Nightmare on Sedgwick Avenue – “Mr. SD Loves Hip Hop – Nate Whitsell Interview”

BY: GABY MORENO

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     Photo by: Hanan Whitsell

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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.

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    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!

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                      By: 47bucks

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!

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Nightmare on Sedgwick Avenue – “Salud To Boyle Heights! – Viva Mescal – Long Live: The Peyote Album Review”

BY: GABY MORENO

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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.”

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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!

Favorite Tracks:

1.Peyote Cactus

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!

Nightmare on Sedgwick Avenue – “Poetic Waves – Opoetik – Punching Water Album Review”

BY: GABY MORENO

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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!

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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!

Favorite Tracks:

1.Marinate

2.Chained

3.MindSpill

4.Overthinking

5. Perspective

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!

Nightmare On Sedgwick Avenue – “Ay Mis Hijos! – The Curse of La Llorona Movie Review” SPOILERS

BY: GABY MORENO

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Movie: The Curse of La Llorona

Review By: Gaby Moreno

Release date: April 19, 2019

Main Cast: Marisol Ramirez, Linda Cardellini, Patricia Velasquez, Raymond Cruz, Tony Amendola and more.

Brief synopsis from online:

Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm.

Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,

Today I will be reviewing, “The Curse of La Llorona“. I went into the movie with low expectations, but at the same time a bit skeptical. I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was a decent horror movie. I was surprised at how entertained the movie kept me. The main reason I went to see it was because it is tied in with the Conjuring universe since the priest that was in Annabelle makes an appearance.

There are various versions of this Mexican legend. I was curious which one they were going to choose for this story. I wanted this legend to be told with respect since it is part of my culture. As a Mexican kid I grew up hearing the legend and I was always fascinated by it and wanted to know where it derived from. This legend has spread worldwide. As a person who is obsessed with legends and folks tales I find it amusing how one tale can travel through spoken word and now it has become a film in the Conjuring universe. I mean don’t be mistaken “La Llorona” legend has made it on film various times in Mexican Cinema, but to see it gaining mainstream attention in the U.S. is cool to witness!

The movie begins by taking us back to 1673 in Mexico. They show a woman who is in love with her boyfriend and gets happily married. Then it fast forwards to them having two boys. After that it moves to a different scene where one of the boys is looking for his brother and mother. He finds them, but to his dismay he sees his mom drowning his brother in the river stream. He runs to get away, but his mom chases him and catches him.

The film then moves to the year 1973 in Los Angeles and shows a single mom Anna hurrying her son and daughter to make it in the time to catch the bus. They end up missing the bus and the scene moves to Anna going to her job. She is a social worker for CPS. One of her cases is a mother (Patricia) who has two boys. The movie immediately gets to the point. This is where the story fails. It quickly gets to la llorona curse, but we are never given a backstory as to how la llorona was conjured.

The film then has us follow Anna as she goes to Patricia’s home for a welfare check since her sons have not been going to school. Anna convinces Patricia to allow her to enter the home, but Patricia seems very terrorized. As Anna enters the home she sees candles lit all over the house with symbols on the walls and observes a key around Patricia’s neck. Anna then notices a pad locked door. She is then attacked by Patricia, but Anna was accompanied by a cop (who was waiting outside the apartment). He comes in just in time to grab Patricia and Anna unlocks the door. Patricia’s two sons are in there completely scared and seem like they have not slept or ate in days.

They assume Patricia was committing child abuse, there are marks on the boys wrists which Anna sees. The two boys are sent to a shelter for the night. At the shelter to make the story short they are taken by la llorona and are found drowned in a nearby river. Anna is called to the scene, due to being a single parent she takes her daughter and son to the crime scene. They wait in the car, but like always curiosity killed the cat. Her son Chris gets off to get a closer look at the crime scene. He is trying to follow his  father’s footsteps who was a cop, but has since passed away.

