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MUSIC

Interview with Arizona Hip Hop Artist Pariah Pete on His New Album "Mercury"

Kassandra Ramirez

By KBR

Considering Phoenix, AZ is one of the fastest growing cities in America, the world can expect exceptional artists to rise out of the heat. Upon first listening to Pariah Pete’s track “Take Ur Time,” it was obvious to me that Pariah Pete would be one of the biggest artists leading the music scene in Phoenix. Formerly a member of the music collective 20 POUNDS, Pariah Pete has been working on solo music since the group’s split, recently releasing his debut album “Mercury.”

At just 7 tracks and a short 18 minutes in length, “Mercury” has listeners in a trance, yearning for more immediately after the first listen. The entire album speaks loudly with its flowing lyrics, lots of lo-fi type beats, and major mental vibes. After interviewing the artist on his music experience and process creating the album, it is apparent to see why the local AZ music scene is feeling something special when they listen to “Mercury,” an album by Pariah Pete.

Pariah Pete - Mercury Album Cover - Design by Phresh Alias

Pariah Pete - Mercury Album Cover - Design by Phresh Alias

When did you first begin creating music?

I have been in love with music and have had the desire to create ever since I could first remember. I am the youngest of five and when I was 4, all of my older siblings were already teenagers and playing early 2000s rap and R&B. Music was my first passion and something I attached a lot of my identity to growing up. I would live vicariously through artists I was listening to and envisioned myself rapping to an audience before I ever wrote my first song. This was around fourth grade.

When did you decide you would be a professional musician?

I started making music professionally in 2016 as far as posting music, performing, and marketing myself. I had already been recording for a little while but only for myself and trusted friends due to my lack of confidence. In 2017 & 2018, I made huge improvements and leaps with my music — selling out shows and getting massive support for doing what I love most. However, I made mistakes and learned a lot. However, it wasn’t until 2019 when my former group broke up that I really started doing it professionally, doing shit I should have been doing the entire time — organizing my own shows, releasing music on all major platforms, business cards, stickers, merchandise. I was just up all night creating my website to launch for out of state merchandise purchases. I have been taking everything a day at a time but recently have made enormous strides in the music & business world, both important parts of the industry.

How would you describe your sound in just a few words?

REAL RAW ENERGY. My goal with this music shit is to make great music with substance. With my heart and my soul, it will naturally connect to people who have felt what I have felt. My stories will resonate most with them. But the great music is a huge factor. I want to create shit that just sounds and feels good. I want to create music that has room for a little bit of everybody to enjoy because that is my favorite music.

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Can you tell us about your debut album “Mercury?”

My new debut album is titled “Mercury” after my 1987 mercury marquee, the first car I ever bought. I spent over a year saving for it and paying it off. It was in incredible condition and I cherished it. The whole car was a vibe and driving it felt like a spaceship. The idea to dedicate a project of mine to it hatched while I still owned the car; however. it was mostly the following events that give it more life.

Two years ago, I was hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light and totaled my mercury. This event was a catalyst for a massive amount of change I was not ready for. Shortly after I graduated high school, I had no other choice but to sleep on friends couches/floors. Newly single after a two year relationship and without family in Arizona, I ended up in a trap house for a couple months and even back at my ex's parents house. I lived an entire year of day-to-day living and instability. Being a homebody and introvert at my core, not having my own room or home truly fucked with me. My world had taken a full 180 turn around in the matter of 12 months, and the cherry to top it all was my rap group breaking up and doing so in an ugly fashion. I hit my lowest low those following weeks. However, I learned how to turn it all into fuel. I took those negatives and made something positive, this album "Mercury". At a short & sweet 7 tracks and 18 minutes, “Mercury” is available on all streaming platforms.

Do you ever get compared to other artists? If so, why?

I was actually just speaking about this today with my producer. My entire career, I have never been compared to anyone sonically. However, with “Mercury,” I have had about 15-20 ppl tell me that I reminded them of a young Mac Miller, which is a huge compliment to me and an honor. I strive for his style of evolution to occur in my career. His most recent album is my favorite. But we'll see if that comparison continues over time, I been doing music for 3 years and only started hearing that this week with the album release.

What "effects" have people told you they have had listening to your track "New Day?"

