Joseph Williams, known as Sefu (seh-foo), always had a creative expression toward exploring the truths of his identity and community. When dealing with his emotions and experiences living in Houston, the rapper shared that music allowed him to escape from his memories or the social pressures that Black men often face. “Music makes me feel like I’m in a different world sometimes. It makes me feel like I’m on top of the world, and sounds make me feel whole,” he said.
“My will and desire to be an artist is because it’s a lifestyle. When you are put in a certain mindset and live in it and stand by it, you’re an artist. Regardless of whether your art is considered good or bad or successful, you won.”
His musical influences always stem from him being surrounded by Black music in his home state of Texas. “I feel like with Black kids, that’s the first music they hear anyways, so I was already listening to old classics; my mom was around 42, and my dad was around 50, so when I was like four years old, remembering songs that were my only influence. When I got a phone, I started going on Youtube and learning what people our age thought of our music. Even my samples people can see it and feel that,” Williams shared.
Williams is no stranger to creating distinct, emotionally powerful tracks. “When I make music, I have to be in the moment. Most of the time, I’m by myself, and it’s just off of like a song I’ve heard, and I’m just sitting here doing nothing like I have to make something…somebody out there made this, and I’m just sitting here listening to it, and I have the position to do something better.”
Williams’ music embodies many aspects of alternative hip-hop and jazz rap. “In terms of the music I make, it’s abstract expressionist, so people will naturally see a big canvas… it’s a lot of things I take into consideration when I make music. I am intentional with everything because I know as a consumer how I view other artists and how I put them under a microscope,” Williams described. “So if I do that, I’ll be on my p’s and q’s with the music that I drop and quote on quote paintings that I’m talking about. But, the Abstract expressionist is saying Pan-Africanism and being from Texas because people don’t know about that for real.”
Williams uses vivid imagery to describe his painful memories by creating a dialogue with himself, known as “the character.”
“It was an album about grief and heartbreak, but glimpses of triumph throughout, but you can tell that our main character is definitely struggling. He’s trying to distract himself with his music, but he doesn’t realize that’s just pouring into his music,” he said.
With this 42-minute album “The Sword Drew Blood,” Williams shared that he hoped to show his production and mixing mastering skills. “It was almost like a polishing album, as an ending of an era album to show you that okay, the next thing that I move on to is to have these elements. I feel like people will go back to this, it’s not going to be something that immediately strikes everybody, and that’s fine.
When I’m gone, I want people to feel like I was like this…I don’t want to be liked or anything. I just simply want to have my visions impacted, and everyone can interpret however they want to interpret it,” he said.
“In listening to ‘Let’s Dance’ on Sefu’s latest album, ‘The Sword Drew Blood,’ I was put on a roller coaster of emotions. He puts many things into perspective in his music that easily could relate to the audience. I even felt better when hearing that we faced similar challenges in our lives. His mentality of pushing through gives me the much-needed confidence to do the same.” freshman electrical engineering major Justin Smith said.
Samira El-Amin, a freshman political science major, articulates the immediate connection to the mesmerizing cover art and euphonious tunes.
“As soon as I was sent this song, the first thing I noticed was the cover art, and how it was a face that was blurry made me interpret it in different ways,” El-Amin said. “ From the jump of the song, I absolutely loved the introduction, and once the artist started singing, the way he described things made me feel what he was feeling…Throughout the song, I felt like I was put into the artist’s shoes, which allowed me to understand what they were going through. I think I would definitely listen to this artist again in the future.”
Williams emphasized that this masterpiece of profound pivotal moments in his life will provide the next album an inside look towards a new lesson in his life, as well as songs to get his listeners excited.
While Williams is growing his fanbase and streams, he emphasized admiration in creating for the people and his community. “Doing more shows for me, where is Sefu and maybe these two people… I want to be strictly for the art, like show up to the Sefu show. I want to have shows and interactive art.”
Copy edited by Jasper Smith