“Sunshine rap” is Spokane hip-hop artist All Day Trey’s own subgenre. In his own words, it’s “all about the vibe.” When writing and recording, he “pictures somebody riding around with the windows down on a sunny day having a good time listening to my music.”
Sonically, his “sunshine rap” is composed of bright sounds and peppy beats. It makes you want to roll the windows down and take it all in. The music feels free and free-flowing, his bars cascading over the beat. But that vibe and that sound do not preclude Trey from writing songs about serious and important topics.
His upcoming album, “Stay Afloat,” will be centered around “mental health and struggling with adversities in life, and throughout all the trials and tribulation, keeping your head above water. A lot of people can identify with that after how insane and unexpected this last year was.”
Even though the album – its title seeming to fall right out of the past year – is perfectly relevant to the times, it was written, conceived and titled before the pandemic was in full swing. “I feel like the themes and the core of the project became more and more prevalent in my life,” Trey said, “as if I was writing for myself in the future.”
There is a pervasive need for accessible music about mental health. “I feel like that’s a conversation that’s important to have all the time,” he said. “I feel like people are far too private and reserved about their mental health. And they stay suffering in silence.”
Music, Trey said, can provide a voice and begin that conversation. “Me personally, I’ve struggled with mental health issues for years. And through learning how to cope with that and not being able to cope with it sometimes, and the highs and lows and everything in between, I feel like I’ve learned a lot.”
Putting his bright music out is powerful because “it could possibly help somebody, and there’s a lot out there that helped me when I was in a dark place. So, I hope that my music can do that for somebody else. That’s ultimately the goal,” he said. Trey wants to be the light.
There’s even more to Trey, though, and to the importance of his music. Trey is a queer hip-hop artist, and he’s keen on making an accepting genre out of one with a homophobic history. “There’s not a lot of queer representation in hip-hop,” he said.
“I’m actually pansexual, so that’s also a concept that not a lot of people are familiar with. But I was pretty low-key about it pretty much up until last year. I was always afraid if I was more open about that, it would hurt my chances at making it as a rapper.”
Over the past few years, though, there has been a movement among hip-hop artists to be more supportive. It helps that several of the genre’s biggest stars – Lil Nas X and Tyler the Creator come to mind – are openly queer, bringing representation to the world’s biggest stages.
“I hope that me being more open about my sexuality and staying true to myself can help other people do the same in this genre,” Trey said. Ahead of the release of “Stay Afloat,” Trey has dropped “Mochi,” a single off the project.
“Mochi” is as clear an image of sunshine rap as there could be: wavy keys, a gentle, warm intro and Trey’s low, rhythmic rap. The lyrics evoke the summer we all know is on the way. On the intro, he raps, “bad chick / low key / so sweet / mochi / ice cream / hot day …”
“Mochi” is accompanied by a music video full of character and color. “We worked with Justin Frick on the video, and Justin was so engaged.” The video is perfectly synergistic with the sound and tone of the song. “I think that one’s gonna do numbers,” Trey said. “I’d say ‘Mochi’ is a good representation of the overall sound, but there’s a lot of diversity on the project.”
For all the mental health-oriented writing Trey does, “Mochi” is a little bit lighter. “I think ‘Mochi’ is the feel-good bop of the project. It’s, you know, the romantic interest. A lot of the other songs touch more on the mental health sphere.”
Beyond variety of subject, “Stay Afloat” will feature a whole set of sounds complementary to the iconic sunshine rap. “For only being a seven-track project, we’re able to hit an awful lot of sounds and occupy a lot of space and try out a lot of different things.”
Trey is intent on using the space his music occupies for good. Ever since his first big live performance (after winning WSU’s Battle of the Bands, he opened for Mac Miller and a crowd of thousands), he’s understood the sheer power of the man with the mic: “You have so much power to control what everyone in that room is feeling.”
Where the next year will take him, we will have to wait and see. But All Day Trey is here to stay, a fresh fixture of Spokane’s ever-growing hip-hop scene. Stream “Mochi,” out now, and stay tuned for “Stay Afloat,” coming early this summer.
Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.