Mike A. Bryan, A&E Editor
“Back making something that’ll smack in your Cadillac/back spitting all them facts” University of Missouri– St. Louis senior Alex Yentumi, also known as ZenMugen of the LOOPRAT Collective, raps on his debut solo album, “Wisdom Unlimited.”
Without a doubt, this album “smacks,” with the majority of production by fellow LOOPRAT Collective MC and producer Davie Napalm. It also has a autobiographical approach, with Yentumi’s life providing much of the material for this new work. Where most rappers brag and boast, ZenMugen keeps it real with true-to-life stories, relevant metaphors and approachable lyrics that slant toward the positive. This approach is similar to his “Full Circle” EP that was released last year, but there is one major difference between the albums — the production.
Not only does Napalm grace listeners on most of the tracks, Yentumi also worked with a producer out of Seattle that he met through a show at The Monocle, DJ Vega; a producer named Teedot Einsoff, whom he met through Instagram; Kenautis Smith, a local contact; and Ben Aronberg, who is a member of the LOOPRAT Collective as the keyboardist and goes by the moniker Thelonious. Where “Full Circle” is restrained, groovy and laid-back, “Wisdom Unlimited” is much more in-your-face, with a higher production value. As he has in the past, ZenMugen recorded at the local Suburban Pro Studios, where LOOPRAT also records.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Yentumi at Los Chaparritos on Cherokee Street last weekend, and we had a conversation about the new album and life in general. He speaks slowly, methodically, carefully considering his words before asking or answering a question. Our conversation moved unhurriedly, as Yentumi paused often when speaking. One subject that he brought up was the album art, a picture of a Buddhist statue that represents his strong connection to Mahayana Buddhism. This connection shines through in his music, espousing the ideals of patience, showing and spreading love, reversing suffering and focusing on knowledge-based love.
Other themes we discussed were investing in oneself, dealing with financial instability and the repercussions that come from it, and standing out as a true individual. Yentumi espouses these ideals in his personal life and comes across as a serious person. When he does smile, his face lights up like a candle in an inspirational and contagious manner. His music contains the same contagious manner and draws listeners in with his inspirational lyrics. Yentumi is a true writer, not only in his masterful lyricism, but also in his studies—he received an “Excellence in Writing Award” from the Pierre Laclede Honors College. He plans to graduate soon, but has had some academic setbacks that have altered his course. In the meantime, he continues to release music.
“Wisdom Unlimited” can be found on Spotify, while his debut EP, “Full Circle,” is available on Bandcamp, as is much of the rest of LOOPRAT’s work. Give a fellow UMSL student a shot and check out this album. It has a little something for everyone and you’re sure to be impressed.