Hip-hop producer Ahwlee’s music is the sonic personification of that unique Long Beach feeling of strolling through your neighborhood with headphones on, the sun on your shoulders and a cool breeze hitting your back. His sound was born from the coastal side of city where beach culture meets and urban, downtown vibe, an ideal breeding ground for a 25 year-old beatsmith to create potent music for head bobbing meditations.
“I always loved music man” says Ahwlee, in his slow and low smooth Southern Californian drawl, as he’s walking to a friend’s birthday party. “I was blazing by middle school, and when my mom found out she told my older bro, and my older bro gave me his drum machine, probably to keep me from smoking or something, and after that I just started fucking with music.”
Influenced by classic hip-hop, and the beat scene a la Low End Theory, Ahwlee concocted his own style, unique to him and him alone. It's a sound that mixes the deep jazz and soul imbued grooves and sample chops of J Dilla and Tribe Called Quest’s production, with the laid back, tight, but smooth and loose knock of the G-Funk Era popularized by Warren G, Battlecat, and Daz Dillinger.
When asked if he thinks he brings any particular Long Beach flavor to the crowded, and stylistically diverse, L.A. beat scene, Ahwlee simply says, “Man I guess. I’m just trying to make the shit that I like. I mean, Warren G is an influence for sure, but more subconsciously. I heard all the West Coast shit beat to death, but that’s already in me. It’s already there. Everything else is built on that. I just make shit that you can kickback to, smoke one to, just Let the day go by to. You know what I mean?”
Across 15 Bandcamp releases, some of them EPs, others full length albums, and a number of one off loosie tracks scattered around both his Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages, Ahwlee has been steadily building and expanding his sound, which has been tagged by Ahwlee himself as intermittently, “Chillist,” “Hip Hop,” and “Easy Listening.” Ahwlee’s tracks have racked up hundreds of thousands of plays, and gained the attention of a lot of L.A. beat scene contemporaries, like Stones Throw records’ MNDSGN, who made a split cassette of Christmas themed beats with Ahwlee in 2013 called A Rap Vacation X-Mas.
“I had been doing Christmas joints every year for a little bit” says Ahwlee, whose first Bandcamp release was actually a christmas themed album called Chrimbus in 2010. “My buddy who runs Rap Vacation thought me and MNDSGN should do a split Christmas tape. We were supposed to link and collab and work on some shit, but we just ended up smoking and kicking it. Just having fun.”
The tape has grown and grown in popularity since it’s initial, cassette only release, prompting the label Rap Vacation to reissue the project this year on vinyl for the first time.
The tail end of this year, right after Christmas, and right before the 2017 officially begins, will see the release of Ahwlee’s second solo cassette, Life2, on the German label UKNOWY. The new album sees Ahwlee further perfecting his breezy smooth “chillist,” sample based chopped grooves, but adds an extra layer of subtle synth and keyboard instrumentation.
“Life2, there’s some bumps on there, some flavors” says Ahwlee. “I’m just digging deeper into the musicality of it, just integrating more theory and makings things more musical. It’s a preview for some fat shit I got coming for y’all.”
Life2 will be available on December 27th, 2016, through UKNOWY Music. To get it, click here.