Welcome to our special edition of Music Monday featuring one of the most inspiring emerging new voices today, Cosmo Problems.
The Oregon based artist, rapper, songwriter and producer gave the music world a riveting first glimpse of his thought provoking art with his debut single titled “Conversations” featuring friend and fellow artist, singer-songwriter Lostboycrow. Today, Cosmo Problems dropped his debut album titled “FAUXREAL”, a stirring journey of survival, perseverance and self discovery.
We are beyond thrilled to premiere his incredible concept album “FAUXREAL” accompanied with our insightful conversation with Cosmo Problems where he gave us intimate details of the making of the album, stories of memorable recording sessions in addition to how determination and self acceptance played a key role on the direction of his artistic journey.
The origins of FAUXREAL
Cosmo Problems’ “FAUXREAL” is quite a journey meant to be played from beginning to end to get a sense of who he is. When asked, who is Cosmo Problems he replies, “I’m an everyday artist trying to live, I think a lot of that comes across in the album, it was just me trying to figure out how to live and try to make sense of the world.” He adds that having experienced a big reality crisis proceeding making “FAUXREAL” was a precursor for a quest of self identity that ultimately became a significant theme on the album, “What is reality? Why are we here? What are we doing?”, all of that kind of framed the context of growing up and having to go to the working world and interfacing what America wants you to be and what it means to be an artist and be spiritual in these times. Those were all questions I set out to answer.”
“FAUXREAL” is filled with spoken word poetry and raw experimental soundscapes that highlight how multi-faceted he truly is. Cosmo Problems is a storyteller who raps about his life. His rhyming abilities flex between a show-stopping rapid flow to a laidback spoken word infused rhyming delivery. Cosmo Problems confesses that as a child, he was heavily influenced by hip hop rapper Eminem in addition to becoming infatuated with a lot of underground hip hop artists such as TLS and Atmosphere, and most recently it was Modern Contemporary Piano and Pink Floyd that inspired “FAUXREAL”, “I been on a real Pink Floyd bender. I love storytelling in every facet.” Just like many Pink Floyd albums, Cosmo Problems wanted to transport his listeners to another world. “You can kind of tell when music really wants to go above and beyond and tell a story more than just the words, all the production decisions kind of pulls you to another world, that’s like my favorite thing about music for me personally. “
Poetry and Inspiration
FAUXREAL is many years in the making, “I listened to it [and] it was a moment I had when I listened to all the tracks in order, the way the album is meant to be listened to, it kind of took a life on it’s own.” Cosmo Problems revealed that in the beginning he didn’t know he was doing a concept album. “I just thought I was going to make an album. The album I started making in the process was very, very different from what it is now.” In the beginning stages, Cosmo Problems found himself creating songs reminiscent of Eminem’s Slim Shady rhyming style, aggressive with vivid scenarios oozing violence, “It’s not necessarily promoting violence, it just involved that drug world.”
It took one disastrous performance for Cosmo Problems to realize his poetry would become fundamental for his own music identity. “I had a really terrible performance at a house party where it was not resonating with anyone, but I had one song, kind of this poetry styled thing I pulled together and people really dig that, like ‘oh maybe I’m on the wrong direction'”. At a young age, Cosmo Problems remembers not being fond of reading poetry however, when he reached high school he began battling depression and began writing poetry during his classes. “I hated school. I hated being shaped, I hate being molded. So I would sit there in class and write poems.”
Cosmo Problems admits that Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” heavily influenced him while recording his own album. “I made all those transitions, at least recorded the skit of part of them right around when Blonde dropped, I just really admired how earnest and honest his skits were, all of those moments were like wow it’s so touching and I kind of wanted to have some of that in the project and pairing with the poem and everything.” The songwriting of the tracks took 15 months to complete, Cosmo Problems adds laughing, “I’m a really slow writer.”
Friendship and Conversations
At the end of May, Cosmo Problems released his first single, “Conversations” featuring Lostboycrow. The placement of “Conversations” on the album serves as he as “the point in the story arc of resolution and uncertainty.” The single version of “Conversations” begins with the isolated vocal harmony of Lostboycrow, the album version has a powerful beginning with poetry completely absent on the single version. “That was a very difficult decision. It was dramatically longer,” he adds in reference to “Conversations” album version. “I wanted to be able to give the song to someone without necessarily having to have the placement of the album. I wanted an entry pathway that drives straight to the action.”
Cosmo Problems shares the making of the track was a long time coming; “Me and lost boy have been friends for a long, long time. He was kind of the first one to start gaining music traction from a friend group of musicians. We met up at a friend’s wedding and I just showed him this poem that I had written and this music that was kind of put together for “Conversations”, he is like “great! I wanna be on it. I’m in town. Let’s record it this weekend”, that was a few years ago.” Eventually, the track got completely reimagined; “The original track was built on a sample from a movie called American Beauty, using the main piano hooks, I didn’t own the rights to it. I had to reimagine that right before launch, the album was done already. I had mastered it already. I had to remake it, put it together at the last minute. I remade all of the music for it. I had to get the vocals tracked in March.”
