Sol Moravia-Rosenberg is hunched over a laptop at a Capitol Hill coffee shop. It’s been three days since the Seattle rap vet got back from his first European tour, returning to a different sort of grind as a self-managed artist prepping for the release show for his latest album, “Soon Enough.”
Roughly a decade into his music career, Sol — who landed a University of Washington travel fellowship and took a globe-trotting sabbatical in 2012 just as his career was heating up — is no stranger to the road. Still, he’s feeling this one.
“Jet lag is real,” he says, perched at a rail counter toward the back of the coffee house. “I thought I was going to be able to circumvent that because of all my travels and everything, but just because you’re an experienced traveler doesn’t mean time zones don’t [expletive] you up.”
Disrupted sleep schedules or no, the short supporting run with Hoodie Allen in Europe was a career benchmark and “life-affirming” experience that makes the less glamorous laptop-and-coffee-shop work associated with being an independent performing artist worth it. Being a self-sustaining DIY musician in 2019 also means being a small-business owner/social-media editor/a dozen other job titles and those in-person connections with fans halfway across the world helped put faces to all those “likes” and stream counts. After the shows, he’d meet fans, new and old, including younger kids in some cases attending their first concert or who told Sol he was their introduction to hip-hop.
“My introduction was like 2Pac, Nas, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Snoop Dogg — definite legends and people who shifted the culture,” Sol says. “To be somebody else’s version of that, it was like an ‘I’m not worthy’ moment.”
That affirming trek comes at somewhat of a midcareer reflection period for one of Seattle’s more prominent hip-hop artists, one with room to grow outside the city but who has also amassed enough knowledge to qualify as a “big bro” figure to younger artists. The title track from the 30-year-old’s fourth album, “Soon Enough” — which he toasts Friday, April 12, at the Showbox — stems from a go-to expression the mindful meditation practitioner uses as his rap-game “north star.” It’s a reminder to be at peace with where you are while steadily working toward your goals. The song’s coda samples a video from Sol’s brother’s wedding eight years ago, before his 2012 breakout “Yours Truly” LP. It’s a sound bite of Sol’s aunt telling the story of a 10-year-old Sol prophetically declaring his future occupation as a singer.
“Especially as an artist in this industry, there’s always this idea of needing more or not being satisfied, and it can be corruptive and really unhealthy if not managed,” he says. “It can be a beautiful fuel to your work ethic and artistry … but you have to harness that.”
The tone-setting track also kicked off a fertile late-in-the-game creative spurt yielding several standouts on the glossed-up album brimming with the tightest, catchiest hooks of Sol’s career. Included in that “fourth quarter” writing spree were the swinging “These Songs” and “The Plug,” a shimmering pop-rap jam that’s been a live-show hit. Sol credits Los Angeles-based producer/engineer Teal Douville with pushing him when melodies weren’t quite there or he would initially default to a more comfortable sing-rap delivery, as on “If You Don’t Call,” a sprightly synth-brushed vehicle for the record’s most earwormy chorus.
“Vocally, having him as an engineer is like any boxer having the right trainer in their corner,” Sol says. “Mike Tyson has Cus D’Amato. Manny Pacquiao has Freddie Roach. I have Teal.”
Though Douville and Sol worked together on some of his earliest successes like “This [expletive]” and “Spliff,” the pair reconnected on “Soon Enough,” with local superduo Elan Wright and Nima Skeemz (also longtime Sol collaborators) coproducing.
(Note: This video contains explicit language.)
Beyond his melodic flow, Sol’s music has long been marked by his positive outlook and social/political awareness. But “Soon Enough” finds the seasoned emcee thinking increasingly about the younger generation, with tracks like “Freedom’s Song” (dedicated to his godson, Freedom) and more broadly “The Kids.” Whether it’s his godson playing his records or some kid in Germany coming to their first rap show, Sol is ever aware of how artists’ words are received by younger listeners.
“All my feelings and hopes for [Freedom] become a symbol for my hopes for the future as well,” Sol says. “Having him in my life and watching him grow up has made me more connected to the next generation.”
Sol with Karma Knowz and MistaDC, 9 p.m. Friday, April 12; Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle; $22.50-$25; showboxpresents.com