New & Next: Adrian Marcel Captured The Sound Of Oakland

Photo by Stefanie Richardson
It took a hit song to make Marcel realize that it was time he played by his own rules.

Adrian Marcel’s debut album GMFU, or Got Me F—ked Up, dropped back in April, and for fans, it’s a return to the Marcel they were first introduced to.

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The Oakland-native released his first mixtape, 7 Days of Weak, back in 2013, following it up with another, Weak After Next. But his biggest hit would be 2014’s “2AM,” a track with Sage the Gemini that Marcel has mixed feelings about.

Speaking with ESSENCE, Marcel says that at the time there were hits from artist’s like Ty Dolla $ign that were similar to “2AM." 

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"I'm listening to Ty Dolla $ign ‘Paranoid' and in my mind I'm thinking, 'Why would we do something that he's doing? Why would we do something that Omarion's already doing? Why would we do things that these people, these artists, are already doing?’," he says. "Then that throws me in the trend. It's an uphill battle. Now I'm fighting the current. You know what I mean? Or, better yet, I'm going with the current, and I don't know where the current's going.”

"It was a problem of me just being, where I'm from, Oakland, we come from a certain sound. Sonically, we come from a certain culture, a certain way we move, a certain way that we flow with. For that song [2AM], to me, it just didn't have that appeal. It wasn't the best. It wasn't Oakland to me.”

However, after a period of isolation, Marcel found his way back to that Oakland sound thanks to his Grammy Award-winning mentor Raphael Saadiq, who helped him clear his mind and borrow his studio.

"Raphael called me and was like, 'Yo, you need to come down to L.A. and talk it up with me," he says. "He really kicked it off because he had me come down. I met him at the beach at Santa Monica. We sat out there and we just chopped it up by the water,” Marcel says.

During this discussion, Saadiq handed Marcel the keys to his studio, where the singer spent two weeks getting back to his roots, recording songs that reflected the kind of artist Marcel hopes to be.

"We had rooms just going. There was a writing room, there was a production room, there was the recording room. We were recording three and four songs a day. It was just like that flow was coming back because it was fun and that's what happened." 

Now, firmly in charge of his own destiny and sound, Marcel has dropped an album that feels like a return to “7 Days of Weak,” his old Oakland sound. Marcel has plans to release a few videos and hit the road later to tour the US, making sure to show Oakland some love.

"I was missing the fun," he says about his journey in the business. "I was so drugged into the B.S., that goes in with the industry, the politics —and I lost it. To sit there in that [recording] room and do what I used to do back in the day, back in high school, back in just them old days. Just have fun with people who just wanted to have fun, too. We came out with great music." 

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