Elijah Kessler has had a connection to rap music since the day he was born. His actual first name, Mason, was given to him by his mother in tribute to the 90s superstar rapper Mase. Although this auspicious beginning may have foretold his future, Elijah didn’t actually start rapping himself until he turned 8. After absorbing some of the sounds that he heard on his mother’s car stereo, the inspired young Elijah began attempting to write rhymes. He remembers one early foray when, after hearing Eminem on the radio, he hurried home and excitedly wrote a rap about a cat chasing a mouse. As he continued to explore this newfound mode of expression, his subject matter soon turned more personal. By the age of 10, Elijah was already grappling with difficult personal subjects including an alcoholic mother and an absent biological father. Even at that young age, he began to find solace in musical expression amidst a somewhat unstable home life. Elijah began singing to himself constantly throughout the day and night, a habit that he carries to this day.
As his childhood became his teenage years, Elijah continued to find a sense of personal expression in music, but he mostly kept this hobby private. He almost quit rapping altogether when a teammate on his high school football team exposed him as the talent behind an anonymous YouTube channel. Elijah’s creative spark wasn’t reignited until he was sent off to boarding school and befriended Aidan Peterson. Peterson had his own project–he released electronic music as Instupendo and had been garnering some acclaim. Through the remainder of their highschool years, Elijah and Instupendo spent much of their time collaborating and putting track after track on Soundcloud. It was at this point that Elijah’s career experienced a true turning point – Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi found one of his songs and immediately reached out to see if Elijah would be interested in working together.
That initial exchange between Bear and a teenaged Elijah would turn out to be the beginning of a collaboration that would unfold over the course of the next 5 years. During that time, Elijah graduated high school and moved to Miami for college. His day-to-day life at this time was largely occupied by classes, relationships, soccer, video games, and anime. But between college semesters, Elijah would make trips to meet up and work with Bear in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, or New York. On each of these respective trips, Elijah found himself feeling a new spark of inspiration, as the cities themselves unlocked his sense of wide eyed imagination. During these sessions, Elijah’s constant practice would make itself evident, as his knack for improvisationally writing hooks in the studio became abundantly clear. Along the way, several other producers became involved in the project, including Nosaj Thing and Elijah’s early collaborator Instupendo. These intermittent sessions would eventually coalesce into Elijah’s debut album, LIGHTSPEED.