Recognize those behind "The Elements"

As you may or may not know, JRecognize is producing its first event. Because JRecognize emphasizes the idea of community, it's important that we all get to know one another. 

Being that "The Elements" is a Hip Hop event and everyone involved has been greatly influenced by the culture, I asked some of the emcees, deejays, etc. three questions.

  1. What was the first song that sparked your love for Hip Hop?
  2. What does the Hip Hop culture mean to you?
  3. What artist(s) heavily influence you today?

The purpose of this is so that "The Elements" attendees can get a sense of and understand who they're watching/interacting with. 

Here's what they said.

What was the first song that sparked your love for Hip Hop?

Lando Chillrissian: First song… I'd have to say "Touch The Sky" by Kanye West feat. Lupe Fiasco was prolly the first to truly spark my love for Hip Hop. It's funny because I'm of that age bracket that grew up in the backpack v gangster rap era with the 50 Cent v Ye sell off & when conscious rap really got a foothold in the mainstream, so it would be Ye and Lupe.

Ben (Combine Vibes): Nuthin’ But A G Thang - Dr. Dre

Nax (Combine Vibes): Well, I was born in ‘91 so frowning up Hip Hop was everywhere: cartoon shows, commercials, movies, radio, the news, etc. So naturally I was already bobbin’ my head to the stuff, but one year for Christmas when I was like 5 my Tia gave me a portable cassette player with a mixtape she made me with all kinds of cool Hip Hop (a lot of West Coast). I’d have to say a combination of two songs: Hit Em High from Space Jam Soundtrack and I Like Big Butts by Sir Mix-A-Lot. I remember I was always rewinding and fast forwarding the tape and singing along to every word. 

Fonz (Combine Vibes): I wouldn't say that it was a single song and if it was I can't think of it Haha but my older brother used to listen to a lot of Hip Hop when we were young so I'd play all his CD's in my CD player at school or on the bus. Hearing different artists and styles is what really grabbed my attention.

Young One Era: I would say Kanye West - Gold Digger, it for some reason had a certain sound that inspired my love for Hip Hop.

Chozen Profit: My mom was a huge Amg and Dj Quik fan the earliest rap songs I can remember were "Tonight is the Night" or "Word to the D" by Amg.

Marley B: First song probably would have to be The Pharcyde- Passing Me By.

Izzy Mintz: Kick Push by Lupe Fiasco

Jaca Zulu: 2Pac's Dear Mama

DJ Alias: The first song that made me fall in love with Hip Hop music was either "The Freaks Come Out At Night" or "Five Minutes Of Funk" by Whodini.  That's the first tape I remember listening to over and over and over again.

Jocelyn: I Used To Love H.E.R. - Common. Thanks to my sister. 

Dio: My cousins hand me down a mixtape… Blood of Abraham, Father of many Nations.. sparked my curiosity.

Smash Lames: I can't remember a 1st song, but I bought my 1st rap tape visiting my dad at Tanque Verde swap meet. It was the Fat Boys.

What does the Hip Hop culture mean to you?

Lando Chillrissian: I honestly still think I'm still trying to mold that answer... because I think it's ever changing, ever evolving culture. But to me, it's the voice for the voiceless, yet these days it's being threatened more than ever. more subconsciously and subversive than any active racism could ever display. Hip Hop culture is the base that we as African Americans had created to form unity among brothers and sisters torn asunder by years of segregation, self deprivation, and utter social control by the oppression of racism.

Ben (Combine Vibes): Organic, movement, freedom of speech. 

Nax (Combine Vibes): For me, true Hip Hop culture is a way of life. This means it’s in the way you eat, sleep, walk, talk, act, dress, move, laugh, cry and all that. Giving it plenty of room to grow and celebrate and manifest movements along the way. That being said, I also believe that Hip Hop is a huge source of power, love and self worth. So to me its worth a whole world and when I’m doing my thang, best believe I come correct representing me and mine for the people from the people. 

Fonz (Combine Vibes): Hip Hop culture means a lot to me because it is my culture. It's just the way I live and it's always been a heavy influence for me.

Young One Era: It means being unique and expression through words.

Chozen Profit: Hip Hop to me is a release from the normal world, a way to express yourself peacefully, Hip Hop to me of course aside from my family is life...

Marley B: The Hip Hop culture to me is about the struggle and hustle of the underprivileged. Its about having your back against the ropes but still being able to fight back and crack a smile through all the bullshit. Hip Hop is an outlet for us to run to and keep our sanity.

