This October, Eyeda Sophia graced us with her new album, The Esplanade, a collaborative project with emperor bohe. This record is a departure from her previous alternative albums Much Love, Much Love Pt.2, and The Red Project. Her first albums were an ode to the feminine, the female expression. In The Esplanade we see her same voice, but she creates a more androgynous, all-encompassing album. In this project she changes up the flow and emperor bohe – who she was lucky to be in lockdown with this year - helps her change up the sound to unleash some more traditional beats.
Eyeda speaks to the easy collaboration, “I love boom bap and I’ve never made a boom bap record. I’ve never made something that’s very hip hop and less alternative, more classic. bohe started his sound in hip hop so we were in quarantine together and thought, ‘why don’t we make this record that neither of us has done?’”
Everything pointed to making a more traditional album for Eyeda. Her birth into rap came from those who invented the medium and with a live-in producer looking to make the same type of music she wanted to rap on, the beats became an ode to those inspirations. The other motivation for the album was to no longer be pigeonholed for her poetry.
“My whole life people have always been like, ‘oh she’s just a poet’, ‘she’s just a pocket rapper. She doesn’t have bars’, you know, this and that. Every artist deals with this. People telling you what you are. So, on [the track Grave] I wanted to be like, ‘I can really rap. I can out rap you.’”
Speaking with Eyeda, she talks with a loving conviction about her work. She knows each genre, sub-genre, and underground redirection of every inch of hip hop. This newest piece of work, the seamless marriage for her modern alternative style and traditional beats, is just another example of the breadth of that knowledge.
One thing that is undeniable about Eyeda’s talent is her lyrical poetry. Though this album was an attempt to move in a different direction, she never leaves her unique voice. Starting off on spoken word, Eyeda was able to craft a natural talent that only became more natural once she started introducing a beat.
“Everyone is really good at something and I just think that’s one of my somethings. I feel very in tune with music. I feel I can move my voice around the music like clay or something. Of course, it’s a skill that comes with practice and the practice came more from listening than writing I think.”
Another untouchable aspect of Eyeda Sophia’s artistry is her unflinching crusade for women in her music. Her first few albums were written directly to women, and though The Esplanade has more breadth, it does not shy away from the real hardships and continuing struggle for women in the industry and at large. The album playfully and directly teases those nay sayers to prove that she, and other women, belong in rap, but it also touches on the more intimate struggles, the masked and recently unveiled level of sexual abuse, coercion, and rape in the Toronto music industry.
Eyeda tells us, “The album is what I went through in quarantine, so to not add that in would be like it never happened and that would be wrong.”
Eyeda never quiets her female narrative to generate more popular music. Her goal has always been to let the listener feel what she is feeling without concession. Her music sits, honest and uncompromised, for others to level up enough to fully step into her world.
Since the album's debut, Eyeda Sophia has been making her press rounds, interviewing for article after article for best emerging artist, and has been featured on Sway’s Universe, shocking him with her killer freestyle ability. She has already started stockpiling new work for 2021 so we can expect to see much more Eyeda Sophia out of lockdown and back on the stage where she belongs.