BY: GABY MORENO
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
Today I will be sharing an interview I did with Armando Hernandez a.k.a RaculFright_13 . I came across his social media a few months ago searching for Mexican horror hashtags, since I was trying to find a movie copy of an obscure Mexican horror film called, “Panico En La Montaña“. Starring one of my all time favorite singers, Pedro Fernandez. His page came up since he had a VHS copy of this film. I instantly started following him and realized how he was very knowledgeable en el Cine Mexicano in general. I thought it was unique what he was doing. Glad he is keeping old school Mexican cinema alive! I might be going to far as calling him a Mexican Film historian lol. I reached out to Armando to see if he would be open to be interviewed for my blog. He happily accepted. Please read below to know more about Armando and his own blog. We also discuss the horror genre and Mexican horror.
1. Whats your favorite scary movie? Either Mexican, American or foreign.
I’ll give you a title for Mexican, American & foreign. Make it more interesting that way, que no? Haha.
American: I always considered The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) my all-time favorite horror movie. It is a movie that is frightening & so exciting to watch. It really brought out a lot of fear into me as a kid, but it also brought out a lot of curiosity of the crazy people out there in the world and to seek out more movies just like it. Ever since watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, horror & cult movies became an important part of my life. That movie changed me for the best (or maybe the worst, haha).
Mexican: As for as a favorite Mexican horror movie, it’s really hard to nail it down to one because there’s a select few, but one I guess that I could consider an all time-favorite would be Terror En Los Barrios (1984). It’s such a strange little horror movie with a mommy issues-killer using various disguises. One particular disguise consists of a rubber green ghoul mask & all black clothing. It’s also crazy how obscure this movie is. I never seen a copy of it anywhere and I came across it by chance.
Foreign: there’s many great horror movies from other countries, but one that has always stood out for me would be the Italian horror movie by Lucio Fulci: Zombie (1979). Its such a simple zombie movie, but it’s done so well & it’s gory as hell, too. The gore is done just perfectly & how can you not love the music score in that movie? The opening & closing theme song is haunting & beautiful.
And I almost forgot to mention that we get to see a zombie eating a shark!! How cool is that? (Haha).
2. For those who are not familiar with you that are outside the horror community. Please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Armando Hernandez. I’m based in Pomona, CA and in my blog entitled “raculfright_13’s Blogo Trasho” (a name change will be happening soon though) I write about Mexican movies of every genre! which consists of drama, action, comedy & horror. I’m trying to bring these Mexican movies (mostly a lot of obscure titles) out of the dark & to be remembered & respected.
3. I see you are very knowledgeable about Mexican horror movies and Cine Mexicano in general. How did you become so knowledgable in this genre?
Growing up as a kid, my parents (mainly my mom) would always wanna rent a horror movie for me & my older brother to watch (along with whatever other movies) and those are the movies you’ll always remember as a kid. They were scary, but so fun at the same time.
As for the Cine Mexicano, Mexploitation and videohomes (straight to video Mexican movies), it began when I was 19 turning 20, when I remembered the movies “La Banda Del Carro Rojo” and “Ratas De La Ciudad”. I remember as a kid watching them on tv with both my parents and I really liked them. It was cool to see the people of our heritage acting in these exciting movies dealing with crime, poverty & tragedy on both sides of the border (Ratas however only takes place in Mexico City). Once I acquired copies of both movies, I also remembered many more Mexican movies that were so intriguing to me growing up. One in particular was a videohome entitled Herencia Diabólica (1994), which is a crazy little clown doll/midget horror movie starring Lorena Herrera & directed by the master Alfredo Salazar. I remember that movie freaking me out as a kid, but enjoying the stupid fear I got out of it. My mom otherwise called the movie “trash”.
So after getting copies of those 3 movies, I began to seek out more titles I remembered watching & hearing about. I then started to read into the lives & careers of everyone in the Mexican movie industry and It ended up becoming this huge obsession for me in my early 20’s and here I am close to 30 and still reading, writing & researching Cine Mexicano, Mexploitation and the Videohome scene. This whole Mexican film industry from the old days fascinates me. The people behind the camera, the actors, etc. All this is just so fascinating to me and my craving for this knowledge to know all this about this industry grows & grows each day.
4. How long have you been collecting movies? What is your source or distributor you get it from? If you can share the info.
I been buying & collecting movies since I was a teenager. I would look for movies on eBay & Amazon and of course anywhere else I could buy movies. When it came to Mexican movies, that was a lot harder for me to find since a lot of titles I searched for weren’t really available on DVD, but they were however on VHS and that is the format I found many titles I wanted & needed and some that I didn’t even think of needing. It was also cool to find out that a lot of these old video companies were working directly with & were the people in the industry. For a while I was finding a lot of Mexican movies on VHS at a local video store called “Movie Island”, I would also search other video stores from time to time and find some titles there as well. Recently my collection grew bigger thanks to a wonderful man named Juan who has been selling me many Mexican movies on tape. All original & most still intact in their packaging as well. A little known fact of Juan: He once owned a video store and before owning it, he was just an employee of the store and this store in particular was very Mexican oriented, so they always had first dibs on every single title from all the top Mexican video companies. For Juan to still have been able to hold on to these Mexican tapes 30+ years later is just awesome & full of devotion. He’s the best.
5. I read some of your blog reviews and you inject a lot of humor and personal anecdotes. Would you say that is what sets you apart from other bloggers? Or How do you make your blog/platform stand out?
When I began writing reviews, I was inspired by the website Bleeding Skull (when it was just Joe Ziemba & Dan Budnik) since they wrote simple reviews full of humor & honesty. If they liked the movie a lot, then they will say so. If they didn’t, then they would say so. They also didn’t over-analyze a movie and they were also being themselves in the review which of course was being fun & quirky. So for myself, I just write about these Mexican movies out of fun & honesty. I try to be trivial as well if I find out something very interesting about the movie’s production, director, actor, etc.
As for the anecdotes, I done that when I wanted to make the review more longer & interesting to read. My Lencha La Taxista review is an example of that. How do I write about a movie like that? Am I gonna come off pretentious & state relevant & important facts about the movie? Am I gonna over-analyze it? Of course not. I’m gonna blend in with the movie just as it is, which is to be weird, funny & random as hell. I also wanted to poke fun at the 2018 epic Roma since that movie at the time was getting a lot of attention and why not feed off that? (haha).
So basically I just try to be myself in my blog. I wanna be fun, interesting, honest & trivial if possible. I don’t wanna sound like anyone else because that’s boring & too obvious.
6. To make this interview a bit interesting. You know how the movie Scream created the horror movie rules. If you had to make any rules to survive a Mexican horror movie what would be some of the survival rules?
7. What do you think about Hollywood using Mexican legends to make horror films, like La Llorona? If you watched it what were were your thoughts?
To be honest, the movie doesn’t interest me much, but eventually I will watch it. I do however think it’s cool how Hollywood wants to use Mexican folklore in movies, but I feel it has to be done appropriately & not water it down to make it more appealing for a mass general audience. Keep it authentic and with all the money invested, it shouldn’t be hard to do that and let alone make it actually scary.
8. Have you met or had the opportunity to talk to any Mexican horror directors or actors? And if so who were they and what conversation did you guys have?
Over the years I have been in touch with a variety of directors, producers and some actors via Facebook, email & phone. Even some of their family members as well (haha). The one I can say I gotten close with and has made a few horror/thriller titles is the king of the videohomes Christian Gonzalez. We had a nice Skype chat many years ago at the idea of his lovely wife Patricia Rojas. It was crazy to see him live on my computer screen and to talk to him about his career was awesome. He’s such a good guy and I’ll always admire the time he gave me to talk to him. I also recently interviewed Leopoldo Laborde on my blog where he too talked of his career in the genre scene & pointed out many facts of the Mexican movie industry. Another great guy for giving me the time to talk with. There will be a couple of people of the industry (one being a horror/cult icon) I will be Interviewing in the near future and I cannot wait for people to see this. It’s gonna be really epic honestly.
9. If you haven’t met any actors or directors yet who would you like to meet and why?
Well sadly a lot of the people I would have liked to have met have passed on, but I do really hope to meet Director Ruben Galindo someday since he’s my favorite Mexican movie director and I would just love to tell him how much his movies really mean to me. As for actors, it would be cool to meet Jorge Reynoso since I think he’s a great actor who has starred in many favorite movies of mine. I would love to also meet Lina Santos since she’s such an iconic actress and incredibly gorgeous as well. She too starred in many favorite movies of mine. Then lastly to say I would love to meet Patricia Rivera. She too is another iconic & gorgeous actress who I’ve heard from a close friend of hers that she is such a lovely woman in person.
