Haitian-born, Boston-based rapper Swooli was raised on a diversified range of music, birthing an artist that would never let anyone box him in.

Swooli’s father was a disc jockey in Boston for a Haitian radio station and played Magic 106.7 on his way to school each morning. Through the radio, Swooli was introduced to Phil Collins, Eddie Money, Irene Cara, and many others. Growing up, his parents often worked late hours, so his siblings would challenge him to rap battles just to pass the time. His mother, who had signed up for a music program, encouraged his household to listen to CDs varying from Carlos Santana and 50 Cent to the Backstreet Boys and Outkast. Fostering a love for all kinds of music, the influence of his parents largely contributed to Swooli’s wildly eclectic and diverse range. Submerged in music from the beginning, he grew up to make a name for himself by rapping in the streets of Boston. 

His debut EP, I’m Up, Vol. 1, arrives as a self-declaration. Swooli explains that “The title for my EP comes from my catch phrase, ‘boo boo boop, I’m up!’ which just means I’m alive… I’m here.” After having spent his life experimenting with music, time continued to pass and Swooli realized he had been sitting on a collection of music for far too long. This prompted Swooli to release a multifaceted EP, composed of 3 tracks, that display just how broad his scope is.

Engineered by Boston-based producer, Robie Rowland, the drum-heavy intro track, “Bakery,” lays out a dark, murky start to the EP; it operates entirely on vibrating 808’s, claps, and pops. As soon as the first drum kicks, Swooli jumps in, wasting no time as he lists off the assets that will aid him in his pursuit of self-isolation. Vacantly, he raps, “We just want a castle with a black picket fence/I inquire ‘bout the vacancy/Paint a couple walls, build a moat with a bridge/Cause some days its get away from me.”  Behind Swooli’s deadpan delivery is an echo that adds the perfect dash of depth to this stripped-down track. While this intro does not seem to relate much at all to a bakery, Swooli turns it on its head when he raps, “Play a couple tunes that relate to all my moods/Getting jiggy at the bakery.” He can take his music wherever he pleases, whenever he pleases.  

Contrastly, “Pink Skies, Polaroids, and Some Flavors,” reflects the summer-induced high that comes with longer, warmer days like the one it was written on. A complete shift from “Bakery,” “Pink Skies, Polaroids, and Some Flavors” is embroidered with reflective synths that breathe under psychedelic guitar plucks and low-key beats. For this track, Swooli linked up with producer, rrarebear, who is most known for his laid back, Frank Ocean-style beats that execute the essence of the summer season and its infectious glow. Meditative, Swooli croons about partying, shooting his shot, and capturing the moment: “Boogie oogie all night, it’s a rager… Shooting shots with your heart in the chamber… Strike a pose you wan’t save this for later/This a Kodak moment.” Soft and intimate, this track is a song for the soul.

Crafted with an episode of The Jetsons in mind, “Watched it Burn (It Was Dumb Lit)” was, to Swooli, the score that plays as we witness the world burn. After linking up with artist CHR$TN, the two agreed on a whimsical, upbeat sound to evoke the idea that, “as long we’re lit having a good time, who cares.” We’ll watch the world burn, but not without celebrating every last moment there is left. “The true meaning,” Swooli says, “is to pay attention to the world.” On the chorus he raps, “Less stress/Fresh breath/Up all night/Loving life/Just can’t help but feel this way.” This chorus is a motto he seems to live by. In the essence of his work, we witness Swooli unapologetically net out every ounce of himself. 

Pulling inspiration from all ends of the spectrum, Swooli is a rapper who “just can’t help but feel this way.” There is no sense in attempting to box him into one single being, genre, or category. He is consistently inconsistent. As his beats and verses depend entirely on his mood, there is a track in his catalog that everyone can bump to. 

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