Aaron J. Trumm’s Twitter bio states he’s a singer, emcee, poet and producer. He’s also a survivor, and an inspiration to all who want to pursue their dream in the face of life-threatening illness or adversity. Aaron, who calls Albuquerque, New Mexico home, was born with Cystic Fibrosis, but managed to maintain a pretty healthy existence in his youth and early adulthood, playing several sports in high school and college. But by the early 2010’s, his health deteriorated and breathing became increasingly difficult to the point where his long-term survival was in question. So, in July 2013, he underwent a double lung transplant, which gave him a new life, along with an enormous appreciation for it.
Aaron starting making music in his teens, and in 1994 created NQuit Music, one of the oldest independent music labels still in existence. He also earned a Master’s Degree from Stanford University. But his main focus was doing slam poetry at competitions where poets read or recite their poetry in front of an audience, and judges are chosen from the audience. At one point, he ranked 10th in the world. Here’s a video of him at one of the competitions.
According to Aaron’s website bio, his music influences are eclectic and varied, “from The Roots, which he loves because they continue the oldest hip-hop tradition of honest, creative story telling without all the gangster posturing, to Rage Against The Machine, because they’re revolutionaries who can rock, to Johnny Cash and Bob Wills, who remind him of his roots, but buck the stifling traditions and closed mindedness of the country establishment, and were constantly looking to collaborate with people outside their box.” He fuses these disparate elements of hip-hop, rap, rock, blues and country into a unique style and sound all his own, exploring subjects both upbeat and positive, and dark and disturbing.
In the jazz-infused “Livin Is Bling,” from the album of the same name, Aaron draws from his own experience, poking the specter of life’s hazards squarely in the eye and declaring that he can survive anything, loving life along the way. He raps “I’m alive, I’m alive, ready for anything, sing it with me if you think living is bling.” I love this song’s arrangement, with awesome piano, funky bass and percussion.
Aaron takes a decidedly more serious turn with “Open Oceans,” another compelling track from Livin Is Bling that deals with the terrible toll that war takes on relationships. “I been runnin from my bones for days, lookin for another way I can say this to ya. I ain’t never really comin home, they got another little trick in they bag o stones. They call it stop loss, and it means I ain’t comin back. So make a little snack go to bed and relax.” In the video, Aaron raps in front of footage from the Iraq War. The song sounds like it could have been performed by Nirvana, and the woman singing with him is Jennifer Malin.
The dark, heavy rock track “Bleed,” released in 2006, appears to address a relationship gone bad and his partner’s slipping away from addiction, while he sings of his own demons and restlessness. I’m guessing the lyric “I wanna bleed so you can suck it down” alludes to his wanting his partner to regain “life” through his blood. The rather disturbing black and white video has Aaron shaving his hair with a large knife, cutting himself in the process and covering his body with blood. Images of the Devil intertwine with his own image as he looks in the mirror, and at the end his partner licks blood from his body. Heavy stuff indeed!