10. Ernesto Alonso’s “El Maleficio” was one of the few novelas that used themes of the occult. What do you think about novelas having a horror element to them? Do you think it would be successful?
It’s funny you mentioned this because not long ago I wondered why there’s not many novelas with any type of supernatural/horror theme. It is however a different kind of industry and that industry hasn’t changed in so long, so it looks like we’ll be seeing telenovelas about lust & crime for many more years to come. Hopefully one day we see do get a telenovela that’ll cater to fans of the supernatural/horror. If not a telenovela, then maybe a TV show in the styles of the late 80’s/early 90’s anthology show “La Hora Marcada”.
11. Favorite horror soundtrack if any?
If it counts, I would go with the soundtrack for Cannibal Holocaust by Fabio Frizzi since every song is beautiful, tragic & terrifying sounding. “Adulteress Punishment” is my favorite track.
12. Favorite horror director? They can be Mexican or American. And why?
When I think of a great Mexican director of horror I immediately think of the master Carlos Enrique Taboada. He is the one who made some wonderful Mexican movies about ghosts, murder & the supernatural. Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo is one of my all-time favorite movies as well. It is a must watch of his for sure just as the rest of his movies are!
As for an American horror director, I will narrow it down to Wes Craven since he’s made so many classics that I really love. I mean, I thought “My Soul To Take” was one of the worst movies I’ve ever watched, but when you look at the rest of his filmography, he made so many amazing movies over the years. He made A Nightmare on Elm Street and everyone loves that movie (that’s actually my 2nd favorite horror movie of all-time), Last House on the Left is a movie I always admired highly and then there’s Deadly Friend which is one of his most underrated movies ever. It was also a movie that my family always came together to watch whether we rented it or saw it airing on TV. An 80’s killer-robot girl movie is definitely a must watch for the entire family.
13. Favorite horror villain? Why?
I narrow it down to Dracula (Bela Lugosi’s & Christopher Lee’s portrayal) since he gets to stay up all night creeping around and thirsting for human blood.
14. Favorite actor in the horror genre and why?
I always admired Vincent Price since he’s been in many iconic roles for many classic horror movies. His facials expressions & the sound of his voice & laugh is just so creepy and cool. He’s one of a kind and could never be replicated.
15. What do you love about the horror genre and why?
The horror genre is just always so memorable & fun and that’s what I love about it. I mean of course any other movie genre will have its memorable & fun movies, but you don’t ever forget or ignore the horror stuff at all. When you watch them as a kid, it leaves some kind of impact & memory. You’ll be scared shitless maybe, but afterwards you’ll remember that time of being scared & laugh about it & feel happy. It’s easy entertainment sure, but overall it’s entertainment that will definitely be unforgettable & treasured.
16. The horror genre is always criticized and given a negative reputation what is your opinion on that?
It’s definitely a misunderstood genre and given way too much of a negative reputation. I mean after watching movies such as The Exorcist and Hereditary, it’s like why weren’t these movies nominated for best picture at the Oscars? These movies told stories that were not only creepy as hell & original, but they were also filmed very beautifully & well acted. While many horror movies are usually the same and often copy each other, the same can be said about other genres as well. Horror movies can be taken serious if the movie itself is serious as well. Hopefully down the line, the genre will get much more respect and finally make people realize that horror movies aren’t always cheesy & fun. They can be beautiful, stupendous & truly terrifying.
17. What does your social media name mean “Racul Fright”? Any special meaning behind it?
People have asked me that many times before and I always tell them the same old weird story. I was meant to make a user name on MSN “TastetheBloodDraculaFrights13” but I guess that was too long or whatever and so it gave me the option for “raculfright_13” as an alternative and I liked the way that sounded, so ever since then it stuck with me. So basically My screen name is “Dracula”, but without the D in the beginning & the A missing in the end (haha). The number 13 is of course the number associated with bad luck and I like that. Just don’t ever think you’ll catch me with a “13” tattoo on me because I think that’s too extra & lame as hell.
18. What is the coolest or favorite collectible you own whether it is a vhs, dvd or blu ray etc. Why?
It would be the full sheet poster of the horror movie Demond Doll which is mostly known as “‘Muerte Infernal” and “Hell Doll”. The mystery of Demond Doll and this poster is very intriguing to me since I guess it was released theatrically at one point or it had gotten some kind of video release under that title and in its original English language.
19. Jordan Peele has started his own lane in creating original horror movies and giving the main roles to Black actors which is great since normally we haven’t seen that in the past. What do you think about a director like Guillermo Del Toro doing that for the Mexican community? Do you think other Mexican Directors might follow Jordan Peele’s blueprint?
It’s awesome seeing Guillermo Del Toro being a huge name in the movie industry now a days since he’s 100% Mexican and really putting in work. Hopefully soon he makes something awesome in his native country that is pure horror & beautiful. If someone can be a Mexican Jordan Peele, he’s clearly the man to do something similar. Cross our fingers for that. However, it would be cool to see a fresh new face out there doing work for Mexican & Latinos in mainstream horror. That definitely needs to be happening!
20. Lastly how has the horror community embraced you or maybe has not? Was it difficult to build a following when you first got started?
Well I can’t say the community in the horror scene has embraced me like with certain dull & unoriginal websites & writers, but what I can say is I have definitely opened a lot of eyes to people into becoming interested in Mexican movies & obscure Mexican movies. Over the years, people have wondered what a certain movie was about & wondered if the movie was even good and I was someone that have provided that information for them. My following isn’t huge, but its enough for people to really wanna talk to me about these movies and for some to even go as far as to bug me every single day to provide them free copies of these movies (haha). It’s difficult to push your content out there in the beginning, but just always promote your stuff and it’ll catch on for sure. It’s worth the wait and it gives you more time to just keep going & adding more cool stuff to your content.
21. How do you build and keep relationships with people in the horror community?
I try to keep up with what’s going on in the scene of course. Social media of course is the best & easiest way to really get to know people that are into horror or whatever else similar. It’s also important to support a website or podcast to really become acquainted with this kind of community, so that’s always important to do! Support the scene/community!
22. Any advice for anyone who is thinking of joining the horror community? Whether it be a blog or a podcast.
Whatever you wanna provide: be it writing material or audio material in horror, cult or just movies in general; just be yourself. Be honest and don’t be afraid to express how you feel about certain things in a movie or whatever. It’s always good to hear different opinions because if everyone was the saying the same stuff in their sites or whatever, then it would be so damn boring & repetitive & unoriginal. That’s why I honestly don’t keep up with the big horror websites these days, because they all sound the same & always write about the same stuff often and never really give a legitimate movie review.
Thanks again Armando for your time it is appreciated. Also thank you for the movies you’ve sent me! We will have to meet soon in person soon! Please go follow his IG page at @raculfright_13 if you are into Mexican films or curious about that genre, you won’t regret it! Here is the link to his blog: https://raculfright13sblogotrasho.blogspot.com. To my readers and supporters hope you all enjoyed reading this interview. Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads. While you’re at it please feel free to follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!
BY: GABY MORENO
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
I am hyped to share this interview I did with Rob Markman. Most may know him as the Head of Artist Relations from Genius, but he is also an emcee and a humble human being! Rob was kind enough to answer some interview questions. Today he dropped his second project, “It’s Too Late At The Wake“! I am excited for everyone to hear it. He was gracious enough to let me listen to it prior to its release and it is an amazing inspirational album!
As I have said before it is no secret Rob is my favorite journalist. He conducts the best interviews in my opinion. He asks questions no other journalist has asked an artist and is very knowledgeable of who he is interviewing. He is one of my inspirations as to why I decided to do the journalism thing! I love Hip Hop and what best way to contribute to the culture than to write about it. Very excited and honored Rob gave me the opportunity to interview him! Without further a do please read below to get a glimpse of who Rob Markman is and learn more about his new project.
Please introduce yourself to those who might not know who you are.
My name is Rob Markman, I’m justa guy from Brooklyn who loves hip-hop.
How did your journey in journalism and music happen? Did you face obstacles, if so what were they if you can share it with us.
I started as freelance journalist writing album reviews for Complex, The Source, Vibe and XXL. An old friend took a chance on me, gave me my first assignment and I kept building from there. I faced a lot of obstacles when I first started. In the beginning I worked full-time in a mailroom for a woman’s clothing company and I freelanced as a writer. It was hard to convince people that I could do more than mailroom work. Originally a lot of people didn’t see my vision, so that got frustrating. And then when I finally got my first full-time writing job at a magazine, I was making less money then I was making in the mailroom. My son was a baby at the time, so it was tough. But it worked out in the end.
How do you juggle your journalistic career, rap career and family?