Multiple people have told me they've cried to it or got chill. People have also said it helped during a dark time and gave them hope. That was my intention. It is the realest shit I’ve ever wrote but I didn’t want the message to be as blunt as the song, "its a new day, I got hope now" I needed to write that for myself. So when I hear about its effect on people, it humbles me. Just glad I can create something thats helping someone somewhere right now.

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Do you feel like being white influences how the industry judges you as a rapper?

I believe It definitely helps more than it hurts me. I’d be ignorant to not realize and speak on white privilege, even in the rap game. There are definitely judgements, as expected. Just based off my looks, people don’t expect me to be as good as I am, but maybe that’s what makes them like me even more.

I do always get looked at funny when I get asked what I do and I say rap. I love this shit and do it for the love of it, nothing else. I am unapologetically myself and in due time people will know who I am and accept it. None of that shit matters to me though; I knew I was a white boy getting into this field, so because of that I try to uphold the craft and culture in the most respectful manner possible. I listen and learn, rather than speak on shit I don’t know. Great question, I’ve never been asked that.

Who produced "Reminisce?" Can you tell us more about the song and its message?

Sk8zen produced the beat for this track. “Reminisce” has different ideas and experiences. Between the first and second verse, the message differs, but it follows the same concept throughout. The song is about being paralyzed in a time loop, worrying about yesterday, tomorrow, and everything in between — being stuck in that mindset and letting it eat away at you. At the time of writing it had been so long since my last project drop that I was putting immense pressure on myself for this drop. "I been worried sick since the last one/getting high to look at what my past done/I don’t like to reminisce". Certain shit isn’t pleasant to revisit. I go into that in detail about this short lived love affair I had and my reaction to it throughout the second verse. Its one of my favorite pieces ever written based off how fluid and real it was. The first verse is more so about my present day to day struggles, while touching on experiences that had gotten me to this point — feeling like I’m not built for this world.

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

Pariah Pete - Photo by Rozotadi

For "Eyes Wide Shut, what was it like creating such an emotional song? How was the process of collaborating with Josh Cabales?

This song undoubtedly has the most depth and history, more than any other song on Mercury. “Eyes Wide Shut” is truly the most personal thing I’ve ever written. You can hear a piece of my pain, struggle, and sorrow in every single lyric.

I wrote this song at the darkest time in my life. I was about 5 months into being on my own without family in AZ. I initially slept on my producers couch for a few months, but then got the opportunity to stay at my friends apartment because of open rooms. Keep in mind, I never saw the place till I moved in. It was dirty, dog shit everywhere, smelled horrible, and the kitchen had a pan from some sort of dish that looked like it had been there for weeks. Everyone who came over always told me my room was the cleanest, when in reality I did the bare minimum. I’m not even a clean freak, I just kept it tidy.

Shortly after I moved in, we got roommates that changed the environment. It went from a dirty apartment filled with dog shit, to a dirty apartment filled with dog shit and guns. There were drugs being sold and people coming in and out constantly. In addition, I started letting my work crush stay with me at the time because she had no where else to go. She added to the bullshit that occurred during this time. It was the most unhealthy and low vibrational place I have ever been in. There were times I was told to spend the night elsewhere because of threats on our place. There were nights when gun shots went off in the apartment, girls came in and out constantly, and blunts were smoked until 5am everyday.

To make a long story short, this was not home for me, I spent most of my time away when I could. We ended up getting raided and evicted. One of my drug dealing roommates even stole my PS4. A few days later I was sleeping on my homies floor at his mom’s with no long term plan, I had a dream I got shot, and this was all the week my old group "20POUNDS" had a sold out show at Crescent Ballroom.

I wrote this song to cope. I reached out to Josh because I knew his soulful, passion filled vocals would elevate the depth of the song, which he did perfectly.

Pariah Pete - Photos by Rozotadi

How are you unique from other artists?

My authenticity, humility, and style. I don’t fake the funk or try to be someone I am not. I don’t try to be flashy or cool. I am me. If people love it, awesome, if not, awesome. I do this for me and my supporters. In due time, I will elevate to a global scale

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Be yourself 120% of the time. No one can be a better you than you. Don’t try to do anything that’s not you. Don’t get me wrong, try to do new stuff and expand your sound, but don’t do anything that’s not authentic. Just do it for the love of the art at the end of everyday and it will take you places.


Pariah Pete - “Young” (Official Music Video)