Komorebi Records Emerges as Both a Creative Outlet and Safe Haven for St. Louis Hip-Hop Artists

Franco speaks with intent as he delves into Komorebi's mission: to make socially conscious jazz and soul-laced hip-hop available to the masses. "It's all a way for us to put our music out together. We've been sitting in the dark as individual solo musicians, except for when Jeff and I came together as Franco-Hill. We could either continue to make music and put it out on our social networks -- kind of shoot it out into the dark -- or we could work together so we can all help each other. It's all one cohesive thing."

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Jeffrey Hill Jr.

This "cohesive thing" explores worldwide topics of tension. "I know a lot of what music is and how we view music is creating a moment, of course, but we're looking at music more so as a form of communication," explains Franco. "We grew up listening not to beatmakers, but to Miles Davis. Musicians who understood their power as an entertainer and used that platform to talk about things that needed to be spoken about." Franco references Davis' opinions on race, which were governed by his experiences as a musician. In a 1962 article with Playboy, Davis condoned congeniality among races and presented his desire for respect to be given to non-white musicians. He condemns with reason myopic stances on race relations by turning his interview into a discussion board. This serves as an inspiration of sorts for the Komorebi musicians.

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Alexis McCoy aka Sixela Yoccm

The label, as a primarily instrumental outlet, states its case for social matters with various samples and lyrics that pin women's rights and social stratification to the sound board. As the group gears up to be among the youngest family of St. Louis music makers (average age: 22), they give a nod toward Damon Davis' imprint, Farfetched, and also note the Indyground crew. Franco is close with Davis and has recorded guitar parts for Farfetched's cross-genre Prologue collaborations. "I was there when Damon said, 'Man, I have to do this.' It is definitely inspiring to watch FarFetched over the last three years and see it become something," he says. Fullerton sneaks into the conversation as talk turns to St. Louis. "When I first met Jeff, he touched on how to him, hip-hop was creating beautiful art with limited resources. I think St. Louis has a huge part of that. There is not a lot going on, but there is a lot of space to do what you want."

Komorebi dropped its first single last Tuesday. ill Temperament's "Weak Knees" is off Homesick, which is set to drop Valentine's Day. Sixela Yoccum's album will be out in March. More music is up for grabs at Komorebi's online store. Entering "RFT" at checkout will net 50% off your entire purchase. Canny cats, huh?

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