It’s not a hidden fact that 1DF is based in Mississippi and that while we aren’t exclusive to the state, there is a place in our hearts from the artists that come from here. That being said, we do reach out to and appreciate artists from all over. One city that we have a great affinity for is in our neighboring state of Louisiana in Baton Rouge. There can be found an underground rap scene that is fairly tight-knit and working hard to raise more artists to national prominence.
One artist we have come across from the city that has caught our attention is IRAI Ouree. The rising talent blends together R&B and Hip-Hop in a way that makes any song you play from him an interesting and unexpected experience. Baton Rouge has put out their fair share of recording artists, but I’m not sure they have had anyone I’ve come across who has a sound quite like IRAI Ouree’s. One would have to believe this unique sound will only be a benefit as he continues to grow both in the city and outside of it.
IRAI Ouree is currently in the process of putting finishing touches on his “Safari” project. Thus far we have received two singles from it which perfectly show off this one of a kind style we speak of in “Animal” and “Wake N Bake”. Before the project arrives we sat out to speak with IRAI for a brief Q&A session which can be found in full below.
For anyone who is being introduced to you right now, who is IRAI Ouree?
IRAI Ouree for anyone yet to be introduced, is the honey bee, and like the honeybee whose wings are too small to support its body, is a being set to overcome any obstacle put in its way. IRAI Ouree stands for Icee Rashad the Arctic Influence, Icee Rashad symbolizing the good side of the conscience, The Arctic Influence symbolizing the bad side of the conscience and Ouree being the vessel that houses them both because I believe as people we are made up of good and bad choices and its up to us to decide our path. Apart of Almighty Ent., I’m me.
When did your passion for music begin and what made you want to be an artist officially?
My passion for music began early in life from hearing early Micheal Jackson and Motown records like Smokey Robinson and The Temptations songs. After hearing hip hop from Eminem, Lil Wayne and alternative stuff like The BEP it was solidified. I fell in love with the energy and emotion you could feel from the music. Once I started freestyling and honing my craft I knew music was for me. Nothing else in this world is freer than the pen and pad, so around 14-15 I began writing and recording and I’ve been in it ever since.
What do you feel is the experience a listener goes through when hearing your music?
I think at first its pure shock, “like damn who’s that singing, that’s you”, and vice versa when I rap. Sometimes they can’t fathom what they hearing, me being so versatile, I feel like every song is a different journey and you never know what you gonna get, but they can’t deny the talent so it’s a beautiful experience.
Personally I am a fan of a lot of music that comes from Baton Rouge. That being said you don’t really sound like a lot of other music that is popularized in the area. How did you develop your sound and do you think it’s a benefit or harder for you being so unorthodox?
I developed my sound from studying not just different artist but genres. I made sure to understand rock, pop, blues, hip hop etc. and everything they bring to the table, then fine tuned my personal strengths in my flow writing style and vocals to be sure to be as versatile as possible so I could attack any beat or sound preference without hesitation. I want to be the best at everything I do so I write often and throw away what I feel could be better and start again, real shit. I feel it’s both beneficial and more strenuous being unorthodox, because it’s so different and people are afraid of different so they might shun it but then some people enjoy my style because it’s refreshing and can clean there musical pallet because its fresh and new so its bitter sweet. Unorthodox or not nobody about to out rap me so fuck it, it is what it is. Like Wayne said love me or hate me…
Overall how do you feel about the current state of artistry in your region?
In my region artistry is great. So many dope styles, and sounds coming from the city, really the South. It can be overwhelming at times but I’m proud to be apart of the culture.
You’ve just recently released two singles, Animal and Wake N Bake, tell us about the creation of both.
I’ll start with Wake N Bake since it was created first, this song was made a week after I dropped my fourth project and most complete project to date, THE IRAI OUREE EP ii., last May, which was a Hip Hop/Soul album. We were getting alot of great feedback but I felt like many people weren’t drawn to it because of the soul sounds, so me and Gib$, our producer at Almighty, immediately started working on something easily digestible to the common ear. We wanted to touch people with the sounds they were accustomed to hearing but with our flavor on it. We began searching and found Wake N Bake. It originally started as a 2 min song but we fleshed it out to whats is now thru trial and error. Animal on the other hand, the hardest part was having an R&B song that followed the bump of Wake N Bake. Once we found that I wrote the song in like 30 min at Mardi Gras parade in NO, it was wild. The words just came to me but sometimes that’s just how it is. We birthed our our singles just like that, we’ve been collaborating so long the chemistry and communication is uncanny.
