Trew Music The James Crockett Experience [Album Review]

Trew Music

“I was making music that could be placed in several genres,” says Trew Music of his latest mixtape “[...] so I put together The James Crockett Experience to show that I could do more than one thing.” It’s fitting that I asked the thirty-year-old Centreville, Va native of the inspiration behind his most-recent creation, for it appears that he stays true to himself rather than remaining chained to one particular sound…Even if that means talking about his skills with the opposite sex and that his new ish is Captain Morgan mixed with Dr. Pepper paired with a Black N’ Mild.

Airy strings and the subtle boom-bap of drums open the album with the easily addictive chorus of “Her Favorite Song.” (“She’s been drinking with me all night long/ because her boyfriend does it wrong/ that’s why this is her favorite song/ When she got no panties on”) sings Trew in the introduction of the tune. “Her Favorite Song” is the perfect mix of a simple, yet effective beat; a strong, but not overbearing delivery; and a memorable hook that will almost annoyingly stick in your head long after the song is played.

He follows with “Keep it Movin” and shortly after, “Doin Me”–his strongest pieces—which share similarities as they both draw inspiration from jazz music as they utilize classy horns, head-bobbing kicks and claps, and an overall ‘laxed vibe. (“And if the drinks still poppin/ And the whole club’s woppin’/ And you know you can blame it on me/,” chants Trew on the hook of “Keep it Movin,’” “And since I see your home girls watchin’/ And there’s no other option/ And I guess that we’re fuckin’ for free, sweet,” he continues. What really puts the cherry on top of each song is his laid back, almost too-cool-for-school delivery, which feels the most natural compared to the rest of the record.

There’s no doubt that the mixtape’s strength is Trew’s carefully crafted cadence coupled with the album’s impressive production. A further result comes with the fun, up-tempo “Can I Be,” which cleverly samples The Jackson Five’s “I Wanna Be Where you Are,” where he boasts about his undying commitment to music. He takes yet another turn with the kick drum heavy “Drive Me Crazy,” a track that could easily be blended in the play list of your favorite club’s top forty mix.

A majority of The James Crockett Experience is enjoyable, and at the very least, entertaining, and maybe it could have been much stronger if it were an album rather than a mixtape. Don’t get it confused, Trew flexes his musical adaptability by strong-arming his way through the diverse production, but it is very clear that he works much better with some of his instrumentals than others. Not saying his less-effective songs show lack of skill, but it’s more like they don’t carry weight.

The biggest digression of the overall mixtape comes with “Do Whatcha Wanna Do,” where the overall vibe is reminiscent of a song by the Gym Class Heroes. Once again, this isn’t showing Trew’s lack of ability, but the change of pace is so sudden and out of place that it completely misses its mark. Other songs like “The Epitome” and “Holding or Folding” are good, but by no means are memorable pieces.

Trew’s repetitive subject matter could be part of reason the record does not succeed in establishing really powerful tracks. Each number is definitely different in its own right, yet I felt like each song made mention of women or an alcoholic drink. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping to a central theme or subject, but Trew could have done so much more. And, unfortunately, his album felt as if it were running in place without a chance of really taking off. “My T-Shirt” is the record’s closest attempt at carrying the torch of the entire mixtape for strong synths—especially the solo—and the artist/producer relationship is undoubtedly effective.

The overall album is a platform where Trew puts his musical prowess on display. Where Trew lacks in his choice of subject matter, he more than makes up for it with his solid delivery and his chameleon-like ability to run with whatever beat is thrown his way. Even Ski Beatz, the super producer behind some of Jay-Z’s and Fat Joe’s music, put his magic touch on “Let You Go,” which calls upon the smooth bring sexy back of early 90′s R&B sounds (Props for the Kelis “In the Morning” reference by the way). Don’t expect to be enlightened by The James Crockett Experience, but do expect to enjoy the journey…And take in some good alcoholic drink suggestions along the way. You can check out his mixtape here.