It’s hard to juggle it all, family is the most important off top. If my fam isn’t taken care of, then I can’t concentrate on music or my work at Genius. So I take care of home first, after that I just use all of my time to pour into my passion and my passionate about Genius and my music, so that fuels my drive.
How has working for Genius as Head of Artist Relations been for you?
Genius has been amazing. I’ve been there for just about four years and it feels like the dream job. I really believe in what we are building and the team that I work with over there is just so talented. Together we’ve pulled off some amazing things, from our daily content to live events with artists like Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and 2 Chainz. Some days I step back like, “Damn, we did that.”
Where did your passion for pursuing your dreams come from? As well as advocating for others to do the same?
As a kid I had a vivid imagination, I would day dream a lot. I used to day dream about having a record deal, performing on stage and just contributing to hip-hop. I always knew I had something to offer. I have always been the type to go out there and get what I want. When I was young my thing was sneakers, I always wanted a pair of Jordans and my parents just wouldn’t get ’em for me. I remember one time the bought me a pair of LA Gears and I would get teased about ’em. By the time I turned 13 I was determined to get a pair of Jordans, so I got a little part-time job in a comic book store and saved up until I got those Jordans. I’ve been working ever since then. After the comic book store it was a pizza shop, after that I worked at a call center, then the mailroom. Long story short is, once I got my first job, I never asked my parents to buy me anything again, because I knew I could get it on my own if I worked hard enough. I think we’re all capable, so I just want to speak it into existence for people. To be in a position to inspire people is the best part of all of this.
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for people who might be lost on their path to find out what their dreams are? As well as advice for those working 9 to 5 jobs who might be afraid to seek their true calling.
Well first of all you have to figure out what your dream is, and you have to make sure it’s your dream. Don’t be a rapper because you think that’s the thing to do. You have to ask yourself: “Do I really love it? Am I willing to put the work in to go and get it?” The problem is a lot of people only think about the end result, but are you willing to take the long, road to get there? So you have to figure out your own dream, and be willing to make all of the sacrifice to get it.
Some people will tell you that you’ll never get to your dreams if you have a 9 to 5, and I don’t believe that one bit. You can chase your dreams and still handle your responsibility, but you have to be willing to sacrifice something. So you don’t have to quit your 9 to 5, but you may have to sacrifice sleep or you may have to sacrifice playing PS4 every night. You can’t be afraid, and you can’t be lazy and you have to believe in yourself or no one will.
“It’s Too Late At The Wake” is your second project. It is a follow up to your “Write to Dream” EP. I watched an interview where you mentioned this project is a continuation of the same concept to follow your dreams. How would you say this album is different from your last?
It’s Too Late at the Wake is just musically better to Write to Dream in my opinion. I learned a lot making the first project and I became a better artist because of it. This album is lyrically better, musically better and I just feel like it’s going to touch people in a different way. There is a lot more passion on this album and a lot more energy. My first project was cool, but I’m not just happy to be here, I belong in this position and this album proves it.
In your first song off the new album you rap, “Some people only reach out when it’s time for a rollout”. I am paraphrasing. As someone who works in the music industry, how do you deal with people who might not have the best intentions? How do you know how to separate the people that truly support you from people who are just looking for a handout? I ask this because you are one of the few journalists who tends to have always positive things to say about artists and can tell you love what you do and show love to all.
Yeah, the first song is called “It’s Too Late” and that was me just venting about all the things that went on since dropping Write to Dream. So that line “Everybody calls me bro now/ But only reach out when it’s time for their rollout,” it’s just the nature of the business. I’m ok with people reaching out when it’s time to drop their album, that’s the business I’m in and I LOVE my job. But all I’m saying is let’s be clear about what it is. Let’s work when it’s time to work, but don’t be on some phony shit. I always try to be honest with everyone I’m dealing with in this business. If some one else has different intentions that’s on them. If I notice that someone isn’t being straight up, then I deal with that relationship accordingly — we’ll work together when it makes sense, and when it doesn’t make sense, we won’t work together.
You have Styles P featured on this album. Which is an amazing feature! In your previous album you did not have big name features. How did this collaboration happen? Who would you love to collaborate with in the near future? Or do want to follow what J. Cole does and have no features?
Styles P is one of the dopest MCs ever. he’s so honest in his music and he communicates pain so poetically. He’s a stone cold killer lyrically too, he’ll murder a verse so calmly. I was honored that he was down to work with me on “Next Check.” One day he DM’d me and said if I ever needed him for a verse, just hit him up. A few weeks passed and I recorded “Next Check” and thought he’d sound ill on it, I sent him the verse and he sent it right back. The Cris Streetz added his verse and the song was done.
I have some collaborations I’m excited about on It’s Too Late at the Wake, me and Punch have a song with The Ichiban Don which is fire. Those are my real friends. I have JNYR, Yuri Koller and Komi on some hooks too. In the future though, I don’t know if you’ll see any big name features from me. If you do see it, then know it happened super organically. I’m not good at asking for features, I dunno it just doesn’t work out for me. I don’t think it’s in the cards. When it comes to working with singers and people on hooks, sure — because I can’t sing, so sometimes you need people to bring a vibe that you can’t bring. But when it comes to rap features, I can rap, so I’ll handle the verses on my songs.
What inspires your lyrics? What is your writing process like when you are creating an album or EP? For instance do you write to a beat or do the lyrics come first?
I get inspired by stories that happened in my real life. Everything on my songs comes from my real life. Even a song like “Raheem’s Funeral” — yes I used the movie “Juice” as a metaphor, but the actual verse of that song comes from a real life situation. I was at a funeral from someone that I loved very much and one of the people responsible for his murder was in the room with us. It was a terrible feeling. I always knew I was going to write about that, but it took me years. I always write to a beat, but a lot of the times I already have the concept to the song before I have the beat. At that point it’s just about finding the beat that matches the mood of the story I want to tell.
What would you like your listeners to take away from this new album?
When people listen to It’s Too Late at the Wake I want them to get inspired and do that thing they always dreamed of doing, because one day we’re all going to end up in that casket and then it’s too late. The second thing I want people to take away from the album is to show love to your people. We see it all the time on social media, the timeline will just clown someone or hate on them wth no regards to their feelings and then when that person passes away the same people are the first ones to throw up an Rest In Peace post. That’s terrible, if you love them show them that love while they’re still alive. Give them the flowers while they can still smell ’em.
I heard in a previous interview that your last project was inspired by emcees like Nas, Jay-Z and Biggie. Who would you say influenced you in this project? If any come to mind.
Honestly, I was my biggest inspiration on this new album. I was solely focused on being better than I was on Write to Dream. Every song I challenged myself to get better.
Do you have any plans of going on tour with this new album? Possibility of paying the West Coast a visit?
Right now I don’t have any tour plans. I would love to perform on the West Coast, it would be a dream. My schedule has been crazy, I’m not saying a tour is out of the question, but I would just have to make it make sense. I will be performing at Rolling Loud in Miami on May 11. I can’t wait.
Any plans on releasing new music videos for any of your singles? Maybe a video for, “I Think We Lost The Culture” in the works?
I haven’t thought about the music videos yet, I’ve just been so focused on the actual music. I love “Culture,” I think I may let the fans decide which video I shoot next.
Using only 5 words, which words would you use to describe your new album?
Honest, sincere, fire, New York and hip-hop!
How do you remain humble and stay grounded?
I don’t know. I’m really just being myself. I treat people with the same respect that I’d like to receive. I’m fully confident in my abilities and I’m aware of my accomplishments, but none of that shit defines me. Ultimately I’d like to be judged on the type of man that I am, the father that I am. What does being the best rapper or the best journalist matter if you’re an asshole.
What do you feel or believe sets you apart from your peers in both the rap game and in journalism?
I guess my perspective sets me a part. I’ve been rapping since I was young. When my old boss, former XXL Editor in Chief, Datwon Thomas found out that I made music he told me that he thinks that’s why my interviews are so great, because I relate to artists in a way that most journalists can’t — and that in turn allows me to ask the right questions and get them to open up. Maybe that’s true, i don’t know. Ultimately I think it’s perspective that sets me a part though, I have a story to tell.
This is a hip hop/horror blog so I gotta ask, what is your favorite scary movie? Why?
The original “Exorcist” movie is still the scariest movie that I ever seen. Till this day it creeps me the hell out. I’ve seen spirits before and I believe that there are more than what we see. I know I sound crazy, and I know that’s just a movie, but it’s also not that far-fetched to me.
Any favorite horror soundtracks or horror-core albums?
The Halloween theme is dope. The song they used for “The Exorcist” theme is so damn creepy. And that first Gravediggaz album was dope to me.
