If you’re wondering where these new rappers are getting their dark, melodic trap flows from, look no further than UnoTheActivist. Hailing from the Southside of Atlanta, the singer, rapper, and producer exploded onto the rap scene as one of the OGs of the SoundCloud era, carving out his own lane, sound, and vibe that fans can’t get enough of.
What fuels Uno’s music is his spirituality and deep outlook on life, all of which spills through his lyrics and everyday life. His name “Activist” actually represents his purpose in spreading truth and positivity to the masses, allowing them to see things from a different perspective than what’s taught in the textbooks.
In 2017, Uno released his critically-acclaimed mixtape Live.Shyne.Die, and has consistently followed it up with endless bangers. Boasting 389K followers on Instagram alone, his love for music and feeding his fans does not go unnoticed — and now he finally unleashes his debut studio album, 8. The significance in the title is the infinity sign, meaning Uno’s music will live on forever.
Flaunt Mag caught up with UnoTheActivist at the Kandypens house in Los Angeles to discuss the new project, having synesthesia while recording the album,
What made you want to get into production?
Producers be trying to charge a bag. If I start making beats, I’ma really charge a bag. I make beats for my own music. I co-produced 3 songs on the album [“Miss Me,” “Double Back,” and “Ew“]. We really tryna get a check from that shit. [laughs]
Are your beats good?
They’re getting up there. Listen to them and you tell me.
What other producers did you work with on the album?
I worked with one other person: Julia Lewis.
He’s from the Bay, how did that happen?
I honestly don’t know. Remember when we got those 2 producer texts, back to back? [to manager] We all thought Julia was a girl. He had this little set up at his crib, it’s dope. It’s the vibe, I go over there. He actually doesn’t live too far from me. I’m in between Burbank and North Hollywood, right on the border.
Live.Shyne.Die was a huge project for you, did you feel pressure at all having to top that?
Nah, I’m not trying to top any of my other shit. I’m trying to put music out whatever I’m feeling at the time. I’m not in competition with my other projects. They’re all one huge project because they all go into each other, continuation type shit.
How do you feel now that 8 is out? The fans have been waiting on it.
The fans have been going crazy, they’ve been bugging me for I don’t know how long. I’m so joyous right now the shit’s actually out. I know the fans are saying they can’t believe this motherfucker’s coming out, it’s happening.
This is your debut album right?
This is my debut album and it’s low-key charting too.
What’s the significance in the cover art?
That’s me coming into myself, that’s why the little me is golden. This is me stepping up and shining the light on people, I’m on some Avatar shit. When y’all needed him most, he came back and saved the world.
Everyone who fucks with you knows you’re deep. Talk about each song having a different color and chakra.
When I was doing the livestream, I wanted people to really feel the vibe with how I was feeling. Not necessarily saying those are the colors I had when I created the song but when I heard the beat, I was seeing colors. They call it synesthesia. When I hear music, I see colors. I gave off the colors to my emotions I was feeling at the time, they represent different things. You got orange, violet, red, blue, green, yellow, those all represent 7 different portals in your chakras. Creating those songs, I was opening and unlocking those different portals.
You say “repent everyday to stay pure,” do you pray daily?
I actually do. I pray over my food. It’s really me being connected with the higher [power]. Everybody doesn’t believe in God, but some people believe in a higher power. Some people are really connected with the universe. Getting in tune with that every day keeps me on track.
What do you pray for?
I repent. I say what I want. I guess I pray to stay on the right path. I really repent, that’s the most important thing. I don’t want to go to sleep thinking about some old shit.
Was it hard to narrow it to 18 songs?
It was very hard because originally, I had 21. It was even hard to narrow it down to 21. Every artist I see has 25 songs on there. I had to narrow mine down to 18, keep it short and sweet for them.
What song means the most to you?
I’d have to say “Devil On Yo Right Shoulder.” When I was making that song, I felt I was going into a past life. Like I was born in the 80’s, or made that song in the 90’s. I was really inside the bag when I made that song.
On “Das Him,” you talk about dropping LSD. What world do you enter on psychedelics?
I enter my world. I live in that world permanently now. It’s not for everybody, you really have to be a strong-minded person to try to venture off. I’m not trying to convince anybody to do that shit but when I do it, I’m moving with the trees.
What do you like to do when you trip?
I like to make music. Actually “Mo Money,” I was crossed. I’m on the tab to get me up and I’m on the drank to keep me down, I’m leveled. That’s why “Mo Money” sounds so psychedelic. I knew that was hard when I made it.
How was linking with Ty$ on “Can’t Go” at his house on Christmas?
That’s genuinely what happened. We linked up at his house on Christmas, got high as fuck with his whole family. 24 [Hrs] was there with his family, shit was cool. I brought my little brother, it was lit. The man’s whole family gets big high, I rocked with it. He’s talking about “yeah we cooking.” I’m thinking they got chicken in there. We went in there, it was straight sides. That man’s vegan. Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, all that good shit. [laughs]
How did you and Calboy connect?
We were talking on Instagram, he sent me his number. I was in the studio, told him “I’m finna send you something.” I went crazy on that shit, sent it to him and he sent it right back. That shit was locked in, he a real n*gga. We met at a couple festivals.
Is there somebody you want to work with, who you haven’t yet?
Probably Swae Lee. I fuck with Swae.
You had a picture of Max B at your crib, you fuck with him?
I got in tune with him when I was 20, 4 years ago. I was hanging with some New York n*ggas, this man’s a real trendsetter. When I really started getting in tune with what he did, his influence, the way he be living, I’m rocking with that. I put him there because every time I’m doing something fire, I’m making him proud. Free my boy. He the wave and I’m the wave, it goes hand in hand.
How would you describe your fashion?
I dress how I want to dress. If I see something I like, I’ma put the shit on. I’m not putting no corny shit on. Fashion’s all about how you put it together. It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear the shit. I have a natural touch with clothes. I never really studied how people rock their clothes, I know how I want to look. I’m on some Japanese streetwear, skater, punk rock, thug, trap n*gga shit. All in one.
What’s up with the tape with Travis Barker?
That’s a question for Travis Barker. I’m ready. We’ve been working on this shit, but Corona slowed it down. We’re still giving it to them, but he’s the man with the plan.
What’s the first thing you’re doing when the world opens back up?
I’m leaving the country. I’m going anywhere but here. First place I want to go is Paris. I want to go to London fasho.