“Not only is it giving you messages for your soul, but it just has an all-around good vibe to it that I think anybody would like, from the streets to the book-smarts.”

Cincinnati rapper Dayo Gold knew he was dropping something special when he first opened up about his album, E.P.S.M., to AudioFemme in April. The R&B-tinged 10-track LP hones in on two things: Gold’s undeniable bar-for-bar cadence and an upbeat soulfulness – prefaced in the extended name, Essential Positive Soul Music. He drops his melodic verses off with a carefree lightheartedness, yet his words are intentional.

The Trey produced-record opens up with classic R&B, “2:24 am,” featuring Cincy songstress Latrell. “Dance 2 This” stands out as the bop of the album, while slower jams “Blunts & Wine,” “Love & Pain” and “Late Night Interlude” unfold catchy bars over nostalgic beats.

The night E.P.S.M. dropped, Gold shared his project with a large gathering of supporters. At first, he deliberately stayed out of the limelight while the listening party received the record, but after seeing the crowd’s positive response he emerged to thank every person for attending.

“I was really nervous,” he admitted. “I was anxious, I was eager.”

E.P.S.M.

Dayo Gold signing “E.P.S.M.” tapes at album listening party. Photos by Victoria Moorwood.

As Gold mentioned in our previous interview, he’s studied the greats, like J. Cole, Joey Bada$$, JAY-Z and Nipsey Hussle. The latter inspires not only his style, but also his approach to the music industry.

To finish out the album, Dayo included a snippet of Nipsey Hussle speaking in the middle of the final track, “Gold.” Hussle talks about how he feels solidified in his role and how his reach and purpose extends beyond his music, but throughout his community.

“I made that project and I was already done with it, and Trey sat on it for a while, and we ended up figuring out that Nipsey has passed,” Dayo said. “In honor of that, I wanted to put a snippet of what he had to say. What he had to say just correlated exactly with what the tape was about. Just explaining that he feels like he knows his purpose now, he feels like he has a mission beyond what he used to be. It’s beyond the music.”

Hussle famously owned his own masters and set an example of business savvy within, and beyond, the music industry. Learning from his efforts, Dayo chose not to release E.P.S.M. on Spotify or Apple Music, but instead make the record available to download on his own website.

“We made our own shit,” he said. “Come to our shit. We’re gonna build it from the ground up.”

Gold poured his heart and soul into E.P.S.M., and it shows. Stream the new record above or listen on his website.