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Armani White is Keeping His Glass Half-Full

The Philly rapper talks us through his new EP, creating uplifting soundtracks for people to consume, and learning to take moments to feel himself.

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“I can only make happy music when I’m sad,” Armani White tells me over a Zoom call. With where he is at that now, you can only imagine the strife that has led to the success he’s shining within today. 

Happiness is a large component of Armani White’s music. Bass-heavy beats pulsate, feeling ready for arenas around the world. He raps with an animated delivery, bound to incite the ascent of crowds. Almost every experience he provides is undeniably hype, a factor that for sure led to the online virality of his track ‘BILLIE EILISH’. For Armani, creating uplifting music is second nature. When things are looking bad, he remembers when times were good, and channels that within the studio. Every song he creates is a map to get back to that feeling.

Armani White’s latest EP Road to CASABLANCO feels like a pivotal moment in his journey. It consists of the bangers he’s become known for, while also showcasing a more vulnerable side on tracks like ‘PROUD OF ME.’ It puts his versatility on full display, where he sounds like a club emcee on one track and delves into conscious soliloquies on another. In celebration of the project, Armani White talked me through his creative process, ability to always look forward, and emphasis on creating ‘happy healing music’.

Armani White! Congrats on the new project. How are you feeling about the release?
I’ve been feeling good. I’ve been running around since it came out. Usually, I’m the type of dude to sit at the computer trying to make the music reach specific people. But this time I’ve been outside and doing a lot of things like interviews. I just went to Times Square to look at my billboards and stuff. I started to feel like I was running around too much, so recently I took a moment to hide under my covers [Laughs]

That leads me to the intro of this project ‘PROUD OF YOU.’ Where your grandma tells you to get some rest. Do you feel like you’ve been able to rest recently?
You know, she recently came around for Mother’s Day, and I cooked for her. That was a good reminder to at least get a little. 

Do you feel like you need to get more rest overall?
I feel like I often have this idea in my head that whenever I’m sleeping, somebody is awake doing something, so I should be too. It’s like I’m racing, and if I stop and rest, someone is going to cross the finish line. That shit keeps me up at night. 

Do you feel as if there is a time when you’re able to switch your mind off from work?
Yeah, I feel like that is way more important than sleep for me. There are times when I need to do nothing and switch my brain off by just playing a game or watching Dragonball Z or something. 

On ‘PROUD OF ME.’ You rap “You live life through a mirror, then you’ll do everything backwards.” How did you learn that?
I think I learnt that by doing so many things and living so many lives. Every day is an opportunity to create so many memories. If I’m reflecting on those memories all day, that means I’m taking some time out of actually living. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to reflect, but if you do it too much, you’re preventing yourself from making more memories overall. 

Do you feel like you’re able to take moments to be proud of yourself?
That’s what I kind of used ‘PROUD OF ME.’ for. I love myself, I think I’m fucking perfect, but I’m always looking at the big picture. Like before I hit the peak of a goal I’ve made for myself, I’m already looking for a new mountain to climb. Writing this song was the first time I was able to sit down and acknowledge all the cool shit I’ve done already, so that was a cool learning experience for me. 

Before, you referenced having lived multiple lives. What is the common thread that has linked them all together?
Music has honestly always been the common thread because it’s been the thing that’s accompanied me in everything that I do. Whether it was back when I was a kid in the neighbourhood fighting, or a party promoter hanging up flyers, music was always there for me. There’s a level of resilience and fearlessness that came from those past lives, that I’m able to incorporate into my career now.

You’ve described music as the soundtrack to life before. What do you want people to feel with the soundtrack you’re offering them on this project?
My main thing is that I want to create happy healing music. I want people to find a reason to be happy when my songs are playing. I think I create glass-half-full music, because I grew up in a way where we didn’t have everything, so we had to make do with what was available to us. I feel like that’s the perfect way to describe it because no matter what was going on, we were finding a way to be content. 

When the glass is half full, you can fill up the rest of it with whatever you want.
Exactly! When the glass is half full, you can use your imagination to fill up the rest with whatever you want. 

Hearkening back to those times when you had to strategise for this career that wasn’t a reality yet, what is it about you that you think finds happiness in places where it doesn’t exist?
Honestly, I don’t think happiness has ever been an issue for me. Also, I feel like I’ve always felt a level of success all throughout my life, just maybe not to the heights they’re at now. I think focusing on creating happy music allows me to pull myself out of those dark times when they linger. When things are bad, I can think of a time when things were good, and work out a map to get back to that feeling. 

With every release, you seem to have strategised a plan to help it perform the best it can. How do you balance that aspect with spontaneity in the studio?
When I create music, I just let it be whatever it’s going to be. The aspects of strategy or media coverage aren’t considered in the studio. The plans and strategies don’t come until after the song is made, so that’s how I think you keep the balance. We make the music first, and everything else comes afterwards. 

When a song goes viral, I feel like it can be tempting to try and chase that again. Do you think trying to recreate moments is a mistake?
For sure, because it’s never going to be the same thing. The best thing you can do is just go into the studio and have fun, regardless of whether a song works or not. 

Lastly, what do you have planned for the rest of 2023?
This project was the road to CASABLANCO, so CASABLANCO itself is what I’m working on this year. Also, I’m not going back into the house for the rest of the year. I’m going to travel and connect with the people who are rocking with this music. We’re coming down under, we’re going to Africa, we’re going global.

Follow Armani White here for more and stream the new project ROAD TO CASABLANCO here.

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