Calling your album VIBES!—exclamation point and all—is a bold move, but it's one that Brooklyn rapper Theophilus London is set to pull off with his upcoming second album. Having already had co-signs from Blood Orange and Kanye West in the past, London's first single from the new album is blessed with a verse from his frequent collaborator Jesse Boykins III and beats from Parisian big-shot Brodinski and Club Chavel. As if that wasn't enough, it comes with the news that the vibes of the whole project are being masterminded by none other than Karl Lagerfeld, who's art directed the album.
The story goes that the two met when Lagerfeld wanted to shoot London for a Chanel book four years ago, at a time when, according to London, he didn't even know how to spell Lagerfeld's name, let alone how important he was in the fashion world - but as soon as they met, they clicked. "This was the first person besides my grandmother that I took off my hat for," says London, "and I shook his hand, and we immediately started to work. I wanted to get in my comfort zone so I put this really nasty Detroit techno, like, sex song...and Karl's like, 'I like it.'" As London travelled the world playing Chanel parties for the book's launch and beyond, the two became "buddies." "He invited me to [Coco Chanel's] house in Paris," London explains. "I even teased Kanye like, 'Yo man, I've been wearing the Yeezys at Coco Chanel's house, you've been there right?' He was like 'no, I've never been there.' I was actually in a real special place, Rihanna and Drake hadn't even gone there yet either, so I'm one of the first American artists to be in Coco Chanel's house getting the tour, so it was like wow, I really want to make something of this relationship."
"After the album was almost done, it was Christmas time...Karl was having dinner with my agent in Paris, and I said to my agent, 'I want Karl to shoot my album cover. I know he's not gonna do it, but just ask him.' And Karl said, 'of course I'll do it.'" Lagerfeld was booked up solidly for the next three years, but set aside a few hours in his schedule to make the shoot happen and to sketch the VIBES! logo. By the end, London says the legendary designer was taking care of him on set "like my uncle or my dad."
"Tribe" is a blaring war cry and the most grin-inducing thing London has done to date, bouncing along on a bed of finger clicks and interspersed with yells of HEY! and PRAISE! It's available to stream exclusively below or to buy on iTunes.