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To the Power of Poline

Eric Poline, hip-hop's man of many names, keeps quiet but keeps creating



    Eric Poline is quiet. He's not shy, timid, or reserved; not the "shhh" kind of librarian-quiet and not the "quiet on the set" kind of silence either. No, his quietness is more akin to that of a sitar-player-in-the-center-of-a-room kind of thing -- it's a vibe, an energy. He's still.

    The ends of his sentences are occasionally accentuated by smiles that send the far edges of his beard up into his cheeks. He's open, soft spoken and relaxed, switching gears every so often -- like when he talks excitedly about his acupuncture work or the healing intentions of his music.

    There's the fundamental stuff: He started taking guitar lessons in third grade, stumbled across rap music by sixth, and after he'd received two Gemini XL 500 turntables on his 13th birthday, he was hooked. With influences like DJ Q-Bert and the Beat Junkies, it was all about turntablism, and all he wanted to do was scratch. So that's what he did.

    "I didn't even want to mix," Poline explained. He was so taken that for a while he put his guitar down and stopped playing. After graduating high school, his parents gifted him with a Korg Triton synthesizer, and from there, "it all started to come together," he said. He jumped back into guitar, jumped back into music theory and even started working on his piano playing, spending time in his family's living room after his sister had taken lessons.

    Getty Images for Coachella

    Around 2007, he was working on his master's degree in Chinese Medicine and playing a blend of hip-hop meets psychedelic rock as a member of the San Diego-based band Genius of Soul. By then, he had integrated his full skill set, rebranded himself as OpenOptics and in June 2010, he released "We All Want to Fly" under the name Inspired Flight (with Gabe Lehner) on Poline's Create Fate Music imprint. Since then, he has completed his master's, started his own acupuncture business, and on his birthday this past June, he released a slew of new music collaborations he had been working on since his Inspired Flight album.

    There's the instrumental project of Indian sounds with fellow DJ Existence 76, the Way Om. Then there's his glitch-hop inspired EP "Stereo" that was released with partner Dusty Nix as AmpliPhi. He's also dropped a single, "Seasons," with singer Abigail Dearden under the name the Cosmic Sea, and what he's referred to as "a more straight-up rap project" with rapper Apollo 8 as Infinite Optics that features cameos from Freestyle Fellowship heavyweights Aceyalone and Myka 9.

    He's in the process of scoring a documentary about infanticide and the Mingi children in Ethiopia -- labor intensive stuff that demands a lot of his attention and takes up a lot of his time. It's all a blur of projects and a ton of work.

    Even so, there's that stillness. He's calm. The common thread for Poline is healing. Whether through his acupuncture practice or extensive catalog of music, his ultimate goal is to help people heal -- to help them find peace, quiet down a bit and maybe, just maybe, find their own stillness.

    J. Smith, aka 1019, is a San Diego native, rap fan and one half of the rap duo Parker & the Numberman.You can follow him on Instagram at 1019_the_numberman or on Twitter