Rating: 3.75
Songs to look out for: “Her Favorite Song,” “Doin’ Me,” “Keep it Movin’,” “Blame,” “Thrillz,” “My T-Shirt”


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Brasco Bklyn [Music Review]


Hip-hop is changing. No longer is it solely about who’s the nicest behind the mic, but who has the most versatility.  We’ve seen it with Snoop Dogg…ahem…excuse me, I mean Snoop Lion go from “Ganster rap” to Reggae…I guess, and Kid Cudi transition from rhyming to singing in almost the same breath.  Fast-forward to, well, now and you get Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, native Brasco Bklyn.

At the young age of thirteen, Brasco took it upon himself to create his own music by writing, studying performance, and eventually getting into production. I recently had the opportunity to review a handful of his songs. Though one out of four songs is from this year, they each radiate a different vibe. So I took the time to analyze and rate each piece based on his lyrics, delivery, and production.   


Heartbeat is a ticking bomb. The record begins with lonesome piano keys and Brasco Bklyn speaking to the audience as he says, “You know, it’s like you got emotions bottled up and shit, and you need to vent a little bit, you know.” Shortly after, the solemn piano notes transition to heavy drums and distorted synths, creating an entirely different vibe.

The song is a well-made take on Childish Gambino’s track that bears the same name “Heartbeat.”  Heartbeat breathes life and speaks directly to anyone that has been through a rocky relationship (Oh, I’ve been through one too many  of those *tear drop*). Sure the story has been told time and time again, but Brasco’s overall product is undeniably effective.

The drum pattern and synth lines in Heartbeat are remarkably similar to the European-based electronic duo Justice’s song Genesis, but it doesn’t take anything away from the track. Brasco skillfully opens his verse calmly, and, as the song builds, his vocals reach a crescendo, creating an exciting, yet, uneasiness about the words said.

Everything in Heartbeat works from the production to Brasco’s lyrics. And, in less than three minutes, he manages to exert potent emotions, which is a skill that cannot be taught. If anything, the only real disappointment is that Heartbeat wasn’t a few minutes longer.

Rating: 5


I Got it Made:

The first thing that comes to mind when I listen to I Got it Made is old school hip-hop—fat gold chains, Adidas jumpsuits, graffiti writers, b-boys, and boom boxes—in other words, hip-hop in its glory days.

Brasco’s easy to follow rhymes go hand-in-hand with the slim-layered, yet head-rocking beat, which consists of basic drum lines and guitar licks. And it is apparent that Brasco chose to have fun with I Got it Made once he reaches the hook and chants “Old school, new school needs to know though/ I burn, baby burn, like disco inferno.”

Brasco’s old-school flow further emphasizes his hook. “Check the price tag,/Charge it to the black card/ I got bitches screaming ‘whoa’ like Black Rob,” spits Brasco, “This life got me living in the fast lane/Before the music, dawg, it’s the dope game,” he continues.

The lyrics in I Got it Made aren’t dense so don’t expect to be blown away. I do, however, think heavy lyricism was not what Brasco intended. The song is, in a sense, a homage to hip-hop music in the decade in which Brasco was born–The eighties.

 Rating: 3.5



So Fresh:

Part of the hip-hop culture is about celebrating your uniqueness or ranting why you’re better than other emcees in the game. It could be the way you rhyme, where you’re from, the lyrics you use, how many things you own; the list goes on. With that said, it’s fitting that Brasco created So Fresh, a song about being, well, fresh.

Heavy drum lines and horns open So Fresh, which features the vocals by Jay Mor. The record is near perfect, however, Braso’s lyrics seem watered down. “I flow like a hundred grand/ Look like a hundred grand/ I guess you can say I’m the man with a hundred grand,” recites Brasco in the first verse.

Lyrics aside, So Fresh has a commercial appeal—the hook is catchy, the delivery is immaculate, and the production is addicting. It is one of those songs that will have you humming the chorus after a couple of listens. 

 Rating: 4


No Hook:

There’s no doubt that Brasco’s strong vocals carry him throughout the properly titled No Hook (produced by Jay Money) as he glides through the two-minute track without a break. The subject matter is focused on getting paid by any means necessary and the piano keys in the instrumental help paint a dark, gritty vibe to the overall tone. 

Brasco spits his best lines when he rhymes, “My little homies, shit, they be dying to bust off/Premature, so they real quick to bust off.” But as No Hook carries on it feels like it is running in place with no real substance other than his desire for riches. 

