On For Better or Worse, his sophomore solo release, A.V.I.U.S., the frontman MC for Prime Element — a trio that also includes Es-Nine and DJ Cysko Rokwel — sounds reflective and thoughtful. Scheduled to come out this week on the Kamikaze Airlines label, home also to Prime Element, the eight-track album features production from Es-Nine and a variety of others, including Sweat Shop Union's Metty DertMerchant, and finds A.V.I.U.S. spitting convincingly alongside MCs like Fashawn and Evidence from Dilated Peoples. We spoke with A.V.I.U.S. about the new album and about being a compelling rhyme-slayer on his own.
Westword: How is this album different from your first solo album, and even Prime Element's release, Set in Stone?
A.V.I.U.S.: I wanted to make an album that wasn't focused on being completely different from what we do as a group, but being about who I am as a person and as an MC. I've grown a lot and just wanted to tell my story the best way that I do it, and that's through music.
The tracks you've released so far come across like journal entries. Is that how your process works?
I don't have too many people to talk to about these things I think in my head, so it comes out in my rhymes and in my music, in the beats that I choose and the producers I work with. I enjoy a more soulful vibe in my life in general, so it comes through with what I write.
So For Better or Worse is like the culmination of all the writing you've been doing?
I pretty much started writing it right in 2009. It got delayed like a good six to eight months because we did get picked up by Kamikaze Airlines, and they were really interested in releasing Set in Stone again, digitally, with bonus tracks.
Do you feel different now that it's about to be released?
I'm relieved and also really nervous at the same time. It's real personal being able to get this off my chest. Also, being able to say, "Yo! This is my album, and this is what I do." With my first album, everyone was like, "Your production is so dope. Es-Nine is a beast." And then, when Set in Stone came out, it was like, "Oh, Es-Nine produced the whole thing and Cysko did your cuts?"
This is my opportunity to say, "I'm here, and this is what I do. I got two Es-Nine beats, and the rest are outside people. I've got other cats who wanna fuck with me, so it's my way of saying I can hold my own in my group, too. I'm very fortunate to be able to work with such talented people. They believe in me, so I believe in me, but I can hold my own.