The events 2020 have led two Capital students to release their own song on major streaming platforms.
Sulimaan Priest is a third-year business management student who is surrounded by the everyday strife of 2020.
Faced with the daily hardships that this year has presented, Priest put together a song called Atlas, and released it under the name “Sulimaan Jai.”
From COVID, political violence, complicated relationships, and just day-to-day stress, Atlas encapsulates the entire spectrum of anxieties that people can be burdened with.
Priest said, “This was kind of my acknowledgement of, ‘Hey we’re all going through tough times right now.’”
The lyrics of the song were developed over the course of 2020, and it was used as an outlet for Priest to vent his frustrations and reflect upon the turbulent times that people are living in. Not too long after the COVID-19 lockdowns, Priest heard news of his uncle passing away. His family dealt with grief in different ways, and it was around this time that he dove deeper into his music.
The COVID-19 pandemic cut off many social opportunities, leaving people stuck at home in isolation. With no distractions to take their minds off things, people were forced to pay attention to what was happening in the world. Summer 2020 was a time of reflection and acknowledging that a lot of things are not okay right now.
“All of a sudden, you’re really having to take a look at yourself and face what’s going on inside of you,” Priest said.
After putting together a demo of the song, Priest sent it to his best friend, Justin Moore, a fourth-year music technology student. Moore hails from a family of music aficionados, and his brother just released his own rap album called I’d Probably Enjoy Fishing earlier this year, followed by an EP that just came out on Oct. 22, called Canteen.
After listening to Priest’s demo, Moore was so impressed that he agreed to hop on the track. He incorporated his part, mostly through freestyling his lyrics. Moore crafted a rap verse that explores the woes of adulthood, and coming to grips with the mistakes you’ve made.
The message of the verse is that people have and will make mistakes in life, and that’s okay as long as you have agency over yourself.
“As you go into adulthood, sometimes you trick yourself into thinking that you know what’s going on, but really you don’t,” Moore said. “Mistakes are good, and I’m honestly a better person because of them.”
Moore’s rap verse adds an upbeat flare, seamlessly switching the flow before returning to the somber voice of Priest in the latter half of the song.
Though Priest is studying business management, the musical arts are not completely foreign to him. As a kid, he took piano lessons and played the saxophone in his school band. In high school, he bought a guitar and began teaching himself how to play.
“It wasn’t until I actually dove in and saw what kind of stuff I like that I kind of realized how broad my taste was, and then I just explored that,” Priest said.
The production of Atlas began with a sample pack created by a YouTuber named Simon Servida. Sample packs are instrumental loops that provide a foundation for artists to build their works on.
Servida’s pack provided the guitar and piano, and Priest added all of the drums to the song, specifically the hi-hat, the snare, the kick drum, and the 808s.
Though Priest is proud of his achievement, he humbly recognizes the efforts that others provided for him.
“When you look at the file, it’s actually pretty simple what I added to,” Priest said, “so I definitely give Simon Servida most of the credit.”
Among the pain and stress that the song confronts, there is a hopeful message of perseverance, and knowing when to admit that enough is enough; one person can only deal with so much in life.
“Look, we’ve all got problems, we all have flaws, baggage and challenges, and they can be overwhelming at times, but just know that it is okay to set that down for a second,” Priest said.
Though he admitted to having a few song ideas in his head, Priest is not currently working on major releases at the moment.
Priest said, “I’m just so grateful and humbled by people’s reactions to it [Atlas], because I sort of surprised myself with it, too.”