San Francisco’s Adam Traore, better known as A-1, has been hard at work over the past few years, gradually growing a following backed by a steady stream of new releases and fantastic videos, culminating with the recent release of his album Thurlian and a national tour with fellow San Francisco rapper Watsky. This Friday night, he’s got a hometown show at The Chapel, being joined by a fine slate of all-local artists. We’ve got a pair of tickets up for grabs for the show, along with a conversation we had with Adam about his hometown show, touring with Watsky, and a possible name change.

To enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see A-1 at The Chapel, email contest@thebaybridged.com with “A-1” in the subject line and your full name in the body of the email. A winner will be selected at random and notified via email.

The Bay Bridged: How far from The Chapel did you grow up, and how does it feel to be headlining a show this big so close to home?

A-1: I grew up right down the street from The Chapel, about 10 short blocks away. Headlining a show anywhere in the city is a huge blessing. Especially after being on the road for a month, having a homecoming party and seeing that your hometown has your back and fully supports you, it makes all the hard work worth every minute.

TBB: Did you hand pick the rest of the lineup?

A-1: Me and Lawrence

[A-1’s manager] hand picked the lineup, the only criteria was that the performers had to be from San Francisco or the Bay Area, with a positive message and attitude, and that know how to rock a show. Everyone we picked fits all those qualities, we just wanted acts that we knew our fans would appreciate and I think we did a good job with the lineup.

TBB: For those that don’t know, can you explain the ‘Thurl’ concept?

A-1: Thurl is a variation on the word “Thorough”, which means something is done completely, well thought out or finalized. Thurl stands for Think (for oneself), Hustle (for one another), Understand (each other), and Really Live (one’s life to the fullest) or Really Love (unconditionally). The idea is that is you can do all of those things, you a a complete person, you are Thurl.

TBB: Can you talk about your recent tour with Watsky? Anything you learned about life on the road, your music, or yourself personally along the way?

A-1: Being on tour with Watsky taught me a lot, mainly it taught me not to be scared to put myself out there. I’ve always had a problem and a slight phobia about having my face in the public eye, but being on that tour showed me that putting up a show selfie or something like that, even though it isn’t my favorite thing in the world, will help people identify and relate with you, it brings you closer to your fans and helps you spread your message further. So if that’s what it takes for me to get my music out there, then so be it. I feel like I’m not as scared of that aspect of the game anymore after being on tour and seeing how much it helps. Connecting with your supporters is everything, and if you have a message you believe in and you want people to hear, it’s OK to put yourself out there in order to make it happen. That was a big theme of the tour for me.

TBB: How would you say you’ve evolved as an artist since After School Special in 2010? How has the changing city affected your work?

A-1: Since After School Special everything about my music has evolved, mostly because I’ve evolved as a human being. For one thing the themes in my music have changed and I think my subject matter and song structure has matured a lot. Recording quality has improved tremendously, we’ve always been a DIY operation when it comes to recording and mixing and we’ve learned so much since 2010, me and Woostaar, so our quality has drastically improved. The city being so gentrified now, and having such a disparity between the extreme wealth and extreme poverty has just continued to inspire me to write about issues that matter to me and about things that I think are important in the world, but still finding ways to relate it to my own life and experiences. Unfortunately, I feel so much less of a connection with San Francisco now that the majority of the people living here are wealthy guys in the tech industry with no interest in contributing to or preserving the culture of the city, so I may have to move soon for my own sanity.

TBB: What’s next for A-1?

A-1: Next for me, I think I will be giving the name A-1 a rest pretty soon. It’s time for a new era in my life and music so after this show on Sept. 25th my music will take a new direction, as well as my name and persona. So I suggest everyone stay tuned for a drastic change in the Thurl saga. And thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me this whole time. Much love to everyone. See y’all at the show!

A-1, Dregs One, Mikos Da Gawd, Mars Today, iyala (FKA sayknowledge), Tia Nomore
The Chapel
September 25, 2015
9pm, $19-21