Regardless, No Hook is a track that displays Brasco’s versatility behind a mic. The song may not have mainstream appeal, but Brasco still demands attention with his natural delivery.

Rating: 3


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Autumn Electric, Make Me a Tree [Album Review]


There’s something about Autumn Electric’s Album, Make Me a Tree, that is organic, authentic, and graceful–maybe it’s the potent songwriting and harmony between lead singer, Michael Trew, and back-up singer, Naomi Smith; or the overall mellow, sometimes lively, tone of the record; or maybe it’s the band’s adroit use of the harmonica, accordion, flute, piano, and saw, yes, the same tool used to cut wood—whatever it is, though, it feels right.

The music in the Seattle-based indie-rock band is far from simplistic. Layers of serene vocals, poetic lyrics, and skillfully utilized instruments blanket the ten-song album, creating a product that never appears tiresome. Even when the album feels like it is ready to sedate the listener into a melodic, musical coma, it casually injects just enough adrenaline to keep its audience alive and off balance.

Slick guitar lines and pleasant vocals open the album with the catchy, likeable, and upbeat “Astoria.” Early on, it is recognizable that Trew and Smith have an undeniable chemistry when it comes to feeding off their vocal talents as they follow up with “Raccoons.” This is one of the strongest songs on the album as it masterfully paints a scenic view of a world outside of busy city living.

Three songs in, “Black Shrouds,” probably their most radio-friendly song, follows as another pleaser. Don’t be fooled by the infectious up-tempo of the song though; the lyrics are just as contagious: “You woke up, climbed into your painting van, 6 or 7 days a week,” sings Trew, “You call it a living, but no one saw you dying.” 

It is only when Make Me a Tree is near the mid point where the album takes an interesting turn. On “Harold,” the band promotes Smith as the lead and Trew as the back up. The absence of Trew as the frontman makes the song feel out of place, but it is easily forgiven, as the following songs, “Indian Princess” and “Icicle Valley,” are both equally enjoyable.

Make Me a Tree is, according to Autumn Electric’s press kit, a story about working through the death of a loved one. “It wasn’t right for you to go and leave me in this world alone,” croons Trew in “Spaghetti Western, “You know how much I love you, brother.” If the story of overcoming a loss isn’t apparent through Trew’s lyrics, then the musical vibe of the album speaks volumes for it is a roller coaster, moving from one mood to the next.

Make Me a Tree sets the precedent of the sound Autumn Electric should continue to personify—it’s rich, full of life, and real—everything a band can ask for. What Autumn Electric may lack in commercial appeal, they more than make up for in musical composition, strong lyrics, and a one-of-a-kind sound. Even their longer songs, “Icicle Valley” and “Spaghetti Western,” which both stretch over seven minutes, never induce the feeling of pressing the fast forward button as effective transitions, instrument solos, and soothing vocals keep them alive. Make me a Tree is an album that comes from a group of artists that respect the art of music, and I tip my hat to them. Kudos.

You can stream and purchase Make Me a Tree for free here. Half of the proceeds go to The Healing Center and Grief Place in Wenatchee, Washington.

Rating: 4.25/5

Songs to look out for: “Astoria,” “Racoons,” “Black Shroud,” “East of the Mountains,” “Spaghetti Western.”

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Ben…Our First Official Attempt At Kicking Rear-End in Short Film

Well, well, well…Time flies, don’t it? Please, save your jeers. And, please save your tears. Us folks have been busier than hookers on the first day of the month in the red light district. But finally, we put our first short film to rest! *Pats back.* Artists, don’t worry, we still love you and still plan to work with you. In the meantime, enjoy our first film, “Ben.

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Interview with The Lillies

From left to right: Roberto Pereda, Mark Simpson, Raul Magana III, and Matthew Humphrey.

There often comes a point in every musician’s career where they must ask themselves whether they want to continue creating solely for their own personal pleasure or share their talent with the world. After jamming for two years in their garage, two young musicians; Roberto Perada, the lead singer and guitarist; and Matthew Humphrey, the back-up singer and guitarist, decided that playing music in their practice space wasn’t enough. Soon enough, the duo became a quartet with the addition of Raul Magana (back-up singer and bassist) and Mark Simpson (drummer), whom were both musicians that Roberto and Matthew have been jamming with. Fast-forward eight months into the future and you get “The Lillies,” a band two months shy of releasing their first official album. Take a little time to get to know The Lillies and listen to the music that they were so kind to share…or officially be an ass-face (I’m only kidding…kind of).

