Tonight, San Diego's music scene will come together to celebrate and honor its best and brightest. We take a look at a few of the nominees.
Hip Hop may be a sort of step-child in the local music scene but the list of nominees for the San Diego Music Awards on September 10 is full of variety and home to some hidden gems.
In considering the nominees for Best Hip Hop, it’s clear that San Diego, aside from the community of traditional hip-hop groups, hosts a nest of alternative groups and fusion groups that add a nontraditional element to the hip-hop flavor.
The San Diego hip-hop scene as a whole still developing and constantly integrating new styles and looking for venues to reach.
NBCSanDiego heard from a couple of the nominees: one group setting the trail ablaze with their unique sound- Vokab Kompany; and the exceptional- MC Flow who has enraptured San Diego (and beyond) with her silver tongue on political and women’s issues near to her heart.
First let’s look at one of SD’s finest, an established group of Hip Hop artists that is no stranger to the SDMA’s, Deep Rooted.
Formed in 2004 by Mr. Brady, Johaz, Brea and DJ Artistic, Deep Rooted has evolved their small hip hop group to included dancers, guest MC’s for bigger, more energetic live, rock-style stage shows. Definitely the traditionalists in scene, they took home SDMA’s in 2005 and 2006 for Best Hip Hop Album; in 2005 for A New Beginning and in 2006 for The Second Coming. In those same couple of years they got play on big tickets like Vans Warped Tour and SoCo Music Festival. DR has played with some of hip-hop’s biggest names- The Roots, Lupe Fiasco, Wu-Tang Clan and performed at the big scene venues. Radio play and even features in video games attest to their broad appeal. Their sound can be compared to early Tribe Called Quest, pretty classic and nostalgic.
In 2008 they released their third album, aptly titled just that - Third Album. Most recently, the group released D.E.E.P.R.O.O.T.E.D. and set out on the Cali Comm tour with Souls of Mischief and Strong Arm Steady.
They are also branching out individually with DJ Artistic opening a DJ school and Brea releasing a solo album. Despite pursuing their own endeavors, Deep Rooted is tightly knit, with each member not only born and raised here but also very involved in the local hip-hop scene. While it’s necessary and positive to keep infusing the music, there is always something to be said about tradition.
Listen Locally featured this group in the beginning of 2009 and what a year they have had since. Much of 2009 was spent working tirelessly on their upcoming October release, The New Kong. They consider the album a collaborative effort centered by the group’s core MC’s- Burkey “Baybe” and Rob Hurt while peppered with guest MC’s and backed by a five-piece band, contemporary and retro electro-beats.
When they weren’t in the studio this year they were off playing shows and festy’s and blasting guerilla style viral marketing to spread the word. NBCSanDiego asked VK if they’ve seen their fan base grow this year, thanks to all their efforts. Burkey Baybe answers…
“With a few fingers full of text messaging and phone calls, we could dent a venue…thanks to some major Cali events; Sea Of Dreams NYE (guest performance with The Mutaytor), The Elysium Festival, the Stay Classy Tailgate event, along with venue's like Cane's and Winston's…we have clawed our way into some packed shows…”
Looking ahead to 2010 VK is planning to release the follow-up to The New Kong in the early part of the year. They are excited to bring on co-producer A-Plus of the notorious Hieroglyphics Crew. Fans can look forward to more collaborations with, in the group's own words, “a hodge-podge of genre crossing.”
Also in 2010 the guys plan a premiere release of an album with their full band which Rob and Burkey plan to co-produce. To say they are inspired is almost an understatement. On the to-be released album their energy is crackling; jumping out of the speaker and injecting you with a little taste.
As for their first SDMA nom, the guys consider… “We have been running up and down the coast recently, spreading this Dago dilly-silly puddy, and it's been a blessing to still be stuck to the bottom of our local sandal. Flip flops and hip hop baby, get you sum.”
MC Flow (aka Abby Schwartz)
SDMA royalty ladies and gents, was transplanted from NY to SD in 2000 and came to be a hip-hop artist rather unsystematically. She moved here to pursue a master at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Mission Valley. Her schooling was interrupted when she sought treatment for an eating disorder. It was this healing process that led to using spoken-word performances to express her perceptions on the issues involving women and body image.
MC Flow has steadily made a name for herself in the local hip hop scene, thanks to her uncanny talent as a lyricist and rapper and to the fact that her topics make taboo look like a piece of American pie. These have earned her a diverse audience base and an increasingly growing group of interested ears.
This year she hit a deafening chord with her song and music video entitled, “Created Equal” which she wrote in response to the recent passing of Prop 8, an issue that's near and dear to her heart since she is a member of the gay community and in a committed partnership. The song has struck hearts and minds across the world, as Flow describes, “I love the video that Rebecca and Kevin Joelson made for the song, and it has been amazing to get responses from around the globe pertaining to the song’s message of love and equality for all.” “Created Equal” is up this year for Best Song of The Year.
With a Best Hip Hop nod (2007) and Best Hip Hop Album in ‘08 award for her 2008 release "Incredible" under her belt, MC Flow has been busy performing throughout 2009. She's backed by producer Taylor-Tay, fly-girl/dancer GG, and turntablist DJ Rob Fayder. Their shows, known for being truly colorful and bringing spunky and funky music led by MC Flow’s ferocious lyrics, keep the crowd grooving.
What’s next for MC Flow? While she loves hip-hop, “It’s just one way that I enjoy channeling my creative energy,” she said. She has other tricks up her sleeve, being a writer first and foremost Flow said, “I am currently working on a young adult novel and hope to devote more time to that in the coming months. I’m also working on a children’s book that has some hip-hop elements to it – I figure, you’re never too young to learn how to rap!”
But of course Miss Flow!