This isn’t the first time our readers and listeners have heard about alternative hip-hop artist Schama Noel. In fact, the name “Schama Noel” and the music attached to it have been circulating the local music scene for years now, including this homemade playlist shared with 303 Magazine in February. But today, and after nearly a decade of pursuing music professionally, Noel is celebrating his latest EP, Two Can Play That Game, which was released just last month.
From an early age, Noel knew he wanted to be an artist. He first fell in love with hip-hop music sometime around the age of seven or eight when an old babysitter played T.I., fascinated with the cadence and seeking to explore the art of lyricism. Only a couple of years later he discovered Outkast and started writing poetry himself. “By the time I was 14, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to the craft,” Noel said.
After six EP releases, Noel has now completed his seventh project, an album that was intended for his largest audience yet. Although he’s classified himself as an alternative hip-hop artist, Two Can Play That Game sees Noel switching things up to bring about a more pop-influenced sound, while still keeping true to his own sound. “I wanted to showcase my music-making ability beyond just being a great lyricist,” Noel said of his goal for the album. “This project isn’t as personal as some of my previous ones, making it more digestible to new listeners.”
An impressive trait of Noel’s is that he sets an intention when making music, and strives to keep the listeners in mind throughout the creative process. “I learned from Kanye and Kendrick to conceptualize and theme each project to give the listener a unique experience,” Noel said. He finds pride in knowing that with each project, he’s “dropped sounds completely different from each other.” He’s found a balance between constantly evolving and trying new things sonically while never straying too far from his roots.
Those roots Noel speaks of are timeless, having aged extremely well thanks to how consistently intentional he is with everything he creates. He’s simply not trying to fit into any mold or copy any specific sound from any era. “My content ranges from social justice, mental illness, success, failure, to heartbreak,” Noel said. “Things humanity seems to always be dealing with so I’m relatable to a lot of people.” By being open-minded, exploratory, curious and all-inclusive, Noel’s music speaks to listeners on a global level.