Cover Story #2 | Moses & Aaron: Learning Death from a Brother’s Perspective

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You sometimes have to wonder, how did Aaron feel about Moses?

I mean we’re already told that Moses himself was hesitant, was Aaron? Did Aaron have to motivate him? Aaron was the factor that made Moses more comfortable with going to speak to Pharaoh, considering (he thought) Aaron could speak better than himself, particularly on what God wanted him to say. Maybe it’s just the comfort of having a big brother there that made Moses see the path a bit clearer, but maybe it’s the knowledge of seeing his younger brother so moved and in tune with the spirit that kept Aaron on his game.

Wow.

Even while writing these words, the comparisons drawn between Aaron and Moses and my younger brother Roti (Rootsta) and myself (Teelow) are kinda crazy, not just relating to the ‘You Don’t Know.‘ album but in our lives as well. But I’m gonna talk about the album.

Absolutely anyone who knows my background in faith knows that my ‘favourite’ story/person in the Bible bar The Gospel is Moses. Not just the Exodus but all the Israelites travels from Egypt, through the wilderness and to the edge of the promised land. So this may be my default referencing point for a lot of the things I see and experience in my life. But it’s only through doing this project have I really noticed the relationship between Aaron and Moses, due to the relationship between Executive Producer and Artist/Producer.

Let me give a bit of background first. Roti ‘Rootsta’ Awojobi is my 15 year old younger brother, and we’re the middle children of 4 boys, both Christians, both do music and sound exactly the same (you can tell if you listen to the skits). I have a running joke with him, which he doesn’t like, that he copies me in everything I do, more so than myself with my older brother. So when it does come to music, we’re into a lot of the same stuff, and when I found out he was secretly making beats on the same online program I was using some 6 years ago, I was heated because he was copying me again. But at that time in 2009, we’d just started, there was only 4 of us (Gian, Andi, Zani & myself), and after a while I began to think that, “Hey, another member to produce for us can’t be that bad”.

Now, we’ve always had a musical relationship not dissimilar to Q-Tip & Phife Dawg, in that though we’ve always been close in our teenage years, it’s always been a case of me pulling him in to make beats, pulling him to come to perform, pulling him to come and master sessions. And that’s how it should be, I’m his older brother. But that can be a struggle after a while, and almost always builds some sort of resentment on someone’s side; you see the other as either lazy or bossy. These are symptoms we both fell subject to, right around the end of promo for Lost Angels at the start of this year.

The general consensus in our camp was, “This year your doing your album”. And both Roti and I were cool with that; we worked very well together on the tour last summer and on the Lost Angels album. But as the days turned to weeks and months, and surprisingly few tracks were done, the relationship began to revert. Now, bare in mind, I was still in my first year of uni, so it would seem that any time I’d be speaking to him, it’d be like “I need more beats”. I could tell how frustrating that was for him, but from my perspective, he wasn’t working. I’d come home after a month away and he wouldn’t have enough. That resentment began to rise.

“I could tell how frustrating that was for him, but from my perspective, he wasn’t working.”

Man, God is good, because in those first three months, the concept we had didn’t seem to be working for either of us, and it was just making us more annoyed with each other. But He had a plan, because as it turns out at some point in early April during a session, he suddenly said he wanted to change the concept.

“Why?”

“I don’t know, it seems like we can’t do enough for this one.”

“We’ve already started this one Roti, and we’re so behind where we should be.”

“Yeah, but I wanna do something else.”

“Right well what do you want it to be about?”

“Death.”

Death. This kid is 15.

“Why?”

“I don’t know, it’s something we all know is gonna happen, we’re all scared of it but no one talks about it.”

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever actually had a light bulb moment, or if you’ve had a time where everything all of a sudden clicks into place, and I don’t know if I had before that moment, but when I tell you that everything made sense as soon as he said that, I mean that to the 100th power. You would think the tracks we worked on then would’ve been scraped, but that’s where God revealed His plan in the album because around 5 of the tracks for the album were recorded before the concept of death came into play, but they all fit perfectly. In fact, I challenge anyone to pick them out.

Now, just because we now seemed to be on the same page doesn’t mean it was going to be smooth sailing from then on. But this is where the idea of Moses & Aaron began to seep into my subconscious, because I really had to humble myself. I’m older than him, and I’ coming off producing 12 of the 15 tracks on Lost Angels and being on all of those tracks, having things done specifically my way because I was given the vision for that particular project. Being a Nigerian Christian, birth right is huge, so I kinda expected to have a similar sort of role on this project as Exec. Producer, just of the strength that I’m older than him. But no, that wasn’t the case because it’s his album, and, more importantly, it’s him who was given the vision for this project. It’s him that said “Let’s do the album about death”. And that came from him being in tune with God at a time where I couldn’t see that. And that’s not due to a lack of faith on my part, but with God’s planning and reasoning at that particular time, which no one can question because the outcome was outstanding!

I really started to look at Aaron and the concept of the birthright in that time as well, and draw comparisons between him and myself (which in itself was tough as I love Moses so much). On top having two younger siblings (same as me), Aaron was of a Levite family, a family of priests. Pretty much anything he said would’ve been thought to have been God’s word, because that was his family’s role in Israel. And he was also a great speaker (By no means am I saying I’m a great speaker or rapper, but I definitely enjoy doing both). But he wasn’t the lead in delivering Israel, it was his younger brother! His younger brother who didn’t like speaking or want to speak to anyone, who had even fled the city God told him he was to deliver, and who, when given all sound reasoning as to why he was the one, still didn’t want to do it. That is my stubborn 15 year old brother, but the same as Moses, he is gifted in ways he doesn’t even know yet, and was chosen by God for this particular conquest.

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“His younger brother who didn’t like speaking or want to speak to anyone, who had even fled the city God told him he was to deliver, and who, when given all sound reasoning as to why he was the one, still didn’t want to do it.”

And accepting that didn’t diminish my role at all! In accepting that everything stemmed from Roti on this album made everything that much clearer. In Exodus 4:14-17, when Moses gives yet another excuse to God at the burning bush and God gets quite heated (pun intended), he replies to him ’14 What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his moth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you and it will be as if he were your moth and as if you were God to him. 17 but take this staff so that you can perform miraculous signs with it.’. If that isn’t Roti & I, then I don’t know what is. I mean, he doesn’t want to rap, so I do it for him on this album. Everything I say on this album has been run by him and made sure it’s the message he wants to put across. But we still works wonders with the beats, the staff.

The only thing I feel I really had to work on through the process of this album in relation to that verse is that Aaron was already waiting for Moses. Aaron was already there, but he was patient in waiting to see Moses, and when Moses got there, he didn’t chastise him for being late, he was happy to see him. That’s what I needed to be with Roti. I needed to be happy when he got to the place I was in terms of the music and how to technically do things, instead of being annoyed he was taking so long, because his task in figuring out the story and the sound of the album was bigger than man, though both our tasks are interdependent.

So this album, ‘You Don’t Know.‘, even though it’s about death, isn’t doom and gloom at all. But it is a real perspective on the fear you have of death, and the journey you go on trying to uncover and understand it’s secrets, faith and this world. We personally love it, and I’m sure if you who’s reading this listens, you’ll be blessed by it too. The intent is not to solve this for you, because we can’t. We just want to raise the point and create a discussion that can lead to the solution. I really feel that Rootsta’s album can help towards delivering people from their fear of death, the same way Moses delivered Israel from Egypt. And me, I’ll be standing next to him, holding his staff or something.

I can be Moses later.

By Tee ‘Teelow’ Awojobi.

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