Rasar's rebirth of the cool
The Sacramento expat rapper formerly known as Random Abiladeze talks dreams, artistry and reinvention
The Sacramento hip-hop artist Rasar Amani relocated to Las Vegas a year-and-a-half ago. It was a spontaneous move that led to an unusual short-lived role in the offbeat vaudeville show Vegas Nocturne for which his job involved rapping, dancing with people and taking selfies with women.
But, hey, Amani is nothing if not adaptable. Is it any wonder that for his homecoming show—his band Bread Fam is set to play Sacramento for the first time in two years this Saturday—that he’s sharing a bill with local indie-pop violinist Joe Kye’s group Joseph in the Well?
Another example: An early gig he played while still in high school at the Placer County Fairgrounds was a talent competition during which he went up against nothing but country singers—and won second place.
“I’m best as the exception. I feel really comfortable being around people who don’t do what I do,” says the rapper formerly known as Random Abiladeze. These days Amani just goes by his first name professionally.
It was Sacramento expat and America’s Got Talent beatboxing contestant Butterscotch who coaxed Amani to move to Vegas to join the show she was already part of. The pair had known each other a long time and came up together in the Sacramento scene. Now that the vaudeville show has come and gone, Amani is working intensely on his own music as well as touring in Butterscotch’s band.
On stage, Amani brings another layer of performance to the beatboxer’s show—his flamboyant charisma is a nice counterpoint to her cool, calm demeanor.
“I’m very comfortable on stage. I’m engaging, I tell jokes, I’ll tell stories, even at her show, to add shape to what she’s doing. She’s more reserved,” Amani says. “I’ve definitely learned to play multiple positions since working with her.”
Amani has been rapping since the late ’90s, with several releases under his belt, including 2013’s brilliant alt-rap record The Dream Is Over … That record was inspired by hearing Slick Rick’s verse on the 1999 Outkast track “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Remix)” on the radio. In fact, it excited him to the point that he knew that he wanted to be a rapper.
Since then he’s gone through a few different emcee names. Currently he has several projects going, including Bread Fam, as well his solo spoken-word material, a jazz-hip-hop group in Vegas called the Lique, CAMRA (a collaboration with soulful singer-songer Cameron Calloway), Mellow Nine (a collaboration with Styles 1001) as well as an EP he’s working on with the Sacramento-based experimental hip-hop group Medl4.
“I work with so many different projects because I’m a multifaceted soul seeking balance through variety,” Amani says.
Amani says he’s experienced an explosion of creativity since the release of 2013’s Dream Is Over album. The album title references John Lennon’s song “God,” which speaks to the disillusionment the late singer felt toward the ’60s ideals, and his attempt to rebuild himself. For Amani, who says he’s experienced his own bouts of disillusionment and creative frustration, his own album is self-analytical and philosophical. It is, he says, about trying to move forward in his life after experiencing several lows.
“I think after debating if I would ever do it again—there’s confusion and frustration that comes with that—that’s where we find our true core selves,” Amani says. “The Dream is Over … is not meant to be a downer. It’s really that moment when you hit rock bottom, but just look at yourself as you are, and [ask] what do we do next? The world is kind of open now.”