At only 25, Jared Young—better known in Columbus as the emcee Path or “Producing All the Hits”—has already gone there and back as far as a career in music is concerned. As half of Alleyes Path, the group he formed with Alleyes Manifest, the beats peaked about four years ago when the duo were a “band to watch” and the bonkers backpack rap they created together was booming. They unceremoniously split in 2012 just after releasing their debut album, but Young was determined that his destiny as an artist was unfulfilled. He moved on and started the solo life. A shift was eminent.
“In 2014 I moved to L. A.,” Young says. “It was always my dream to pursue my music. I went to school for marketing and I wanted to work in the industry for some powerhouse corporation like Warner Bros. or Sony. One day I just packed up my Civic and took off across the country. I had no job or place to live out there, but at that particular moment I had a confidence and belief in myself that things would work out.”
Indeed, Young found that dreams could become reality. He began assisting on sessions with a reputable producer at a major studio, worked with Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak label where he received training in the “business,” and found himself dabbling in other genres and with songwriters outside of his comfort zone. But quickly he realized just how tough a trade it is in Hollywood. Plus, the homesickness. Hollywood was a strange place. Hence the double meaning of Unfamiliar Homes, the new record he started writing in California. By the time he moved back to Columbus, his hometown seemed just as foreign.
“The record is really about me being a little lost,” Young says of the scope for Unfamiliar Homes. “It’s about trying to find a place of, not happiness, but of belonging. I was missing my support system and as much as I wanted that career out there, here you can still pursue your dream and buy a house and plan a future.”
Unfamiliar Homes is not a record built on regret or resentment, though. There are no tales of hard times heading home tail between his legs. Instead there’s an unbounded positivity in “Cloudy Mornings” and the stand-out “Forgiveness,” as if Young is flashing the peace sign to the universe in every couplet. Endless waves of gratitude and inspiration thrown by Young towards the obstacles and challenges of the past half-decade—no mud, no lotus, man.
What was gleaned from Los Angeles is evident in Young’s decision to write, play, and produce the entirety of Unfamiliar Homes. It’s not that he abandoned the eccentric quirk of Alleyes Path’s uncanny hip-hop, but it has been transformed into mainstream sweeps of strings, piano melodies, and samples of Hot Chip. Nor is it commercial. What may throw listeners off is that it is current. As a student of hip-hop since he was 15, Young has absorbed a bit of everything, from Kanye’s grandeur to Eminem’s gritty confessions, the thoughtful breeze that defined ’90s G-funk and the strange ambience that pervades trap music in the ’10s. The b-boy bouillabaisse is strong on this record…
“The record is really about me being a little lost. It’s about trying to find a place of, not happiness, but of belonging. I was missing my support system and as much as I wanted that career out there, here you can still pursue your dream and buy a house and plan a future.”
… but so is his mental fortitude. Where once Young was dominated by a “party influence,” he’s now more “cautious” and “real.” Unfamiliar Homes is not completely staid and strictly serious. It’s loads of fun, poppy even, especially when Young invites in some guests, Lev Don and Nes Wordz, on “Starchaser,” or acknowledges the debauchery of Hotlanta on “Flowers and Syrup.” Still, it’s hard not to see Young’s journey in song as a symbol of growing up.
“My mom and I were just talking about how angry of a kid I was and how music really calmed me down,” Path says on the redeeming qualities of hip-hop in his life. “At first I was an angry suburban punk with a lot of pent-up anger, but soon I started skateboarding, and that led to hip-hop, and eventually I wasn’t even skateboarding because I would stay home and make beats.”
At the very least, Unfamiliar Homes is a testament to hard work and perseverance paying off in the end. •
For music and more information on Path visit path614.com.