Jesse Abraham’s Water Runs Deep


It’s said hip-hop’s best MCs have to master their flow, but New York underground rap artist Jesse Abraham is rocking the mic to bring a different type of flowing into the world. Teaming up with Charity Water, 100-percent of the proceeds from Abraham’s new album I Am Water (which features Chino XL and Nitty Scott, MC and drops November 13th) will go toward the charity, which provides clean water to developing countries. We spoke to Abraham about these latest waterworks.

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What made you decide to go the charity-benefit route?

All my projects in the past have been free. From the second I started working on it, I didn’t feel right giving this one away. Once I decided that, I decided whatever money people are willing to hand over in exchange for my music, I’m happy to give toward a noble cause. Anything to make my music impact the world in a positive way, in addition to them hearing it, is a huge blessing for me.

How did you first discover Charity Water?

I was researching charities with the title of the album, I Am Water, already established. So, I decided on water, to make the connection really obvious. I went to their office in Tribeca, which is where I grew up, and that made it even more comfortable. We talked about what they do, what I do and what I wanted to do with them, so it was quite a harmonious meeting.

Where did the title of the album come from?

My goal was to really remove all the filters and anything I feel I’ve restrained myself with. I wanted a reflection of myself to come through on every single song. When I’m saying “I am water,” I’m saying my style’s not containable, and with what I do from one hour to the next, I flow. [It’s] being rhythmic, being adaptive. It’s the greatest metaphor I could imagine for myself and all beings.

It has to do with my dad, who passed away when I was 9, and I only have three video clips of us interacting. One is of us in a lake when I was 5, asking me if the water is wet in a repeated manner. He was kind of being funny, but it’s a philosophical thing I’ve always had in my mind, and I’ve come to the conclusion water is not wet. It is only the object placed in the water that’s wet.

You recently premiered the video for I Am Water‘s first single “I Ain’t Shit, I’m the Shit,” directed by Nicolas Heller of Ricky Shabazz and the Boom-Bap Boys. How did you link up?

I first became aware of Nick from Homeboy Sandman’s “The Essence” video. His name was familiar to me because we went to the same college. He worked with a lot of people I respected, so I hit him up and the first meeting we had, we made a list of people and environments at our disposal that would be interesting. There were a million moving parts and countless variables. I was really impressed with him.