While he is looking from afar in the tunnel there is a bit of woods. He hears a woman weeping in the woods. He starts looking to see who she is. Of course it is la llorona she ends up moving closer to him and grabs his wrist causing a burn or more of a mark. Chris immediately runs to the car with his sister. Anna gets back to the car and asks if everything is fine. Chris says everything is fine. He is too frightened to tell his mom what he saw.

Skipping a few scenes to get to the main premise. Anna’s family is now marked by la llorona’s curse and they need to find a way to get rid of her since her ultimate goal is to take Anna’s children. We are eventually introduced to a curandero named Rafael who the priest from the Annabelle movie recommends to help them. He eventually ends up helping the family get rid of the curse and kill la llorona or so we think.

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The movie relied on jump scares, but a lot of the modern horror films do that so it’s not out of the ordinary. A few things I did enjoy was some of the mythology they added like the fire tree being sort of what salt is to witches. As well as tear anti venom and the fire tree crucifix stake. Also from a director stand point I loved the scenes that were filmed from the characters point of view. The filter they use is always dark for the conjuring universe it’s still hard to adjust to since I love a little bit of brightness. But in this case it worked in the films favor to make it more eerie and creepy.

The downside is I wished it would have been a full Mexican cast. We need more representation in films like this that are about our culture. Also to give it more authenticity it should have taken place in Mexico and an actual river. Maybe it should have been a period film as well. I know they had to make it more modern and it had to take place in the 1970s to fit in the Conjuring universe. The sense of humor seemed forced at times, but it lightened the mood of this dark tale. It does leave the viewer thinking their might be a sequel or a possibility of a crossover. Could there be a Nun vs. Annabelle vs. La Llorona? lol . Overall I recommend the film if you love the horror genre or are obsessed with this legend as I am.

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!

Nightmare on Sedgwick Avenue – “Daygo Chameleon – B.O.L.O. – Blood In The Water EP Review”

BY: GABY MORENO

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Artist: B.O.L.O. (Features: Freash Class and David Ira)

Album: Blood In The Water

Release Date: March 31, 2019

Buy/Purchase album: All Platforms

Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,

Today I will be reviewing B.O.L.O.’s album, “Blood In The Water“. I came across B.O.L.O.’s music by pure coincidence when I was reviewing Superior Productionz 1989 album. B.O.L.O was a featured artists and I loved his flow and delivery. I began following him on social media to keep up with his solo projects. He actually reached out to me and thanked me for sharing one of his music videos for, “Maneuver to the Side” which is a track on this project. This track is a feel good song and more of a Daygo party anthem.

This album is very versatile and you get to see B.O.L.O. adapt to different sounds, but still brings bars for those who are hardcore rap fans. That is why I titled the post, “Daygo Chameleon”. B.O.L.O. can adapt to every song in this album. There is a little bit of everything for everyone in this album. The album consists of 7 tracks with 18 minutes running time. There are tracks for lyrical fans, feel good music, party trap beats, a song for the ladies and even poetry!

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B.O.L.O.’s intro track is, “B.O.L.O. 2” that starts off representing for San Diego. One thing about B.O.L.O. is he is always shouting out his city! He goes in and raps that critics always doubted his gift, but he proves they were wrong and that he found his purpose! Track two, “Militia Service” has a slowed down beat that ironically reminded me of a slowed down version of “200 MPH” by Bad Bunny. Maybe it’s just me, but it sounded like it sonically. Which is cool cuz I love that song lol.

Another track on the album is, “I Don’t Give A Fuck“, that features Freash Class. This song has a YG type of beat. Even though it is sort of a mainstream beat B.O.L.O. and Freash go in lyrically. Freash goes from saying he gives other rappers PTSD to speaking on fake friends who do not returns favor, but you live and you learn!

Then one of the last tracks is, “Señorita” where he is saying he will go South of the Border for this girl and overstay his visa! B.O.L.O. has a lot of humor in his lyrics and dope word play! The last track on the album is actually a spoken word poem. Definitely my favorite track on this project! I won’t give it out away just go listen!

