Riding with Lewis Hamilton: Catching Up With The Minds Behind August's Most Badass Release


“The instrumental had me feeling really bad-ass.”

From the moment the bass-heavy beat drops at the start of Lewis Hamilton, we know we are in for a ride befitting the title. The track is swaggy, unapologetic, glossy with braggadocio  – delightfully audacious. We are navigated deftly through verses by Thumbs (Eugene Muthumbi) and Zeke (Ezekiel Lukhoba), and as the momentum gathers, carried on no-nonsense kick drums that give way to a grindy synth when the hook comes in, we crescendo into a heady final verse by The Diagon (Royce Bett).

Co-produced by Alice Ragoi and Eugene Muthumbi, Lewis Hamilton is not only masterfully created, but is also an example of how selecting the right elements to put together is as important as the talents behind them. I had the pleasure of interviewing Alice, Eugene, Ezekiel and Royce to hear more about what it meant to mold their individual talents together in the shape of Lewis Hamilton.  

For Alice, Eugene:

Where did the idea for Lewis Hamilton come from? What was the concept for this track?

AR: I love to experiment and channel my feelings into art. During the composition of Lewis Hamilton, I was looking for a dark, rageful kinda sound but with a hypnotic groove that hammers right into you and you just can't help but get caught  up. I would say I was heavily influenced by Kanye West's earlier discography.

EM: Alice and I have been friends for a while now and we've always shared projects and song ideas with each other, be it for feedback, or for collaboration. The idea of the track itself came to me when Alice sent me an .mp3 of the beat asking what I thought of it. The thing with the sound design on the track is that the aggressive energy jumps out at you from the word go, and you just can't ignore it. I immediately vibed with it and knew I had to write a verse for it. I asked her for the project, added a couple of elements I thought it needed, did some rough mixing and switched up the song structure a bit to fit what I had in mind better.

About the concept – the instrumental had me feeling really bad-ass. I felt like I was literally the dopest up-and-coming artist, y'know? And so I just kinda went with that vibe as I wrote my verse, and that became the template for the theme. When we met up with Zeke to record his verse, he hit me with the first two lines in the hook and I came up with the other two lines and we found that it tied with the theme really well and so we kept it.

How’d you come together with Zeke and The Diagon to make Lewis Hamilton?

AR: Eugene and I have been friends for awhile. We like to share our ideas with each other for creative input and feedback. So I sent him the track and to my surprise he liked it much more than I expected. He made a few changes to mould the song into the idea he had and called on The Diagon and Zeke to each do a verse. The post-production phase was a nice little problem to solve. We had to be careful with the mixing and mastering of the song so it didn't lose its focus; it isn't a typical hip-hop instrumental. All in all, it was a wonderful experience.

EM: I hit up Zeke and Royce because I knew they could match the energy and the vibe of the track while still staying true to their respective rap styles. I had already worked with Royce before on a track we did with Deeee called Fear and I was super impressed with what he did on that. Zeke is an old friend of mine who has been putting out dope content for a while and I knew I had to have him on the track. Both of them were down and so we just linked up as soon as we could and recorded their verses.

For Eugene, Zeke, Royce: 

What was your favourite part of collaborating with the other rappers on Lewis Hamilton?

EM: I think my favourite part of collaborating with Zeke and Royce is that they stayed true to themselves and their individuality as rappers, but at the same time were flexible enough to come together and create a cohesive song. Everyone came through with the bars to the point I still can't decide whose verse I enjoy best.

ZL: When I first heard the instrumental I got strong Watch the Throne vibes. At the time I thought Thumbs had made the track and I could tell there was a Kanye influence to it. When we met to record my verse is when I learned that it was a collaborative effort between Alice and Thumbs.

RB: My favorite part about working with everyone else on this project was the fact that it brought out my competitive side. That doesn't happen often, but once I heard the other verses, I knew I had to pull out something spectacular to match up. Also, I got to work with new and old collaborators. 

How was the process of incorporating the concept of Lewis Hamilton into your verse, especially working alongside other rappers? Did you find it easy to align your verse with the rest?

EM: Well, on whether or not I had a hard time aligning my verse with the theme of the song and the other verses, I kinda cheated on that front because I wrote my verse first and everything else kinda followed the theme that I set (lol). But I knew it was a concept the rest could relate to, and that's the main reason I hit them up.

ZL: In regards to the concept of Lewis Hamilton it came naturally. I met Thumbs and recorded my verse. I had an idea for the hook but it wasn’t completely fleshed out. Thumbs came through with the second half of the hook and we recorded it. The track dictated the direction I took with the verse. Thumbs and Royce came through with their verses as well.

RB: It was pretty easy for me to get in sync with everyone else because the beat set the tone perfectly. I was the last one to record my verse so that allowed me to tweak a few things here and there to make it fit the song.

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