It’s refreshing when an emcee is self aware. Not many are, but Adrian Lau definitely knows who he is and what he wants to do. 24-year-old Lau meets us in his personal Park Slope studio rocking an Ethik sweatshirt and a New York Knicks cap. Fitting for a dude born in Brooklyn but not about hoping on the Jay Z, Brooklyn Nets wave. Lau remains true to himself and his art more than many of his peers. Authentic New York type of shit, ya heard. With a co-sign from Harry Fraud, 2014 is going to be all about the wave.
Mass Appeal: When did you start rapping?
Adrian Lau: Everybody used to do these cyphers during lunchtime in high school and shit but I really started taking it seriously, as far as recording and what not, after high school.
MA: Did you put anything out when you first started?
AL: When I first started recreationally I made some mixtapes and shit to give to my friends, but nothing online. Since I’ve met up with Harry [Fraud] it’s been a totally different story. We’re really trying to plan it out so everything is executed well. We’re trying to build up a little bit of a buzz with these singles and videos. When we have a good enough crowd asking for a project we’ll put one out.
MA: How did you link with Harry Fraud?
AL: Honestly, he works in the neighborhood and he needed some weed – I had some good weed. So he called me again and we just started hanging out because I lived so close to where he worked. It was just convenient for him at first. After I had been hanging with him for a couple months, and we became acquaintances, I was like, ‘Yo, I spit.’ He had me just rap to beats for a minute. He played beats for a half and hour or so and I was just rapping on them. He let me leave the studio with a beat that day and the shit was fire. We built from there. That was about a year and a half ago, two years ago.
MA: Do you use him exclusively now?
MA: What made you guys do that video?
AL: Because we just don’t give a fuck [Laughs]. No, someone next to us got really hurt and we had to evacuate the area and shit. This old dude got bodied by one of those waves; ambulances came and what not. You see that first wave in the video? That shit was fifteen feet high. It was crazy.
MA: The video came out proper though.
AL: Yeah it did. But yeah, other producers we’ve worked with – y’all know about Yuri Beats? I just linked with him recently and he gave me some tracks. I recorded one of the music videos of a track I did with him over in South Africa last month. He has some kind of tribal singing thing going on so I was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to film the video for this shit in Africa.’
MA: I know Harry Fraud works closely with Coke Boys. Are you trying to record with French or is that not really your wave?
AL: Of course. I would be honored to, we’re just not really at that stage yet. French is up there at superstar level. Harry’s kind of invested in two movements: the Coke wave, which is what he started with French, and now he’s trying to start something totally different with Surf School. Eventually, hopefully, I’ll be on that level where I can cross paths with these big dogs, but right now I’m not worried about collaborating with people that Harry’s collaborating with. I’m more interested in getting my shit out there.
One person I did collab with through Harry is Riff Raff. We’ve got a video and a song. It’s amazing, but it’s not ready to be out yet. The whole thing about that is we made this joint like a year ago. Without saying too much, because I don’t want Harry to kill me, they have a project coming out. So we’re waiting on that to release all Harry Fraud/Riff Raff related things.
MA: What’s different now that you’re signed?
AL: Man, that has not changed a goddamn thing. It’s not like I signed to a major label where they gave me three million dollars. Harry approached me about this a long time ago. He told me he was trying to build something from the ground up and it’s going to start at the ground. It’s a situation where if we make something happen it’s going to be really great for both of us. I have faith in him, he’s like my fuckin’ sensei. That’s sensei Fraudy.
MA: What do you bring to Surf School artistically that other emcees don’t?
AL: I think the main thing is me and Harry are similar people. He’s much older than me so he has a more mature lens on everything. We’re into a lot of the same stuff and we’re both down to do some of that weirdo shit. I have a lot of faith, we just have a lot of experimenting to do. We’re taking it a totally different direction than he takes it with most of his artists. That’s how he is; he’s known for working with French Montana and Action Bronson. Two totally different artists for which he makes two totally different sounds.
MA: So you’re getting some tailored Adrian Lau beats?
AL: Yeah, that’s the idea. “Small Vacation” for example, shit switched up like three different times, it was mad spacey and weird. “Sunday” and “Blue Dreams“, both have that spacey, weird type of feel.
MA: What else do you have on deck?
AL: I got a video called “Norman Bates” coming out, directed by Ricky Shabazz. That’s going to be dope. You already know Ricky Shabazz kills everything he does. That one’s coming out real soon. I just have to go over there and put the finishing touches on it.
I have another project with Yashana. They’re the directors that do the Underachievers stuff. They did “Gold Soul Theory” and “Proclamation.” They’re also just some of my best friends, they’re the homies. It’s a couple, Yasha and Roxana, but fused together they make Yashana.
We got so much heat in the clip man. The work that’s out isn’t representative of what we have coming out.
MA: Where are you going with your music? Is there a theme?
AL: I think it’s really expressed more in the sound than the actual words. What I mean by that is I took a different approach on how I’m going to flow over beats.
It’s not like I went for a gimmick and people can say, ‘Adrian is the dude that raps about this,’ or ‘Adrian’s the dude to go over this beat.’ It’s just different and you have to hear it to know what I’m talking about.