jay-Z, Kanye West and Nas as his main influences, Akerejah is not just a rapper but also an entertainer. Having performed countless times at Brandeis, he has reached a wide variety of people through the diverse qualities of his songs and different venues on campus.

For example, Akerejah appeared at the Turkish Coffee House, hosted by the Brandeis Sephardic Initiative; Culture X, a variety show hosted by the Intercultural Center; as well as Snow White, a DJ/dubstep concert and dance held last winter.

Ten years from now Akerejah hopes to be working on a second album, having received critical acclaim for his first one. "Music touches a wide array of people. As a rapper, people question your artistic ability. [We rappers] gotta show them, it's poetry, it's music."

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