Do you want to talk about folks who are in the rap game for the purity and the craftsmanship of the rap game? Well, Milwaukee is blessed to have BLAX (given name Adebisi Agoro), who is without question embedded in that conversation. When talking about his new record, Angeline (available now on all digital platforms), BLAX says, “Everything on the record is intentional.” That much is made manifest with even a cursory listen to the album.
There is a loose freedom in “A Roller Skating Jam Called Liberation” that takes the listener out of space and time and completely into a world of BLAX’s creation. The song is built on a sunny chord progression where the silky maestro pairs spirituality with a straight up disco bounce. The song will be featured as part of Light the Hoan and Radio Milwaukee’s series pairing local music with the shimmering lights of the Hoan Bridge on Feb. 26 at 9pm.
Angeline is coming out on Social Misfits/Next Records, a New York City based label. It seems fitting because though the record is obviously well-constructed, there still remains a New York type of griminess happening below a lot of the songs’ surfaces. “The Streetz” is a prime example, in which BLAX’s flow levitates and ponders dingy forgotten street corners over a whip-tight sample. BLAX says the narrative of the song centers around a real-life event that he was witness to.
When asked about what stokes his creative fire, BLA. begins succinctly, “I’m an artist.” There is a deft transfiguration of pain that seems to run through the new record that somehow seems to prove his point. “I have been at constant creation since I can remember. As a child, I was always creating or drawing and imagining things. For me, art and creation isn’t a thing I do because people are watching or wanting. It’s just what I do,” BLAX continues.
For BLAX, no matter how far he and his art travel, it seems that Milwaukee is a constant in the nuclear center of his expression. “As a kid, I grew up all over the North Side of Milwaukee. Predominantly, the Northwest side on 38th and Custer. My music is a culmination of all of my life experiences from youth to adult,” he says.
On Angeline BLAX is a self-contained vibe machine, in that he produced all of the beats on the record where he also holds court as a prize-fighting emcee. “Producing the entire record definitely changed my approach to working on music. Being solely responsible for the music, this time around, was definitely important,” BLAX says. There are occasions across the record, like “Midnight Love” which features Shelly Conley and Jay Hubb, where the beat and the vocal approach can barely be separated, in a way that feels lived in and true.
It’s easily evident to hear that BLAX encountered a type of transcendent liberation while making this record. He shines, and he shines in his own way. His radiant spotlight even touches on the tragic loss of his son, with a vulnerability firmly rooted in strength that is uncommon. Frankly, it is worth giving Angeline a try just to witness an open soul who is committed to creation give so much of himself.
When asked to ponder success, BLAX’s lens is set wide, yet he digs into the thought with surgical precision which is completely on brand for him. “Success is being happy with self. Knowing that my actions today will continue to set and lay ground towards an even better tomorrow. There are a billion artists who never even get to find the means to express themselves. To have been one of the ones chosen to do so is success in itself before any accolades can ever be applied,” BLAX says.
Angeline takes its name from BLAX’s beloved grandmother who passed away in 2013. With the name itself being rooted in the word Angel, you can feel the divinity dripping from its grooves. The record drops a lotus flower growing from the mud type mentality, which is the type of perseverance music that is desperately needed in the current times.