Eman Louis released his debut EP titled “Afro Jazz Trap” this month. The project means a lot for the 28-year-old Brixton artist, who is starting to hone and become fully confident in his sound; the project celebrates his cultural heritage and parades the countries, people, and languages that have touched him.
Eman, who was born in Brixton but soon moved to Cameroon at the age four, and also spent a stint in Spain as he took part in an entrepreneurial program. “Brixton is kind of dangerous and my Mum thought Cameroon was good for me. It was sort of building my confidence in a way that Brixton couldn’t.” The artist told me, “I remember there was a robbery in my house when I was a baby. My Mum came home to find everything gone, I think that was when she realized I had a better chance in Cameroon.”
Whilst living in Cameroon, he was treated as royalty by his family, perhaps a huge telling of the untapped potential Eman has to offer. He was staying with his Grandma who had started her own real estate empire owning hotels. However, when he came back to the UK, life was much different. “In Cameroon, I was living life like The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.” He said, “I come back to Brixton and I have to watch my back everywhere fam – it was a mad contrast – that’s why I stayed in Cameroon so long.”
This experience helped shape Eman as an conversationalist and appreciator of culture. Learning both English and French to a high level, he also learnt how to interact with people from all walks of life. Developing a trademark people-person personality which charmed everyone he met.
“As this project has developed over time, because it’s taken five years to bring this together, the sound that I hear in my head started getting closer to what I was actually making in real life.”
“Afro Jazz Trap” was recorded in three languages: English, French, and Spanish. Eman sees English as a poetic language while claiming that French is the polar opposite with everyone being blunt and to the point; as for Spanish, well, Spanish is the language of love.
He projects his trilingualism through his personality in these songs. In the track Tu Veux, in French Eman sings, “all that she wants is all that I want”. While intoxicated on concept of Love, in English, Eman walks around the concept of love without directly attacking the matter at hand. While on the track “Idea of Love”,Eman switches his tongue to the English language, exploring the concept of love without directly attacking the matter at hand, singing “the love that we find in ourselves is lost in the place that we’re looking for wealth”.
Love is a key theme running through this project. One of the reasons Eman decided to flex his multilingual skills on this project was to allow more listeners to explore the concept of love with him. “Love is a universal language.” He told me, “instead of me just focusing on English, I have the ability to touch someone who understands French – even if it’s only three or four words – putting three languages on this project broadens the spectrum and brings more unity.”
Eman emphasizes that this project isn’t just about romantic love. Platonic love, toxic love, and most notably and important of them all, self-love run throughout the project. “Afro Jazz Trap” really marks the moment that the artist believed in himself.
Before releasing this project, Eman was playing with his sound without that fully fledged confidence, questioning himself if this is what he wanted to put out. He’d never heard other artists making a similar blend of jazz, trap, and African music and this meant it took a while for Louis to warm up to his own emerging sound.
“As this project has developed over time, because it’s taken five years to bring this together, the sound that I hear in my head started getting closer to what I was actually making in real life.” Eman said, “I wanted to make a sound that I like, one which suits me.”
A pivotal moment in the creation of this sound was a seven-day studio session in Cameroon with African producer and collaborator Man Like Nells.
“Man Like Nells booked a ticket to come out to Cameroon. We locked ourselves in the studio for 7 days, I was even sleeping in there. We were properly focused in there.” Eman told me, “We brought in Sango Edi & AMDI APISEH to hop on one of the tracks and they brought a new afro element while fitting in with what we were doing. We were stuck there for seven days and everything was booming outside. Bars were open so we translated that energy into the songs. Two tracks from this time made the EP, Tu Veux and Trap Makossa.”
Eman is a man who has been shaped by his experiences, the people he’s met, and the languages he spoke. Afro Jazz Trap is the sonic representation of the artist’s life. Throughout the EP he dips his lyrical toes into the water of English, French, and Spanish while he confidently navigates the fountain of love.
Listen to the full EP here.
Words by Ryan S. Gladwin.