They are on very different sides of the spectrum sonically. That made me interested to know whether or not your writing process is different depending on the style of song. How do you typically go about crafting a track?
My hip hop writing style and soul writing styles are very different but I always attack the beat in the same way. I usually take a few days to freestyle over the beat and familiarize myself with the beat then once I find a flow or phrase that sticks, I get a hook down then write the verses. For rap I pay attention to lyricism and flow more for soul I look for lines that provoke the senses.
Let’s talk some more about “Animal”. What stands out to me on this track is how it is one that can be considered risque, but also not overly vulgar. Did you make it with your women fans in mind or did it just kind of flow that way?
I definitely wanted to make it make the listener feel like an animal, filthy and wild yet playful. I definitely wanted women to feel this one more but I wanted dudes to be able to relate, while not turning listeners away from doing to much. I wanted it to be sexy.
Do you find the melodic tracks like these easier or harder to create?
Honestly, melodic tracks are easier to create only because I feel you can make notes and other background sounds make up more of the track space but I take all songs the same way lyrically. This shit easy now, just give me the beat and I’m on go. The hardest thing is trying to write to a beat I can’t vibe to.
On “Wake N Bake” you obviously cater to the stoners a bit more but I also like that there is a message to be found in the lyricism. Do you feel there is a responsibility for rappers to drop gems that the listeners can use in their own life? Or was it more so you just venting for yourself.
I feel as rappers we are supposed to make listeners feel what we are talking about in our music, make It relatable or even just paint the picture we want our listeners to see. I think the music we create will always be a release of some sorts so its a balance of venting and dropping knowledge. I don’t think one can exist without the other in music period.
You speak a lot about this pursuit of your dreams you are currently on as well. I know it isn’t always easy to be an indie musician so what keeps you ticking and pushing forward through it all?
What keeps me going is first my passion for music. Second, its the competition that hip hop offers, nobody is trying to be the one caught lacking, so you give it your all at all times. Third, its the fans, the genuine people that hit me up and let me know they feeling this and that or that they waiting to hear something that keeps me going. I feel that at the end of the day you gonna take it. There’s no rules.
At what point will you feel as though you have truly reached your goal of being successful?
Once I’ve felt that I can’t top the last thing I did I have reached success. Once I cant take this no where else I have reached success. I’m always looking for ways to expand myself and my brand. Once I have solidified as one of the most versatile hip hop artist it’s up.
We’ve already gotten these two singles that have been mentioned so far but I’m interested to know what can be expected with your upcoming project?
Me and Gib$ have been working closely on the next drop trying to find a distinct look and sound for this project. I would say look for what you would always look for in an IRAI and Gib$ project, fresh sounds, hard beats and lyricism, dope hip hop and a quality project. We putting a lot of work in but its coming soon. Last thing I’ll say is I’m a strong believer that music is a collaborative art, so expect bomb collabs. I think women in hip hop need more love and recognition so we doing all that when we bring you to the “Safari”.
Do you have a date of release for it yet and are there any features people should look out for on it?
No exact date because we are still fine tuning songs, we have a working track list but its ever evolving and it could change at any moment but 2K19 is the year, early maybe spring. Of course I have features from Almighty, including my partner in rhyme, Sazé, a very dope lyricist, and the newest addition to Almighty Solid Khuf, which I have been working closely with. We dropped a single “Player Sh*t” earlier thus year. Got a few dope artists from the BR scene and more.
Outside of “Safari” what else should people be on the lookout for from you?
Besides “Safari” I have new videos for my single “Job” and another song “My Name Is” coming soon as well as a collab tape with Solid Khuf coming soon.
What is one thing not many people know about you that you think they should?
I think one thing people should know about me is that I’m ready to work. It’s fuck all the politics, it’s about making dope art and I’m here for it so lets link. I’m letting my honey drip on every and anything I touch.
Any last words before we conclude?
Again my name is IRAI Ouree, you can follow me on all social media and streaming platforms @IRAIOuree or searching IRAI Ouree. Every bee needs a hive, stay blessed.