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Lakewood, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Lakewood, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Solo Hip Hop




"Eugene Rapper AJ Is Charting His Own Eclectic Course With Late-Night Writing And ‘Dragon Ball Z’"

It was pretty routine for August Jefferson: sit down at the desk in his room, between 3 and 6 a.m., and wait for the lyrics to come to him. But one of these sessions Jefferson remembers most vividly — the night he wrote the first professional verse of his career.

“I had one light on,” he recalled. “My roommate was asleep, and I said, ‘Yo, this is the one.’ It was some Edgar Allan Poe shit, man.”

Until then, Jefferson — who goes by AJ on stage — caught himself slipping into “amateur-ish” moments. But that night, when he wrote the last section of “Medulla Oblongata,” he felt he took a step forward. “That is my favorite track I have ever made. By a long shot. That was the song that took me the longest to write,” he said. “I would have moments of clarity like ‘I just need to write this down, now.’”
The 21-year-old Lakewood, California-born, Eugene, Oregon-based rapper has been bringing his midnight musings to the stage more frequently this year, culminating in a main-stage performance at Willamette Valley Music Festival on May 19, and leading into a sophomore album this summer.

But Jefferson winds us back first. He was sitting on his bed in his Eugene apartment, shuffling piles of clothes around in the small, quiet space we’d found away from the TV in the living room, which was blaring a Toronto Raptors playoff game. It’s in similar reclusive moments, though usually much later in the night, that Jefferson constructed Pursuit of Something — his first release (featuring “Medulla Oblongata”) — which debuted online in May 2017. It was a major step for a musician who until then had focused on collaborative work, but the venture came with road bumps and self-examination.

“I think the first song I worked on was ‘Green Goblin.’ I thought ‘This is gonna be dope, I’m gonna drop this, people don’t even know.’ And I went back and listened to it and said, ‘This is ass,’” he recalled. “I’m always hard on myself. Real recognize real, so you can tell who has it and who doesn’t, and when I listened back the first time I was like, ‘Nah, this is not good enough.’”

Jefferson had been recording the album at Sprout City Studios in Eugene. But it was those late-night moments back home where he’d review what they had so far, rework his delivery and hone his sound. When the time came to get it done in the studio, he was ready.

“I’m the kind of person if I don’t work on something consistently, I get complacent. ‘I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it next week.’ So I gave myself a week,” he said. “We actually finished it in one day.”

Between sessions, Jefferson is juggling a full course load at the University of Oregon. He’ll graduate this June with a double major in English and Spanish. Between gearing up for upcoming recordings, increasingly regular shows — one week in the winter he performed five times in eight days — and midterms, it’s a lot to juggle. But Jefferson says the activities complement and feed each other.

“My way of not getting burnt out, in terms of writing, is school, because I have to do this, it’s something that has to take my mind off it. My music is tied to my emotional state, so if I failed a test, I’m like ‘Fuck, let’s get in the studio. Let’s do something to get this tension out,’” he said.

Jefferson talked about most of his life this way — not all of his interests are music, but they all come back to music. In the same way a botched test feeds into recording motivation, his lifelong adoration for Dragon Ball Z seeps into his lyrics and his album artwork. “In terms of what really built me up, it’s on the cover of the album. All those components — anime, ’90s cartoons, the black experience, leadership positions on campus or in the community,” he said. “They’ve all informed my music, informed my bars in one way or another.” Listen to a few tracks, and it seems redundant for Jefferson to point this out. His music is a compilation of him — as patently AJ as his fingerprints.

But there’s a bigger picture to it, too. As Jefferson pointed out in our conversation, the black student population at UO stands around 2 percent and, magnified by his role as co-director of the campus’ Black Male Alliance, Jefferson’s art reflects a larger experience.

“Of course the black experience is not the same for everybody, but when you’re in a leadership position on campus there’s a certain responsibility that comes along with it. I have to be informed, I have to know this, and I want to,” he said. “So when it comes to my music, I’ve had experiences — like run-ins with the cops that are completely bogus, or just how black people are getting killed in the streets by police, those things — I can’t not express them.”

For Jefferson, it can be easier to convey these feelings through the medium of rap than to speak them. He said music has always seemed like his chosen path to affect his community. But in some ways, that decision itself created a conflict, with the realization that he might fall into a stereotype in the eyes of some — a young black man with rap aspirations. It was the rise of Childish Gambino that made Jefferson realize it’s possible to be a rapper and still do things your way.

“I’m not from the streets, I’m not a Blood, I don’t gangbang,” he said. “But Gambino came around, and showed me you don’t have to be that, you should be yourself and be on stage and live your truth and that’ll be enough. That was the biggest contributor to me pursuing music. There’s no Gambino, there’s no me.”

Since then, Jefferson has domineered his own route, while remaining flexible in the changing and challenging environments common for young artists. During his freshman year in UO’s Hamilton dormitories, he recorded early tracks with “shitty ass” equipment and shared space with local band Spiller.

“It’s definitely behind me now. You know how in the military you gotta go to boot camp? That was my boot camp,” he laughed.