Favorite Hip Hop album or song of all time? It can be more than one.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death is my favorite hip-hop album of all-time. Picking my favorite song is a lot tougher. Jay Z’s “Dead Presidents” is up there — part one and part two.
You are very talented. You are a journalist and an emcee. Do you see yourself conquering any other creative arenas?
Comic books. I want to write more comic books. I wrote a story of DC comics years ago and it was published. It was a Flash story and appeared in a book called Solo, issue number 10.
You are part Puerto Rican do you think it is important that there is latino representation in the Hip Hop community. If so how do you think you can help push a positive image of your culture in your music or journalism?
One of the things I hate the most is when people try to treat Latinx people like we’re outsiders in hip-hop. Hip-hop as we know it in its modern form was birthed in Bronx, New York, so you mean to tell me Latinos weren’t a part of that? Bronx is filled with Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, and it’s well documented. People like Crazy Legs, Prince Whipper Whip, Lee Quinones, Prince Markie Dee — and this is before we start talking about Fat Joe, Cypress Hill, and Big Pun. So I think it’s very important to Latinos represented in hip-hop and I’m proud to do that.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind whether as a creative or in your personal life?
I just hope when people remember me that they remember me as someone who did it right. i hope my sons will see me as a good father and a good role model. As far as how the culture sees me, I just want people to look at what I’ve done and say that I did it with love and respect. I hope that my legacy is one that can add on to hip-hop in a positive way.
Thank you Rob Markman for your time and being down to do this interview! I truly appreciate you! It is journalists and emcees like you that give us upcoming writers and lyricists the inspiration to keep going! To my readers and supporters hope you all enjoyed reading this interview. Go stream, listen or buy Rob’s new project, “It’s Too Late At The Wake” to support dope hip hop music! Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads. While you’re at it please feel free to follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!
BY: GABY MORENO
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
I had the opportunity to send over some interview questions to Jamie Woodward who runs a Horror Comic Pull List on IG. We met through social media before I even started this blog and he was always showing love and support. He even sent me some free comics! Thanks again Jamie! I thought I would interview him since we both love hip hop and horror. I also believe what he is doing is unique. There is not a lot of pages that center on horror comics and Jamie is savvy with his knowledge on them. Without further a do please read below to know a bit more about Jamie.
1. Please introduce yourself to those who might not know who you are.
My name is Jamie Woodward, bonafide Hip-Hop & Horror fanatic from back in the day! I was a DJ from 1989 to 2005 cutting for various UK rap crews, playing clubs, slanging mixtapes, etc. Horror has always been my preferred choice for entertainment and I have a particular interest in comics and graphic novels of that genre.
2. How did you become an expert and knowledgeable in horror comics?
I was really into comics as a kid, mainly Marvel stuff, but I kinda lost interest when Hip-Hop and DJ’ing came along. Around ten years ago I used to take a Sony PSP to work with me loaded with music, movies and games for break times. I added their digital comic-reader app when it became available and downloaded some of the comics which were available. I really wasn’t feeling the superhero titles anymore, but there was the first issue of a comic called ‘Y: The Last Man’ on DC’s Vertigo imprint that really caught my attention, by the time I’d finished the first volume I was hooked! I’ve been reading practically all of the independent horror releases ever since.
3. The Horror Pull List, how did that concept come about? When did you begin this journey and how has the feedback been on social media?
There’s no shortage of comic book fans on IG, or horror fans either. But I noticed whenever people post up their comic selections for that month is invariably dominated by offerings from the ‘big 2’ with a couple of indie titles, maybe one of those will be a horror comic. Considering how much of an impact stories which originated in independent comic books have on popular culture, they are tragically underrepresented. I created The Horror Pull List account late last year to try and focus solely on horror comics. The response from creators has been very positive, and it’s steadily growing in followers despite being as niche as it is.
4. What is your favorite horror comic series? Why?
The series which immediately comes to mind is Allen Moore’s Providence, published by Avatar Press. Besides being one of the most literary comics I’ve ever read, the attention to detail and historical accuracy in each issue, in combination with Jacen Burrow’s dope artwork is insane.
5. What is your favorite scary movie? Why?
The Thing (1982)! John Carpenter is unquestionably my favorite director, and in my opinion The Thing is a perfectly crafted horror movie which still holds up really well even after 37 years. The quality of the SFX are self explanatory, but the atmospherics, the sense of claustrophobia and paranoia are what really makes the movie something special.
6. Any plans of possibly ever writing your own horror comic series?
Doubtful, but I have written short stories in the past so I guess anything is possible.
7. What do you think about Jordan Peele starting a mainstream lane once again of original screenplays in horror movies? Or do you just enjoy remakes more?
Get Out was dope! I’m generally not too comfortable with remakes, unless there’s a really good reason for that remake, so I was kinda concerned when it was announced he was rebooting Candyman. But then shortly afterwards he dropped US, which I haven’t actually seen yet, but by all accounts is a very worthy successor. I trust Peele’s vision, and I’m sure with the advancements in CGI and such since the OG released a Candyman remake could be cool, but I’d much rather see original content.
8. You also love hip hop. When did you fall in love with hip hop and the culture?
My first memory of Hip-Hop was watching Malcolm McLaren’s Buffalo Gals video which would have been around 1982. I had no idea what it was I was experiencing at the time, but I still remember it vividly today.
It wasn’t until 87/88, when I was around 12 or 13 that I began to understand what this subculture actually was, and that I wanted to be a part of it.
9. You mention in your posts you used to DJ/scratch. How was that journey ? Did you get to perform with well known artists?
I started DJ’ing at a local community centre in 1988, it wasn’t until ‘91 I could afford my own turntables. I was making mixtapes and DJ’ing for a few local emcees, but it was always about the cuts for me. I always wanted to have the fastest, most complex scratches, DJ Aladdin from Low Profile and DJ Supreme from the UK crew Hijack were my heroes. I started performing live with a swingbeat crew called BBM in 1993 and I was also the original DJ for a rap crew called The Hoodz Underground who had moderate success. Though most of the artists I performed with were from the UK, I did meet some big US acts, De La Soul, GURU, Lords of the Underground and Funkdoobiest, etc.
10. What is your favorite hip hop album and song of all time?
Unfinished Business – EPMD
Definition of Nice – DJ Paul Nice feat. AG, Babu & Gennessee
11. Who is your favorite emcee or emcees dead or alive?
Overall it might be Esoteric. I also really like Chester P from the UK crew Task Force.
12. What do you think is unique about your horror pull list or differentiates you from your peers or competition?
I’m not sure there actually is any competition, at least on IG. There was an account dedicated to indie comics, but that disappeared a while back, even when it was live it featured a broad spectrum of content whereas The HPL is strictly dedicated horror.
13. Do you feel the horror genre in general whether movies, comics or books is thriving or do you feel it could be more popular like the attention the avengers/superhero movies garner?
I definitely think horror is becoming more accepted. Recent movie releases no longer seem to be shunned by the industry and are actually being considered for awards, previously this would have been unthinkable. Due to its very nature horror will never be as accessible as the superhero genre for example, but I do believe it’s currently very healthy.
14. What made you fall in love with the horror genre?
When I discovered Stephen King books! I went through a phase when I was at school when I had to read every novel he’d wrote. This lead to reading James Herbert, Clive Barker, Lovecraft, etc. Although I was already a fan of horror movies at the time, it was the books which had the most profound impact on me.
15. Favorite DJ or Producer of all time?
Definitely Premier. I prefer sample based production and his scratch composition choruses are perfect. Honorable mentions to Prince Paul, Diamond D, Paul Nice and Mister Jason from Porn Theatre Ushers.
16. What legacy do you want to leave behind either creatively or in your personal life?
I respect humility in people above all else, so I always strive to be as humble as possible. Even when I’m being creative it is always with a view to self-improvement. If I can raise my children to be good human beings, respectful of others, I’ll be content with that.
17. Anything you would like to share or new to announce to your followers and supporters?
Please check out The HPL. I have years worth of content to post and these stories deserve to be read.
18. Being from the UK do you feel the hip hop scene is different from the US if so how so?
Back when I was actively DJ’ing I think jams in the UK closely mirrored what was happening in the States, musically the same influences were there, reggae, funk, soul, jazz, etc. Over the past 20 years other predominantly British sub-genres have had much more of an impact on the UK sound drum & bass, garage, grime, etc. I think there’s now more of a distinctly UK identity there.
19. There are a lot of dope emcees that travel overseas to perform and mention how Europe in particular is more appreciative of the culture. Would you say being from the UK that in Europe they have still kept the 5 elements of hip hop more alive and that is why emcees feel like that?
