Equipto made it from San Francisco and is the C.E.O of Solidarity Records and has been making music for 15+ years doing collaborations with Mac Dre, Berner, Andre Nickatina, The Jacka, Smoov-E, San Quinn and shag Nasty to name a few. He is highly influenced by San Francisco along with 2Pac, Malcolm X, E-40, Public Enemy, EPMD, and too many more to name.


Being a free-thinking musician in the 21st century world of highly overexposed hip-hop sometimes equated to being a persona non grata. While many of hip-hop’s respected luminaries chose not to rock the boat when industry battle lines were drawn, some artists chose to forego the mainstream altogether. This was the decision of many a talented underground MC/producer who stuck to their guns and made their own brand of music on smaller labels that would not force them to kowtow to the demands of the market.

The Bay Area’s L*Roneous is one such artist that chose to paddle his way upstream with an abstract style reminiscent of fellow North Coast forerunners Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Souls of Mischief and Los Angeles’ the Pharcyde and Freestyle Fellowship. L*Ron’s limited-release debut, “Imaginarium,” originally surfaced in 1998 on Ocean Floor Records, but the MC’s microphone mastery was only witnessed by a small circle. The style was lucid yet leaked with hallucinogenic abstraction and tongue-twisting flights of fancy. L*Ron’s metaphorical madness was a perfect fit for young producer DJ Zeph’s acidic B-boy beats. The chosen few who were able to place L*Ron’s name and verbal template into their memory banks hoped for the sake of hip-hop that he would be heard from again. In the late ’90s, the MC went on to establish connections with a number of the Golden State’s underground mainstays (Project Blowed, Living Legends) and worked with such artists as Freestyle Fellowship’s Mikah9 and Abstract Rude. But in terms of heavy studio work, the cryptic MC kept things mostly on the hush, releasing only a few singles in Japan and on underground outposts in the States here and there. Fledgling Bay Area label 6months Distribution got wind of L*Ron’s bona fide talents and made concerted efforts to give the artist his due exposure. Feeling that L*Ron’s avant-garde style of 1998 had found its ripple in time and that the underground needed to reclaim some of its plundered principalities, the label made plans to reissue the artist’s Imaginarium album in June of 2002.

Self Jupiter (Freestyle Fellowship)

In person, Self-Jupiter is the sort of person to attract your attention. His daunting size could make the average offensive lineman look “regular-sized”. Still, he is likely to be sitting there with a peaceful smile on his face, then your line of vision moves to his eyes…and you can’t quite decipher the meaning; Is he in deep thought? Is something troubling him? Has he just had an epiphany? Or is something of a more grim nature at work? Likely, any combination of these factors could be taking place at any given moment, who’s to say? However, rest assured, that the mind of Self-Jupiter is constantly at work.

Many people first heard Self-Jupiter on Freestyle Fellowship’s “To Whom May Concern”, particularly on his solo offering, “Jupiter’s Journey”. This track is a perfect entry-level understanding of his mind in action; it’s abstract without lacking definition, it reveals his love for exerting control over use of the English language and it subtlety hints at his fascination with that which is often beyond human comprehension or comfort. In fact, the title itself is fitting. It’s initiating the paving of a pathway to a world of wonder and wordplay that would soon come…

On “Inner City Griots” it was as if he finally had the well-needed outlet to unleash the lingering thoughts that had been amassing intensely in his mind. Self-Jupiter displayed an intriguing and engaging talent of scripting colorful wordplay, but placing it behind an outer-layer of tinted imagery. In other words, you might find yourself in a feel-good moment from his playful approach, but suddenly realize you’re dancing along to tales of civil rights, the Klu Klux Klan and being advised that it is “Fun to f**k with people in the night”, as is the case on “Bullies Of The Block”. His verse on “Heavyweights” alerts you to his gift of free association word linkage that requires repeated listens to piece together the intended connections. The B-Side track, “Pure Thought” taps into his poetic nature, allowing him to build on the simple root word, “Hello”, that is bent into a greeting that is a touch more haunting than usual.

All of those moments are critical pieces to his development, but it’s on “Way Cool” where he unveils what is perhaps his finest lyrical talent, gripping tales of suspense and horror with a smidgen of humor and plenty of shocking imagery, such as “Juggling jars full of souls.”

This is a chamber he would later delve deeper into, “When The Sun Took A Day Off And The Moon Stood Still” w/Aceyalone on Omid’s “Beneath The Surface” immediately comes to mind. Upon hearing that song I hoped he might tread similar territory in the future and was grim-fully pleased with his eventual offerings that lead to the “Hard Hat Area” solo outing. “Hard Hat Area” was a profound statement that Self-Jupiter was only improving as a writer and still developing a musical character that was every bit as poetic as it was ghastly, as witnessed on songs such as “It Was On This Night”. Through out the album, the self-proclaimed “6.2 Warlock” delivers an abundance of quotes that are forever burned into my memory; “If you see me in a fight with a bear, don’t help me, help the bear” or “(Most of these Rappers) wouldn’t blink if the eyelids were the triggers that unleashed holocaust on all their enemies”, to highlight just a couple.

His latest project, “The Kleenrz”, virtually picks up where much of those aforementioned songs left off. On “The Kleenrz” Self-Jupiter exercises the finest inventiveness of his eerily creative mind. It’s filled with descriptive stories of despair, aguish, adventure, self-reflection and filth, all finely scripted with bardic prose, ripe with abundant use of verbal wit.

