It's been two years since we've heard an album or EP from Jonwayne. After releasing a string of singles in 2016, the 26-year-old La Habra hip-hop artists announced his return in a personal letter posted online December 7, 2016 describing his past struggle with alcohol that led to a much-needed break to focus on his health.
Fortunately, Wayne is now back at what seems to be a pivotal point in his career, with two years of sobriety, his own label Authors Recording Company, and the long-awaited Rap Album Two ready to drop February 17. The 12-track album has been in the works since April, 2015 with Wayne saying it's "been nonstop from then, it's a lot of work." with the biggest challenge being "finishing it; it was an ambitious undertaking."
The single "Out of Sight" dropped January 19, and while Wayne admits he didn't want to do a single, it "seemed to be the most isolated track that represented the message and the feel of the record at once."
Wayne feels this album was a manifestation of his songwriting abilities, taking complete control over his music with the freedom that comes with running his own label.
"It's the first thing that I've ever done that I feel 100% proud of." Wayne says, "With past projects, I have always felt that there was some sort of regret, in either how it was recorded, or how it was written, or like what decisions were made in the songs. I felt like i was, more or less, a slave to my own momentum. This was the first project where I felt I had completely taken control of every part of the music process."
While grasping the reigns of his sonic direction, the album is not a solo project, with collaboration sprouting from a concept on the album.
"One of the themes was about friendship, and the importance of friendship, and it didn't feel right working on it or making it without friends." Wayne says, "So more than usual lately, I have been including collaborators to fill in the pockets, working alongside people who play instruments, sometimes co-producers, but for the most part just recording everything in-house."
The album features collaboration with artists such as Sofie, Juan Alderete, Mr. DBS, DJ Babu, Eeets, D-Styles, Zeroh, Danny Watts, Shango, Low Leaf, Patrick Paige II, Jameel "KiNTaRO" Bruner, Keifer Shackelford, Oliver the 2nd, and Nick Colleti.
"There's maybe one guest rap verse, everbody else is either singing or adding their voice or their instrument, or coming in for guest production," Wayne says, "impressively all coming together as a cohesive whole, which I appreciate."
Despite working out of Los Angeles, Wayne still resides in La Habra, appreciating the quiet small-town feel of the city, and drawing some inspiration from Orange County.
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"I think the emptiness of Orange County is definitely an inspiration. I kind of see Orange County as this widespread failed mini-mall." Wayne says, "Just the vapidness is definitely an inspiration.
Just by listening to 'Out of Sight", you can tell that Wayne is in a different place. In the past, his flows and wordplay made you feel like he was battling the whole crowd, guns blazing; but with the personal depth and reflection on the new albums single, Wayne's new style of "pursuing the rap format from the eyes of a writer" truly shows a new era in his lyricism.
"I feel like everyone should feel like they're in a different place at all times, I don't feel like the idea of being stagnant is conducive to the creative process or the spark of the muse. I think art is a constant personal search. That being said, I'm happy where things are going, I'm feeling good."
Rap Album Two can be preordered on iTunes, set to release on February 17, with Jonwayne possibly doing a Southern California tour after he gets back from his European tour. When asked what fans can expect in the future, Wayne replied "not the same thing."