Sage Elsesser Talks Thriving in the Blur of His Artistry on 'Business of HYPE' with Angelo Baque

The friends of over 15 years discuss meeting at Supreme, Elsesser’s myriad influences, their journeys with sobriety and more.

Business of HYPE
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Sage Elsesser and Angelo Baque go back. Way back, in fact — to over 15 years ago, when Baque was the brand director at Supreme and Elsesser was a fresh-faced teenager set to become one of the brand’s new faces. “One of the biggest challenges [in my role at Supreme] was transitioning from the original Supreme team as the faces of the brand to new muses and faces of the brand … Sage was a huge part of that,” Baque says.

Now, a decade and a half into their friendship, the duo are sitting down on Business of HYPE (Elsesser as a guest, Baque as the series’ host) to discuss Elsesser’s polymathic path to his current standing as a modern-day street culture renaissance man with roots in music as a skater, model and the rapper Navy Blue.

Elsesser mentions skateboarding as the crux of his artistic endeavors, noting that he first became aware of it during a classmate’s show-and-tell in pre-school. He got his first board shortly thereafter and, due to what he describes as his “obsessive nature,” has been hooked ever since.

As he grew older, he began to hang out at LA mainstays like Diamond Supply Co. and Brooklyn Projects in the city’s Fairfax district, then a hotbed of street culture — and there, he met the Odd Future crew, eventually becoming close with Tyler, the Creator. “Fairfax felt like a hidden gem to me, and I always wanted to share it with other friends. Especially where I’m from in Mid City, there isn’t a whole lot of skate sh*t going on,” he reminisces.

One of those friends just happened to be a young Earl Sweatshirt, who Elsesser describes as his “best friend since elementary school.” One day, when Elsesser showed the Diamond Supply Co. crew Earl’s music (which he notes was on myspace.com/mindf*ck64), Tyler, the Creator asked for an introduction to Earl.

After Earl took off with the Odd Future crew, Elsesser went on a journey of his own — getting in with the Supreme crew, becoming one of the faces of the brand, and, eventually finding his way to music as the rapper Navy Blue, one who just released his seventh album, Ways of Knowing, under his own label, Freedom Sounds.

“[The music that felt normal to me] wasn’t very normal,” says Elsesser, who also noted that he began grew up in a musical household — with a father who introduced him to spiritual practices that influenced his music taste and a mother who had an enormous record collection — well before he was willing to share his music on a public stage.

Elsesser and Baque also discuss their respective journeys with sobriety, the influence Elsesser draws from MF Doom and Skepta, and, beofore the episode is out, Elsesser even shares some words of advice with aspiring musicans.

Stream the full episode above, or check it out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other major podcast platforms, and expect future episodes to roll out weekly.

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