Words with setiment
Reno, NV 89501
Local musician Tony Walker, also known under his rapping alias Locus, rhymes with energy and blood. He raps through sound barriers.
There’s verbal heat from the very start of “Accelerated Moments” on the Locus MySpace page, in which Walker comes through like Bun B, all internal rhyme and syllabic slaughter: “Integrated, legitimate, intimate / Words with sentiment / Breaks through sediment.”
“The way that I rhyme, I do see that it’s an artform that’s been lost—the long syllable type flow,” Walker says. “That’s something that a lot of people don’t do anymore, that I unconsciously do.”
But what Walker brings lyrically is often determined as much by environment.
“It always depends on the beat and the nature or quality of the beat, what will be evoked,” Walker says.
Walker has been involved in music his entire life. When he was a kid in Oklahoma, his mom would sing and introduce him to artists as diverse as James Brown and The Eagles. His early relationship with hip-hop mostly centered on break-dancing, but in 1998, when he moved to Hawaii, it flourished into rapping.
Walker, as Locus, has written 100-200 songs, about 50 of which have been recorded. He’s currently working on a record with DJ Likewise, for which 20 songs have been written but none yet recorded.
“I hope I don’t die before I put out my first album,” he jokes.
Beyond his work as Locus, Walker’s projects are many and all reach into distinctly non-hip-hop districts of the Reno music scene. One of his newer collaborations is with Kate Cotter, titled Rocks Breathe Deep, a name from one of Walker’s raps. The project straddles both hip-hop and Americana-esque folk. Walker was also a member of the now-defunct Blueberry Love Machine, which explored the feel of funk and classic rock more than any specific hip-hop groove.
Another new Walker-related project, Status-Flo, is a 15-piece collective of Reno musicians, featuring, among others, Mark Sexton and saxophonist Jimmy Hoover, formerly of Sol’ Jibe. Status-Flo is self-described as “soul-fused lyrics and rhythm,” a way of not blindsiding those who might come to their shows for something traditionally “hip-hop.”
Status-Flo also includes members of Spoken Views. In 2006, Walker cofounded Spoken Views, a monthly poetry open mic that exists within a hip-hop sphere. Walker and Iain Watson, also known under his hip-hop alias Emic, started the project in order to force spoken-word into the Reno scene. At the time, it was missing a proper forum. It was also a conscious move away from the traditional trappings of hip-hop communities, particularly the hostile nature of battling.
“In hip-hop there’s always this sense of, ‘I’ve got to be better than this person’,” says Walker. “And we were so sick of that. We wanted a different atmosphere where people could be open and positive.”
This is Walker’s essential mission: To enact change in the rigid forms of hip-hop.
“Some of the stuff I do is kind of throwback in ways,” he says. “But the reason I reach out to all the different genres in music is because I’m searching for a new path in hip-hop. A new way to express it—not just repeating what hip-hop has been in the past.”
It’s the free-genre nature of the Reno scene and the low-key atmosphere it nurses that allows Walker this freedom to curve hip-hop in his chosen direction.
“More people can come to a show, hear the lyrics and take it home … dissect it and discover what it means to them,” he says. “Because once you put art out in the world, it’s not yours anymore.”