Beating the ‘rapper’

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Beating the ‘rapper’

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University of Iowa sophomore Jordan Lunsford just released a song on Spotify.

By Alyssa Guzman
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University of Iowa sophomore Jordan Lunsford doesn’t want to be known as a “rapper.”

Instead, he prefers to refer to himself as a hip-hop artist.

“I have this weird thing where I really don’t like saying I’m a rapper,” he said. “There’s a weird, preconceived notion about a white college kid rapping. I usually say I’m a hip-hop artist.”

Standing more than 6 feet with bleached hair, a unique style consisting of funky T-shirts and bleached clothing items, and a backwards cap, some might be surprised to hear Lunsford has two music videos out, a song on Spotify, and a mixtape on Soundcloud under the name “Spaceman.”

Lunsford said the stage name “Spaceman” started off as a joke, but the more he used it, the more he started to like it.

“I love the concept of space,” he said. “It’s never ending, and there’s a lot of unknown, and that’s my biggest thing that I always struggle with — the unknown.”

Lunsford started his career as a hip-hop artist at age 15. He said he didn’t want people thinking he was hopping on a bandwagon.

For the next two years, Lunsford dedicated his life to studying the breadth of hip-hop music. He immersed himself in poetry and writing until he was ready to put out his first project, “A Nice Guy’s Mixtape.”

Lunsford continued to grow more serious about his hip-hop career. He realized he needed to start rapping about more personal and vulnerable things.

UI sophomore Denzell Hayes, Lunsford’s best friend since their sophomore year of high school, is usually the one who gets a sneak peek at Lunsford’s music before it’s published.

“I’ve seen him grow in the complexity in things he raps about,” Hayes said. “He has a unique sound.”

The song “Fire Escape,” which Lunsford refers to as “his baby,” was released after the publication of his first mixtape.

Lunsford said the song revealed some of the most personal parts about him, such as struggling with substance abuse and the confusion that comes with growing up.

After receiving positive feedback and more than 1,000 listens on Soundcloud, Lunsford decided to continue releasing music with a similar sound.

“Gnarly,” the song that is now on Spotify, is a result of Lunsford’s efforts to be more upbeat for his audience.

“The hook is funny, but if you listen to the lyrics, it’s me criticizing hip-hop a little bit,” he said.

Lunsford said he believes hip-hop has become super oversaturated with artists who have become “carbon copies” of the same thing. “Gnarly” addresses that issue in a way Lunsford describes as “goofy.”

The song made its way to Spotify because of Lunsford’s collaboration with UI sophomore Kole Schier.

Schier is a part of a startup record company called Bonfire Records. He made the beat for “Gnarly” and said the entire song collaboration came together “fairly quickly.”

Schier’s affiliation with Bonfire Records — which is run by him, another UI student, a University of Northern Iowa student, and two Harvard students — allowed “Gnarly” to make it to Spotify.

Along with “Gnarly” being on Spotify, it has also been made into a music video with more than 11,000 views.

Lunsford admitted to having a recurring dream that involves him walking onto a stage, being in front of a huge audience, and being taken over by the support he’s getting from the people, but he said he’s not in it for the fame.

“This is kind of stupid, but [in the dream], I sit down and say into the mike, ‘I don’t know how all of you are here. This is crazy,’ ” Lunsford said.

For him, the fame isn’t the most rewarding part — it’s that people are able to relate to his music.

“It’s the idea that this many people want to hear what I have to say and enjoy it and even relate to it,” Lunsford said.

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