Soosh*e! changes the radio game
How the Sacramento emcee fights for the local creative community
Soosh*e!’s ability to overcome limitations started when he embraced his “crab” name. In high school, his blessed beats on the snare drum gained him entry into a black college-style marching band, but his rookie, a.k.a. “crab,” status and Japanese heritage got him the nickname “Sushi.”
“It was mad racist. I was so pissed off the first few times I heard it but I made it something I loved,” he says. “I rebranded it by changing the spelling to Soosh*e! with an exclamation mark so that everyone would have to yell when they said my name.”
He discovered his love for music in part because of the movie Drumline. The 2002 film inspired him to join the marching band in eighth grade and start creating beats. He continued through high school and college, and while attending Sacramento City College, accidentally signed up for a creative writing course that needed unattained prerequisites. The professor allowed him to stay, though, and it was that class that tapped into his lyricism and passion for rapping.
In addition to rapping, emceeing and part-time producing, Soosh is also a skilled deejay and hosts Hot 103.5’s The Served Fresh Show. He works to make sure hard-working creatives are supported, regardless of location.
“We didn’t just want Sac artists,” he says, grinning. “We wanted to make sure we were pushing the best and not just the locals.”
Soosh came to Hot 103.5 ready to modernize the sound and make it reflect an edgier, more authentic feel—a response to what he saw as a lack of originality and Sacramento representation on the mainstream radio. Although he often vouches for promising artists who are active within the community—like Tre Solid and Lil Darrion, who donated 1,000 backpacks to students last year—the rules of radio fight major changes.
“We still have to go through radio politics to make things happen,” Soosh*e! says. “So at this point, it’s about us figuring out how we can make our community support [each other] and put Sac on the map.
“But it can’t only depend on radio. It has to depend on everyone.”
The hashtag he’s created, #wethewave, embodies this theme of collective success. In his mind, there’s no reason for anyone in the community to be left behind.
“I want to be the catalyst for people to realize we don’t have to be separate entities, because as long as it’s an art form, it belongs with another art form,” he says. “Now it’s up to me to find other people who have that same task in mind.”
At the hip-hop festival #HOFDAY on Saturday, September 24, he’ll perform his latest single, “Come Thru It’s Lit (#CTIL).” The party anthem is off of his upcoming project, Ganbatte, which means good luck in Japanese. It has been almost a year in the making, but Soosh*e! will drop Ganbatte in late 2016.
“Ganbatte is going to be different,” he says. “It won’t be the typical gritty, dark rap of right now. I love curating an environment and I want this to be an uplifting and genuine sound that carries all the feels.”