B.O.L.O. is a very humble dude who loves his city of San Diego! Even though I have not met him yet, I’ve interacted with him through social media and he is very transparent. We will definitely be meeting soon! This project is proof that B.O.L.O. is a versatile rapper. Go check out this project, stream it, buy it or just show love and share it!

Favorite Tracks:

1. B.O.L.O 2

2. I Don’t Give A Fuck

3. Poem

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!

Nightmare on Sedgwick Avenue – “Divine Rhymes – D.Sol – Life Isn’t Always Pretty Album Review”

BY: GABY MORENO

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Artist: D. Sol (Features: ViVi, Deuce Stacks, Emphasize, Danoe, Chief Sweat and Razor Ramon)

Album: Life Isn’t Always Pretty

Release Date: February 22, 2019

Buy/Purchase album: All Platforms

Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,

Today I will be reviewing D.Sol’s album, “Life Isn’t Always Pretty“. D.Sol is a San Diego emcee so I had to show love. His name is an acronym for: “Divine Sight of Light“, if that is not poetic I don’t know what is! I am glad I came across his music. I was sleeping on his music, but now I am awake and he has my full attention! This entire album is produced by South Carolina Producer N.F.T.I. All I can say is N.F.T.I. created a musical masterpiece. All the beats are amazingly beautiful. You get a mix of boom bap, soulful and jazz infused beats!

The whole album builds on the concept that life is not always nice. There are ups and downs. I love the message because this is something all of us as humans can relate to on a daily basis. We are blessed with 13 tracks of pure inspirational wisdom, knowledge of self and positive thinking in this chaotic world. The intro track, “Life Isn’t Always Pretty” is very inspirational. He raps that even though life isn’t always pretty you gotta do the best to keep going and follow your goals/dreams! Then the track, “Always“, he raps that you gotta go after what you want. The overall message life gives no handouts! So you gotta go out and chase your dreams!

Another stand out track is , “Sometimes,” this track is about fake friends that don’t have your back when you are down. He also raps how he is fed up with fake people in the music industry just promoting violence (gang gang) and following trends. This song also touched on the use of drugs to numb the pain of life, but he raps he has to move forward and has gained knowledge of self which is more important. The hook is really catchy and the beat is sonically pleasing!

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D.Sol speaks on how it is okay for those who might not yet know what their destiny is, but to just keep going! This album ironically is full of positivity even when he talks about the dark side of life and the struggles we face on the daily. D.Sol is very lyrical, he brings the bars! He is an emcee to watch. I can’t wait to see him perform live for the first time tonight 4/17/19. If you are in the San Diego area go show love to Hip Hop Weds event at the AC Lounge in Normal Heights. If you love Hip Hop this is the place to be on Wednesdays! Go listen/stream/buy D.Sol’s album very dope album and great concept!

Favorite Tracks/ Verses:

1.Always

2.Hold Me Down:

3. No Hard Feelings:

4. Sometimes

5. In Time 

6. Graves

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!

Nightmare on Sedgwick Avenue – “Good Vibrations!!! -Chelsea Reject – This Is Not My Final Form Album Review”

BY: GABY MORENO

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Artist: Chelsea Reject (Features: Mick Jenkins, Kota the Friend, Happytree, Dirty Sanchez 47, Rokamouth, Jean Deaux)

Album: This Is Not My Final Form

Release Date: April 8, 2019

Buy/Purchase album: All Platforms

Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,

Today I will reviewing Chelsea Reject’s new project called, “This Is Not My Final Form“. I came across Chelsea when I went down the internet rabbit hole searching for female emcees and recently I was listening to the late great Capital Steez. I then decided to see if Pro Era had any female emcees. To my surprise Chelsea and T’nah Apex came up on my search. I instantly began following Chelsea on social media. She then announced she would be dropping a project soon and I was hyped!

This project consists of 12 tracks that are wavy and have a feel good vibe to em’. Chelsea knows how to rock a melody and has catchy hooks that reel you in. She also brings the bars! She speaks about topics we can all relate to. From self love, anxiety, life and finding our purpose to reach our full potential.

