Calgary Rapper A.Y.E. Takes Extraordinary Care in Preparing Music For The Soul

Aidan Campbell

Drawing influence from hip-hop’s Golden Era, backed by his tightly wound live band, The Extraordinary Gentlemen, Jahimba Hutson has built an identity around delivering music with emotional substance.

It’s a value so central to the rising Calgary rapper and producer, who performs as A.Y.E. (A Young Extraordinaire), that going forward he has his own name for his brand of music.  

“My music is soul food, that’s what I want to establish and want people to take up,” he says, talking about his new album, Soul Food The Audiobiography Of….

The title of the album is fitting, as Hutson’s artistic evolution started with classic hip-hop’s conscious lyrics and smooth, lush beats, as evidenced by his use of live instrumentation. 

“I’ve always had the mindset of performing with a live band even before I had a live band,” he says.

Hutson’s 2014 debut, 90 Now, was also a tribute to hip-hop classicism. His follow-up, Nox, saw him build on that style, taking it down what he describes as a darker direction. To capture the essence of soul food, this forthcoming release will add new dimensions to his evolution. 

“I’d say there’s quite a bit of difference sonically, this new album is a little bit more feel good, it’s a little bit more instrumental,” says Hutson. 

The new album’s title isn’t just a nod to the influence of soul music, it’s also a commentary on music’s current landscape and, as Hutson explains, there’s the literal sense that harkens back to Southern cuisine and a figurative sense of nourishing the mind.

“Soul food for me is like a way of life. I think you’ve got to feed your soul in life to sustain yourself,” says Hutson. “The other layer of soul food is how right now in music, fast food is really what’s going on.” 

With his new album now ready for consumption, Hutson hopes listeners will introspectively add their own layers of meaning.

“I think the best thing is going to be for the listener to interpret what soul food is for them,” he says.

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