Last fall, it was in Segovia, Spain, where Jefferson spent a term on a study abroad program living with an 86-year-old woman who didn’t speak English and cooked frozen pizzas in the microwave. While there, Jefferson performed in nearby Madrid at the Rock Palace. The crowd and performers were split evenly as English and Spanish speakers. “The guy who went on before me rapped completely in Spanish, which was kind of mind-blowing until you realized he was talking about eating ass and fucking ass the entire time.” But, Jefferson quickly pointed out, it’s exactly that sweeping, blind energy that makes stage performance invigorating for him. The ability to carry an entire venue away through music is why he can get out and do it again, night after night.

“The energy — energy is definitely something I love, and something that makes me want to perform. It’s a deeper form of human connection,” he said. “Like in Spain, you didn’t have to know what that dude up there was rapping about, but it sounded good, it made you vibe with it. Some people didn’t know what I was saying, but it sounded good. It’s the energy.”

On show nights, Jefferson looks to the crowd for that motivation. But when he’s back at his apartment west of campus, with just one light on, he’s working for himself.

“I love lyricism, all the wordplay, being the master of a language to the point where it just clicks. J. Cole, Kendrick, everything they do is so effortless. I want to get to that point,” he said. “I’m on my Ash Ketchum, I wanna be the best. But more so, I wanna do me and show people it’s cool to be yourself when you’re doing rap.”

Watch for AJ’s upcoming projects:
Black Halo
Octovember - Split Tooth Media, 2018.



“Personally, writing has always been a much needed form of self expression for me. Growing up, I've always had a bad habit of bottling all my emotions or shutting down so I viewed writing as a way to vent. As an avid fan of hip hop, it was only natural that I'd follow in the footsteps of some of my heroes; however, I originally avoided this out of fear of being another black stereotype. Therefore, as I carry the torch of conscious West Coast Hip Hop, I venture out to other avenues of writing that inspire me in order to avoid being pigeonholed. I've published articles on established news sites, written a multitude of pilots and screenplays, produced videos, and aim to direct my own films in the future. Following Newton's law of motion, I feel “like I always got to be moving or else I'm going to become stagnant in my craft. So people can try to hold me down and label me, but, at the end of the day, I'm still going to be moving in order to show that younger version of myself that it's okay to express yourself and that only you can define who and what you are capable of.
Instagram, Twitter, & Soundcloud: @notoriousAUG

Excerpt From: BOUJEE MUSTARD. “HIGHER LEARNING.” Mustard, 2019. iBooks. - BOUJEE MUSTARD


Haunter (2019) - Single
Black Halo (2019)  - EP
Pursuit of Something (2017) - EP



An upcoming rapper and CEO of Private Beach Entertainment, AUGUST grew up listening to a wide variety of musical genres, which sparked his passion for the art of music. Growing up in the church, he became well versed in the piano as well as in hand bells and, by the age of 10, had written his first song.


Under the pseudonym “AJ”, his first commercial release in 2017 dubbed “Appearances” did well among fans and tastemakers nearly racking 1,000 plays upon release. However, his follow up single “Anthrax & AppleJuice” (2017) exploded garnering over 6,000 plays within its first two weeks of release.


Following the success of “Anthrax & AppleJuice”, AUGUST released his debut mixtape, “The Pursuit of Something” in the spring of 2017 amassing over 4,000+ views with the stand out track, “Medulla Oblongata”.


Gaining traction in Oregon, AUGUST was invited to perform in the 2018 Willamette Valley Music Festival alongside names like Mr. Carmack and STRFKR. Spring boarding off the high of his performance, AUGUST released his second mixtape “Black Halo” in May 2018, which was well received by local bloggers, tastemakers, and generated over 1500 streams within the first month of release on Soundcloud. On fan favorite tracks like “Cornbread”, blog site The Word is Bond wrote that AUGUST had an “ interesting flow and song premise” as well as being “well crafted for sure”.  Similarly, blog site, LA On Lock, commented that AUGUST’s “talent is in his flow”.


In August 2019, AUGUST released his single “Haunter” seemed divisive amongst blog sites and influencers.  Sites like EARMILK, The Stock Exchange, and MonsterHitsMusic claimed “the lyrics are dense and somewhat insightful”, “the vocal performance [being] sick”, and that the track had “excellent vocal tone…nice flow to it…[and the] music production is done.” While others like LA On Lock wrote “…[While] the hook here never grabbed me…. I hear talent”. The track was also picked up by popular Spotify curator, Chill Select, and ranked #20 in their Pure Hip Hop Mixtape for 2020 playlist.


Determined to prove himself, he rebranded himself to AUGUST. His track “Haunter” caught the ears of Sean Healy Presents, which lead to AUGUST performing alongside Old Man Saxon from Netflix’s hit Hip Hop show “Rhythm & Flow” in December of 2019.


Currently, AUGUST is collaborating with LA producer/engineer, Sergio Cortez, who has worked alongside Young Thug, Prodigy, Lil B and whose work has been featured on VH1, MTV, and the NFL Network.

Band Members