Sunday, August 7, 2022

What Is Nine Leaves?

Before my career as a solo artist, there was Nine Leaves.  A collective of 4 rappers and myself, the sole composer and non-rapper.  Prior to this, I was interested in one day scoring film.  After this, I didn’t give a shit about scoring film.  Prior to this, I hated rap.  After this, I was rapping.  Prior to this, I was just a composer.  After this, I was a composer, and a lyricist, and a recording artist.

It was Nine Leaves that introduced me to the power of songwriting and the spoken word.  And it was within Nine Leaves that I learned how lyrics can influence and shape the underlying music, for better or worse.  I went from watching the other members react to my music, interact with it, compliment it, and transform it with their lyrics, to eventually doing the same alongside them.  And I ultimately came to see the spoken word as another instrument within the orchestra.  

Lyrics have specificity.  Even the most vague lyrics will inevitably narrow the total possible interpretations that would otherwise be available to a listener.  And thus, the absence of lyrics maintains a lack of specificity in music.  Both states, lyrical and non-lyrical, are powerful.  Both do things the other is incapable of.  And so it’s no surprise that throughout my career I’ve continuously utilized both states, moving between them as desired.

Nine Leaves is where these revelations and insights all started for me.  It’s the prequel to Zack Hemsey.  An effort that spanned 10 years, bridging adolescence into adulthood.  We were all teenage kids at the beginning, and by the end of it, most had children of their own.  It was a garden of ideas, and the studio a laboratory in which we tested our experiments.  Our collective explorations, our personal transformations, and our artistic evolution is all embedded in the body of work that Nine Leaves created.  A body of work that up until now, has largely been unreleased, and generally ignored.

So is the way it sometimes goes.  Except I found myself going through archives, resurrecting and restoring old sessions, and remastering the entire Nine Leaves catalog.  My intention was not to substantially alter the music, or attempt to “modernize” the songs in any way.  Rather, it was to treat the catalog as a historical work, doing only what was necessary to ensure that it speaks as it was intended to speak at the time it was created.

This process has been like opening up a time capsule.  Much of the material I hadn’t heard in two decades.  I fully expected my face to contort with embarrassment and disgust at what I was certain was going to be a sea of flaws, awful performances, and amateur mixes that were painful to listen to.  But instead, I was met with the carefree attitudes of young individuals making songs simply because they wanted to, and performances that were infectious because of their purity and sincerity.  Yes, it all sounded young…but it didn’t sound bad.  Quite the opposite.  The body of work still had value.  It was still worthy of being shared.

And so it’s my pleasure to introduce this.  It’s Nine Leaves music.

Apple Music -

Spotify -

Bandcamp -

Deezer -



  1. it is quite interesting to see where your motivation and start up for all these masterworks originated from i hope this does not upset you as i found nowhere to tell you what the social media should but we both know if people would be more open to the style of music you do and actually listen to you rather than without listening to your words and just push the pedal and say youre good with instruments please do those more as if the lyrics are like nothing at all dont wanna jump on another subject but im disappointed in the whole music industry that the real talents like you have to be unnoticed like this and by unnoticed i mean it you deserve billions of listeners not millions it boils the blood in my veins to see the drugs,hoes,guns gangs take over what rap was meant to deliver and to make it clear what you do isnt just rap its literally poetic enlightenment where you need to keep listening to it to understand it to have different perspectives i dont know how you write them but know that youll probably be the only one who can come up with this amount of knowledge and wisdom
    and also as a huge fan of your works i really love to see more activity from you man it doesnt have to always be masterpieces they take alot of time and effort lets just say just seeing you sitting somewhere or just talking
    brings a smile to my face i have watched all of your interview not as if theres much of them but i really wish to see more of you on internet man also wanted to say your works are perfect material for movies specially for their stories
    i cant say which one of them are better or best i have listened to all of them and they all are masterworks in their own category and purposes even the there are some that didnt get the recognition hat they deserved like the forgotten changing and alot more not as if the rest got the attention they deserved but it upsets me to find out about your works from an epic music selection channel idk about any other rapper that does something your level or higher cuz yours was the only one which made me fall in love with the rap and probably youre the first one and always the best one in the style you do
    i really hope your passion for these works stays with you
    found your works in my worst period of life and they made me sane and motivated youre truly a savior
    always following and know this its not only me you bring so much joy in alot of people and we always support your works no matter how much the society denies them love you from all our hearts and good luck enlightener

    1. I appreciate the comment and the kind words.

      Like all industries, the music industry is primarily motivated by’s not concerned with matters of wisdom, as you put it. Sometimes wisdom can still come through, but overall, it’s about entertainment that sells. There’s a lot of talented people in the world, and the industry focuses on those they think they can profit from. Nothing wrong with entertainment, and nothing wrong with making money. I simply fall outside the bounds of what they’re familiar with and what they understand.

      So the industry pumps huge amounts of money into marketing / promoting / branding the talent they represent. This puts it in front of a huge potential audience. Large fractions of that audience then consume it, regardless of whether it’s “good” or “bad”. This reinforces the notion that the industry knows what it’s doing, and encourages them to repeat the same behavior. In my view, the entire enterprise is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      I’m in a position where there is zero money going into marketing and promoting. This means the music starts out with an audience of zero. Thus, the music can only succeed in gaining an audience through word of mouth and to the degree that it genuinely resonates with people. That path is really really really fucking long, and chances are that most people who take it won’t be able to stay on it long enough to get to where they’re trying to go.

      Considering the above, if there are millions of listeners of my music, it means the music must actually have something of value to offer. And whether my audience continues to grow, remains the same, or shrinks back to zero, this doesn’t change. I’m not in control of what other people do - all I can influence is the music itself. It was always a long shot that I would make it this far, yet here we are having a conversation about millions vs billions of listeners. Is that not a cause for optimism? :)

    2. I kind of disagree because entertainment breeds distraction and distraction literally breeds half if not more of what's wrong with the world today..

    3. Entertainment does more than one thing. I agree that one of those things is provide distraction. However, built into your comment is the assumption that distraction is always bad - I disagree with that assumption.

      When you really need to confront and address your problems, being distracted from them isn’t helpful. But when your problems are suffocating you to the point where you can’t breathe, distraction can offer temporary relief, after which you may be able to better deal with them.

      Keep in mind too that no one is forced to consume entertainment. So is it that entertainment breeds distraction, or that people seek to be distracted? And if it’s the latter, is your criticism really about entertainment, or about people / society in general? :)

  2. It was awesome to get more perspective on the story and music of you and nine leaves! I've been really enjoying the remasters. Holding hope for a day where deep and thoughtful art like yours is more encouraged and celebrated!

  3. Great music. "I'm here tomorrow but I'm down today". "Henry was pulling hair like we wasn't there" "and I was minding mine" "cuz that's what's life's about"!

  4. Man we really need a new album, missed you lot.

  5. But the beauty of her form brings violence... And I succumb to dancing with the siren ...