"I don't force anything," said Dag Savage rapper and former San Diegan Johaz, explaining how his latest EP "Furnace" with producer Exile came about.
Last year, on tour, he called dibs on a beat that Exile had been playing. Once he was home, though, there were months of writer's block -- nothing. But instead of trying to coax out some half-hearted performance, he waited.
Then, "one time I threw the beat on, and immediately the melody came to me, so I knocked that s--- out in 20 minutes," he said.
If patience is a virtue, it paid off, as "Furnace" is a danceable stoner pledge that features Fashawn and the Last Artful Dodger, alongside a gravel-voiced Johaz articulating the effects of weed strains like Kush and Gorilla Glue over dub-tinged acoustics.
But where "Furnace" took a while, "If You're Down" didn't take much time at all, with Johaz, Blu and Cashus King finishing the track in a single studio session. And it feels inspired, making light work out of beats and rhymes, as a sobering manifesto for the modern era, a unifying call -- solidarity set to music.
Indeed, it's a solid way to close out the year. And there's more on the way, as he and Exile are about 80 percent done with their next record. So, what's he looking forward to in 2019 that listeners should keep an ear out for?
"We got new records coming, possibly some film s--- coming. So, you know, I'm excited about a lot of things," Johaz 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.