Local music: King Vada

Chris DeVille, Columbus Alive

For Vada Mitchell, Jan. 5 once signified nothing in particular. Then it was his best friend's birthday, a day to celebrate. Then that friend was murdered, and Jan. 5 became a day of solemnity. Then, by chance or fate, Vada's son was born on Jan. 5, 2009, and that calendar space came to represent redemption and new hope.

Last weekend, Jan. 5 also marked the beginning of what Vada (maybe you know him by his rap name King Vada or his former alias L.e for the Uncool) hopes will be a promotional onslaught.

"2013, I'm about to keep hitting people in the face," he said during an interview outside Short North boutique Milk Bar, pausing occasionally to greet people who had piled inside to hear his new Preludes to a Murder EP.

Vada has been relatively quiet since 2010's strong full-length The Measure, but last year he started rebuilding momentum, rebranding as King Vada (the "King" stands for "Knowing I'm Not God," a nod to his Muslim faith) and releasing a steady trickle of new material. Last month, he got a pep talk from the Maybach Music Group rapper and Massillon native Stalley.

"Stalley was pumping me up, like, 'You gotta stop playing with n----s. You gotta put your foot on people's necks this year,'" Vada said.

The same day, he opened his inbox to find a pile of beats from Connecticut production team Northern Lights, whom he'd been corresponding with. Impressed by the music's hazy, percussive, Dilla-informed bona fides, Vada wrangled some rapper friends and kicked out a six-song EP that's among his most focused and immersive music to date.

"I'm trying to wear this gold on the cover of Fader," Vada spits on opening track "New Reckoning," and Preludes to a Murder seems like a solid step in that direction.

Also on the docket for 2013: A mixtape of his rhymes over "old school, hippity-hop" beats with Cleveland DJ Corey Grand; a compilation from Stalley's Blue Collar Gang alongside Boldy James, Avriel Epps, Cardo and former G-Side rapper ST 2 Lettaz; and his long-awaited full-length The Sun Sets Tomorrow Regardless.

Preludes to a Murder EP