Hip Hop Upstart Choker Talks Frank Ocean, Plant Life & His New EP 'Forever & A Few'
For hip-hop star Choker, three can be better than one. At least, that’s the philosophy he adopted when he took on his new project, informally titled Filling Space. The work consists of three separate EPs released within three weeks, as Choker finds new sonic patterns and emotional throughlines to focus on with each release.
Today marks the finale of his project, as Choker reveals the final EP in his trilogy, titled Forever & A Few. Containing three songs, the new record (premiering below) explores a more subtle, stripped-back side of Choker’s sound, revealing new depths of his already mysterious music.
Choker spoke to Billboard about the concept behind his Filling Space project, being compared to Frank Ocean and more:
I've noticed that you are constantly being compared to Frank Ocean online. Is that a comparison that you've become tired of hearing? Is he an inspiration of yours?
It's not tiring, because he is such a well-respected musician -- it's like you're getting compared to Prince or Marvin Gaye or someone like that. To me, it's extremely flattering. But I can also see how it may be viewed as... being tiring or something like that. I think it's just that there are a certain few artists that make music that I think is super-duper inspired by a wide-arching range of things. For lack of a better word, it's music that's all over the place, in a good way. It's very open to any sort of influence. When there are so few people doing that, it's a lot easier as a consumer or listener to group those people together and say, "This sounds like that."
Why did you want to make the Filling Space project as three separate EPs?
It's mainly important to me because the main inspiration for the projects was this photograph by a photographer named Pascal Maitre, and it was these three girls after their first communion, like these three black girls in Africa. And, they just really... something about the image inspired me to make a bunch of stuff. I would just return to that photo super-frequently for three months, and at the end of it, I had a bunch of songs -- and it just made sense to separate them as three, and to make them their own world.
I'm not exactly sure, but something about that photo felt like a well-captured moment. I could just feel the personalities of each of the girls through the photograph, and it just really spoke to me in a way that made me want to make something that almost felt representative of different identities.
For Forever & A Few, what was the identity you were aiming for?
A lot of it was very ... plant-based, if that makes sense. Like, very heavily inspired by plant life and the growth of flowers and, like, different things in nature that kind of exist in a way that other living things are not necessarily existing.
Usually, when people think of living things, they think of animals and organisms that are in constant motion, or are constantly doing things specifically for their own gain and survival. But that's the thing that's interesting, to me, about plants, because they are also living organisms, but they're kind of ... doing things in a very supportive way. When you think of plants, you think of them being a natural part of life, and natural occurrences. It's interesting to think of art, or think of my music, in a way that was more natural like that, more organic. So I kind of went in a direction that was more acoustic, or very simple elements, just the bare necessities of songwriting. So it's very plant-based.
What has been the most important lesson you learned over your first three years in the music business?
As clichéd as it probably sounds, I've learned to stay true to myself, and to just do what I'm interested in, and to find other people that are willing to coexist with me. I'm not trying to shift or change with trends, or things that are moving in the industry -- like trap music becoming the new pop music, or when there was a huge EDM moment in pop music. I'm just trying to make what I like, and that really just allows me to feel better about my work.
Check out Choker’s brand new EP Forever & A Few below: