The often controversial Aviel rocked at yesterday’s Take Me To Tomorrow event and though I wasn’t able to get in due to technical difficulties (more details later, I promise), I did get a chance to chop some game with the youngin’ who’s finally reached that age where maturity starts happening fast.

Keeping busy, the Portland rapper/producer was featured on Luck One’s latest #WeeklyWonder yesterday on 2DopeBoyz and also dropped a preview for his upcoming EP Alone – which we’ve featured below – on his newly re-tooled website. I figured now was a good time to chat with the busy young man.

1) Been a while since we caught up. How have things been?

Things have been up and down throughout the past year but they definitely seem to be mellowing out. I’ve just been working and trying to branch out in what I do musically. Raising my son has taken up a lot of my time so it’s cool to finally be able to start making music again.

2) You’ve got a new tape coming out. What can you tell us about it?

The project, Alone, is basically who Aviel is. I’ve heard it said that who you really are is who you are when no one else is around you, and that to me is one of the truest statements. So many people will fake a persona or have this act going on instead of being who they really are just to be “cool”. In music you see rappers stealing sounds or an image from other artists and acting like they came up with it. I didn’t want that to happen for me on this project, I didn’t want anyone to compare me to so-and-so artist when I’m trying to make a name for Aviel Ben Yamin. So essentially I cut myself off from the outside world, I stayed in and worked on music, no parties, no checking in on what is trendy, or who’s the “hottest” out. I wanted an organic and genuine product and I really think that’s what it is. It’s 100% Aviel and I love it.

3) Who are you working with for this project?

I really got to work with almost everyone that I wanted to on this. There’s a track with Luck-One on there, Rey Totem is on there, Packard Browne, my bro Young Tapz (Red Bull Studios NZ standout artist,) I’m working on songs with Aminé, Bobby Burton, FanoBee, and my good friend Marsden and I have a few songs that are on there, and we are also working on a collab EP. HG (of The Rareness) and I worked on a few songs for the project and those are definitely my favorites, as you know we’ve worked together for 4 years now as a group and grew up together so it’s always a special chemistry when we link up on music. The biggest feature on the project is definitely the song I did with Dizzy Wright and Packard Browne. We’re hoping to get a video done sometime in the near future and that would be huge!

4) OK, here’s the tough one. How do YOU feel about your project?

I feel like this project is exactly what I wanted it to be when I started coming up with the idea behind it. I took a year to work on it so that I could really grow musically and as a person as well. I took time to focus more on the business side of things and make the right connections so that when I do drop the project it really does something for Portland, and that the waves it makes continue to spread across the country. This project is super personal and I really tried to take it back home, where I started, where this whole journey started. People will have a better understanding of who Aviel is and where I came from and the struggles I’ve been through, the things that made me who I am today. I’m excited for people to finally get that, because I still don’t feel that people understand me fully.

5) I understand you’re a father now. How has that affected or changed your music grind?

It made me realize that I have so much farther to go, I need to be able to feed my family off this and so my approach change. I have been reaching out to a lot more people, networking and getting to know different artists from a producer standpoint. I’ve started working with a lot of different people as a producer and hope that can lead to working with them as an artist down the road as well. I’ve started discussing production projects with a few members of YMCMB, Vinylz (co-producer of “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”), Daniel Worthy (producer for Ab-Soul, Amir Obé, Luu Breeze & more), and most recently I started working on a collab beat tape with my homie from Washington, Fanobee, which is going to be insane! Production has been way more profitable for me than writing. I look at it this way, no one NEEDS rappers, but all rappers need beats.

6) You recently made a little known diss track about a few local rappers. Want to clear the air on that?

Haha, man there’s just some wack rappers in the city. Don’t get me wrong there’s a lot of talent here but some people just shouldn’t portray themselves as “the man” when they are living off of their grandparent’s trust fund. I think it’s corny when someone tries to rap about being broke or rap about a struggle when you know for a fact that they didn’t go through it. Also I had a few friends switch up and start acting super fake and I just felt it was necessary to speak on a few personal subjects and get it over with. That Draft Day freestyle was just the tip of the iceberg though, just to let them know I haven’t forgotten about what they did. I have a song on the project that discusses a really personal situation between myself and Mike Bars that isn’t really a diss, just addressing the situation in a creative yet descriptive way. I just hope people don’t take it the wrong way.

7) I see you are doing a lot of producing these days, most recently laying the track for Luck One’s latest #WeeklyWonder feature on 2DBz. What’s more fun to you, beatsmithing or rapping?

I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz and chill wave instrumentals lately actually, and it’s been really inspiring. It definitely is helping with the production side of things. As far as which I like more, I really like being able to create a product that can inspire someone else, whether that is production or in something I write. I love being able to create a whole song, making the beat and then crafting the song around that, or coming to the table with an idea for another artist and going from there. I think that the two are so important to each other that I couldn’t really pick just one.