While most college students are slogging through exams and the job hunt, 18-year-old St. John’s student Ataah King has the added goal of building his name as a rap artist.
King has already released two projects, “The Reign” and “Senioritis,” as well as a mixtape, “Off Season.” Grounded by confident rapping, clever writing and strong beats, his music can be upbeat and flirtatious or slow and brooding.
According to King, his songs come to him formless and take shape gradually.
“For the most part I sit and have the beat playing and just mumble to myself until words start to form. That’s usually how I find the flow of each track,” King said.
However, once the song has taken shape, King’s method becomes labored and precise.
“I’m very conscious and aware with the layering,” he said. “I’ll play through the track after I’ve laid down the verses and hooks and I’ll keep adding ad-lib tracks. I usually do it about four times, or more just depending on exactly how I want the tracks to sound, and whether or not I want the background vocals to be prominent.”
Thematically, King’s music is wide in scope. On “Senioritis,” he covers everything from dishonesty, to partying, to self doubt and relationships.
“In my music I want to take people somewhere else. They don’t necessarily have to come with me, but I want them to find comfort and ultimately self acceptance,” King said. “That’s one thing I personally need to work on is accepting myself, and being able to just be happy and confident without depending or relying on someone or something.”
When asked about the major influences behind his music, King simply answered, “honestly, life.”
“It all depends on how I’m feeling right there in that moment,” he continued. “That’s a good and bad thing. It’s good because it’s real to me and I find comfort in it. It’s kind of like a therapy session even in the tracks that aren’t so deep. But I say it’s bad as well because, let’s say somebody wants to feature me on a track, and it’s like a love song, but I’m in a dark place mentally; I wouldn’t be able to just, boom, write it out. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t.”
King added that his favorite artists include Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper and fellow Johnnie J. Cole.
Even with a substantial body of work behind him at a young age, King keeps striving to create more and better music.
“My mind is always running,” he said. “Sometimes it makes me second guess myself, sometimes I’m just in a place in life I’m trying to get out from and sometimes I can see where I want to be, and I’ll let the music take me there. “
“Everything in my music is based off of current moods and life situations. There’s a connection between every track and it only gets better from here on out,” he added.
King said he is working on a new project called “Reignsound” and looking into performance opportunities in Queens and the City.
Music fans can learn more about the rapper at ataahking.bandcamp.com.