Miami-based hip-hop artist Sylvan LaCue (f.k.a. QuEST) isn't your typical Rick Rozay-influenced rapper. The 25-year-old musician is releasing his newest project, Far From Familiar today on his own imprint, WiseUp.
Far From Familiar—which you can stream in its entirety below—is a heavily layered, introspective, and totally engrossing. The opening track, "Loner," was inspired by LaCue's venturing out on his own under his birth name, and sounds like the universe is swallowing you up while you watch the stars glisten. But it doesn't stop there, of course—LaCue's creativity continues 'till the end. He samples his own step-mother, sings over intense Kanye-like beats, and falls consistently in love with the spirit of Lisa Bonet. It's a journey you get to take with LaCue as he finds himself and encourages everyone to be true to themselves.
Listen to Far From Familiar below, and preorder it here.
And below that, Sylvan LaCue told The FADER all about his path to his new self.
Why did you choose "Loner" as the album's opener? "At What Cost" for the closer?
SYLVAN LACUE: Well "Loner" starts the entire story. I took a leap of faith and stepped out on my own in late 2014 from a lot of things. One being my label at the time, Visionary Music Group. I was alone in Los Angeles and alone with my vision of where I wanted to be. I chose this record to start off the journey so I could put the listener vividly in my shoes. "At What Cost" is the peace I find at the end of the journey. Peace with myself, peace with my circumstances, peace with who I am. I chose to close out with this because it's also the title of my next project. Now that I've found that peace, it's really about how bad do I want what I feel I'm destined for.
How did you compose the record? Where did you draw inspiration from?
It's all in patience, hard work, and also letting the magic happen. I had the idea to create this project in early 2015. I created a mood board and sent it to my producers. I really owe majority of this record happening to the producers—Linzi Jai, Wishlade, Fortune, Jake and Jonathan Howard. We all worked closely together as a small group to execute this idea. Most of the inspiration, at least content-wise, was driven by my travels and the experiences I encountered in a short amount of time after my previous project, Searching Sylvan.
Composition happened fluidly and in pieces. Most of the records actually started from hooks I had in my mind for months. My producers would come in right after, and build everything around them, and from there we'd try to capture the emotions we want to get across. We all had a goal, which was to tell this story progressively in all facets, from content to production.
What's your favorite part of Far From Familiar?
I would definitely have to say the second part of "Crosswinds." It's me at one of my rawest emotionally. Kind of me letting go of this super hero macho man demeanor that I carry throughout the entire journey, and just singing to my mother about how much things have changed in my life.
What does Lisa Bonet represent to you? Why is her name a running theme on Far From Familiar?
As far the album goes, "Lisa Bonet" starts off as an idea. I mention her name in "Loner" as kind of a nod to what she represents, especially in her younger years, which is confidence, intelligence, strong-minded, beautiful, comfortable with her sexuality, strongly opinionated, etc. I mention her through out the album as this idea of the ideal woman I want in my life.
Is that your mom's voice on "Crosswinds"? Regardless, what is the best thing about your mom?
It's actually my stepmother. The best thing about my mom would have to be her resilience. She's probably the strongest person I know on this planet.
Where do you do your best writing? Best thinking? Best daydreaming?
I do my best writing in coffee shops. I do my best thinking alone at night, usually late hours. I do my best daydreaming at the beach. Most definitely the beach.
What is the future for Sylvan LaCue? What have you been doing since recording Far From Familiar?
All I promise is consistency and being myself as much as humanly possible. I'm working on more new music, as well up expanding my company, WiseUp & Co. Definitely planning to tour this year and just over all stay consistent. I can't stress that enough. Thats my number one goal currently.