There is something inscrutable about Vritra.

The Atlanta-born, Los Angeles-based rapper seems to be listening to something only few musicians can ever tap into, some creative heart of the universe or something. He channels it into a seemingly never-ending stream of experimental music that defies all classification or expectation. Thought it rests firmly within the realm of hip hop, it makes hungry forays into everything from jazz, to funk, to soul, to dub, to electronic, with another half dozen more genres thrown in for good measure.

Vritra seems to have a voracious appetite for inspiration; he touches on everything possible in his oeuvre, churning out twice as much as he consumes and three times as quick. His projects include NRK, The Jet Age of Tomorrow, Pyramid Vritra, (now-famous LA collective) Odd Future, and most recently, simply Vritra, under which he has just released his newest collection of music: Yellowing.

Yellowing is an absorbing, innovative listen. The beats are sparse, and each song flows into the next in this jazz-like method that makes the 30-minute run time fly by. Vritra’s low is single-note monotone delivered with a kind of deadbeat, dazed resign sometimes similar to former collective mate Earl Sweatshirt, but with perhaps even less inflection.

That kind of distance, coupled with the clear jazz allusions in the beats, makes Yellowing feel deliberately outsider, yet sometimes the flows seem so reminiscent of modern mainstream hip hop that they’d be at home on the latest trap track.


I am a total layman at hip hop. I had a couple years in college where I was super into alternative hip hop like Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Homeboy Sandman, and Doomtree while familiarizing myself as much as possible with the classics and modern masters, but that time passed and my interest in hip hop faded largely.

Vritra makes me wish I was still as involved in hip hop as I was then. Inspiration seems to flow from him like a river, a torrent of creativity and unrestrained ingenuity that’s a thrill to hear. I’m not sure Yellowing is the most complete or best display of his skills, but it’s worth a listen just for the fact that it could act as a stepping stone of insight into his process.

I had the chance to talk to Vritra and ask him some questions regarding his past, his work ethic, and his inspirations.

Just to start out with, I was wondering if you could talk a little about your time with Odd Future. Coming from Atlanta, how did you get to know those guys and what was your time collaborating with them like?

I met everyone in OF through Matt. He lived in East Atlanta at the time. Most of our collaborations were through email until he moved out to LA. About a year after I graduated high school, I moved out for a bit, too.

OF was tight early on. I was mostly around Syd, Matt, Mike G, and Vince. Sometimes Hodgy and Left. Earl was still gone, and I wasn’t really around Tyler much, but the group mentality was strong.

My first time out in LA, we went to Warner Brothers right off the plane, and at the meeting, Tyler was like, “This is Hal. He produces for us too.” That was tight. I never really felt excluded from anything, being the odd man out. Matt had already been in OF for a bit before that.

One thing I have always admired about Odd Future and its associated acts is that everyone involved possesses such a strong sense of identity, with branding, with artistic and sound choices…you all are so deliberate in your decisions. What was the impetus for this latest change in dropping “Pyramid” from your name? Or what about the Vritra project is different from Pyramid Vritra?

I agree to some extent. Early OF shit really did have that vibe that everyone was united on the same front. Not that it’s dramatically different now, but everyone is their own artist and dynamics change.

The decision to drop the “Pyramid” was more of an aging thing. My older music was less focused. I was rapping but not really about much other than typical rap shit: money, girls, flashy shit no one could relate to.

The change, I would say, started with Danu. After parting ways with Stones Throw, I started exploring new production styles, analyzing music differently, and got rid of a lot of the restrictions I put on myself. I wanted to make something with more purpose, to talk about what was going on around me rather than ignoring social situations.

I never addressed a lot of the things that I felt: family, death, betrayal, friendship, and my lack of an ability to keep in touch with people. In the middle of making Yellowing, I had a son, the world was changing, I’d dealt with setbacks, people turning on me, successes. I was a different person. The sound and characteristics of the music I was making changed.

You’ve released this incredible amount of music in such a short time. How do you keep yourself so creatively fertile? What keeps you hungry?

I’ve always been a project ahead. When something releases, it’s probably half a year old, if not more. I love making music. Anyone who has a love for something, you’d expect them to consistently do it, right? It’s a release. I gotta get the ideas out whether I release them or not. Everyone in NRK, OF, and every other collective or individual artist I know is like that, too.

Listening to your records, even as a layman when it comes to hip hop, I hear such a breadth of sounds and influences: jazz, drum and bass, electronic, dub… Where do you find inspiration?

All over the place. I’ve always been into different types of music and studying how people translate their personalities and feelings into sound.

I love the cover for your record Danu. You have such a strong visual aesthetic throughout your records and a clear appreciation for art. Do you have any favorite visual artists?

Thanks. AMXWA did that. He’s probably one of my favorite visual artists at the moment. He’s done a lot of work with NRK. The homey Bigcat put me onto him, I think. I don’t know; time flies.

Visual art complements audible art. Same with fashion. I draw/design a lot and used to really be into that more in high school. I had done all my covers and all the covers for NRK up until like three years ago.

I went more of a music route, but I respect all manifestations of creativity. I can’t paint for shit, but he be killin’ it. Same with Matt. Dude is an amazing illustrator, artist, and producer. Much respect.

Thanks so much! Is there anything else you are stoked about or want to hype?

Stoked to finish up this next solo project I’m dropping in November. It’ll be the second Vritra project. Already done — just needs to be mixed/mastered. Ten tracks right now, might end up being more.

Stoked about the next Blackkkboys project (which is Jay Cue, Tyler Major, and I). Matt and I are working on some new Jet Age stuff. A lot of music goin’ on around here.


Keep an eye out for Vritra around LA and his latest release, Yellowing.