In this interview Self-Jupiter recalls and traces the steps that led to this very place. We discuss such things as:

-His impressively diverse list of inspirations/influences and the importance of listening to KDAY and Rock radio

Spank Pops

Hailing from the cultural heart of the Bay Area, Spank Pops is a premiere emcee & songwriter whose deeply bred roots in the renowned Haight/Ashbury district of San Francisco blaze through in every musical work he puts forth. Best known for his reputable freestyles & ingenious lyrical works set to stone in the studio, he stays true to his early stomping grounds in the Western Addition, upon which he was born and raised. Throughout his life Spank has been exposed to the prime of every musical genre - the best of the best. His ability to master the art of meshing his aptitude as a stockbroker at The Pacific Stock Exchange with his natural forte selling mixtapes and designer gear at the legendary TRUE Clothing San Francisco has placed & cemented him at the top of his hustle Making music over the past decade has given Spanks the freedom and space to create without boundaries. He has brought to the board the West Coast flavored anthem “Populate” and the ensuant crowd shaker “Like Me Now”, while also flexing his experimental antics on the off beat banger “Small World”, which crumbled speakers through local airwaves and live shows in S.F. and the greater Bay Area. With individuality that shines through on every joint he blesses, Spank carries a fluid energetic flow fused with the Cali slang originality the West Coast is famous for. Constantly exposed to the innovative rap styles of fellow Bay artists and personal friends Andre Nickatina, Equipto and San Quinn - the latter with whom he recently threw down in the studio on the soon to debut single “Get Busy” - Spanks realized early on the significance of his approach to perseverance in the underground rap scene. Although Spanks definitively displays his skills in the vocal booth, he is unquestionably in his best element when he is on stage performing. “I’ve always made it a point to stay knit with my stage presence above all else, because I enjoy the music most when it is you, the crowd, and the music. It is the music, the realest element…the rawest form…there’s no fronting, lip synching or faking shit.” Spanks considers himself blessed to have in years past opened for artists like Outkast, Wu Tang Clan, KRS One, Xzibit, Mac Dre (RIP), Goodie Mob and Raekwon. Mic murdering at shows, such as the one he rocked at The Fillmore w/Blackalicious or with The Clipse at one of the Bay’s hottest live venues, The Mezzanine, his trademark laid back demeanor & cadence remains consistent, as does his ability to leave the crowd dripping with energy and hungry for more. He has also appeared on various tours with Living Legends, Aceyalone, Mikah 9 and Abstract Rude, and pro-skateboarding friends Pat Washington, Stevie Williams, and Marcus McBride. Spanks consistently delivers to his fans, rocking shows and dance floors on the regular, in true Spank Pops fashion. What can those who anticipate more expect from Spank in 2008? Volume 3 of ‘The Truth Mixtape’ series has already hit the streets, filling eager palms & ‘phones, and a full sophomore album from the man who lives & breathes The Yay Area is due out this year as well. The album is heavily laced with production from The Bay’s own internationally acclaimed serial beatlacer Trackademicks. For more still from the MC who AllHipHop.com declares has ‘star personality’ and “…eclectic hooks and straight out the Yay energy” whose funk you can feel “…in the air, on your collar, and under your shoes”, check for Spank and his prolific clique, The Honor Roll. The colorful crew is bringing heat and making much noise in the current year. With fellow crew members which include Trackademicks, Miss Josie Stingray (whose spine crackling vocals recently sprinkled the soundwaves of Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide radio show), producer 1 O.A.K. (the brainchild behind Josie and j*davey’s ‘Doin My Thing’), The Honor Roll are effortlessly grabbing listeners’ attention, spreading their unique & contagious twists to the West Coast’s signature sound. Accompanying the anticipated drop of his new album, Spanks traverses on with fresh freestyles and collaborations with esteemed DJs and labels to keep the movement in your ear. An artist who is vibrant evidence of why Bay Area musicians have always been known for their individuality and independent spirit, Spanks is surely a product of his environment. The love shows through in every movement and sound of his persona, and in his grin as he affirms, “It won’t stop until I rearrange the way doubters everywhere look at Bay Area rappers, PERIOD”.

Dregs One

Hip hop started out as a way to organize and uplift the community – with a mixture of civil rights and creative expression, Dregs One is an artist who is doing just that. And as an influential emcee/producer and a community organizer in the movement, he "can't help but be aware."

"I'm tired of the gangster rap bling bling fantasy that they show on TV," he says. "We can't lose sight of what's real."

His newest project, The Wake Up Call, illuminates the street politics of California's Bay Area, taking listeners on a journey into the Frisco haze with his jazzy beats and eloquent rhymes. Coming from a background of graffiti, freestyling and beat-boxing he credits his creativity to the diverse style of his rap group, the Gas Mask Colony.

Dregs One has made a name for himself in the Golden State appearing on numerous releases and music videos, and touring in other parts of the country. With a passion for justice and a dedication to rapping about issues that plague inner-city youth like homelessness, drug use and violence while sampling artists such as Sade and the Doors, Dregs One is changing the world with his mic and turntables.

Dj Pause

DJ Pause is producer from San Francisco. He was part of A.P.G. Crew (Action Packed Gangsters) along with DJ Red Slice, J-Cutt, & MC Mello Mar. They released the classic record Oaktown’s Finest in the early 90′s.

DJ Pause is known for producing slaps for Andre Nickatina, Equipto, and the Million Dollar Dream compilation albums. He released his collaboration album Monster with Shag Nasty in 2005 for Illiact Records.



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