Everything got a little weirder after iLoveMakonnen arrived—at least, that’s how it felt when he dropped his song “Tuesday” in 2014. A druggy, trappy, trippy party anthem, the song blew up immediately and was remixed by Drake within weeks. Makonnen sounded like a cartoon crossed with an opera singer, all with a rapper’s sensibility and style. It was a borderless approach he picked up as a child in Los Angeles, trekking from house to house in a dangerous neighborhood and soaking up local rap, Aaliyah, and Shania Twain. Born in L.A. in 1989, Makonnen Kamali Sheran moved to Atlanta in 2001 with his mother. There, he saw the rise of trap and developed a writing interest of his own, working on records with his mother and starting up a music blog. Linking with the rising producer Sonny Digital, he put out his first music, which garnered tremendous interest and culminated in his 2014 debut EP I LOVE MAKONNEN, released through Drake’s OVO Sound. But Makonnen never felt comfortable in the spotlight, and as he retreated from the major label circuit into his own world, his music got stranger and more daring. His Drink More Water series contains some of his most bubbly and joyous work to date—hodgepodges of punk and trap, pop and emo that made possible the wave of emo rap that dominated SoundCloud in the second half of the 2010s. He may not have become the star that Drake was banking on, but whenever Makonnen releases music, just know he’s a couple steps ahead of the game.
HOMETOWNLos Angeles, CA
BORNApril 12, 1989