In mainland Europe there’s still large festivals such as Hip-Hop Kemp that not only feature music, but also b-boyin, graffiti and turntablism. It’s now quite rare here in the UK though, even back in the ‘90s jams here tended to more resemble the US model. I know artists who still put on workshops for young people to educate them about the culture, I used to do DJ workshops myself, but it’s definitely not something that happens in the mainstream Hip-Hop community anymore.
20. Being from the UK any dope horror films either underground or mainstream that you feel should be more popular or any recommendations to horror fans?
Creep (2004) is highly recommended if you haven’t seen it. I’m looking forward to watching The Hole in The Ground which released recently too.
Thanks again Jamie for your time it is appreciated. We will have to meet soon in person when I go visit the UK! Please go follow his IG page at @thehpl to keep up on the latest horror comics! To my readers and supporters hope you all enjoyed reading this interview. Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads. While you’re at it please feel free to follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!
BY: GABY MORENO
Artist: Che Noir (Features: Benny the Butcher)
Album: The Thrill of The Hunt
Release Date: February 22, 2019
Buy/Purchase album: All Platforms
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
Today I will be reviewing Che Noir’s, “The Thrill of The Hunt” EP that was released earlier this year. I came across Che’s music a bit late, but nonetheless so excited I came across her. She is a lyrical beast! I have said it and I’ll continue to say it female emcees are killin’ the game right now! A brief backstory as to how I came across her is I was listening to a track on the project, “The Trust Tape 3” by 38 Spesh. She is featured on a few tracks. The one I heard first is called “Trust” and she bodied her verse. I was like who is that?! So I looked in google and found out she had dropped an EP earlier this year. Without even hearing a track I purchased it on Amazon. All I have to say is those 7 tracks are straight fire bars! No skippable tracks they all go hard! They are very cohesive and the production was perfect. The beats selected go with the grimey vibe and match her killer lyrics.
As mentioned above there are 7 tracks with a running time of approximately 25 minutes. This project is more of an introduction mixtape to make waves and proof she should be respected lyrically. This EP has a mixtape vibe since she used beats from Nas (NY State of Mind), Biggie (Can’t You See) to Fabolous (Breathe). Those tracks are legendary, but she poured her heart out in each verse and delivered! She also touches on very relatable topics from having to choose music over friendships to using her full potential to shine in this rap game. She is from Buffalo, NY and is proud to say it anytime she gets in her rhymes. She has great cadence and passion in her delivery.
She is set to drop a continuation EP to this series titled, “The Thrill of the Hunt 2“! The new project is set to drop on June 7th. I know she will continue bringing murderous verses and I am excited! I am glad she did not overshadow this project with features only Benny the Butcher which is to be expected since they are running with the same crew and representing the same city. Also the artwork on this EP is dope loved that she used the greek Goddess Artemis since she is the goddess of the hunt matches her concept of the album. Che definitely kills what she hunts!
I have my eyes on her and can’t wait for what she brings next. She has great potential. Definitely one of the illest emcees that is up and coming! She has my undivided attention and support! Go listen, stream or buy this EP if you love real lyrical hip hop!
1.Buffalo State of Mind
Thank you for reading my review. Hope you all enjoyed it! Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads! While you’re at it follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!
BY: GABY MORENO
Photo by: Hanan Whitsell
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
I had the opportunity to sit down with a dope human being who has contributed so much to the San Diego Hip Hop scene! He has also done interviews and album reviews for emcees that are well known. Most people may know him as the guy who runs the SD Loves Hip Hop website, but to those who have a closer relationship know him as Nate Whitsell. Nate was kind enough to spare some of his time to answer some interview questions for my hip hop/horror blog, which I greatly appreciate! Without further a do please read below to learn a bit about Nate and what drives his love for Hip Hop and his community of San Diego!
1. For those who don’t know you are, please introduce yourself?
My name is Nate Whitsell. I am a husband, father of two. I am an English teacher at Garfield High School in downtown San Diego. I am the founder and creative director of SD Loves Hip Hop. I also have SD Loves PR that I do. I recognized over the last few years that is one of the weak spots. A lot of San Diego artists arsenal is their PR game and the face they put out to the world, so I definitely want to help fill that need. I am part of a crew called the FreshState. I help out with a lot of the things that HipHopWeds and Kahlee do.
2. How did the idea and execution of SDloveshiphop start and continues? I read about it, but for those who are unfamiliar with your origin story please explain.
That is a long story, so I was teaching at about my 8th year or maybe my 6th year I don’t know. 5th year actually I was ready to be done, I was tired. I went for an interview at the San Diego Union Tribune. It turned out it was for a sales position not a writing position and I said oh heck no, this is not me. And the person interviewing me can tell right away and we were both okay this is not for me, cool. He walked me through the news room where they’re creating the articles for next days newspaper. The sound and the vibe, I was just like I need to write, you know I need to do something creative. So for whatever reason I started writing the next week.
There was an event thrown by Kid Riz up in North County called Lyrical Schoolyard and Ahmad (if you are familiar with Ahmad, “you know back in the day when I was young, I’m not a kid anymore”). Ahmad was headlining with his the Death of Me album, which not a whole lot of people knew about, I loved it tho. I went to that show and reviewed it. Kid Riz liked it, he said keep coming to all my events and write about em. So I started going to event after event. His events (Kid Riz) and then also Urban Underground, which I don’t know if you were around the scene at the time, it was around 2010. Urban Underground was throwing shows at the Kava Lounge. It is a big hip hop venue, you know San Diego. So I started writing and then people started handing me their CD’s and just started building relationships. I was writing under a blog called, “Soul Anchor Collective” and that is still around in Word Press, I took the website itself down. But I kept all the content. So that’s really the origin.
That led me to writing for True Magazine up in LA. When I was doing that, I got to interview Pharaohe Monch, Capadonna like some of the greats you know people I looked up to and idolized. Then the pinnacle moment for me tho was I was teaching in South Central, I was working for True Magazine and writing for them. I got to interview YG and DJ Mustard. This is about 2011ish and it was amazing cuz I’m sitting on YG’s futon in his bedroom. Mustard goes this is the best interview we’ve ever done. We get to talking and it turns out the hood that he’s from, one of my former students was from there. So I was like hey do you know Buddha. Turns out Buddha slept on the futon that I was sitting on. So one of my former students who me and him freestyled together at lunch and stuff when I was teaching in Compton. We kept a relationship you know and turns out he was sleeping on YG’s futon and he was part of his kinda crew that helped out with his music stuff.
Okay all that, I’m living in Long Beach writing in LA, teaching in LA and then we are pregnant with our second kid. We move back down to San Diego cuz our families are out here and we are from here. I wanted to hyper localize. I was getting 200+ emails a week for Soul Anchor Collective to review stuff. I was just like I need to localize and just focus on San Diego, primarily at least. So that was the creation of SD Love Hip Hop. I was thinking of a name, I love hip hop, San Diego you know like it’s arguable if the city loves hip hop. I guess I was trying to speak my hope into the city by doing that. We have a rich lineage, rich history don’t get me wrong, but it’s generally kinda of like overshadowed by punk rock and some other rock, blues, jazz. I just wanted to do my part to put on for a city that has done so much for me!
3. You are 1/2 of The Piecemakers rap duo. How did that come about? For those who might not know please tell us about your journey in creating this rap group. Any new upcoming projects? What sub-genre of rap would you say it falls under? I had the opportunity to see you guys perform at Spring Breaks it was a memorable performance!
The origin story of The Piecemakers, so my brother in law Antonio, his whole family and I attended the same church, “The Rock” back in 2001ish. Between 2001 and 2003 there were a lot of events thrown by a guy named Bird. This guy named Bird used to throw an event called the Melting Pot in La Jolla. He threw an event at Cafe Mojo. I performed and this dude walked up to me and goes dude I love your poem. Then he ended up performing and I walked up to him and said dude I love your poem. We started talking that night and became best friends. Turns out, fast forward maybe 6 months his little sister fell for me just upon seeing me, not like saying I’m so beautiful, but like when she first saw me she’s like I want to marry him.
Everything just falls together. We are doing poetry together. She’s into me and I think she is dope, but it just wasn’t like that yet. But nonetheless so two things are simultaneously happening. He and I fortified a friendship over time. Oh you are into poetry and you’re into poetry, but we were both were like dude I secretly kinda wanna, I am rapper, but basically scared to say it. We encouraged each other to start freestyling together. We had this game we used to play called, “bust” where we would be anywhere and if there is music playing you just say, bust to the other person and they gotta freestyle on the spot. In the Gap we’ve done it, at a coffee shop, you know wherever. Those were the foundational years, listening to all kinds of hip hop and sharing it with each other. I remember the first time we both listened to Slum Village together and talked about it. Or the first time we both listened to the first Kanye album the day it came out. So just through that we fortified a bond of this love of hip hop.
