Jacob Adams ’19, under the moniker Jacob DelOakland, has launched his rap career this year.
“I was always scared to put out music because I thought I wasn’t good enough,” Adams said. “This past year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to, you know, carry out my dreams.”
Adams’s relationship with rap began in childhood. Both his mother and older brother rapped. They helped him come into his own as an artist.“[They] taught me how to rap when I was younger, so I’ve always been around music, always been around rap,” he said.
Over the years, rap became a vital mode of expression for Adams, at the intersection of music, poetry and storytelling. “I can’t sing,” he chuckled, “and I don’t like trying to sing, but I really like telling a story, and rap allows me to tell a story in a really poetic way.”
Adams released his first recorded solo freestyle on SoundCloud in November. “[My freestyles are] complete mindscapes,” he said. “They paint a picture in a bunch of ink-blots.”
Adams’s moniker references his hometown of Oakland, Calif., which Adams notes has “a very rich history of music, rap, songwriting.” Adams cited Oakland-area artists E-40 and SOB x RBE as key influences in his work, along with Bootsy Collins, who is from Cincinnati, Ohio. The city’s sound influences nearly every aspect of Adam’s style of rap.
“I pick [up] on that energy when it comes to my cadence, my performance, the ways in which I go about beat, how I will attack beats, get on beats, phrase the things I say,” Adams said.
The artistic diversity in Oakland creates genre combinations that are particularly interesting to Adams. “I’m really into the gangsta rap in Oakland, but it really just took a turn for funk,” he said. “It was G-funk, everything about it was high-energy heavy-bass music.”
Adams appreciates the opportunities to collaborate musically at Kenyon but is sometimes concerned aboutthe lack of diversity on campus. “There are a lot of people [at Kenyon] with open minds ready to do stuff that’s new and unique, but I don’t feel like there’s anyone coming from the same place I’m coming from,” he said.
Adams is also concerned about whether or not he has access to spaces in which he can perform and record his music. “I wish there was that space for people that think like me to come together and grow, and have those resources offered to us in a clear-cut way,” he said. “I mean, there’s a studio in Mount Vernon, but can we reserve that space? What can we really do with the resources we have here?”
Adams hopes for an increase in diversity and acceptance on campus. “I think it’s going to, one, help with diversity, and two, help with music,” he said, “because we’d have so many different voices competing and growing.”
Adams also appears in collaborations with various campus artists such as rapper Hoolian and saxophonist Max Lazarus ’20.
He and Lazarus are members of a new eight-musician collective called Booty Robins. “[The name] is real goofy,” Adams said, “but we just finished our second show yesterday, and it was just so much fun being able to get up there and perform.” Booty Robins performed at the Horn Gallery on Feb. 15 alongside two other Kenyon bands, MaMi and Contraband. Last Friday, the band opened at the Horn for touring artist Vagabon.
Adams hopes to make a mixtape of his various Kenyon collaborations before graduating. “If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen,” he said. “I just like having fun with it. I want everyone to have fun.”