Inglewood rapper and vocalist Son Kuma is gearing up to release his new single “Good For Life.“ Complete with sunny production touches, the song reflects the exhilaration of simply being alive and opening yourself up to the good things in life. The track also serves as the title single for Son Kuma’s forthcoming debut album. The young talent first took off in 2017 with the release of his mixtape Indica, created during an academic suspension from Stanford. The mixtape soon skyrocketed to seven million streams. He followed that up with his second mixtape Sativa in 2019 and wrapped up 2020 with 2.6 million Spotify streams with listeners in 91 countries. With the pending arrival of Good For Life, those numbers only expect to grow.
We caught up with Son Kuma to talk about his upcoming track and album, riding through the rough patches, and his musical journey so far.
You’re gearing up to release the title track of your upcoming LP Good For Life. What about the track makes it a standout to you?
In my previous mixtapes I used the title track to conclude the project’s narrative. It would always be the last song on the tracklist. Honestly, I can’t fully recall what inspired this idea but It really helps me give my projects an overall vibe and destination. When crafting my projects the main question I constantly ask myself is ‘where are we headed with this one?’ And I love giving my listeners the conclusion of the story first, because it leaves a lot of room for imagination on how we get there. ‘Good For Life’ represents the destination I think most of us are really trying to get to these days — and it was honestly a thrill crafting this album to help us get there.
The song has such a joyful, positive feel to it. What keeps you feeling sunny and positive even when things are going rough (like, say, when you’re living through a pandemic)?
If I’m being honest, not much really keeps me positive during the rough patches. I still find myself in really dark places sometimes — and the past year has definitely made it more common for me to question the good in life. But what’s bizzare is these rough patches are never eternal… they flee and they fade, only to come back again, and fade once more. Life is really just one big wave. There’s highs and there’s lows, and one can’t exist without the other. The key is finding balance and showing gratitude for life itself. By embracing the wave nature of life, I’ve been able to get by the lows and enjoy the highs. The second verse of the track explains this more concisely:
“If bad visions start to head your way… lift your spirits it’s just a wave”
Artists are often influenced by their surroundings; do you feel like growing up in Southern California has influenced the way you approach music?
Totally.. A lot of the artists that initially captivated and inspired me were from SoCal. Tyler The Creator, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Earl Sweatshirt, Odd Future as a whole tbh especially Frank even though he wasn’t originally from CA … the list goes on. I didn’t start making music seriously until I went to college, which is where I met students from all over the place. So finding out that a lot of ppl didn’t bump certain songs in high school was so interesting to me. But all of those artists I mentioned cared a lot about crafting thoughtful projects. The songs were always fire by themselves, but tied together they stood for something more grand. I like writing songs but if the track isn’t contributing to something bigger, I tend to lose my excitement pretty fast.
Last month you released the official music video for “I Know.” What was your favorite part of shooting that video and what was the most challenging?
That video was so fun to shoot, it was essentially just me and my friends staying productive during quarantine. I’m blessed to be surrounded by homies that are extremely talented and love what they do. My favorite scenes to shoot were probably all the ones where I’m running with the giant check. It was just a lot of adrenaline pumping and I realized that I liked acting! It’s hella fun to pretend like I’m a character in a crazy story in order to get the best performance for the video. The most challenging part was probably the editing.. so shoutout Punya Visuals cus he snapped.
How do you feel your sound and/or production has developed since releasing Indica back in 2017?
I feel like my sound has been constantly changing with every track. I’ve always needed the process of writing a new song to be exciting and the easiest way of achieving that typically involved me searching for a new vibe. Even if the vibe wasn’t totally “new” in the grand scheme of music, as long as it was new for me and I could put my own spin on it then it was exciting. So this journey from Indica to Good For Life has truly been a roller coaster for my day one supporters.. but the overall quality has only increased and I keep getting better with time.
You’ve had the unique experience of attending Stanford. What advice would you give to young musicians who are perhaps struggling between following their musical aspirations or going to college? Do you view those two paths as dichotomous?
The only advice I feel I have the right to give anyone is simply to follow their passion. What is your life’s destination? What drives your passion? If you’re going to college in order to get a high-paying job then I hope money is what brings you happiness. And I don’t mean that in a negative way because I know a lot of folk who go to college in order to get their family out of poverty. I think college is a valuable experience for discovering yourself, but I do think it has a way of sucking the imagination out of people. It puts people in boxes called majors and limits creativity. I originally wanted to go to college to learn physics but I got distracted and ended up learning about myself. If part of your life’s goal requires college then ideally do music while attending school. But at the end of the day, life isn’t a race. We can all go at our own pace and with proper planning and dedication, still accomplish multiple life goals.
If there’s one message you hope listeners take away from your music, what would it be?
There are no coincidences in life so we all end up exactly where we are supposed to be. Thanks for following my journey and I hope it can inspire and teach.
“Good For Life” will be streaming everywhere on February 18th. Pre-save the track here.