We decided we should just rap together. We got some beats from a friend of a friend. We were terrible. We did the Filipino Film Festival that they have in San Diego every year. I had a friend through SDSU who was part of the multicultural club and they invited us to perform. We performed it, I forgot my second verse so I did my first verse twice, so wack. That was the origin. Our first performance was that and it took off from there.
As far as projects coming out, we’ve put out something called the “Golden Era Mixtape”. Where we take golden era beats and we take the themes of the songs and kinda flip it that was our first real project together. Then we put out an EP, its called EP. 1 super simple. Golden Era Mixtape two is in the makings right now. Almost everything is written. It’s time to start recording. That will be out early Summer. We also have EP. 2 being kinda brainchilded right now.
NoSA: Are you using any Producers here from San Diego? There is some stuff going on. I don’t want to say too much, but I had a project I was working on with just me as Knew Balance with DJ Root. We may take what I was doing with that and turn it into this. But because its a duo thing we gotta figure if that’s the route we wanna go. But there is a good likeliness we will do that. We will see. I also have five Ralph Quasar beats that I bought for a student. My student dropped out and disappeared from music so I am sitting on five of his beats. We will see what happens. But it will probably be one of those two local Producers. We got some things in the works maybe with Gene Flo.
As for our sub-genre, you know how Kanye has his soul beats thats kinda like our happy place musically, like sound wise, sonically not that we would not expand from that. Then you blend kinda of like Talib, Mos, The Roots and Common. That whole vibe those are the two big influences I think lyrically and sonically.
4. Also, you have a rap solo career and go by the moniker Knew Balance. How did that begin? Any special meaning behind the name?
Yeah, I was looking for a name for a lot of years. I recently just got this, actually yesterday (points to his forearm with his new tattoo done by the talented artist Ethos One) it says, “Sankofa” this is Ethos One, he is also part of the FreshState. Im sure you’ve seen him doing stuff at shows. This is his first paid tattoo and he’s only done 3. He put it in a very public spot you know, cuz I trust him. The word here is “Sankofa” and its this idea to move forward well. To progress you must look back and you must take the lessons of the past to move into the future well. Knew Balance that is exactly where that name came from and it’s actually based on this. So I thought “I knew balance, but it turns out I needed new balance”. So like I thought I had this all down and it turns out I was all wrong and I need to learn more. That’s why it is spelled K-N-E-W balance.
I was rapping as us (The Piecemakers) and then life. He gots stuff going, I got stuff going on. So I had a Producer, a guy the old drummer from Diego Roots. It is a San Diego reggae band. Anyways Josiah Panella he sent me some beats through Facebook. I created my first solo album. You can still find it online under Nathan Anthony tho. I kept the name Knew Balance just for The Piecemakers, but its just me. That was the first project I put out because just time and space didn’t allow for us to work together. But my heart is to always work with Antonio his name is Paz1, not to be confused with Pawz One.
5. How do you juggle personal life, teaching, journalism, hosting events, rapping etc.?
Here’s the thing, obviously I need to live by my schedule and calendar. Like that’s is huge. But for me all of life is kinda one. My whole emphasis of my life is loving people and learning from them. Hopefully teaching something along the way, but really sincerely loving and caring for people. So when I am at home with my wife and kids I’m loving and caring for them, they do the same back. When I get a phone call from somebody in hip hop I’m also wanting to love and care for them. And so we make allowances, me and my wife for how we are loving and caring the communities we are a part of. It kinda just overlaps pretty seamlessly. My kids were on the half-pipe, you know my wife was in the crowd (referring to his performance at Arts & Rec for the Spring Breaks event). We try to interweave everything. I meditate everyday with my students that’s helpful. I do follow Jesus as an example of how to live. I don’t know if you want to put labels like Christian, but I definitely would say that as you move through life, just loving and caring for people and bringing about peace, which is where the word Piecemakers come from. That’s my life goal and I happen to love hip hop so I’m gonna do that in that sphere.
My students and I, while I was tutoring had me freestyle for them cuz they didn’t believe I rap. It’s all just one thing, it’s all interwoven. It’s like Hip Hop is my family and my family is hip hop, it all blends. So sometimes all that to say I mess up and I spend too much time in one or the other and I don’t do a good job at balancing. It’s just this great balancing act I guess and sometimes you teeter one way and you got to totter the other way you know what I mean. It’s a work in progress. I don’t balance perfectly.
Here’s another thing with all that said. First of all I owe The ill Nicky an interview and I have a list about 30 people who I owe interviews to that we talked about it. A lot of people, I really want to emphasize ill Nicky because I love that dude, but I’m just busy. It’s hard and emotionally I’m a people pleaser and it eats me up. All that said it’s not easy. I do get a lot in my DM’s, “Fuck you, you didn’t follow me back bitch” and my response is always this, “Hey man or hey woman I’m at the grocery store with my two kids and my wife right now and I’m really sorry I wasn’t able to look at your mixtape, but I would love to listen. If you just reach out to me in a kind way I might actually listen and so maybe we can start this over.” I can’t tell you how many relationships where it’s been something that could’ve started off bad, but because I am who I am. I’m not taking credit for that I just am who I am. I am able to hopefully change the face of how we interact with each other in hip hop. Because it is a very braggadocio. I know that, that I’m nobody, but I just love this art form.
6. Your name comes up frequently in the SD Hip Hop scene. You have established yourself and continue building. I see you are respected in the hip hop community here in SD and outside. How did you get to that point and how do you continue to build those relationships?
I’ve been writing hundreds of articles. I can’t tell you how many nights when I have to get up at 5am to go teach that I have been up until 3am. After playing with my kids in the afternoon, having dinner with my family, putting my kids down to bed with my wife, spending some time with my wife and then writing this article or transcribing an interview. For countless hours that nobody sees, with articles that nobody reads to have my face anywhere and I’m honored and humbled when I see people say that, but I just want people to know I don’t think I’ve made it. I’ve haven’t done anything substantial. I’m really nobody. I just love people and I love this culture and this art. I feel honored to even have a baby voice in it. It’s weird to even hear people say, you pop up a lot, thank god. Also thank Uncle Art, DJ Artistic he put me on in many ways. Sold me my first MPC, my first mic and he gave me my first assignment as interviewer. I interviewed Mr. Hek, dope DJ. If my face is anywhere is because the amazing people I roll with, Kahlee and Platform Collection (Kill C Rey). So my face being anywhere is just because I have beautiful people who have trusted me with a little bit of responsibility and I’ve handled it well I guess, you know what I mean.
7. What’s your favorite scary movie? Why?
I’m gonna say, I think it was called, “The Blob”(it actually was one of the horror segments from Creepshow 2 – The Raft). I totally snuck it and my parents were like sleeping, we had HBO. I was just fascinated, I don’t know why.
8. Any favorite horror soundtracks or horror-core albums?
Yea, you know I am not super into that sub genre. I love and respect it. I mean the names that come to mind Brotha Lynch Hung and Necro. These are names I associate in my head with them. It’s not that I don’t like it I just don’t know it well. I would say the Marshall Mathers LP tho even tho its realistic horror. I feel like that is a creepy ass album.
9. Who are your top 10 favorite emcees dead or alive? I know for me it is constantly changing, but who comes to mind?
I only do favorites by listen ability. Like people I just wear their CD’s or digital whatever. They get heavy spins, it’s not about technical or anything like that. It’s just about who I like to listen to. For instance Talib is up there, but his voice is a somewhat monotonous and I hate to say that. So I can’t just over and over, although “The Beautiful Struggle” that album many spins.
Blu, Choosey (hands down favorite emcee from SD has been since 2008 and that will probably never change), Slug, Pharaohe Monch, Grand Poobah, Dave Ghetto, Lauryn Hill, Sage Francis, Common, Mos Def and Nemy.
10. How do did you build your brand and what do you want your followers and supporters to know that your brand stands for?
SD Loves Hip Hop stands for literally me, but San Diego literally loving hip hop, loving the culture, loving the art, loving the people, with a sincere love. Not like “oh I love hip hop”, no like I love humans! You will never hear me talk bad about people. Go through all my articles, there is not one negative thing I say about anybody. If I don’t like someones music I just don’t write about it. Now I don’t want to get it twisted tho. Just because I don’t write about your music doesn’t mean I don’t like it. I might just not have time because someone might take that the wrong way.
Anytime people send me music and I don’t like it, if I have time, I say, “Hey its not my flavor, but keep sending me music, because that one song that hits me, is gonna hit me and I’ll be a fan for life. So don’t stop sending it to me.” I don’t want to break off relationships, so that is what I think SD Loves Hip Hop stands for. Bigger than that Knew Balance is about that same thing exists within me as Knew Balance.
