Aaron Cohen is well traveled. He’s a young man but properly weathered from seasons of coast to coast treks. He’s from Washington, breathes NYC, and spent a stint in the City of Angels. Regardless of his coordinates, there’s a constant. Cohen makes gritty, focused hip hop that gains steam and momentum with each project. Go back and listen to his catalog. His skin is thickening as he maneuvers the game while we watch it unfold. Home Less, is his most personal release to date, highlighting the coming of age of he and his Inner City Kids crew.
JD: You’re originally from Seattle, and then Queens, now LA? Do you think where you’re at influences the sounds you create?
Aaron Cohen: Yeah, I think every aspect of my life affects my sound. So definitely where I’m at would impact the music. The Seattle aspect of me is there no matter where I go; that’s my home. Everything I do will be raw and grunge because of that. The hustle and speed of New York affects my mentality when I’m making music. I was only in LA a few months, so I can’t speak about it like Seattle or New York. I’m back in Queens now.
JD: How’s the reaction been to Home Less? It’s a project that feels personal.
Cohen: The reaction to Home Less has been good. Yeah, it’s a personal project. I feel like in general the more personal I get, the better the music is. The more people relate to it. At a certain point, you have to get personal and talk about your life and perspective, because what the fuck else are you going to talk about? I can’t just talk shit. It’s fun, but not as important as really expressing myself.
JD: What’s the key to writing a dope verse? Is there a science, or is it more of a vibe?
Cohen: For me, it’s all about the beat. If I’m feeling the beat, the verse just comes to me. I don’t write things down, I just walk around with headphones on, letting the words come to me. Then I just focus real hard to organize the whole verse in my mind. As I’m working, I feel the words and melodies filling up the spaces that need to be filled with the music. It’s hard to explain, it’s almost visual.
JD: You’ve toured a bunch in Europe. How’s the response been in other countries?
Cohen: The response has been great. All of the European crowds I’ve performed for have shown a lot of love. I think they just have a deep love for underground music and art in general. I’m grateful that they fuck with me.
JD: Do you have any desire to work with a label? Is DIY the new major?
Cohen: I just want to make the music I want to make and still be able to reach lots of people. Whatever method allows me to do that is cool, whether it’s with a label or not. I think either way you have to build a fan base for yourself. That’s power, and you’re not going to get what you want from yourself or a label if you’re out here powerless. Musicians with fans have real careers.
JD: Sum up your style in five words or less.
Cohen: Trying to always get better.
JD: If you could step into a cypher with three MC’s, living or dead, who’s it going to be?
Cohen: Andre 3000, Cam’ron and Kanye.
JD: Future plans; What’s next for Aaron Cohen?
Cohen: I’m working on a new project called Matter. It’s the most intense project I’ve ever done, and I think it’s a whole new level of music from me. Kemal (in-house producer for Inner City Kids) is producing the whole thing, so it’s got a really strong cohesive sound going. I can’t wait for the world to hear it.
–Big thanks to Aaron for taking the time to speak with Above Average Hip Hop. Check him out on Twitter @AaronCohenRap, and IG @aaroncohenmusic. Home Less is available wherever you buy your digital music. Support real art!