What inspired your band name?

Raul Magana: We got the name “The Lillies” when our Singer Roberto Pereda took interest in a girl nicknamed “With Lillies and Remains” and after a few beers and messing around, Matthew and Roberto decided to call the band “The Lillies.”

I know you guys have only been around for 8 months now, but do you feel like you’ve come into your own yet?

Matthew Humphrey: We feel that our sound has definitely come into its own because our music is always progressing and changing. This allows us to create music that is original and not restrict ourselves to being in one genre or style.

I’m your opinions what are a few key components that make up for a great band? 

Roberto Pereda:  I think what makes a great band is everyone’s ability to understand each other musically and being there for the right reasons. Being in a band is like being in a family; you get to see the subtle things that make each member unique musically, and the interesting part is mixing your intangibles with theirs and seeing what comes out.

Roberto, you said one of the few components that make up a great band is being in the band for the right reasons…why are you currently in a band?

Roberto Pereda: I am currently in a band because I love music and it keeps me sane–for the most part. When I play my guitar and sing, I feel like this is what I should be doing with my life and it makes me happy.

What has been most rewarding about being in a band so far?

Mark Simpson: The most rewarding part about being in the band is seeing the effect that your music can have on other people’s lives. It’s also really rewarding to be able to express your emotion with a band that feels your ideas and emotion and adds their own ideas to the music.

So Satan himself captures you dudes, along with several other bands, to have a play off to the death; the winners leave with their lives. As a band, what will be your secret weapon(s) that will ensure your victory?

Raul Magana: We are Satan!

You guys are Satan!? That’s crazy! What three bands, local or commercial, would you have in the battle to the death and why would you choose them?

Matthew Humphrey: Mozart, Led Zeppelin, and Miles Davis, We would do this because all three musicians are pinnacle to music and each revolutionized music forever.

What inspires you guys as musicians?

Roberto Pereda: Anything that can provoke an emotion inspires me as a musician. As a singer I like to sing about an emotional struggle, the need for love, the need for understanding, and the anxiety that comes with being imperfect.


Do you guys have any crazy performance stories or stories on the road? If so, please explain…

Raul Magana: We did a small tour to Las Vegas, NV and played The Fuse Exposed Music Festival and had no clue the festival was a metal festival. We ended up playing our music and found out that people loved our music, and ended up partying with everyone after a show. I wish I could say I remember what happened after that, but I can’t.

What was going on through your minds the second you realized that you were just about to perform in front of a crowd of metalheads?

Mark Simpson: Although our sound is not as heavy as most Metal bands, we knew that we had a high energy set and could appeal to any music lover. We also have been known to get pretty heavy sometimes and that doesn’t hurt to do every once in a while.

So far, what is your favorite song to perform and why?

Raul Magana: As a group, we can’t agree on a favorite song for we all have different answers, but we can agree that we like the music that we perform and create everyday.

Do you guys have any plans for the future?

Mark Simpson: We are glad to announce that we will be having our CD released in May this year as well as take part in a small tour to Northern California in July. We are also currently looking to get on a few Festivals for the summer, and we’re hoping to get some more articles about what we are trying to accomplish with our music.

Any last words to your fans or anyone that may stumble across this interview?

Roberto Pereda: “A Blind man once told me that we’re good, so you know we have to be good”

Raul Magana: “We are all just a small bacteria in a large universe.”

The LilliesRollercoaster

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Jered Sanders “Gone”

“’Gone’ is a melancholy record. Many think it’s sad, I’d like to refer to it as melancholy. It’s about a love lost and a man’s way of sorting his thoughts. It’s kind of somber, but it’s also liberating. It’s not a record like Drake’s “Marvin’s Room,” in which a drunken former lover calls up his ex to tell her why he should still be with him–not a slight. I’m merely a guy humble enough to tell how he messed up and wishes things could’ve gone better. Even if she never comes back, I’d rather think of the good things than drown myself in sorrow about the bad ones. It’s a very visual record. It takes you places. I love that about it.”Jered Sanders.

