Give us your bio
I made my first dollar as an emcee in 1999. It was a local hip-hop show at a coffee shop in my hometown of Yorba Linda, California (near Anaheim). Teamed up with some high school friends, we put the whole thing together ourselves; booked the acts, got someone to collect the $5 cover at the door… we controlled everything except the sound, which was handled by the venue’s house tech. I think it was pretty much right off the bat that I realized the fact I’d be doing this for a very long time, and that if I kept up a sincere effort I could continue to make money doing it.
When Speach Impediments officially started in 2004, that’s when things really started to take off. We won 3 OCMA’s (Orange County Music Awards), got all types of press, put out some albums and vinyl, performed at Rock The Bells, shared the stage with damn near every one of our hip-hop idols (including Wu Tang Clan, Hieroglyphics, Talib Kweli, just to name a very few). The group is currently focusing on our solo efforts and other projects, but we’re by no means “done” or disbanded.
I moved to Las Vegas in 2008. Started Keep Records in 2012 to help empower other independent hip-hop artists. And since then I’ve been trying to crack the code of doing the music thing as an exclusive income without needing an outside job. There have only been 2 or 3 different situations while on legitimate tours where I was making enough money and staying so busy that having outside work wasn’t possible.
What are your top 5 influences
The groups who inspired me the most actually changed through the stages of my journey. Sonically, I fell in love with A Tribe Called Quest right off the bat. I’ve never grown out of enjoying that jazzy-type sound. I really gravitated toward Wu Tang Clan because they were the large scale version of what my small group of friends were doing. Not musically, or even lyrically; but how they teamed up together and still did solo stuff, keeping it all encompassed in the same brand. Then I got into more independent stuff like The Hieroglyphics, The Visionaries, and The Living Legends crew; all for the same reasons I got into Wu Tang. Not just because of their sound, but because of the go-getter attitude. These guys were really making shit happen on a large scale without the help of any major labels. I like a whole slew of other artists, but as far as influence goes, those were the most inspirational for me.
What are your new projects coming out?
Right now I’m completely focused on a release called “The Prognosis”. It’s a super exciting project for me because it’s going to be released on vinyl and digital only. It’s a 7″ record with 2 songs on it. The big seller for me is the fact that it’s limited edition, only 200 plates were pressed. And they’re all randomly colored and hand numbered, which makes it that much more exclusive. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long time so I’m super excited about it. You can check out the video for the first track off the record at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bafMp-R_Oo
What helped you get into music?
I was actually fully dedicated to skateboarding at the time it all started. The friends I used to skate with would be doing long drives to spots where we’d film, and other times we’d drive even further for contests. During those drives we would mess around and try to freestyle, just to keep our mind off the hours spent in the car. We’d go like 4 bars and fuck up, just laughing at each other and playing around with it. Eventually 4 bars turned into 6 bars, then 8… next thing you know a couple of us could go through a whole instrumental without stopping. I remember be excited as hell when I’d go through a whole track without messing up.
Then in 2000 I got into a head-on collision on the freeway. It was out in the desert, hours from anywhere. Got air lifted to a hospital where I was on machines for a week, it was crazy. Friends and family came to visit all crying and emotional like I wasn’t going to make it. Really a bad situation. The engine pierced through my leg and shattered some bones in my foot. The damn thing looked like a cantaloupe, it was nasty. They told me I would never be able to skate at a competitive level after that. My sponsors dropped me and I had to quit doing contests. My morale was completely shot, dreams of being a professional skateboarder shattered. So the only thing I had left to pursue as a passion was music, which always reminded me of my days on the road between skate spots.
What is the one thing you would tell your fans?
If you’re a fan, not even of mine, but of anyone who’s an independent artist; do what you can to support. If you like a song, buy it. That dollar means more than you would think it does. It’s validation for the artist that they’re not just wasting time putting their heart into their music for nobody to take notice. If you don’t have a dollar to buy the song then post the link up for someone who might. Spread the word about a good indie artist that you like. Buy a ticket to their show when they’re in your town.
The Drakes and Snoop Doggs and Kanyes aren’t gonna depend on your dollar to eat. Those major artists have financial backers and teams of people making sure they get paid one way or another. But it’s the small guys like myself who really notice and truly feel when someone goes out of their way to support. It’s the supporting fans that truly make a difference for us when we’re out there spilling ourselves on the stage.
What are your biggest goals for 2016?
Other than The Prognosis record, my biggest goal is this tour that’s coming up. I’ll be joining the ranks of “international touring artist” in November. I’m going to Australia with Keep Records for 3 weeks to do “The So Indie Tour”. It’s going to be filmed and edited into a full-blown documentary that’s going to be distributed through independent record stores next year on DVD. It will without a doubt be the biggest thing I’ve ever done with my music. Very much looking forward to it.
You can learn more about the tour at KeepRecordsLLC.com.