But also I am an educator. I do the Rappity Rap Coach and that is coming back. I’m 39, I’m not trying to prove anything, but what I do wanna see is our city step up. There are a lot of people that don’t know some of those things. Then there is a lot of people who know it, know they shouldn’t, but they still do it. It is a reminder and I have fun with it. I get to let that goody side of my personality out. Even though I’m a more serious person, but I still have a goofy side. I’m a straight up jackass. My friends can still push me in a shopping cart, hit a curve and I’ll still jump in the bushes, like for real. It’s like I want that to come through. So yeah, fun, support, love and building, but for real. I don’t believe in beef, I don’t believe in that, you can keep that. Let’s cook it and we will eat it together you know what I mean. It is really about unity.
11. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind either or both personally /musically/business wise?
I definitely want my wife and my sons to know that I love them more than anyone. Even though time doesn’t always support that, like if I’m being pulled here, being pulled there. I see this red door. My oldest son Malachi (not to be confused with the kid from Children from the Corn lol) he said he wanted to paint the front door of our Apartment at the time red. I said I have no control over that, but when we get a house we’ll paint the door red together. So I see this red door, so when I’m out, I’m working and I’m networking. I’m seeing this entity build to a place that helps me pay off debt and then it allows me to buy a house for my family. I can’t do it with just a teacher salary, so I have to find some other means of income. But I also do not want it to be on the backs of San Diego Hip Hop, that is why SD Love PR works like a real service.
You know people don’t pay to be on the website. Just like with you, so I have to find a real way to do it and becoming a good journalist this just gives me a way to do that. To build a brand like Knew Balance, I’m hoping I can sell Knew Balance (me) to somebody because they want me to be a host of something. Nate talking to his sons, “Daddy is out working because he sees that red door and he wants to get it for you.” Again it’s all overlapped and interwoven.
I want everyone I interact with to feel loved and supported. I don’t want to have a trail of people behind me who can say anything bad about me. Maybe they don’t like me. I’ve been called corny, that’s all good. But you can’t say I ever did anything to disrespect you or if I did disrespect you I came back and I made it right. I want it to be of inclusion, like I hope I get to introduce, I listened to Boy Girl Official it is a lesbian woman (rapper) and gay man (singer). I hope I get to introduce them to our scene. She came into the bike shop, Adams Avenue bikes where I used to work. I’ve been having them in the back of my mind. It’s my hope that inclusion is a piece of my legacy. Where hip hop is usually pretty sexist in its history not now hopefully, but it still is let’s be real and homophobia. I don’t care of none of that. I don’t need to uphold that part of the legacy with hip hop.
I hope I’m a safe place for people. I hope I never treat people like a commodity or something to be traded in order to get something else. That’s why I will never pull someones leg like, “hey since I did this for you, you owe me.” I’m paying my dues and I’m putting in the work. If I get something out of it cool. If I build relationships cool. If I get nothing out of it, I built relationships.
12. What advice would you like to give someone who might be thinking of getting into hip hop journalism?
Do it because you love it! Don’t think you’re gonna make money. Don’t think it’s gonna make you cool. This is my advice to anyone getting into hip hop in general. Do it because it’s a part of your identity. Don’t do it because you think it’s gonna shape your identity. It should be the overflow of who you are not trying to make yourself something you’re not and with journalism the same. If you think journalism is gonna get you in a place where you can then have the right connections to make music. If your backdoor goal is to make music. I was making music before I did journalism. I just did journalism because I couldn’t not do something other than teach and I didn’t believe in myself enough to make music. That’s the sad truth and now I’m doing both. But you will never see Knew Balance as a musical artist, you’ll see me as Rappity Rap Coach on SD Love Hip Hop. You will never see my music on SD Loves Hip Hop, you’ll never see The PieceMakers on SD Loves Hip Hop. It will just not happen because I didn’t get into journalism to big up myself. Don’t have ulterior motives. Do it cuz you love this shit and go to physical events, go to events! Hug people and dap them up.
13. Any future plans you can share with us either with music or on the journalistic side?
SD Loves Hip Hop is almost on pause as far as creating content. Just because of Knew Balance and SD Loves PR. Those are the two places I am pouring the most energy. While still using SD Loves Hip Hop to throw events, like the Til Two club on Thursdays called, “Thursdaze” to promote. I still want it to be a place that promotes everything going on in the city. I just don’t have the time to write the articles. My newsletter is a month late right now. My playlist is not up to date for this month. I have a lot I want to do, but really need to learn how to juggle it all. That’s my plan, but yeah those other two entities. I do work for the Platform Collection as well. I do that and I want to go on tour. I want to create this album, this mixtape with my brother in law. There is a lot I would like to do, but let’s see what life allows for.
14. What can we do to help your mission, something we can do as a community?
Well I feel like you are doing so much for me. Just spending time talking to you, I’m allowed this space to put my thoughts out and between us above this table and kinda see who I am. I thank you for that. As far as the community. I just hope that we can just let go of the petty shit. Who gives a shit about your ego. If anybody was that dope they already on. So quit thinking you’re better than anyone and just enjoy.
Nipsey Hussle will never rap again at least in this life, right. We never know when we don’t get a chance to rap again. If you’re a rapper in this city then you better be grateful for every freakin’ nano second you get to be on that mic because that can be taken away tomorrow. I’ll be damned if I’m okay with another rapper taking that from somebody. We don’t have time for beef with each other. Now I know there’s like real hood stuff that happens that I am unqualified to speak into what’s going on between bloods and crips, etc. I love them all and I’ve thought them all, but I can’t speak into that. But outside of stuff that’s so much deeper rooted than what I’m talking about. But if we are in hip hop, who gives a shit if that person beat you in a battle or doesn’t like you or doesn’t like your music you gotta drop all that crap. We’re humans! Because I am so in the scene I know who doesn’t like who and why, but it’s all bullshit. All of it is ego and primarily pissing contests. You know what I mean, “oh he looked at me funny”, none of that matters. It just doesn’t.
I also teach, I’ve taught thousands of students at this point and I understand it is engrained in us. I studied psychology and at 7 years old our software is programmed. If we don’t get tools to update our software (like a computer) mentally were running as a 7 year old who watched our parents fight, no wonder we’re fighting. I don’t blame people for that. I just hope that people would get the tools to grow out of that for the sake of everyone. Because we all win when we all win! Sorry I get passionate (laughs).
15. Favorite hip hop record of all time and why? It can be more than one.
Talib Kweli’s – Reflection Eternal (Train of Thought) and The Beautiful Struggle. Just everything about them, what he is saying. I love how political he is and how social he is. He was in Ferguson so he is not just in music. I love Talib’s energy. Mos Def – Black on Both Sides. His delivery is just so buttery, sounds effortless you know he’s put in time for his craft. Blu and Exile – Below the Heavens hand down, one of my favorites. Fashawn – Boy Meets World same thing. Exile is the best first album Producer ever! There’s something about his production just like this Choosey album where he is able to grab an artists soul like pull it through their throat. Common – Be, now I actually like’s Common’s Resurrection more, but there is something so listenable about the Kanye beats with Common rapping over it. It actually got more spins than Resurrection even though I like Resurrection more if that makes sense. Atmosphere – Lucy Ford: The Atmosphere EP’s. Personal Journals by Sage Francis. There are more, but that is good.
Photo by: Hanan Whitsell
16. How did you fall in love with hip hop and the culture?
So I fell in love with hip hop, I remember the moment. I was 9 years old running down the hall, grew up in Scripps. We had our intercom down by my room and you can also play the radio on it. I think it was Q106, “Me, Myself & I” comes on from De La Soul and I just looked up at the speaker and starred at it for the 3 minutes of the song and then I go back to playing. That moment changed everything. Think about it I met my wife because of it. I met my best friend and my rap partner. I’m here in front of you, SD Loves Hip Hop exists. I have so many relationships with people. I’m a teacher because of it. We were recording two songs me and my brother in law when he told me he was gonna apply to teach at college prep schools in Long Beach. Turns out it was a continuation school in Compton where I ended up. A month later I was in a classroom full time no credential.
I’m a teacher because of hip hop. Literally hip hop is one of the most powerful guiding forces in my life and I know how that sounds, but for real! I live by lyrics as he raps, “So much on my mind that I can’t recline/ Blastin’ holes in the night till she bled sunshine/Breathe in.” Like I literally, I’m tearing up almost thinking about it. I feel crazy sometimes and I think of those lyrics. I think of I lived a lot of my life blasting holes in the night, like the sun coming up in the morning while I’m typing; Going oh shit in an hour I gotta leave for work. I fell in love and it never stopped!
