Sojourn's Big Concepts

Tres Hodgen, aka Sojourn, splits his time drumming, rapping and producing

Tres Hodgens is big on concepts although he'll tell you he doesn't always come up with the best ones.

He's been a musician most of his life, who first got involved with rap music by beatboxing on the back of a school bus. He still uses a notebook to write (he calls it "going analog"). He enjoys going to church, likes to read, and is one person removed from the Doobie Brothers as a drummer via one of his band mates.

Equal thirds rapper, drummer, and producer Hodgens (aka Sojourn) was raised a military brat. After spending his middle school years in Hawaii, his family relocated to Oceanside where Sojourn settled in, started high school and linked up with his first rap group.

After graduating in 1995, Tres and his then-group, Future Shock, released their debut LP, "Remember the Future." An upbeat affair full of youthful self assurance, tongue twisting raps, boom bap beats, and references to biblical scripture, the messiah, and God. Not so much a "Christian" rap album or group, but definitely an album by a group of rapping Christians.

But that was many moons ago. He's older now and more evolved. As a rapper, Sojourn is still a man of faith but at this point he doesn't see a separation between the sacred and the secular. While faith plays a large part in his life, and everything he does outside of rap informs what he does in rap, he doesn't consider himself a "Christian" rapper. His primary concern now is being as "dope" as possible; at times making no reference to God at all. Choosing instead to write about writing, rap about rapping, or just make it up as he goes and simply just freestyle.

As a drummer -- timing, rhythm, and swing are everything and Sojourn has them in spades. He's a performing musician who stays active with four different commitments. He plays on his church's worship team, provides the swing for Latin Jazz singer Debora Galan & Silk, holds down the rhythm section for reggae band Hazmatt, and keeps time as a member of the Lester Abrams Trio -- a soul outfit lead by Lester Abrams who co-wrote "Minute By Minute" for the Doobie Brothers with Michael McDonald in1979.

Not content to just play drums, write raps, or live vicariously through a Doobie Brothers association, Sojourn is also a producer who unsurprisingly says, "When I make a beat, the drums come first." He often sits down to write music fresh after a gig, sometimes programming beats with the same staccato swing patterns he pounded out while playing live with one of his bands. Other times though the process is much simpler, and he'll just beatbox to himself as a way to come up with interesting and new drum lines. At the moment, his production tool of choice is Maschine by Native Instruments but he's also taken to using the BeatMaker 2 app on his phone when he's hit with inspiration and on the go. [Listen to his music at his BandCamp page]

He's settled in Carlsbad with a wife and young son and takes his job as a parent very seriously. Even so, he's currently busy working on two solo projects. One, an instrumental album entirely self-produced called "Tabula Rasa" (which translates to "a blank slate") and the other, a rap EP titled "Art Therapy" -- slated for release in early 2015.

In other words, his concepts are coming together quite nicely.

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

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