Photo by Will Hoopes, courtesy of Adamn Killa
In just two minutes of near-monotone sing-song about feeling like Ja Rule, Adamn Killa convinced me he had an ear for the future. The song, aptly called "I Feel Like I'm Ja Rule," involved a lot of the rapper repeating his own name over a beat that sounded like the music they play in a movie while somebody is sneaking up on somebody else. In a way, perhaps Adamn was sneaking up on the entire rap game (yes, bad joke, I'm sorry). That was in 2015, when the rapper was just a kid from Chicago with bright pink hair and a vision.
Nearly two years later, Adamn Killa is something of an international sensation. He's toured Europe, and he has an upcoming tour in Asia. He moved to LA last summer. He's become a favorite collaborator of some of the world's leading electronic production minds, lining up tracks like the first-ever rap production from Australia's UV Boi فوق بنفسجي and songs with visionary genre-blurring producers like Shlohmo and Ryan Hemsworth. Most significantly, he's been embraced in France by a number of producers under Brodinski's Bromance label, such as the Club Cheval artists Myd and Sam Tiba, as well 8tm, Ikaz Boi, and Brodinski himself."They've got a different sound," Adamn Killa told Noisey last week, explaining the appeal of working with the French producers. "It sounds designer. It doesn't sound like these cheap-ass beats people be rapping on." Adamn worked on songs in Paris with Brodinski and co. for what would become his new album, I Am Adamn. The album is out tomorrow across all retailers, but you can stream it right now exclusively on Noisey.Spanning 16 tracks of Adamn singing, gurgling, and rapping, I Am Adamn cycles through a ton of ideas, creating a sonic world that is entirely its own. Adamn's voice is deep and gravelly, giving weight to his own Ja Rule comparison, and he has a bit of the abrupt, direct cadence of fellow Chicagoan Chief Keef. However, he is drawn toward bright, airy trap sounds and processed vocals, which puts his sound more in line with contemporaries like Lil Yachty and SahBabii.
When he hits falsetto notes on songs like "Piss in the Sheets" or "650 On My Toes," it becomes truly sublime, especially as he uses those wild, swooping notes to mock the posers of the world and their whole sense of self-esteem. The former showcases Adamn's sense of humor as he takes stabs at people who not only smell like "piss in the sheets" but have "shit in their teeth." Later, he adds, "I'm just trying to do me and everyone else is too, apparently," elevating what might be a run-of-the-mill line with the word "apparently." That's the appeal of Adamn Killa: He's like if all your favorite 2017 rap music was just a tiny bit more out there and a teensy bit cleverer. Pop hooks and punchlines alike sneak up on you."I been always trying to elevate everything 'cause I don't want to be on the same shit everybody is doing," he explained. Another standout is "Roseland Baby," where Adamn manages to turn simple lines like "all these bitches keep on stalking me" into grandiose balladry in between verses that bounce forward with clubby enthusiasm. It's radio ready—both for pop radio and your friend's weird ambient internet mix show. There may be no better example of Adamn's tendency toward blending pop and sonic experimentalism, though, than "Turtle Feet," the album's early standout track, a gurgling post-trap song set to a dreamy Ikaz Boi beat. Adamn explained the premise simply: "These niggas slow like turtle feet. They just slow with everything."
If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to catch up with Adamn. I Am Adamn seems poised to kick off an even more successful run for the rapper, starting with the aforementioned international tours and a series of upcoming visual projects. So get familiar right here. As he explained, his album is "just my life story, really."It's kinda crazy," he added. "But there's more people whose stories are crazier. It's not the craziest one. But it's mine."
Additional reporting by Justin Staple.Follow Kyle Kramer on Twitter.