Update (3/8/12): Well…As you can already see, Jered Sander’s newest release “Gone” is…uh..gone. Don’t blame the artist though; it was not his decision to pull it. But in the meantime you can still read my lovely description of the now vanished single, Gone. *tear.*

It’s the simplicity of the instrumental, along with the delicate care and consideration for each word written, that immediately drew me into Jered Sanders’ newest release, “Gone.”

“Gone” eloquently guides you on a relaxing saunter on the beach. The track paints a picture of the sun embracing the horizon for the last time just before it welcomes the evening while unconsciously inducing the images of carnival rides, cotton candy, and the sincerity of new love. At times, you almost forget “Gone” is a  melancholic voyage of love lost–Until the chorus comes around at least.

The instrumental is simple: soft guitar strings, maracas, drums, and Sanders faintly repeating “Yo” in the background. The bridge beautifully transitions as an almost nostalgic whistle chimes in. And, when the chorus arrives, the piece welcomes the sounds of trumpets, which warmly compliment the piece.

The beat slightly shifts to heavier drums and piano keys towards the tail-end of the track as it opens Sanders to sparingly insert a few bars of rhymes—just enough to keep the pace of the record constant. A mini piano scale follows his verse and Sanders almost immediately steps back into the original pace of the song.

As the last seconds tick away, everything slowly fades out with the soft crashes of the ocean hitting the seashore—a perfect conclusion to a smooth ride of melodic chords and beautiful words written.  Do yourself a favor and listen to “Gone” for yourself. Enjoy.

And, if you haven’t already, check out the interview we had a year ago right here.

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Fogey: Words Behind the Music

Photos: Emanon Entertainment

Sean “Fogey” Fogelstrom’s apartment is a disaster. His front door is broken, and the contents in his kitchen and bedroom drawers are scattered everywhere. But nothing is stolen. This is not the result of a random burglary. This is an attempted armed robbery and an event that transforms his life forever.

Fogey, 30, vividly remembers that summer evening. Twelve years ago, he and his girlfriend at the time are hanging out, watching movies inside his two-room apartment in East Wenatchee, Washington. As the early evening settles in, he suddenly feels a negative shift in the room’s energy.

“I sat up and everything was eerily silent,” recalls Fogey, who was 18 years old at the time. Boom! The door bursts open and three men rush into his apartment. Oddly enough, Fogey recognizes the unmasked men–He buys cocaine from them and they buy weed from him. They owe their dealer money and intend to rob Fogey to make up for their debt.

“What the fuck are you doing?”  Fogey says calmly.

“This is a jack move, bitch! Get your shit!” grunts one intruder as he pulls out a mac10 from his front waistline.

Terrified, Fogey’s girlfriend locks herself inside the bathroom while two of the three men search his apartment.

“I got $40 and an eighth of weed,” replies Fogey. “I have been waiting to pick more up. Y’all came at the wrong time.”

Fogey holds eye contact with the assailant and slowly walks toward him as the arguing continues. As he moves closer, the burglar nervously backs up toward the front door. The gunman breaks eye contact and attempts to load the clip of his gun. A fight ensues.

“The gun went into my belly,” says Fogey, “I grabbed the barrel with my left hand, pulled it up in the air, and then I hit him in the throat with my right elbow.”  Fogey manhandles the attacker outside the door and throws him over the railing of his two-story apartment complex. “He landed face first on the concrete and was knocked out,” he says.

When Fogey turns around, he catches a punch from the second intruder. In retaliation, he grabs the trespasser’s hand, torques his wrist, and shoves him partially down the stairs. The third man runs past Fogey and helps drag his unconscious friend to safety.

“The neighbors called the cops,” remembers Fogey. “I quickly gathered all my drugs, money, and scales and put them in my girl’s trunk, which saved me ‘cause my apartment was searched thoroughly by police.” Fortunately, Fogey and his girlfriend walk away unharmed and are only interrogated by the police. Fogey never turns the men in.

