December 20, 2014

Words by Halley Bondy Vampire Weekend and dirty Atlanta hip-hop: it’s not a pairing you’d expect, but it’s happening whether or not the world is ready. Frontman Ezra Koenig has been a huge fan of Atlanta’s up-and-comer iLoveMakonnen (of Drake “Tuesday” fame) for months. In November, he covered ilovemakonnen’s deep cut “Tonight” on Yak Radio, but that was just a small taste of things to come. Their mutual friend Despot introduced them, and these unlikely lovebirds decided to collaborate on a remix for 20Before15, entitled, "Down 4 So Long (remix)".

We asked Ezra Koenig what inspired him to cosign a producer who raps about molly and does mushrooms with Trinidad Jame$ on the weekends. Then again, who wouldn’t?

You both bring different sonic backgrounds to the table. What happens musically when you guys come together?  

All the best songwriters are rappers now. People used to think that melody was the dividing line between great rappers and great singer-songwriters. That was never really true but that false distinction is fully shattered now. 

Using Makonnen's melodies as a jumping off point to write some lyrics was very fun. 

What have you learned from working with iLoveMakonnen, or what do you hope to learn? 

I'd like to learn more about haircare from him. He seems very knowledgable. 

Where do you think iLoveMakonnen is headed in the industry? Where would you like to see him headed? 

I'd like to see Makonnen headed straight to the top where he belongs. It's interesting with new artists. Sometimes the industry gets really excited about someone new because they have cool style or this mysterious thing called "potential." Other times, people get excited about a new artist because every song on their Soundcloud sounds like a hit. That's what Makonnen is like to me. He's got all the flavor and originality you want from a new artist but his songs all sound like classics. I'm not interested in predicting pop success because this wicked world has too many variables. What I know for sure is that an artist who has style, originality AND can write hooks is very rare. Spend time with his music. "Tuesday" is no fluke.


Want to hear the special track from iLoveMakonnen, Despot and Ezra Koenig? Head over to 20Before15 to listen now, here.