Only a limited amount of individuals are dedicated enough to mold their craft and take their art serious nowadays, others follow in the footsteps of the predecessors. Not everyone can be musically gifted like Kanye or have natural court vision like LeBron. A lot of us don’t take our talents seriously until later in life. This is not the case with Soularmesto, a mysterious and unique 18 year old rapper/producer. I linked up with Soular to bring you an interview in which we discuss his influences, anime, opinions on multiple topics such as MF DOOM controversy, Kanye’s influence, and religion.
Who is Soularmesto?
Soularmesto is a musical eternal soul in an 18 year old body. The name “Soularmesto” derives from my last name “Armesto” combined with “Soular”. Solar means of the sun and I spelled it Soular because I think what the sun is to the planetary system, our soul is to our bodily system. Also soul music of the 70s played a big part in my early journey of production.
Where are you from?
Soularmesto: Nature! Aren’t we all? (: HA! Just kidding, California. I was born and raised in San Jose, Fremont, Tracy, and currently I’m in San Ramon.
Do you derive influence from anybody? You remind me of Bishop Nehru.
Soularmesto: He might’ve subconsciously influenced the flow in some work of mine haha, I definitely dig his music. All in all I derive influence from countless sources! Nujabes, Joey Bada$$, Soulection, a lot of jazz, old school R&B, etc to name a few.
Now if I recall correctly you said you were producing since 14 and rapping since 16? Did anyone teach you or did you just acquire the desire to make music?
Soularmesto: That’s correct! I self taught piano, production, and rap! It was a desire I acquired on my own but it could be in my DNA, ya know? Maybe I have information from lives ago which led to me loving music so much in this one!
I noticed some anime references in your content, and your cover art. Is your content influenced by anime or Japanese culture?
Soularmesto: You know what’s crazy? Right after I read this question I was asked for help by a lady that kept speaking in Japanese as if I’d understand. It could’ve been a sign HAHAHA but yeah I’m definitely influenced by anime AND Japanese culture in multiple aspects, one being Shintoism which I think is cool because they see divinity in nature. One of my favorite quotes which resonates with that is “Man is the most insane species. They worship an invisible God and destroy a visible nature, unaware that the nature they’re destroying is the God they’re worshiping.”
What exactly is Shintoism?
Soularmesto: It’s Japan’s main religion. They associate gods with nature and think there’s spirits in all nature.
I watch anime and read manga myself. Favorites?
Soularmesto: Samurai Champloo actually sparked my interest in production. When I watched it in 6th grade I never had heard beats like that so at that point I told myself I’d learn. Yu Yu Hakusho and Inuyasha are both classics and amazing. Spirited Away has a special place in my heart as does ghibli in general. Miyazaki makes me want to be associated with the creation of anime in the future.
Samurai Champloo is dope, the music is iconic. I used to watch the classics Naruto and DBZ back in the day and a few years ago I was watching Soul Eater with my sister and was thinking “Yo, even though this show has a large childish feel to it, this shit is sweet.” What was the first anime you watched that sparked your interest in the genre as a whole?
Soularmesto: Ever since I was really young there’d probably be anime playing that already had impacted me because my older half-sister really liked Sailor Moon, Yu Yu Hakusho, and put me on to spirited away when I was like 7 or 8. The first anime I really got into was Yugioh hahaha I’ll still whoop anyone in a duel by the way (; still got my cards and everything!!!
Who are your favorite rappers/ artists?
Soularmesto: The Underachievers, Kendrick, Pac, Nas, Shing02, Joey Bada$$, Blu, Kanye, Cudi, Mac Miller, Chance, Hiromi, Aivi Tran, Nobukazu Takemura, Alina Baraz, Roy Ayers, Joe Hisaishi, Tigran Hamasyan, Earth Wind & Fire, Immature, The Stylistics, Crush, Zion.T, Hiatus Kaiyote, Ab-Soul & GoldLink to name a few. (;
Who are your favorite producers?
Soularmestro: Nujabes, Dilla, 9th Wonder, PYRMDPLAZA, StarRo, WHEREISALEX, Rythmatical, DJ Okawari, DJ Premier, DOOM, Cardo, Johnny J, Galimatias, Nomak, GF Retro, Thovo & og abi are what came to mind rn. Shouts out to Dantes Reyes & Nick Andrada! (two fellow local producers)
You fuck with Pro Era? You listed Joey and UA.
Soularmesto: Yeah Pro Era is dope, I fuck with the whole Beast Coast movement.
Who’s head of the rap game, solely based on skill?
Soularmestro: I think Kendrick is currently head of the rap game when it comes to skill. That dude effortlessly spits like crazy. Some people care for that, others don’t. Either way they rock widdit cause they know it’s fire.
Who do you think is the most influential artist out right now?
Soularmesto: I think the most influential artist out right now is Kanye. People hate on him and think he’s some nut but regardless I think he’s even subconsciously influencing THOSE people. He’s challenging how people have been programmed to think by how he is when he talks hahaha and I fuck with things like that. And he’s been killing it musically as well for a very long time.
I actually wrote an essay for school about how Kanye is the most influential figure of our generation based on the multiple aspects he influences, such as fashion, Meme’s, his label, his life with Kim and his music. Other artists have started to follow such as Kendrick, Childish Gambino and A$AP Rocky. Do you think the trend takes away from the artists quality?
Soularmesto: Nah I don’t think so. If anything I think it increases the artist’s quality cause it shows how much the artist is actually impacting the game when other artists desire to take what they’re doing and incorporate it in their own paths.
You also had Ab-Soul in your list, how do you feel about the spiritual rap that has emerged over the past few years?
Soularmesto: About the “spiritual rap” that has started to emerge, sometimes it’s hard to tell if people are really about that stuff or if it’s getting trendy. Either way I think it’s important cause it can influence others to do research on their own and come across what THEY resonate with, ya know? Personally I don’t think we need belief systems. If anything follow your heart. Trust yourself. The people that get too caught up in religion usually don’t have a strong sense of identity so they give it to the “lord”. (To me, you are your own lord and savior at the end of the day) I don’t mean to offend anybody because there’s good and bad people in whatever category or religion there is. I just think the categorizing gets out of hand sometimes and that we use it to avoid taking things for what they really are.
So you’re involved in the music community in your area?
Soularmesto: Well there’s a lil chunk of artists out here. I genuinely think we should all work together because a team effort can be very effective if executed properly. I’m oriented with my own thing rn. Not really a part of a collective or nothin. Not sure if that’ll change in the future.
You put DOOM in your favorite producers, what did you think about him getting people to dress as him and perform?
Soularmesto: I think it’s both lightweight messed up and lightweight smart that DOOM had people dress as him to perform. I don’t know what he’d be doing that would have him not be at his own shows but the fact he did that just aligns with his persona as a supervillain hahaha.
My personal favorite by Soularmestro is a short freestyle called “Freeuniverse”.