“I made my first prayer the night before this all happened, even though I didn’t believe in God yet,” says Fogey. “I woke up at 3 am, sweating and paranoid, thinking something bad was gonna happen. So I asked God, if he existed, to keep me safe from whatever was coming. I said amen and passed out.”

Several months later, Fogey’s girlfriend ends their relationship (because of the attempted armed robbery and because he was an atheist). As an attempt to win her back, Fogey makes a decision that changes his life forever: He attends church with her parent’s. The night before, however, nearly steers him off course after he takes LSD.

“I almost skipped out on going to church with them,” says Fogey who feels the drug was the devil trying to keep him away from going, “but my friend Jeremiah woke me up and made me go. I found God that day.”

From that day on, Fogey never looked at his life, or the world, through the same pair of eyes.

We at Cheap Sushi were fortunate to share a few words with the Washington native, Sean “Fogey” Fogelstrom. The father of two, and former drug dealer, was brave enough to express a personal story with us and, in addition, inform us about his early interest in poetry, his first taste of hip-hop, and his upcoming album “Manifestations.” Support local music and check out his latest music video “What I do.”

So tell Cheap Sushi readers a little about yourself

Wsup, my name is Sean William Fogelstrom, but people have been calling me Fogey since I was a kid.  I’m 30 years old, and I am originally from a small, tourist town in Leavenworth, WA. I was raised in a neighboring town called Cashmere until my freshman year, minus the year I attended second grade, which I spent in the Seattle area. I moved to Snohomish during my sophomore year (for a portion of the year) to live with my dad because I was getting into a lot of trouble back in the valley with my mom. I was expelled from Snohomish High School for numerous reasons, and moved back to my mom’s to finish out the school year at Cascade High School in Leavenworth. Well, I nearly finished the year; I was arrested on campus two days before school was out for [drug] possession, and I was expelled from my third school in a year’s time. I was forced to get a GED or leave the area again to attend another school. I chose to get a GED and moved on with my life. I followed the same troubled path for years, selling drugs, and working minimum wage jobs to make a living. I soon found myself addicted to a couple different substances, and my life spiraled out of control. I began writing poetry more frequently to alleviate the stress and emotions I felt. I soon found myself putting that poetry into motion with music at the age of 18. The first verses I wrote–when I look back on them now–were exaggerated and didn’t reflect the life I was actually leading. I felt weird trying to rap about topics that weren’t relevant to my life, so I lost interest in it for a minute. I later turned my life and interest in music around after finding God at the age of 18. I was an atheist before, but everything changed for the better after attending church one Sunday. I slowly removed myself from the world of selling and using drugs and got more into expressing myself through music–something I feel God intended me to do.

So it seemed like you used to get into a lot of trouble when you were much younger. Looking back at your life now, why do you think that was so?

I did seem to get into a fair amount of trouble as a teen, and, to be completely honest, I really don’t know what caused my behavior. I didn’t have a bad childhood–we weren’t wealthy by any means–but I always had food on my plate and a roof over my head. It did take me a long time to get comfortable with having a stepfather in my life, at the age of 5, after my parents split. I also think part of my own personal issues had something to do with not having my dad more present in my life. I sometimes went months, and even a year, without seeing or speaking with him. But looking back on that now, I can see why my mother didn’t want me influenced by my dad’s lifestyle: He suffered from alcoholism and [drug] addiction. He was not exactly a role model, but I still had that love and devotion a son has for his dad.  As I got older, I came to love my stepfather and everything he did for my family. He taught me how to be a man, although for many years I did not recognize how influential he had been in my life. My stepfather, Bob Peterson, passed away from Leukemia when I was 23. His passing was a devastating loss to the entire family, especially for my mother, Kori Peterson, and my sister, Ashley Peterson, who was Bob’s only biological child. It took me years living on my own to find who I was as a person. Soul searching and a spiritual awakening needed to happen, and I chose to find it. And that is where I think the absence of God in my life played a role. I didn’t have anything or anyone to believe in–so I thought–and I didn’t think about consequences thoroughly when I was making decisions, which often resulted in poor choices.

So you’ve been writing poetry, roughly, since the fourth grade if I’m correct. What got you into writing at such a young age?

