"While I was busting the biggest nut in my life," Yonnas Abraham recalls, "Esthero was singing about 10,000 dead babies."
Abraham is relating the experience of losing his virginity. His recollection of the event is so vivid that he can remember everything about that night, right down to the lighting in the room. "I rap about this to a T," he declares. "I keep it 100 percent real on this shit. I tell this story about it being a red light in the room. It was a warm glow that felt like it was being back in the womb.
"Esthero screamed something about 10,000 dead babies," he goes on, "and that just resonated in my brain while this girl was giving me head that was, like, life-changing. I rate all good experiences to it to this day. It was like a tingling in my face. It might just be a nervous disorder or something, but when she gave me head, oh, my God! It was mind-blowing! I've never experienced it since. Maybe when I'm singing or at the height of a song, it comes close."
Yo, Sextape release party, with DJ Comatoast, 9 p.m. Friday, December 16, Theory + Practice Gallery, 738 Sante Fe Drive, $8-$10.
Abraham's V-card was punched eleven years ago. That primal moment of carnal pleasure was so profound — or "mystical," as he puts it — that it set him on a course that would ultimately inspire and inform the creative process for his latest effort, Sextape. The first in a trilogy of solo projects from BLKHRTS (Junkie from Foe and Murderball from Karma are the other two), Sextape was born out of feedback from a friend who expressed his exasperation with mediocre album releases, and later co-signed by the BLKHRTS crew.
"This came up in a conversation between me and Foe and Karma while we were eating at some place," Abraham explains. "I remember that I wasn't eating meat at the time, but we all had fish — it was a funny time. All of sudden, Karma said, 'When is The Pirate Signal's Sextape gonna come out?' And it clicked. I couldn't do it with The Pirate Signal, though, so this became the perfect opportunity to do something like this."
Beyond the musical appeal, the obvious fame factor associated with letting it all hang out for the camera, literally and figuratively, was not at all lost on Abraham (answering to "Yo" for this project). "To be frank with you, it was to get famous," he confesses of his motivation for making Sextape. "Why else do people make sex tapes?"
After ruminating on the logistics of how a sex tape would work out, Abraham became further inspired by photos of Angel "The General" Garcia and was emboldened by the idea of creating a fantasy based on someone else's image. "Like anyone who sees something beautiful, I fell in love with that sort of fantasy-based sexuality," he asserts. "It's separate from the real world. For me, fantasizing about people is always much better than actually being with them."
And thus began the story line for this sex-based, artistically created, porn-inspired audio cinema of sorts. Around the same time, Abraham began work with an artist named Cassie Nova, whom he describes as "picturesque," to create what he defines as "Tumblr porn" — a series of provocative photos of Nova released periodically on the BLKHRTS page of the popular micro-blogging site.
"Porn is a strong thing on Tumblr," Abraham notes. "Sometimes people will make a gif of a dude busting a nut on a girl's face, and it's amazing. Aesthetically, maybe it's like the fountain of youth just splashing on a girl's face — I don't know. There's something guttural about it to me."
Already in a committed relationship, Abraham says the ethereal energy behind the fantasy is what he used to propel his inspiration behind Cassie's beauty, not even the physical aspects. "Some people just make you dream," he enthuses, "and she has this picturesque quality about her that will make you dream."
The desire to create something intimate and vulnerable while pushing the boundaries of reality and fantasy fueled Abraham's songwriting — not to mention an epiphany that, in reality, he has already found his perfect mate. "When I had this idea," he says, "I knew clearly it was wild stuff, and I discussed it with my girlfriend immediately. The reality of it is, I love her, I want to be with her — but musically, I gotta thrill myself, dude, or what the fuck am I doing this for?"
With that realization in mind, he put out a series of teaser songs leading up to this week's release of Sextape, all of which uniquely touched upon several surrounding themes: real life, fantasy and the never-ending desire to create music that makes sense.
There's the Charles Bukowski-inspired "high 'til you die"-style track; "Suicide" ("Sometimes to get to purer places, you have to intoxicate yourself. You sort of commit suicide," Abraham asserts); and "Hard," a manifesto of sorts — which, as Abraham points out, is "implicitly why I still do it. The chorus, 'Life gets hard, but this beat's harder,' is the narrative that made the most sense."
Others, meanwhile, like the Amanda Hawkins-assisted "Blancos," are derived from imagination based on true events. Inspired by Cocaine Cowboys II and the love story between Griselda Blanco and Charles Cosby, Abraham proved he can stretch not only his voice, but also his writing capabilities.
"My friend was telling me about Cocaine Cowboys II, and he said I should write a song about it, and it inspired this incredible love story," Abraham reveals. "I write things that terrify me. It's about me being terrified one day that my girlfriend will wake up and not be in love with me anymore. I take myself to the brink."
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Most interesting is that while creating content and themes for Sextape and the pre-released tracks, Abraham says, he was inspired by the purportedly abstaining Morrissey, adding that he "loves the depth of [Morrissey's] writing, but that it is the exact opposite" of what he's doing.
The pre-release track "A While" tells the story of a rendezvous in a club. Abraham says the thought process, writing, and especially the lyrics, are all fantasy. "I wrote that she likes me to bring women home to her," he clarifies, "and that shit does not happen in my life. I put things in my lyrics that are not real, but imaginative, because I can do that. The way people respond to it musically is the same."
As for the content of Sextape itself, the MC says the songs are not about sex, per se, but the need to get naked and spill his guts in front of people in a way that's most artistic for him. With help from Nathan Reid of Mercury Sauce on mixing and instrumentation, Abraham produced all of the beats for the project and is tremendously proud of the outcome.
"I make music because of that gap between what I want and what I have — whatever that may be," he concludes. "This is not child's play for me anymore. I'm 29 years old, and the process of having to be this intimate and vulnerable is terrifying. It's scaring me to my core, but that's how I know I'm on to something."