Artist Spotlight: Sol

The hottest hip-hop sensation on the UW campus since Geologic was introduced to Sabzi, Sol Moravia-Rosenberg (better known simply as SOL), is not only well on his way to establishing himself as the hardest-working MC around; he’s trying to take over the world. Oct. 14 marked the release of the rapper’s “Dear Friends Vol. 1” EP, a free digital download on his Web site solsays.com and six tracks of proof that he’s already one of the best in the city.

“My debut, ‘The Ride,’ that’s still the masterpiece,” he said. “I spent two years on it, that whole part of my life, but I went through a lot of growing pains and learned a lot about myself through the process. The EP is a post-debut project; I’m a lot more comfortable with who I am.”

Where “The Ride” had a definite shadow over it in the overcast mentality of Seattle, “Dear Friends” is light and soulful: The cloud cover is pulled back. This time around, it’s about being a young adult and enjoying life.

“When I was finished putting the project together, it just felt like a dedication to all the people in my life,” he said. “I have a commitment to being sincere and honest and myself behind the microphone. That’s why I call myself SOL, my real name, and that’s why I called it ‘Dear Friends Vol. 1.’”

As a full-time student and more-than-full-time musician, maintaining the life typical of a 20-year-old hasn’t always been easy. From explaining his outlook to paying tribute to loved ones, music is a way for Moravia to contribute to those relationships. For that reason, the rapper plans to put out more volumes with the same mission: being soulful, intimate and passionate.

The lead single off the EP, “Don’t Sleep,” is a tribute to that work ethic and features one of Seattle’s finest MCs in Grynch: “someone who’s been in my corner, a great rapper and a great guy,” Moravia said. The EP also features contributions from local artists PhilHarmonic, Scribes and Kush Carter, as well as production from favorites Jack the Ripper and Fifth Element. Behind that single, the lady-friendly track “Millions” and hip-hop celebration “Never D.I.E.” stand out as undeniable examples that the young musician has continued to grow exponentially since his last release.

Though he leaves for a five-week study abroad program in the Bahia state of Brazil at the end of the month, Moravia’s intense work ethic and knack for creativity ensure that being a continent away will, if anything, strengthen his skill. “Dear Friends” is just another installation in his artistry, and the next — a sophomore effort slated for a 2010 release — is coming soon.

“I’m 10 years in the game,” he said, “and I can honestly say that I’m a great rapper. But I know I’m not as good as I’m going to be. The next full-length record — that’s the baby I’m raising right now.”

Leaning back in his chair and contemplating his future, the young artist lets a devilish grin slip onto his face: “It’s going to make a big splash. Just wait.”

Reach reporter Nick Feldman at weekender@dailyuw.com.

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