The fresh men
Sacramento’s next generation of hip-hop artists take to the stage
Sacramento has a deep-rooted history of producing quality hip-hop. While veterans like Mean Doe Green, C-Plus and DLRN work to spotlight Sacramento on a nationwide scale, the freshman class has been busy making its presence known locally. Here are a few faces of the next generation of Sac hip-hop that those of you on a steady diet of boom-bap should probably know.
Too natural, too deserving
New-school swagger teamed with old-school work ethic, at 21 years old, Chuuwee’s résumé already includes features with heavyweights Mean Doe Green and Zumbi of Zion I, as well as shows with Wiz Khalifa, Raekwon and Talib Kweli.
“The highlight of my last year was the year itself,” said Chuuwee. “I really made a breakthrough with my music, and my momentum is stronger than ever right now.”
A founding member of The Usual Suspects, Chuuwee’s flow is a mix of Jay-Z in the Reasonable Doubt era combined with Planet Asia’s West Coast underground intensity.
“He is too natural and too deserving not to get somewhere major,” said Mean Doe Green, who has worked closely with Chuuwee on several projects, including the single “Haiti’s,” which was featured on The Source magazine’s website.
Look for upcoming releases from Chuuwee, including the solo album Watching the Throne and a new collaboration with Sundown from Actual Proof called The Millennium Falcon at www.chuuweeoftus.bandcamp.com.
The mad scientist
If TUS were Wu-Tang, Konkwest would be RZA. Observant and methodical, Konkwest has quietly built a reputation as a factor in both the lyrical and production realms. One half of Lady Blue with TUS partner Chuuwee, Konkwest is incredibly humble about his role in shaping the next era of Sacramento hip-hop.
“Konkwest has been a fixture in the scene since before most people knew that he rapped,” said Tribe of Levi’s Mic Jordan. “You could tell he was really listening and watching everything.”
The mad scientist of the TUS crew has been busy in the lab the last year. As well as performing with Lady Blue, Konkwest released a solo effort titled Home Movies last October, a collaboration with fellow TUS members Chuuwee and Rufio called Life of a Backpacker in April, and a project with Abstract Ninjaa called GPK in August.
Though he still continues to produce for TUS, Konkwest is behind the mic more than the boards these days working on two separate projects, Early Morning Midnights produced by Rufio, and Beautiful De La produced by Tellapath.
Listen to Konkwest’s Home Movies, Life of a Backpacker and Lady Blue’s I Can’t Believe It at www.ladyblue.bandcamp.com.
More laid-back, but just as lyrical as his TUS counterparts, J. Good’s smooth flow is somewhere between Lupe Fiasco and Murs. A spoken-word poet-turned-rapper who has hit the Sacramento scene with a Kid Cudi-esque self-awareness, J. Good has shared stages with KRS-One, Rakim, Wale, Big Sean and Rhymefest.
When asked to sum up J. Good, Neighborhood Watch founder Fifth Ave (of DLRN) immediately answered, “Content.”
“He’s real chill with that laid-back delivery, but the content is always on-point,” he added.
Listen to Look on the Brightside at www.jgood.bandcamp.com.
Get the club crackin’
Not many deejays can say that they’ve held down residencies before being old enough to legally go to the club. Sacramento’s DJ Amp One can. As a student of Sacramento’s Sol Collective (full disclosure: this author books events at said venue), DJ Amp One has been studying music production under World Hood’s El Indio since the age of 14.
DJ Amp One has already held down the tables for global hip-hop sensations Los Rakas and Ana Tijoux, as well as making a name for himself in Sacramento’s thriving turntablist scene.
“He’s a well-rounded deejay and turntablist,” said Sacramento’s own Thud Rumble representative Kodac Visualz. “He can get the club crackin’ and spice it up with some scratching, and he’s really on the cusp of what’s new and hot.”
Though known most for his mixing and scratching, Amp One has also started making noise in the scene of making beats.
“My instrumentals always got a good response when I played them in a mix, so I figured it was time to start to start working on a mixtape,” he said. He has already shopped beats to C-Plus and a few others for upcoming projects.
His beat mixtape, titled From the Ground Up, is due out next year. Until then, DJ Amp One mixes and instrumentals are available at www.soundcloud.com/amp_one.
Although he’s not from Sacramento, Auburn’s Chozin has definitely earned his place in Sacramento’s Freshman Five. Chozin has shared Sacramento stages with The Grouch, Eligh, Brother Ali and Talib Kweli in the last year. He has also put in a lot of work in the Sacramento community as part of the Auburn Hip Hop Congress.
The notable difference in Chozin’s content stems from his introduction to hip-hop.
“I started out freestyling, then in rehab I began writing about my experience with drug abuse and finding my way through recovery,” Chozin said.
Chozin’s personal journey through substance abuse and the use of hip-hop as an outlet for recovery has struck a chord throughout the hip-hop community.
“You don’t hear kids rapping about the things that he does,” said local emcee Task1ne. “He talks about real shit. He talks about his dad. He talks about how he used to do drugs. I think that’s why a lot of people look up to him.”
When he’s not on stage or in the studio, Chozin conducts writing workshops at local high schools and speaks at community forums about his recovery and music.
Keep up with Chozin’s efforts toward his first solo album at www.facebook.com/chozinmusic.