Packing up his entire home studio, some clothing items, and moving to another state was a big move for the Berkeley artist Isaiah Mostafa. However, he saw this move to challenge himself with his art. Then, the pandemic started, and his relationship ended. Then, Mostafa heard from a friend about going on tour in Hawaii. He ended up staying there with his friends and focusing on his music.
“I literally moved out there with only my studio and some clothes,” Mostafa said. “In my mind, I was, like ‘I know a lot of these people don’t have no album, and I just made an album. So let me help some folks with their music,’ It ended up turning was people weren’t around because of the pandemic, so I was just making hella music.”
At this point in his career, he has been making music for around nine years, teaching him that success will not look the same for everyone. “What music really showed me is that I could follow my gifts and my passions, and it could really work for me,” he said. What Mostafa did ended up working for him was a weekly challenge. For 37 weeks straight, he released a new song.
How did the 37-week challenge come about?
Isaiah: I felt like it was my time to stop overthinking and challenge myself. I need to challenge myself, and I need to go! So I told my homie to take a video of me outside telling Instagram that I’m going to post a song every week for the rest of my life. After posting the video, hella people connected with it because they hadn’t seen me on Instagram in hella long. So then I’m like, ‘My whole life? That’s a long-ass time. Maybe let me start somewhere.’
Having constants in life is a way to keep yourself grounded. In Mostafa’s life, the number 37 has always been there for him. 37 gives him a feeling of affirmation in his life. When the number appears while doing something unsavory, like stealing from the store, he knows to fix it immediately. It is his life path number, his angel number. It’s something he sees all the time.
“If I see a 37 and I know there’s that one artist, or this one A&R, or this one girl that I know I need to talk to, but haven’t yet and I see that 37, I’m like ‘Alright, it’s the moment. Here we go. I’m going to go talk to them,’ Mostafa said. “It just affirms my intuition in that moment, so 37 has been that number for me.”
How did the challenge impact or change your work?
Isaiah: It was so consistent. I was just making so much music all the time. Now that I made this public commitment and was on, ‘I have to drop it every Monday,’ that changed the game. When it comes to distribution, the song has to be done at least three days before Monday in order for it to drop on Spotify. So it was like I had four or five days every week to get this song done. Some weeks I would get two songs done in a day. Some weeks it would be like I don’t get that song done until Sunday night.
“So much of an up and coming artist’s journey is working through that hump of perfection,” he said. “We want to make it perfect, and we know it’s going to go out into the world, and so we want it to be something we can look back on and be like ‘Yes, in every aspect yes! That is the best that I could possibly do.’ But also that’s unrealistic as fuck!”
Mostafa got over the idea of reaching perfection and released his music no matter what. Working on the 37-week challenge gave him to make music that he probably would not have made before due to chasing perfection. The journey to the newest release of his song ‘Freemotions,’ he felt like it was one of the songs that perfectly showcased what he was capable of as an artist and beyond that.
What does Freemotions mean for you?
Isaiah: Freemotions is like feeling free to express my emotions with certain people when my environment is right. There are certain people I don’t feel comfortable around, and there are certain people I might feel comfortable to rap and freestyle around, but I don’t feel comfortable crying around. So part of it is a dedication to South Berkely, my home, my people, the Bay,y fellow creatives out here, and to those who I feel comfortable expressing myself authentically and fully around.
How did you put those feelings into a song that expresses them?
Isaiah: Honestly, I had already started getting to this point where I was like, ‘alright, it’s time to leave Hawaii.’ I took a trip back to the Bay, and I was about to leave, and because I was still in the midst of the 37-week challenge, I had to get multiple songs done before I left [Hawaii]because I wasn’t going to bring my whole studio back to the Bay.
‘Freemotions’ was the song that took Mostafa the least amount of time to make for the 37-week challenge. At this time, he needed to prepare for the trip back home, and there wasn’t enough time or energy. “It kind of just happened really fast,” he said. “I was lowkey on autopilot when I made it, and I was able to listen back and feel where I was coming from.”
Last year, it was raining, gloomy, and sad, but he had this momentum that carried the upbeat energy that attracted people to the music. “Freemotions brought me back home,” he said. You can watch the video below and keep up with Isaiah on his Instagram.