How, exactly, did iLoveMakonnen end up living and working in, of all places, Oregon? According to one local rumor, it was a trip: while high on mushrooms he fixated on a dog wearing a collar bearing the name of the city of Portland, and he took it as all the sign he needed. Something like an outsider artist of the trap. So — the mushrooms story. Not hard to believe! But not true. According to Makonnen himself, he came to the famously sleepy Pacific Northwest on a search for solitude. Pioneer and go out here on my own.
A little over 33 years ago, this tranquil corner was a murder scene. According to police reports, on April 1, , when Gaye tried to intervene in a fight between his parents, his father shot him twice, one bullet piercing his heart, killing him. Born Makonnen Sheran, the artist known as iLoveMakonnen is taking us on a brief tour of the Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up. The car drifts down 21st Street toward his childhood home, a modest bungalow that was once the guest house for the mansion beside it. An expansive tree takes up half the front yard. In that room—all rich mahogany paneling and soft, recessed lighting—Makonnen demoed out a handful of songs, sporting a blue rugby shirt and a moustache that makes him look like a lounge singer from a better, more advanced society. He works quickly.
Noisey: Where did you get your name? Are you Ethiopian? My mom liked the name.
His father is a first generation immigrant from Belize who worked as an electrician and his mother was a nail instructor who worked in the beauty business for over 30 years. Growing up in Los Angeles,  he moved to the Atlanta area in when he was 13 years old, due to his parents' divorce, and witnessed the death of a close friend in his senior year in high school. His grandmother was an opera singer , which influenced his musical career.