17. Any words of encouragement to an up and coming emcee or creatives? I know there is also the predatory side to the business. Any advice you would give out in that aspect? Love the Rappity Rap Coach segments by the way.
Don’t follow old molds or models. Don’t follow the big record labels. If you build enough noise like Phora. As an artist and a hustler dudes been in Forbes for selling 2.1 million in Yours Truly in merchandise on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Nobody did that, he did that with his team of course, but out of a warehouse. Don’t think the label is the way to go, it will come. He is now on Warner Bros traveling the US and the world with Trippie Redd. He just opened his first physical store like up on Fairfax, in the heart of LA that is expensive rent. He is doing something right. But follow his early years. He made 2.1 million selling clothes, and the market on clothes is 50%.
My favorite two people to point people to follow I have a friend Justin Ivey who writes for Hip Hop DX. He interviewed Slug and Slug talked about living on his friends couches so that he didn’t have to pay rent so that he could live the independent artist lifestyle and build a brand. Then there is Oddisee who is making over 100k and he just does what he loves. Gathered from interviews he can produce everything from his backpack. He is bringing money that he is earning from hip hop back to Sudan to help family members to have surgeries. If we ask these people sitting here, they don’t know who he is and that doesn’t matter. You can make a big enough living for yourself if you stay humble right and you’re not trying to be flashy.
Just humble, modest but living a good life. Don’t look at all the bullshit jewelry and cars, get a fuckin’ Civic from 10 years ago and just push the whip and build. Don’t try to live like some fake rapper lifestyle. Make real art that connects with people that’s what these people do. Like Phora’s music he is connecting with people in a real way. Be authentic. Even if you put work in the streets then talk about that, but don’t glorify it. There are people who can talk about it and do it well. Don’t try to make it cool, just tell the truth, tell what you’ve been through. Just be really authentically you!
It is NOT about the money only. We all want to make a living. If you made a song that is under 2 minutes so that it can get more streams on Spotify not because that was a creative decision, but because you are trying to make money. Those who know what I am talking about right now, there is a song right now like that and they’ll know. That is wack to me. Be in it cuz you love it. Last word of advice from the Rappity Rap Coach, “Don’t rap over your vocals! Don’t rap over your vocals! Don’t rap over your vocals!
18. Shout out people or mention the platforms you’re involved with that way we can support and follow.
DJ Artistic, No Sucker DJ’s, Battlebot Worldwide, HipHopWeds, BarsWeekly, Kahlee, DJ Root, Platform Collection, Kill C Rey, 18scales, Nemy, MBS Entertainment, Parker Edison/Parker Meridian, Noa James, 60East, The Gutted Cigar, Self Provoked, DJ Mr. Hek, Mitchy Slick, of course my brother in law Antonio Paz1, my wife who holds it down Hanan Whitsell she put the kids to bed tonight cuz I had this going on. SD Loves Hip Hop, The Piecemakers, SD Loves PR, Knew Balance, family blog called Alchemy with Wolves ran by my wife and I. Anyone I forgot I love you!
Thank you Nate Whitsell for your time and being available to do this interview! I truly appreciate you! We appreciate what you have and continue to do for the San Diego hip hop community. Like Tupac said it you are appreciated! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and being an inspiration to up and coming journalists and emcees! To my readers and supporters hope you all enjoyed reading this interview. Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads. While you’re at it please feel free to follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!
BY: GABY MORENO
Artist: Viva Mescal (Features: Mad Macks and Kiddo Eotr)
Album: Long Live: The Peyote
Release Date: January 5, 2019
Buy/Purchase album: All Platforms
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
Today I will be reviewing Viva Mescal’s album, “Long Live: The Peyote“. I had the opportunity to see Viva Mescal perform live at Hip Hop Weds about 2 weeks ago. He brought along one of his friends and fellow emcee Hollow Visions. Their performance was very energetic and a feel good vibe! I went up to Viva Mescal and introduced myself and gave them props for their dope performance. I mentioned I do album reviews and Viva was kind enough to give me a free CD. He wanted to know my thoughts on it. I bumped the CD in my car a few days after meeting him. I was glad I came across his music. I was hyped of how dope this project was and the witty word play.
Viva Mescal is proud to be from East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights to be exact. He rhymes how Boyle Heights raised a Presidente, he has my vote! I really enjoyed every track on this project. It is amazing to see a Mexican American emcee spitting real lyricism! What makes his rhymes authentic and allows him to stand out is when he inserts his Mexican culture in his lyrics . For instance in the song, “Peyote Cactus” he raps, “The world’s a quinceañera I play chambelan”. I found it dope how he has a great sense of humor and is proud of his culture. The song Peyote Cactus is a love song to Boyle Heights the city that raised him and also Viva shows off his lyrical ability!
The album consists of 11 tracks with a running time of 33 minutes. This album has some boom bap production like the song, “Long Awaited” a song about Viva’s return to the rap game with this project. One of my favorite songs off this project is, “I Was Wrong” a very introspective track about mistakes he has committed and is a man to admit it. Mad Macks raps, “My choices set in stone, like footprints in wet cement is always gonna be remembered, wishing that I could forget, but it’s forgiveness before permission, so no regrets!” That statement is so relatable because we grow from our mistakes we cannot change the past, but learn from them! There is a quote that says, “Never regret anything because at one time…it was exactly what you wanted.”
Another beautiful track is, “Mi Vida Nueva” it is a feel good song with a positive message to new beginnings and inspirational lyricism. The standout track for me was, “Agua Fresca” it has a trap like beat. The hook is catchy and a very creative unique song. It has sense a humor to it as well. Also the female emcee featured Kiddo went in with her bars! The rest of the tracks on this project are dope as well! Viva also has two skits in the album that help tell the story and transition to set the tone for the next song that plays.
If you love hip hop that has a mix of humor and spanglish rap then this is a project you do not want to sleep on!!! Viva Mescal also brings dope lyricism, creative songwriting and witty word play! He is an emcee from Boyle Heights, but here in San Diego he has earned his respect in the rap game! He has my full support! El Presidente is putting in work. He just dropped a new single, “Sin Miedo” the beat goes hard and he is bringing the bars! Go support his music by streaming, listening, sharing or buying his album!
2. I Was Wrong
3. Mi Vida Nueva
4. Agua Fresca and Dream On
5. Salud, to Success
Thank you for reading my review. Hope you all enjoyed it! Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads! While you’re at it follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!
BY: GABY MORENO
Artist: Opoetik + Evolve One (Features: PCH, Yuki, ID The Poet, Ric Scales and Kaus)
Album: Punching Water
Release Date: March 8, 2019
Buy/Purchase album: Bandcamp, Spotify and hard copies
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
Today I will be reviewing Opoetik and Evolve One’s album, “Punching Water“. I met Opoetik through Kahlee at a Cypher event at the Green Flash Brewery in Mira Mesa. Kahlee was kind enough to introduce me to Opoetik and told him I review hip hop albums. Opoetik was humble and gave me one of his CD’s for free. I played the CD in my car the next day and was happily surprised of how poetic it was! Opoetik definitely lives up to his artistic name!
This album consists of 10 tracks with a running time of 26 minutes. We are blessed with amazing beats from jazz, lo-fi to a bit of boom bap. All the sounds and beats were crafted by talented Producer Evolve One. In this album you are taken into an oceanic soundscape of poetic rhymes!
The track titled, “Marinate” is about how we as humans tend to stay sleep to live in bliss. He also rhymes how fear holds us back like shackles from reaching our full potential. You also get the track called, “Chained” that builds on the same theme as Marinate. The song starts off with a sample of Morgan Freeman’s character Red in “The Shawshank Redemption” talking about getting used to the prison walls and becoming institutionalized. In this song Opoetik talks about how we are mentally chained and sometimes even physically because we doubt we have the freedom to follow our dreams. I mean that is the way I interpreted this song. He goes into other topics, it is a very deep song!
The most beautiful stand out track is, “How to Feel“. The production is so mellow and the vocals are soulful. The hook is catchy and the lyrics are relatable. The song is about people telling Opoetik how to feel and trying to convince him that they are real. It has a deeper meaning, but I will leave that to the listener to interpret it for themselves.
The album in its entirety is a poetic masterpiece. I interpreted the album to mean that we are always fighting the current in this case life and the struggles it throws at us. Check out this album if you love poetry, lyricism and just amazing production! Go stream it, buy it or just share it and support Opoetik and Evolve One’s music!
6. How to Feel
Thank you for reading my review. Hope you all enjoyed it! Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads! While you’re at it follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!