Salomon Faye

The title of his new, self-released EP might be King Salomon, but Salomon Faye swears he’s done taking himself so seriously. “I’m making a transition,” says the 24-year-old rapper, whose 2015 song “Black Power” was a powerful meditation on awakening political consciousness in the Black Lives Matter age. These days, he’s focusing more on the unifying force of rhythm and groove, which is why, he says, the new songs “will resonate with everyone regardless of whether they’re interested in hearing what I have to say. You’ve got to figure out that nice balance.”

Born in Paris and raised in Harlem, where he now resides, Faye grew up surrounded by music: his Senegalese father is a drummer and electronic musician, and his African-American mother was a singer who studied composition at Berklee College of Music. But it was on a trip to France at the age of 15 when his passion became a career prospect. There, he met Jazzy Bazz and Esso of the rap group Cool Connexion and was featured on their track “I Speak Hip-Hop,” which, he says, “really planted the seed.”

Soon after graduating from high school, Faye decamped to Bed-Stuy and Bushwick and immersed himself in the underground Brooklyn hip-hop scene, collaborating with the genre-bending collectives Illuzion and Ratking. By 2015, he had struck out on his own, releasing his break-out Stimulation EP and attracting enough attention to land a modeling gig for Nigo’s first collaboration with Adidas. Faye continues to pursue modeling work, which, in his Zen way of looking at the world, he sees as part of a “constant finding and losing of the self.” He adds, “It’s just going through phases. You see cats like Kanye or A$AP Rocky: they get in the door with one thing, but then they become everything else.”