Rising rapper Elijah Kessler has technically been writing songs since he was a kid (back when he went by his birth name Mason), and within the last few years he’s been taken under Toro Y Moi’s wing and signed to his label, Company Records. First appearing on Toro Y Moi’s 2019 Soul Trash mixtape, Kessler now is putting out his own music. In April, he’ll release his debut LP, LIGHTSPEED, which is produced by Kessler’s early collaborator Instupendo, Nosaj Thing, and Chaz Bear, who also appears on the lead single, “ZEISS.”
Here’s what Kessler had to say about “ZEISS”:
“ZEISS” was one of the first songs me and Chaz ever made, sometime around 2017. I remember going to some studio in LA and it was Chaz and his friend Jason, AKA Nosaj Thing. I was really excited because he had produced one of my favorite Chance the Rapper songs of all time called “Paranoia.” Jason was playing an amazing beat that wowed me as soon as I heard it, but I didn’t feel comfortable getting on it. I didn’t feel comfortable because I didn’t really know why I was there, and if I was even allowed to try. Thankfully, Chaz was having some trouble writing some lyrics and he asked me if I wanted to try. I just started writing some flashy rap lyrics without much content, but I started to go on a roll. Eventually I had enough to hop in the booth. I rapped it with some monotone cadence and melody three times, and no one in the studio really liked it, they told me to do it with more flare. When they said that, I rapped the verse and completely created a new melody and sound, and when they pressed the button to talk to me in the studio they were all freaking out. It was one of the best feelings in my life.”
Elijah Kessler has had a connection to rap music since the day he was born. As his childhood became his teenage years, Elijah continued to find a sense of personal expression in music, but he mostly kept this hobby private. Elijah’s creative spark wasn’t reignited until he went to highschool and befriended Instupendo who had been garnering some acclaim. Through the remainder of their highschool years, Elijah and Instupendo spent much of their time collaborating and putting track after track on Soundcloud. It was at this point that Elijah’s career experienced a true turning point – Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi found one of his songs and immediately reached out to see if Elijah would be interested in working together. That initial exchange between Bear and a teenaged Elijah would turn out to be the beginning of a collaboration that would unfold over the course of the next 5 years. His day-to-day life at this time was largely occupied by classes, relationships, soccer, video games, and anime. During these sessions, Elijah’s constant practice would make itself evident, as his knack for improvisationally writing hooks in the studio became abundantly clear. Along the way, several other producers became involved in the project, including Nosaj Thing and Elijah’s early collaborator Instupendo. These intermittent sessions would eventually coalesce into Elijah’s debut album, LIGHTSPEED.