The intro track is amazing, what a way to start off a project! It is called, “Anxiety” she talks about anxiety and about feeling the pressure to reach her full potential. She also talks about wanting a life she won’t regret. This is something we can all relate to. This song means a lot to me because it expresses how I sometimes feel. I always find it dope when lyricists write a song that hits you to the core and this is one of them!

Another track is, “Kidulthood” where she is rapping from a kids perspective, but I interpreted as her saying she is an adult who still feels she is a kid since she still trying to figure out life. From having to find ways to pay her bills to figuring out what she wants to accomplish in this life. Very introspective track and once again relatable. The music video is also amazing. If you haven’t seen it check it out on YouTube.

Another stand out track is, “Let It Go” Chelsea and Jean go in! This whole project proves Chelsea deserves the respect from the Hip Hop community. Her word play and lyricism is crazy! Every song has a positive vibe even when the topics are serious or deep. After listening to this album in its entirety I felt uplifted and happy. You can just cruise to this album or just listen to it while doing one of your daily activities.

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This project is definitely on my top 10 list so far of 2019 albums! All the songs are beautiful, there is no skippable track. It was hard narrowing down my favorite tracks for that reason. I always love seeing a female emcee who is spitting real shit and uses her gift to uplift listeners! I am a supporter for life! The artwork on this album cover is dope as fuck too!!!

Chelsea keep making music you are inspiring people and spreading positive messages through your music! As well as representing for the ladies! This project is worth checking out. Go listen to it you will not regret it. Go support this dope emcee/lyricist/visionary!

Favorite Tracks/Verses:

1. Anxiety (Intro):
“Anxiety knows me by name
Calls me in the morning sometimes just to complain
They say how you gon’ maintain if you not making no change
And my mama is a christian she jus told me to pray
But see love is my religion mixed with a little hay
But seems that chip up on my shoulder
Its turning into a boulder
Parents getting older, thought that I graduate
Congratulations it was fate and that would never change shit
Something that I had no control of
I only act like a grown up
But I am as clueless as you
For you is me
Unity all I really want in my community
You plus me
All I need, but it seems its just eulogies
And you know that your instagram not fooling me!”

2. Kidulthood:
“Thinking bout how I’m gon’ pay my bills
Never stole, but still all about that thrill
Think about the future thats when shit get real
really shoulda finished college
But I got the knowledge
And I can’t conform, can’t got back to the way that I was before
No!, that I was before
They don’t wanna see nobody grow
Introverted please leave me alone
Doper than what you got on the stove
Never let nobody take control!”

3. Amnesia (Self-Luv):
“You know my heart has been broken
But I’m still keeping it open
I’m tryna live in the moment
Noo I’m not tryna be chosen
No I don’t hide my emotions
But I’m hoping you notice me
Im still hoping you notice, Im hoping you notice 
Im writing eulogies, don’t wanna feel like you using me
Breaking up cuz ain’t no unity
Falling in love with myself
Really there should jus be two of me
I don’t think anything else”

4. Let It Go:
“I do this shit 
Cuz I’m passionate
I was chosen this wasnt an accident
momma told me finish college
gotta get them dollars think about the path you pick
Get any type? so I packed my shit
Gotta go, gotta go hit the road
Challenging everything I’ve ever known!”

5. Energy (Enemies):
“Cuz I ain’t really with the fuck shit
I’m been tryna be productive
Feel like the GOAT and I feel like the ghost
They on the way they can’t even float
Feel so far from people I do the most
All good a week ago we were so close
But they do not get me
You say you love, but then you forget me
I’m wearing black on black I’m feeling edgy
This is not my final form they ain’t ready
Extraterrestrial – extraordinary
I got the vision can see it so clearly
But I don’t think they can hear me
Sleeping on me, but that shit could get weary
Put your favorite rapper in pet cemetery!”

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!

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