Cali Kev Dials Up Local Love

Cali Kev has been cooking up a new album, a music discovery blog and much-needed local exposure

Thomas Tyrell

"If you see me and my hair is long AF [as f---], you know I’ve been cookin' up," San Diego rapper Kevin Howard, aka Cali Kev, said over the phone earlier this month.

It's how he measures his productivity -- by the length of his locks -- and even though he doesn't share exactly how long they are, it's safe to assume they've been growing.

"My dreads get longer every time I write a new song," he explained.

At just over a year removed from his last album, "No Salary Cap" -- a project fueled by sharp lyricism and smart wordplay -- he's kept busy working on his follow up, "1-900-Cali-Kev."

"'No Salary Cap,' that was my college highlight film of why people should keep an eye on me," Howard said.

It's a bit of a trust-building exercise, him proving his worth.

And now that's he's established a rapport with listeners, his new material is centered around communicating what he's learned in the process.

"'1-900-Cali-Kev' is about working smart, cracking the code [and] shar[ing] it with those who will do right by it," he added.

Indeed, there's been development in other areas too. And in addition to putting together his next release, he's also been running the AuxGod gallery, an online outlet he created to share hidden music gems -- one aux cord at a time.

Howard hasn't stopped there, though, as he's most recently taken on the role of contributor, sharing articles via media sites and Elevator Magazine.

In an effort to draw more attention to the region, Kev says, "I'm really out here trying to get these San Diego artists the proper exposure."

And as a performer himself who's in touch with what's happening locally, there's a sense he's headed in the right direction. With a knack for the greater good and a mindfulness focused around community, he's charting a path from which everybody can benefit.

"I feel San Diego is brewing with talent; we just have never had the proper coverage [to] showcase that. So, I’ve been doing my part to help shine light on all the creatives out here.... We're all getting in the end zone this year," he said.

J. Smith, aka 10-19, is a San Diego native, rap fan and San Diego Music Award-winning musician. You can follow him on Instagram at 10-19_the_numberman or on Twitter.

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