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Arima Ederra And A.J. Crew At Amoeba, Thursday May 12th 2016


A.J. Crew


Converse Rubber Tracks, a platform that provides free recording time to local emerging artists, has partnered up with legendary studios all over the world to help young artists record and produce music in spaces they would not have been able to have access to. Converse also organize shows at Amoeba to launch the release of free split 7”, featuring two artists playing the same evening. On Thursday night, Arima Ederra and A.J Crew played live sets inside the store, bringing two different sounds side by side.

Arima Ederra had a lot of soul, she played a short set of jazz-infused songs with gentle vocals, a magnetic attitude. With her calm voice, she invited people to get closer to make the show more intimate and personal, and the ambiance got very relaxing, wrapped into a quiet and dreamy haze, the drums sometimes played like percussion, while her songs were occasionally awaken by a trumpet at the top of the keys. She is a Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter, and probably because she is Ethiopian and comes from a music loving family, her inspiring music sounded multi-influenced. she was mostly mixing soft jazz, early 90’s R&B and a touch of hip-hop, building unique sonic textures and a soft ambiance, where her quiet vocals could freely float and bring a rare serenity. I have read a lot of ‘goddess’ and ‘deity’ superlatives to describe her and her music and this is probably not a coincidence. She ended her set with a cover of ‘Boogie Man’, from her favorite artist, Mos Def.

A.J. Crew, a Toledo-born hip hop artist now residing in Los Angeles, was the second performer, and his fluid but hyper dynamic flow conquered the crowd. He was a very animated performer, very laid back but constantly on the move, making big gestures and happy faces, looking friendly from start to finish while his visible joy to perform was communicative. His delivery was effortless, despite a mic problem toward the end which didn’t slow him down a bit. An MC was providing a soul-R&B-pop-noise background to A.J.’s wordy delivery, and if this was sometimes going into some horror soundtrack, the rapper was also using pedal effects to transform and distort his vocals.

‘He’s got a talent for punch lines and a way of mixing long lyrical flows with chopped-short lines that places him stylistically somewhere between Cam’ron and Kool Keith,’ wrote the Chicago reader about his album ‘Nightmares & Daydreams’. A.J. is the product of a blue-collar, Midwestern upbringing, telling his story in a way that has been described as ‘honest, no glitz, no glam, no bottles and bitches.’ It sure was a challenge for me to understand all the words of his speedy flow, but it was obvious that A.J. was showing a lot of conviction and passion. He is currently working with the likes of Tone808s, Nate Fox (Chance The Rapper, Lil Wayne) and SkhyeHutch (Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul), so there’s no doubt that this young guy, with a play of words on the US whitest clothing line for moniker, is a rising star.


Arima Ederra

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