Local hip-hop artist shows his baggage

Emily-Ann Trautman

Assistant Photography Editor

etrautma@unca.edu

Heavy bass reverberated through the floorboards of the Mothlight as guests awaited their mixed drinks and beers. The intimate setting, unique drinks and music spilling into the streets seemed to beckoned people in from the chilling rain to watch SK the Novelist’s performance last Thursday night.

I make music because quite literally if I did not I would have no purpose in life. I couldn’t live the lifestyle of a non-artistic person. Those folks have another joy in their life that makes it worth it for them. My joy is my next move in music,” said John Wilson, otherwise known as SK the Novelist.

Baggage, SK’s most recent album, shows much more than his musical talent. It shows his growth as an artist, long nights of dedication and continuous work which are embedded in every track, he said. SK provides the hip-hop world with legitimate content and relatable situations

John Wilson, better known by his stage name SK the Novelist, performs his full length album, Baggage, for the first time. Photo by Emily-Ann Trautman

in a generation where “mumble-rap” seems to be at its peak.

Baggage derives from the slang term for carrying presumably negative qualities and experiences. This is where tracks such as ‘All Mine,’ ‘All Yours,’ as well as the title track, come from. They are my attempts at being vulnerable, but with an unorthodox approach. The track ‘All Mine’ highlights this best. Alternatively, I flip the theme to also represent the positive outcomes of my baggage. For instance, I highlight workaholic tendencies and arrogance in tracks such as ‘Brain Said,’ ‘Big Bills,’ ‘Pyramid,’ ‘Woooo’ and ‘Bones,’” SK said.

The evening launched with performances from local hip-hop artists Herb Da Wizard, Peter the Poet and Xero God, as well as a rare Spaceman Jones beat set performed through his alter ego, Astronauta de le Fumar, aiming to amp up the crowd prior to SK’s appearance. While these artists have projects of their own, they can also be heard in tracks throughout Baggage.

“SK killed it at his release party. I feel like the dude is so practiced and on point most of the time, but he went well over expectations that night. It was a great party. Every act did their thing and though they were similar, all had their own sound and style. It’s dope to see the hip-hop community in Asheville thriving like that,” said Cliff Worsham, a 38-year-old musician and producer who plans to work with SK in the future.

Worsham made appearances that evening through the moniker, MOTHERHOOD and performed a song with Xero God. He is the lead singer of local groups RBTS WIN and Daybreaker, as well as the other half of Spaceman Jones and the Motherships, who also enjoy performing at The Mothlight.

“SK is my friend, a fellow emcee and promoter that I respect,” Spaceman Jones said. “I felt the crowd was great. Turnouts like that make you feel good about what you do as a promoter. SK put on a show he can be proud of.”

Spaceman Jones also produced tracks for the artists who performed that evening. Spaceman Jones and the Motherships will be playing in Charlotte March 25 as well as for their release party here in Asheville at The Mothlight on April 12.

“The Mothlight is my favorite venue in Asheville, especially for my personal shows. I did a birthday show at their venue last year and then this year I tripled my ticket sales compared to that show. I count that as a blessing and I consider The Mothlight to be a platform in which I can be comfortable enough to build upon and track growth. Their staff is always above and beyond, and they have my favorite aesthetic of any venue in Asheville,” SK said.

The 23-year-old rapper took his time to perfect his album. His previous full-length projects, R.I.P. To The Boom-Bap, My Life in Rhythm and House Demos were released back to back in 2015, ‘16 and ‘17. The 12 tracks on Baggage were in the works for two years. The album was originally thought to be released in late 2018 with only seven tracks, but lacked vision and diversity, SK said.

“The delay proved a good choice, as I feel the 12-track album more so encompasses my vision for Baggage and certain touches like new artwork and updated engineering helped bring my product to what I feel is the best it could be,” SK said.

SK has a rap battle booked in New York City, New York on April 27, what he said to be a major show announcement on May 19 and performs at the Salvage Station here in Asheville on March 28. Besides his upcoming shows, he will also be releasing tracks that didn’t make it onto Baggage in a project titled, Carry-Ons.

“The turnout was amazing, I felt incredibly blessed. I’ll drop a gem that I picked up from a few wise folks in Raleigh, when you’re at the phase in your artistry where you have a piece of work that is quality and you have a team of artists on board for a show, don’t stop there,” SK said.

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