It's been two years since Baltimore's Al Rogers Jr. came out with his debut project, Almost, which was a somewhat-erratic introduction that touched on his weighted relationships with parents, watching his older brother sell drugs and his own frustration with the system. On narratives alone, the project was a solid one; Al shed his layers enough for listeners to get a sense of who he was beyond his music. Musically, it lacked a true identity, as his screechy delivery doubled as his best friend and worst enemy on a track-to-track basis. Having songs that were made two and three years prior to Almost's release sprinkled amongst newly-recorded ones made for a undesirable listen at times, too.
Al's taken all of these things into consideration, he says, and in his absence, he's worked hard to not only sharpen his artistry but his personal flaws. His upcoming project, BabyAl, is set to release in the coming months and he's given us a chance to share one of the project's songs, "BlueGreen", which showcases more singing than you'd anticipate if you've heard his earlier material. We talked to Rogers about "BlueGreen", BabyAl and what's been in the works while he's been taking time with his new music.
Your newest track, "BlueGreen", is probably your most singingest (lol) song you've done even though harmonizing has always been a part of your delivery. Why's that?
Al Rogers Jr.: I felt it was important to show that versatility, you know? Some of my favorite artists are actually singers and at this point in life I'm listening to more R&B/Soul than Hip Hop. Don't get it twisted though, i'm working on my rhymes just as much as i'm working on my pitch. I always remain a student of the game especially when you have artists out here spitting and putting out quality Hip Hop like Kendrick.
Judging by the material you've released over the past year, it seems that love is something fresh on your mind. Does that reflect your personal life?
Love is the most important factor in my life. Without it, I would not have any drive to continue at all; it's the origin of passion and the origin of hate. My music from the beginning has always been very personal and it's not just about falling in love, it's about the act of love itself. Life for a lot of folks of color is in a very dark place right now and love conquers all. The greatest leaders would not have been able to conquer any feats without love on their side.
Your debut project, Almost, was two years ago now. Is it difficult to go back and listen to the person you were back then?
Almost was necessary for me and I would not be able to make the music I'm making right now had I not put those personal stories into my music. A lot of that shit held me back and it was a lot of doubt and fear in those songs, so listening now feels triumphant. Although I am not in that same place, I can still appreciate how far I came.
How've you changed as a person in that time?
I'm a lot more honest with myself about my flaws and personal struggles. I'm still fighting some of the same inner demons but it's always better going into the fight with a sharper sword; my mind is more equipped. You learn to accept the things you can't change and learn to love the things you have. I'm not completely content with life but I am very happy with the route i'm going. Shoutout to my girl and my mom for holding me down.
What are a few things you think no one is expecting to hear on BabyAl?
An artist who came ready for battle, battered boots and all. BabyAl is my war cry; I have a lot of things to get off my chest because a lot has happened in these 2 1/2 years since Almost. I respect love in its truest form and a part of that is continuing to create and having enough heart to push this culture. It's so much going on in this world and I would be a fool not to talk on that as well so expect a lot of aggression and passion.