The track itself gives a sense of community to it’s listeners and oozes the sincere mutual admiration and support shared between Lostboycrow and himself. ”It’s hard to put your finger on it exactly but it’s hopefulness, it’s the artist’s journey. You can see the type of friendship between me and the crow have in the track. Harmony.” He confesses that without Lostboycrow’s support “FAUXREAL” would not have been made. ”Lost boy is my mentor really, without him, this album wouldn’t had come together.” Lostboycrow would tell him, “I believe in you man, you can do it”, Cosmo recalls. “I needed to hear that many times over the 3 years it took to make the album.”
With a track containing straight forward lyrics such as “I’m a regular guy. This is a regular song, for regular guys, work hard ‘til you’re dead in the eyes”, Cosmo Problems nonchalantly rhymes about his “regular” life on one of his most relatable tracks on the album titled “Regular Guy”. “The one [track] that came together the easiest was “Regular Guy”. That was a perfect description of my life, being an apartment manager in this bad neighborhood, it was fun to write. I Loved It.”
Fire In Your Iris & Fear Isn’t Real
Many tracks on “FAUXREAL” have an gutsy unconventional song times necessary to push the story being told forward. “Fire In Your Iris” and “Fear Isn’t Real” are the most soul gripping tracks of the album. “Fire In Your Iris” is the longest of the two, coming in under 9 minutes and it was the most intense to write for the artist. “Fire In Your Iris” took 9 months, when you make the decision to make a really long song like that specially with no feature rappers or no one else to keep the weight off you, you have to stay on topic somehow and be interesting too. When you are writing, when you have something really long like that, it’s easy to start a rap. The first verse of anything is easy. I was really proud of that one when I finished it, it was a whole segment of my life.”
Both tracks display the vast changeability of his storytelling and music making abilities, more so on the latter track, “Fear Isn’t Real”. Bringing his listeners to unexpected tears with only the use of his piano playing and his voice reciting his pain, his truth and his hope. It serves as a daily reminder of self empowerment to keep battling your internal struggles. “My favorite track is “Fear Isn’t Real”, that was the song that took me from the album that I was making previously into the album I wound up making.”
The story of “Fear Isn’t Real” is an intriguing one, one that began with Cosmo Problems pressing the wrong button.” It was probably the last song I wrote on the album. The song kind of made itself in a really weird way.” He was using a sample of a woman quoting a spiritual guru from a YouTube video, got permission to use it; “My producer and I were messing with a randomizer, it automatically chops the sample, stutters it, makes it echo and makes a bunch of weird noises completely random. The knobs you have to control it are very specific, there is a “crazy knob” or like a “repeat knob”. There is no way to have it do what you want.” While playing with the stutter effects, it paused it and looped this part of the track, “it pulls three random words and starts saying “fear isn’t fear. fear. fear.”, we lost our minds, chills down my spine”, he vividly remembers. The oddest part was yet to follow, “It got even weirder because we tried to recreate it and the word wasn’t a word in the sample, it took the backend of the word “present” and kind of stuttered it to “isn’t”.
The latter part of “Fear Isn’t Real” wasn’t always meant to transition to the Cicadas and the piano, it was originally intended to drop into heavy rap. “I just couldn’t not write it. I almost scrapped the song, if it weren’t for that sample.” Cosmo Problems worked on the track himself when an idea began to take shape. ”I thought to myself, what about if it doesn’t drop hard, what about if it gets sad, sinister and nostalgic and I broke down into tears when I first wrote that piece in the end because it was the end of months and months of daily panic attacks. I really lost my life to fear. When I wrote that last line, just hearing myself saying it out loud it was ok to feel afraid, it was like ok this is the last song I’m making for this album.” He says that moment is relived every moment he plays the album.
FAUXREAL is an album that does not preach to you how to think or live the expected proper way, it’s an album that leaves you pondering on life, spirituality, self acceptance and life can have trials and tribulations but you can find redemption and a purpose in what ever situation you are in. “I would like it to resonate with them. I left a lot for open interpretation on purpose. I wanna ask more questions than I wanna make statements. Listen to the questions, come up with your own solutions and what it means to you.”
As he gears up to celebrate his album release with a hometown show, Cosmo Problems is also working on new music for himself in addition to producing other artists’ projects. He promises there will be upcoming music videos to look forward to. As we concluded our chat, he left us with these memorable words, “As much as quality art as much as I can produce, I’m going to try to put in this world.”
Listen to Cosmo Problems’ “FAUXREAL” On he player above.