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you any specific event or occasion that lead to me taking an interest in writing poetry, but I always found it fun and challenging when we were given writing assignments, and poetry was one of my favorite things to read and write. I continued writing poetry throughout school, and, in fifth grade, I had a teacher that really nurtured that talent. My teacher began saving and posting up my work, which back then was during Desert Storm. To this day, I think I owe a lot of my ability to write rhymes to my teacher because she encouraged me to keep doing it, even if my homework was turned in late. Lol

What was the name of the teacher that encouraged you to continue writing poetry? When was the last time you’ve seen or heard from this teacher? Btw, I think it’s awesome that you had a teacher that cared enough to motivate you to continue on your artistic path. It’s crazy how just a little bit of motivation can go a long way! 

The name of my fifth grade teacher was Sharon Divine. We lost touch for a very long time during my middle school years, but we actually linked back up through Facebook–she found me through mutual friends who were also former students in my class. She was very proud of what I had accomplished as a man, a father, and an artist. She even told me she has a box full of my work from the fifth grade, and always knew I had a bright future (even though I was usually the class clown and never really took school seriously, in my opinion). She really did make an extra effort to encourage the artistic side of my personality, and I agree with you that it is awesome to have teachers that do that.

What was your first encounter with hip-hop? how did you feel about it?

I believe my first encounter with hip-hop was listening to Sir Mix A lot with some friends (I actually had the honor to open for Sir Mix in Wenatchee on my 25th birthday). He had a super fast rap about buttermilk biscuits (lol) and there was something that intrigued me about putting all those rhymes into a format like that. This was around the time I was in the 7th grade. So I started gathering more tapes (from other people) ‘cause my mom did not approve of rap music. She thought it was too negative and had too much profanity. I had to keep my music library a secret. Now, my mom is one of my biggest fans (kind of ironic). Needless to say, hip-hop took a firm hold on my life and my taste in music. Hip-hop saved my life!

Wow! So you got to open for an emcee that turned you onto rap music? That must have been a trip! How did you feel about that? Did you get the opportunity to let him know that he’s the one that got you into hip-hop?

Yeah, it really was kind of a trip to open for him, especially in my own town with all of my supporters there. And it happened on my 25th birthday. It was something I will remember forever, a proud moment! I got to tell him about my childhood and about his tape that sparked my interest in the world of hip-hop. I want to add though, along with Sir Mix A Lot’s tape, one other tape that influenced me was The Click. That tape with Mr. Flamboyant turned me into an E-40 fan for life! And in February, earlier this year, I opened for Cool Nutz, Layzie Bone, Krizz Kaliko, and E-40 in my hometown of Wenatchee. I had the opportunity to speak with E-40 about his musical influence, and we talked about the collabo that we are doing together for my next album. That was more of a trip ‘cause I have been following 40′s [E-40] career ever since. I went from riding the school bus with a Walkman listening to his tape, to sharing the stage with him, and then to being blessed by featuring him on my album. I am truly thankful for that!

When did you decide to make a move from Washington down to the Bay Area? How do you like the Bay Area so far?

We just moved to the Bay Area (Pittsburg) in September. The decision was kind of impulsive and spontaneous. We are still adjusting to the whole move, but so far we really dig the area. There’s a lot more to do than where we lived.

In your opinion, does the Bay Area hip-hop scene differ from the scene in Washington? If so, how?

I think the Bay scene does differ from the WA scene because there is so much music out here.  I believe many artists have been influenced by the Bay Area sound, but I have not lived here long enough to form an opinion outside of that. I got a lot of love back home, but loyal fans don’t care where you go or where you come from; they just want to see you succeed. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I look forward to making the most out of moving here and calling the Bay my home. I know there is a lot more opportunity out here, but there is a lot more competition as well. I’m up for the challenge!

I found out that you’re working on a full-length album called “Manifestations.” How is the album coming along?

