Art and Music

Q&A: New EP Brings Lassai Back to His African Roots

Chicago artist Bernell Lassai, also known as Lassai, takes listeners on his personal journey of spirituality and relationships with his latest EP “W A T E R + B I R T H.” The six record project, written by the artist himself, will leave you feeling relaxed and at peace.

Chicago Flex got a chance to chat with Lassai about his interpretation of”water” and “birth” and the messages heard throughout his project. He shares where he gets his musical inspiration from and how this project helped him get back to his African roots.

Where does the album name W A T E R + B I R T H come from? 

Lassai: W A T E R + B I R T H signifies the beginning of my spiritual and musical journey. Water is consistently present in pretty much every story on the creation of Life. Birth represents new life and new beginnings. 

How would you define your spirituality?
Lassai: My spirituality is definitely unique for me. I don’t subscribe to one specific religion, but I’ve implemented a lot of practices and rituals from African Spirituality, specifically Ifa. In many ways diving into African Spirituality has reconnected me back to my African roots. 

Can you explain to listeners about what the Olokun is and why it was important for you to have the African Spirituality as a major role throughout this project?
Lassai: “Olokun” translates to “Owner of the Ocean” The figure is similar to Neptune (Roman mythology) and Poisedon (greek mythology). Olokun derives from West Africa, Which recently I discovered is where most of my Ancestry DNA comes from as well. Olokun is known for many things, but what attracted me the most was the fact that they are the keeper of wisdom and divination and also known for rebirth and renewal. 

backcover_tracklist.jpgI felt as thought this was the Orisha that was guiding me and who I should build my alter for. W A T E R + B I R T H goes through the journey of discovering Olokun to really connecting and embracing Olokun. It was important to have African Spirituality play a major role in my music because it’s playing a major role in my life. I’m using this project as an offering to Olokun. 

Where do you find your musical inspiration?
Lassai: Musically, I am inspired by a lot of things. I’m inspired by other artist such as Frank Ocean, Dawn Richard, Kendrick Lamar and FKA Twigs just to name a few. I’m deeply inspired by Gospel music, the 90’s New Jack Swing sound, House, and trap. Im also inspired by Musical Theatre and spent a great deal of time studying it. 

What would you say is your favorite song on this project?
Lassai: Wow this is such a hard questions. This will probably change but “Eden” is probably my favorite song right now. I’m back and forth with “Eden” and “Indecisive”.

Using your music as a platform to express your spirituality and relationship experience, how did you feel when this project was finally completed? What did you learn?
Lassai: I felt a sense of accomplishment when I completed this project. It was absolutely euphoric and satisfying to set a goal and accomplish it. I’ve learned a lot of things, but the most important ones are patience and to trust the process. I had to learn to trust that if I put the work in I will inevitably find my sound and the right creative team to build on top of my sound. 

What do you hope listeners get out of your music? 
Lassai: I hope my listeners are able to find peace and comfort from my music. I want them to ride the waves and take a sonic trip through the stories I’m telling. I hope they discover the beauty of African Spirituality! I hope that Black Americans are able to reconnect themselves to the ways their ancestors once praised the creator.

When can fans expect your next project? 
Lassai: As of now I really want to ride the wave of W A T E R + B I R T H and create a live show sometime this summer (2018). In the meantime, I will definitely be collaborating with other artists in and out of Chicago. I have some very exciting features coming up! 🙂 

Check out W A T  E R + B I R T H on all streaming platforms or below:
Divin’ – https://soundcloud.com/lassai/divin-pt-1-olokun/s-L1FCK
Eden – https://soundcloud.com/lassai/eden-1/s-AW9sE
Channel Blue – https://soundcloud.com/lassai/channel-blue/s-svhyn
Laced – https://soundcloud.com/lassai/laced/s-kEeBR
Indecisive – https://soundcloud.com/lassai/indecisive/s-CbfeL
Divin’ Pt. 2 – https://soundcloud.com/lassai/divin-pt-2-olokuns-blessings/s-Sc3kB

Follow Lassai on Social Media: 
Twitter – @Officiallassai
Instagram – @Lassai_ 

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Jodelle is originally from Hawaii and moved to Chicago in 2012. She received her Master’s from DePaul University in 2014 and has worked for various organizations including the NBA Los Angeles Clippers, MLS Chicago Fire, Hallmark Movie Channels, Disney ABC Television Group, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and ABC7 Los Angeles. She created Chicago Flex in 2018 after experiencing life as a television news reporter and seeing the impact and positive influences stories had on people’s lives. Her mission is to get us all back to our roots of knowing our neighbors, our community, and our people. Follow Jodelle on Facebook and Instagram @jodelle.maglaya

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