Finally, a taste of paradise
After three EPs, local rapper Kevin Lester finally releases a full-length album, Paradise
Local rapper Kevin Lester balances career, marriage and fatherhood just like any other family man in Singapore.
Starting a family has not slowed him down.
Instead, the 32-year-old, who goes by the moniker The Lion City Boy, soldiers on and is finally releasing his first full-length nine-track album, Paradise, on Aug 26 on all digital platforms.
He also held a private album-listening party at Zouk Singapore last Saturday.
Lester already has three EPs: Let's Talk About Kevin Lester (2010), Everything You Love, You Hate (2013) and Put Your City On (2014).
But Paradise, which took six to seven months to record, is his "first serious project".
He told M last week: "I've always been releasing singles here and there - that's how I sort of went through the music scene.
"I didn't feel like I wanted to write an album then.
"But maybe because it was SG50 and I was involved in a lot of festivals and shows last year, there was this momentum with the listeners and it made me want to write something."
Lester said he has evolved as an artist over the years and listeners will get to know him better after listening to Paradise.
"Those EPs were still about me trying to figure out my sound," he explained.
"It was only in the last few years that I sort of discovered my sound, my language, the things I want to talk about."
FAMILY MAN: Kevin Lester with wife Aarika Lee and their children.
Yaya, the first single off Paradise, is "loosely inspired" by his wife of three years, Ms Aarika Lee.
They met when the 33-year-old marketing director and copywriter at local marketing agency Elementary Co was the lead singer of local rock and hip-hop group Sixx, which disbanded in 2012.
Lester was Sixx's lead rapper.
The couple have a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son.
Lester said: "The song isn't directly about my wife. It's not so literal.
"Everybody has a muse and she's mine.
"The song is based on the idea that we all sort of chase after that one kind of partner, we all like one kind of person, how you don't necessarily like the kind of girl who is too cutesy, but one who's a bit rough around the edges."
When asked why he chose Yaya as the lead single, Lester said: "To me, it's a song that will resonate with everyone and there's a play on the colloquial phrase 'yaya papaya' (cocky).
"So I thought it would be great to introduce the album with a song like that."
Lester, who worked as a marketing manager in an IT company before quitting in 2010 to focus on music full-time, admitted there is always the pressure to do well to support his young family, but that's not why he wants people to buy his music.
"You be part of my journey because you like my music and my story, but don't mix the two together," he said.
"I'm very lucky to have Aarika in my life, we are a team. Together with what she's doing and what I'm doing, we juggle and we're building this life for ourselves."
Lee sings on the track Decorate, the couple's first collaboration since their time together at Sixx.
LAUNCH: Lester at Paradise's private album-listening party at Zouk Singapore.
Paradise also features other local artists like The Sam Willows' Benjamin Kheng, Gentle Bones and Charlie Lim.
Lester said: "It's a small and united scene, you always see familiar faces at different gigs.
"I was very surprised when they jumped on board my album because they're very busy and are already celebrated in their own ways.
"Some of the collaborations turned out to be my favourite songs from the album."
The only other prominent English-language hip-hop artist in Singapore is Shigga Shay, but Lester doesn't see him as a rival.
"We are all very unified in a way that we all see the bigger picture, we all realise that we need each other more than we don't," said Lester.
"It helps build a scene and conversation about hip-hop itself.
"I've always seen him as someone who pushes me, like a sparring partner. But it's all love."