I am working on a full album called “Manifestations.” The name was inspired by what’s been going on for the past year in my life, both spiritually and musically. And I firmly believe that if you have a dream, you need to chase it and take it from an idea to reality (Manifest destiny) So far, it is going kind of slow because of all the external life changes going on. But I am always trying to work on my lyrics and stay motivated. I got a couple of good features coming on that album, including Bay Area Legend, E-40, who I mentioned earlier, and Madchild of Swollen Members. And I feel like I have really been growing a lot this past year as an artist, after making the decision last November to get serious about my music. So this should be an album people will love because they will be able to relate and connect to what I express. I work hard at keeping my music meaningful, and not only relative to my life, but also relative to others. Real music, real lyrics, coming from an honest place; and fueled by experience. Tribulations to triumph! I am eager to finish it, but there is a lot of work to do still!

In a past interview you stated that you were doing a good job at changing the town of Wenatchee, Washington’s overall look of hip-hop music. In your opinion, how are you doing it?

I did talk about that in a past interview.  What I meant by that statement was that I bring more of a positive energy to my approach of music. After seriously pursuing music last year, I gained fans quickly in my area– and many of them were younger. Even their parents liked my music. When people of older generations have biased opinions toward rap, or hip-hop, it is predominantly about negative things like drugs and violence. Although I do speak on those subjects, because they were such a large part of my life, I do not glorify any of it. I speak of its downfalls and how I overcame it all. And the fact that I barely use profanity allows my music to be heard by more people that would typically turn it down or not allow their kids to hear it. I also became a very involved member of the community and helped organize fundraiser events to raise money for families in need–one of which was right before we moved in August.  Our nephew was tragically killed at the age of 5, and I threw together a last-minute, all-day concert to raise funds for my sister in law’s family. The event helped them with funeral costs and helped them in general because they took time of work to deal with their tragic loss. The concert ended up raising over $10,000 and was a huge effort by the entire community.  It really brought everyone together for a common cause, and that is something I intend on doing as long as my music has any kind of influence on people.  Things like that change the minds of people who view rap or hip-hop as a negative outlet.

I am really sorry to hear about your loss… I have a three nieces, one of which is three years old, and I can only imagine how you must have felt…But I am really impressed with your involvement in your community. This was in Washington, correct? And, since you used to be heavily involved in your community, do you plan on doing the same in the Bay Area? If so,what do you see yourself doing?

Yes, this was back in Wenatchee. And I do plan on being an active member of the community; not only in the Bay Area, but anywhere I go in this world. I really can’t say what I plan on doing to help out here, but it all starts with getting to know people and networking. I gotta find a need before I can help fill it, and I gotta have the people behind me to help. As time goes on, I am sure I will find a way to use my musical influence to help out a cause. I really enjoy organizing fundraiser charity concerts, so maybe that will be my approach.

What is one thing new you’ve discovered about yourself over the past year after taking your music serious?

One thing new I have discovered about myself is that I am more capable of accomplishing great things on my own than I ever thought possible.  I don’t have an agent or a manager, so everything I have done in my music career has been on my own merit. It is not an easy thing to do–as I’m sure many indie artists out there know first hand.  But hard work and determination, mixed with passion and belief in yourself, pay off!

If there ever arises a moment in your life where you can finally tell yourself  “I’ve made it,” what moment would you say would solidify that statement?

Man, if I could ever say one moment would solidify that “I made it,” it would have to be that I have created something for my kid’s futures. I would love to be able to create a life for my kids, family, and close friends. And, of course, enjoy the fruits of my labor as well.

Any last words for your fans, friends, or any one reading this?

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in my musical career. I would like to thank my family, friends, fans, promoters, artists, DJs, and people like yourself that take an interest in what I do. Without the loyal support of so many people, all the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made would be for nothing. Because I don’t just make music for myself–I make it for people that can relate to it. The best compliments I get, and the one’s that mean the most to me, are the ones where people tell me that my music inspires them or that it helps them through struggles that many of us battle. I feel obligated to keep that morale up by staying true to my music, myself, and shedding light on how I have gotten past the many obstacles life has placed in front of me. I am a man of faith, not only in God, but also in myself. We all have the power and ability to change our lives for the better, but you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will. And, as long as I can keep making music that inspires people to think that way, I will continue to invest and work hard at growing as an artist and creating music that people connect with. I invite anyone reading this to get in contact with me. I am new to the area, and I’m always looking to network with like-minded individuals. I appreciate you taking the time to interview me, and thanks to everyone who read this.  God Bless!

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