words by Evan Gabriel
photo by Lendl Tellington
Months ago, when rapper lojii found himself short on the month’s rent, he had no other choice but to fully commit to his creative hustle. Friend and producer Swarvy suggested the two collaborate, make a tape and sell it. Initially, lojii was hesitant. “I was sleeping on myself. Like, I need rent in a week and a half, we ain’t got time to make a tape.” Both guys originally hail from Philadelphia, but had found themselves in L.A. to pursue their art.
“We each left Philly because people there didn’t really understand what we were doing,” Swarvy says. “The soundscapes I’m attracted to are not the typical Philly shit,” lojii adds, whose father is a musician. Few album titles are as literal as Due Rent. Financial pressures and life’s stresses were manifest during the writing and recording process in Swarvy’s Leimert Park studio. Lojii would land a job weeks later to repay Swarvy, but by then, the two were already finishing songs, and Due Rent was taking form.
Throughout 22 concise tracks, Swarvy builds out crunchy, meandering loops that continuously morph into vibrant arrangements. A sonic relative of producers like MNDSGN and Knxledge, his production has a heavy Jazz influence, often varying between samples and original compositions. Lojii raps with a slick tongue, examining the duality of being rich in his network but flat on funds. From sleeping on floors with roaches to being backstage at some of the biggest shows in L.A., the stories are his entirely. “I was on some vagabond shit like riding the bus, riding the train, skateboarding, on some real thuggish ruggish shit,” says lojii, who made the move west without a form of transportation to his name.
Much of Due Rent’s discourse was birthed on those long commutes, which spanned the various areas he came to sublet or rent in: Long Beach, Echo Park, Silverlake, South Central, and East L.A.. Gluing together the seams of the album are voice memos recorded on his phone. The skits are nods to some of lojii’s favorite artists --The Roots, State Property, Beanie Sigel, Jadakiss.
There’s a gritty, uneasiness to much of Due Rent. “free4who,” references a zoo’s bars, bringing to mind the primal animosity that money can drive humans to. “Blame capital for making stacking a habit,” raps Zeroh on a guest spot on “pay rent,” begging the question: is there a way for people in capitalistic societies to reprogram, to refute the mentality described in “the daze?” lojii stresses financial discipline on this: “I still hold fast to that; when I stack money I literally just put it back into my art.” By flipping the meaning of being broke, Due Rent asks: what do you truly need to be free?
You can order the double album on cassette via Portland’s Fresh Selects label here and stream below.