Some say that Hip-hop is over-rated hood music these days. You have to truly be eccentric and unique to be heard. Most importantly, you have to be able to pick up a mic and shine brighter than the competition. People often wonder how can such a young artist write and perform with such passion and charisma. “What’s the real deal?” they ask, “Who writes for this kid?” That brings us to ADONIS KING—aka Elijah I Harris- Who truthfully flips the script on numerous levels. His Mixtape, Pretty Gang, is a captivating and emotive debut that heralds the appearance of a gifted and significant new talent, one whose music feels recognizable in the best possible way, while striking out on its own territory.
Born as a Washington DC native, the young 18-year-old grew up in a lively household with his two brothers and one sister. King played the saxophone as a child, but didn't take music seriously until he was fifteen. He explains, “I started free styling and writing songs in school with friends, just playing around. My friends heard the songs, and even though we were all broke, they approached me and we combined our money to buy a microphone and recorded on a laptop. Writing songs took my interest in music to another level.” Almost immediately, he formed a three-piece group and began playing for school talent shows, and friend’s birthday parties, going through what he calls, “recognizing himself in music.” “I was never going to settle when it came to music. I wasn't interested in anything I was doing other than music, and I appreciated the wide-openness of my life.” King says.
Now recording seriously, King was gathering skill as a songwriter; Adonis didn't land on his personal connection of pop and hip-hop overnight. He took notes on his influences, such as Eminem, Boy George, David Bowie, and Michael Jackson and used them to shape his own style. “I grew up with a lot of 90’s pop,” Adonis explains, “My mom used to go around the house with her broom and sing Michael Jackson all the time. I naturally gravitate to that kind of sound; there’s a warmth and timelessness to it that I’ve always loved.”
As his name grew in and around the DMV area, the pieces began to fall into place for Adonis. Entering the WPGC WMS Talent Show in Woodbridge, Adonis won, which earned him some needed cash and the notoriety to begin playing bigger shows for an ever-increasing local audience. Recording continuously, Adonis hooked up with producer Johnny Juliano (who worked with such artists as Wiz Khalifa, BigSean, and Gucci) and the two recorded a single at listen vision studio in Washington DC. The song sparked major interest from Hot97, ITunes, and MTV. “Working with Johnny Juliano has given me the freedom to be myself and to make the music exactly the way I want to make it,” he declares. That freedom allowed Adonis to self-produce Pretty Gang, as well the space to experiment while making it. “It’s a mixture of everything I love and grew up on” He reflects, “There was a lot of trial and error that went into the Mixtape, I wanted to tell a story,” he reveals. “The songwriting is far more detailed, and that was reflected in how I recorded. We recorded fifty songs, and I picked eight. I spent months writing certain songs, refining them until I thought they were just right.” The eight-song collection flutters from sunny, soulful hooks into clever, quick rhymes. The iTunes-only track “That’s My Baby” struts over a funked-up piano into a soaring melody worth moving to. “It’s about feeling good and being in love forever” he admits. “We made the track in Washington DC the first time I’ve ever been into a professional studio. I fell in love with the city lights night on the town scene, but I still wanted the delivery to have that soul tone. It’s like the soundtrack to love. Having a great time doesn’t hurt anybody. I’m talking to everyone on there, and it’s easy to sing along to. That’s the point.” Elsewhere, “Mobbin” skates forward with his rapid fire flow West Coast sound with uncontainable swagger: while, “Game Time” is hip-hop served. The pure energy he brings to the tablemore than makes up for it. King speeds up his goofy flow, and just goes plain crazy. His persona has made hip-hop more fun. “It’s a humorous rap song, with a lot of smiles.”. “Tear This Mug Up,” is a club-friendly house beat, fiery raps Bollywood style. “The lyrics are party-blissful, uncomplicated and fun. On the other end of the spectrum, ‘Adonis Day’ shows another side of the game.” He goes on, “It’s the transition from normal life into fame. People speculate on how being famous is cool—the girls and the money. At the end of the day, fame doesn’t make everybody happy. Then, there’s ‘Make It Outta’ Town’ it’s when you feel excluded from society. The lyrics talk on the subject of being bullied, death of my father, and knowing my life has a better purpose.”
For Adonis, becoming an adult means taking his platform and using it to stand up against bullying. As a victim himself, he hopes that his music can be a positive power to speak out and support others affected by this wide-spread problem, showing them that there is hope and that it will get better. “I got picked on a lot when I was young,” says Adonis. ”I used to be uncomfortable telling people that I have a learning disability, because I thought I would be made fun of, now I don’t care what people have to say about me, I’m free as a bird! I thought out-of-the-box with this whole music thing, constantly trying to prove to everybody that my music had a great message and purpose, but I usually got put down. Being picked on was a usual thing, but it fueled motivation to make the most of my best moves.”
This is Adonis King. He’s ready to change the paradigm. He’s prepared to be a new voice. He’s the future.