Izzy Mintz: It means a lot, I've invested my life in this

Jaca Zulu: It means the expressions of the oppressed whether they be joyful or painful. It means breaking walls down. It means building bridges. It means connection.

DJ Alias: Hip Hop culture to me is the love for and identification with the elements of Hip Hop (MCing, DJing, Writing, and B-Boying). Just like you have certain music, dance, tradition, speech, dress, etc. attached to say Japanese culture or Mexican-American culture, you have that same fully formed culture in Hip Hop.  When you're a part of the culture, it forms who you are as a person and how the world around you sees you as a person.  It becomes a part of who you are and informs your interactions with the world around you.

Jocelyn: To me, the Hip Hop culture means/is made up of an accumulation of many positive things. The Hip Hop culture gives voice to those who feel the need to be heard. Everyone has a story and Hip Hop is there to help you express it, whether it be through breaking, writing, turning tables, painting, poetry, etc. There's just so much to Hip Hop that people are unaware about and I honestly used to be one of those people. I still have a lot to learn but I like to think Hip Hop makes its way into people's lives at the right time. 

Dio: Hip Hop is the closest thing to flying. It’s more than a culture to me, it’s in every breathe I take, it’s with me in every step I take, every word I exhaust. “Hip Hop” is my mother and my father, it’s my mentor in life, it tells me to express myself and shine with pure intentions and the rest will follow.

Smash Lames: Such a big answer to compress down into so many words... geez. For me it's been a means of respect, honor, originality, style, love, and life. It raised me. I don't put it above my faith or family, but its that close for me to care about.

What artist(s) heavily influence you today?

Lando Chillrissian: I try to find inspiration within original works, regardless of genre. Outasight would definitely be someone that's influenced me musically, in the style of not being afraid to add a lil funk into Hip Hop. I'd also say, Mick Jenkins is a huuuuge influence on what I converse about musically. The poetry.

Ben (Combine Vibes): Apollo Brown is a heavy influence on my style. 

Nax (Combine Vibes): I’d say I’m heavily influenced by the older cats I listened to growing up like Gang Starr, Lauryn Hill, 2Pac, Outkast, Erykah Badu, Wu-tang. But if we’re talking a recent vibe, I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration in artists like Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass (and anyone affiliated with Pro Era) and Dizzy Wright. I’m also heavily influenced when I kick it in cyphers with the homies. 

Fonz (Combine Vibes): Artists that heavily influence me today would be dudes like Joey Bada$$. Big inspiration as far as more recent artists go: Kendrick Lamar. Ab-Soul. J.Cole. Action Bronson. Older artists open a whooole 'nother realm of discussion.

Young One Era: Drake, Chance the Rapper and Kanye West

Chozen Profit: Today im bumping Kendrick Lamar, Ab-soul, Jhene Aiko, J.Cole, I fucks with A$AP Rocky, (The old) Wiz Khalifa (I'm talking "Prince of the City", "Flight School", "Kush & O.J.") I hate the new Wiz lol, and a few more I can't really think of.... but those right there I listed are HUGE influences.

Marley B: The artist that influences me most right now would have to be Murs. After touring with him and having him take me under his wing Ive learned so much. Not only from the music side of things but also the business side of Hip Hop. Its truly a blessing to have Living Legend in my corner.

Izzy Mintz: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco

Jaca Zulu: Flying Lotus

DJ Alias: The last one is a hard one for me as I can't really point to a singular artist or even a handful of them.  In my early days as a DJ I was heavily influenced by the DJs of the "Golden Era."  DJ Aladdin, DJ Premier, Evil Dee, Tony Touch, Cash Money and others literally taught me how to DJ through their tapes.  Now, I feel like I'm influenced more by the people around me.  Local DJs, B-Boys and B-Girls, MCs, and other friends.  Too many to name but that's who influences what I do now more than any single person.

Jocelyn: I'm still very much fathomed by "old school Hip Hop"... I enjoy Lauryn Hill, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, The Pharcyde, Tupac and emcees in that arena. They influence me in the way I appreciate Hip Hop. 

Dio: Today my friends around me, in my newfound studio at 125 e Pennington above Space Smoke Shop. We blow glass, screen print, break-dance, logos, murals, jewelry, embroidery, the list goes on but the art district in general has been inspiring being that I was born and raised in Tucson.

Smash Lames: Most of my influences now day are the publicists and managers of the rappers. People like Dante Ross, Fadia Kader, Drew Millard. These people know what is relevant in old and new Hip Hop. They get it and I respect that.

If you'd like to learn more about some of these awesome Hip Hop heads, click on one (or all) of the buttons below: