The music speaks at higher volumes when the content behind it is real. When delivered by a vibrant lyricist who put his all into the body of work. That hits even harder. Mercury by Arizona emcee Pariah Pete consists of seven tracks that express his emotions in vivid detail. His life described through the pen over production from his go-to’s Sk8zen, Crust, Nawlidge Nick, and a newcomer Tymu. With features from two exceptional vocalists Josh Caballes and Saiah.
There is a lot to unpack in just about a 20 minute duration. Pete’s life has had its ups and downs, as all of us have. His has more turbulence than the average person but this is no excuse for him. He never slowed up, he rolled with the punches, and told it in his raps. The journey is far from over but Mercury serves as a triumphant victory among the bullshit that he’s faced.
I didn’t break down the album in-depth, I thought his words would be more effective. Below we discussed everything that went into its creation to the aftermath:
When did the project start coming together?
It’s been an idea ever since I bought the Mercury in 2016. Had a different version of Mercury in 2017 but held onto it. Started actually working on the Mercury we got today in October of 2018.
Can you tell us the story of behind Mercury?
The story of Mercury has two main themes, being struggle and adaptation. In 2017 a drunk driver ran a red light and totaled my Mercury. That was a car I cherished, spent a year saving for and paying off, it was my first car. When the accident occurred it was the start of my world getting flipped on its head, everything was changing quickly. I was still suffering from a heart break and shortly after the accident I graduated high school. I was newly single and living the “adult life”. My mom moved to Toronto and I was left with the option to move with her or stay in Arizona with no family, to make it happen for myself at 18. I started couch surfing for an entire year, staying with homies, crashing on couches, living in a trap, even ended up back at my ex’s living with her parents cause I had no where else to go.
I was living without a home, a room to myself, and was kinda losing my mind because of that. I have a lyric on “Eyes Wide Shut” saying “I’m a homeboy who been homeless” which puts it perfectly also, “I been living out a bag so all my shirts are wrinkled”. Everything kept changing even up to this year when 20POUNDS dissolved. Again, I had to teach myself how to adapt. Change was something I struggled with but I had no other choice. Keep my head high and still make this music shit happen. I took all those negative experiences and turned them into something positive. I made this album.
How do you feel now that you’ve gotten the album out and expressed those experiences?
It’s been interesting. Which isn’t what I expected or what I think people expect to hear when they ask me that. I’m extremely proud of myself, for many reasons in and outside the music. The album is perfect to me and the entire bounce back from the situation into the clear-headed, great space I am in now is something to be grateful for. So it’s been amazing, the reception was far better than I could’ve ever imagined, people telling me they cried cause of my songs, they got chills, they felt hope. All that. People taking the time to actually listen to it front to back is a blessing, and for people to like it enough to stream it over and over after initial listen. Especially since this was my first release in a little while. It feels great to have my voice heard again and for it to be backed and supported more strongly than ever before. However, I’m just sitting in the crib alone promoting this body of work i just put my entire life into, like every bar has my life in it, my everything, I didn’t hold back at all. I over think and over analyze just about everything so now I just been thinking bout getting back in the studio and recalculating my approach. Pushing myself, trying out new shit, and writing new stories.
I’m more excited than anything, but there’s been far more turbulence than I thought. I expected myself to just sit back and bask in the moment and love it, which I am doin’, 100%. I’m also super hungry to get back at it. I already want to revisit the drawing board. Pull out a new sheet. Even if it’s not another album right now, I want to get back to creating ASAP. I’m excited to see how I manage that process . I’m a very project oriented artist so maybe it’d be good for me to step out of that mind frame and just focus on taking it song by song, rather than painting another big picture. Overall though, it’s been a blessing and a very humbling experience.
I think it shows how determined you are, despite the success it’s had, slowing down doesn’t seem to be an option for you. What was your favorite track to create off the project?
Mannnnnn, so hard to choose bro. I truly love them all hella for different reasons, but I’ma’ name my top three, “Young” for sure, hands down. That song just captures my entire youth and teenage years , acting stupid and wild. That song is just fun, Crust SNAPPED on the beat, I had that beat for six months before it became the song. I love that shit to cause it’s the most hype for my live performances, the bass bangs and it’s uptempo and catchy. Then “Take Ur Time” I truly feel like that’s the motherfuckin’ love song of the summer here in AZ. A pure bop, crazy vibes, shit radio friendly too without a single curse word. It just sounds timeless, it’s universal & classic. That’s been a common favorite from the project from girls & guys. Both “Young” and “Take Ur Time” are getting music videos ASAP. Then for sure “New Day”, I won’t go much into depth with that because it speaks for itself when you listen to the lyrics. It’s the realest shit I’ve ever wrote. Nawlidge Nick snapped on the beat too, I actually rewrote it because of how powerful the beat was talking to me before we got what we heard on the album.
How’d you choose the producers and features for the album?
So all my collaborators tend to be close friends who I’ve worked with in the past or respect highly. To me collaborations come out way better when that friendship has already been established. All of the producers were the ex-producers of 20Pounds. All my family . Nawlidge Nick on “Pearl” and “New Day”, Sk8zen on “Reminisce” and “Eyes Wide Shut”, and Crust on “On Me” & “Young”. “Take Ur Time” actually was some lowkey producer I found on soundcloud, Tymu. I reached out about using the beat back in November.
As far as vocalist go I didn’t want any rap features. The album is so personal and honest I really didn’t feel the need to get other rappers on there. I didn’t feel it was necessary for the album flow or story. Which is a great sign that I can keep the attention as a solo artist for 20 minutes. Features are dope but challenging myself to do it all by myself and succeed is more satisfying. On my J Cole shit. The two singers are both good friends of mine. Josh Caballes on “Eyes Wide Shut” was a no brainer, his voice got so much passion, soul, and emotion, it’s exactly what I needed to fill in the gaps. I’ve respected him highly since 2017 I’m glad we finally got a track together. Saiah’s feature came about super naturally. I’ve known him through the internet since like 2016 and always thought he was dope. However in November we met up when he bought a ticket for the AZ Hip Hop fest , which was the first time we ever spoke in person I believe, and ended up talking about music and all kinds of shit for like 30-40 minute. When I wrote “Take Ur Time” I knew it was great but it felt like something was missing. That’s when I thought of having a vocalist do the chorus instead of myself rapping it. I was already familiar with his sound so reaching out to him was perfect. I already fucked with his energy and all that so was super comfortable asking him to do it and as soon as I sent the beat he said he was down. He truly elevates the track to what it is today.
How did the release show go last Saturday?
Honestly, far better than I could’ve ever imagined in my life. It’s crazy too, I’m always doubting myself, always second guessing my ability. I had a dream the night before that only 20 people showed up. Pub rock was packed and sold out with 300 people. I sold 250 of those tickets. Words can’t describe how crazy it went. When I went on stage it didn’t even feel like I was local. The room’s energy was raw and erupted. Of course I’m a great performer so I capitalized on the hype and did my best performance to date for my first solo sold out show since 20POUNDS. The crowd got me to crowd surf, I autographed hella merch on demand, started mosh pits on certain songs, had a live guitarist for “Take Ur Time”, teared up on stage. It felt like I was on tour life. Unreal, a memory I’ll never forget. I wish we could just bring in a few people who went to ask what they thought.
Legendary, I had people tell me it’s the best show they’ve ever been to, which is the craziest part. People telling me that my show was more lit than Young Ma’s sold out show at the same venue, someone even said more lit than when Fat Nick was there, Smokepurpp and Lil Pump. I wish there were words for the energy. Everyone felt it and knew it. It was raw, genuine, and a great time. First of many absolutely legendary events. Also shoutout all the openers for killing their sets, I wanna bring them all on tour if i’m the first to pop. Bring Arizona with me.
What is the most important thing you want listeners to take away from the album?
The most important thing I want people to take away is the importance of perseverance, just like how I took all those negatives and made something positive. I want people to feel inspired or motivated. If not that, I’d hope my stories and struggles help them not feel alone in their journey’s or battle’s. It’s okay to be you. It’s okay to not feel okay. I just want to give people a reason to keep their head up and focus on moving forward. All we got is this moment right now. So what are you gonna’ do with it?