From the land of Magic Johnson and Slum Village, Lansing representative SelfSays, aka Charles Vann, returns with his long-awaited 5-track second EP, Sleeves, released by London label Earnest Endeavours.

Having now been in the game for several years, Charles Vann has worked with a range of up-and-coming producers like Adam Pressley (Jamaican Queens), Blockhead, Scav D, Raj Mahal and Samiyam, with whom he created 2013's April EP. His quirky beats, left-field rhymes and on-point delivery are anchored in his latest electric treatise which confirms that the Michigan lyricist is looking to create his own lane. Sleeves, should do well in helping that along. His most personal solo project yet, Sleeves ably mixes a refreshing frankness and conversational flow with an undeniable groove. To do so, Charles reached out to a new set of producers with tracks from the likes of mfp, fLako and Doc Illingsworth featuring on the EP.

We spoke with Charles Vann about putting together the EP, lyrical sustenance and the music scene in hometown Lansing...

Before we get down to the business of your new EP, Sleeves, tell us a little bit about what you've been doing since the release of your 2012 April EP?

Well, in that time I've moved back home to Lansing, got back into school, finally finished my associates' degree and was pretty much figuring out my next move in life. I did some features for folks which has kept me being creative, and I've also found myself being creative in other ways. Cooking and taking pictures have been some of the things I've really got into as of late.

Your music has always had a social element to it. It's always been full of personality and a thought-provoking realness. What kind of lyrical food did you grow up on? And how do you feel life-experiences have inspired your music?

Growing up I was big into Wu-Tang and just East coast rap music in general - Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep & Raekwon. From there I started getting into more underground stuff and I supported just about anything released on Rawkus Records. Around that time I also discovered Company Flow whose influence you can probably still hear in my music. After that the internet played a big part in me finding out about the NY underground scene. The college station (Michigan State University) was also playing a lot of Detroit underground stuff. I draw influence from the likes of Big Tone, Slum Village, Ta'Raach, Third Kind and even Eminem.

As far as life experience inspiring the music, at some point I got over trying to be the illest rapper and it became more gratifying to just rap about my life. I'm just more moved to write about things that are honest, real. It's therapeutic.

How did you get into rapping?

To meet people. Rapping was kind of an ice breaker. I was shy and socially awkward especially in middle school and high school and I'd rap or freestyle and for that brief moment people would forget those quirks about me. I've obviously grown a lot since then and have got a whole lot better at embracing my flaws.

What was the initial goal with Sleeves?

To make honest music and show my evolution as a songwriter. If you look at the projects thus far, from the first one to now, I think there's been a ton of growth.

Having worked with the likes of fLako, Stray, mfp and Doc Illingsworth on this EP, are there any particular producers or artists who you'd like to work with next?

Ivan Ave, Zeroh, Breezly Brewin, Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic, Black Milk, Blueprint, J-Zone, 14KT

In other news, how's the music scene in your hometown of Lansing doing?

That's a good question. I wish I knew! I feel a little bit out of the loop. I know James Gardin aka P.H.I.L.T.H.Y is out here putting out good music, as well as Ozay Moore aka Othello who recently dropped a record with 14KT.

And what's next?

More music, more creative stuff, moving to California and an LP Something out Nothing 2.


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