The 1980’s

My love of music, like most artists, began as a child. Fortunately for me, I grew up in a very musically diverse environment and at a pivotal point in music. My mother listened to 60’s-80’s soul & disco, and my older sister listened to classic rock from the same eras. I would come home from school and just sit for hours singing along to Elvis, The Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Prince, Heart, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, too many to name. I was also there and watching the moment MTV started in August 1981, which led to the explosion of “pop” music and changed the musical landscape forever. It was also around this time when I was introduced to Hip-Hop and electronic music through the budding B-Boy/breakdance movement. In 1983, when I was 10yrs old and in 4th grade, I decided to get involved in the school band. I tried out for drums, but ironically the teacher said I didn’t have enough rhythm to play drums! So, I got stuck playing clarinet for 3 years. We moved from Seattle to Las Vegas in the summer of 1986 and I was at a new school where nobody knew me, so I lied and told them I had played drums in my old band in Seattle so they would put me on drums. I picked it up pretty quick and I also played snare in a marching band part time outside of school so I could get more practice. While I was in jr high in 1987, Hip-Hop was quickly gaining momentum and beginning to go mainstream. My music teacher had a really nice keyboard workstation in class and he would program the sequencer to play along with our band. I used to always lurk around that thing and hit the keys once in a while when he wasn’t paying attention. I thought it was the coolest thing ever! I ended up receiving a Casio keyboard as a gift that year and I became interested in the technical side of making music. My Casio wasn’t much, but it had drum pads similar to an MPC on it and my music teacher was cool enough to let me bring it into class to play the drums electronically. I don’t recall it working out too well, but it nonetheless planted the seed for my future!! Thank you Mr. Ruben Cantu at Roy Martin Jr High in Las Vegas!

While I was becoming interested in the production aspect of music, I got distracted by DJing. Before it was cool to be a “rapper,” everybody wanted to be a DJ! You see, back in the early days of Hip-Hop, the DJ was just as big a deal as the MC. Sometimes bigger. Of course nowadays, the DJ has become practically non-existent in rap groups, but in 1987 the DJ got all the respect! We were poor as hell and couldn’t afford real turntables, so I had to try something else. I don’t know how I figured it out, but somehow I hooked 2 record players up together and could “mix” records without a mixer. If I had the “aux” switch stuck in the middle of 2 settings just right, it would play audio from both turntables simultaneously. I started spending all of my allowance on vinyl and submerged myself into being a DJ. Also at the time, a soon-to-be famous DJ/singer named “Dino” was DJing my jr high dances and playing his soon-to-be hit record “Summergirls.” In 1988, during my freshmen year at Las Vegas High School, you would often find me skipping classes to hit the legendary Odyssey Records store on Las Vegas Blvd. I remember buying Sir Mix-A Lot’s “Swass” album from there. I was very proud of my hometown!

In January of 1989 I was forced to move back to Seattle to live with my father and attended Ingraham High School. During the fall of 1989 I was pretty heavy into car prowling and stumbled upon a large van full of DJ gear. I broke into it and stole my first set of Technic 1200 turntables and a mixer. I was in business! (Sorry, fellas.) I started trying to master the art of DJing for real! I started doing mixtapes for friends at school and DJing parties all over town. I later found out that my father, who was a Seattle Police officer, knew that I had stolen the turntables, but allowed me to keep them in an effort to keep me from running the streets. It worked to an extent, but at the end of the day, there simply was no way to stop me. By the end of 1989, going in to 1990 I was skipping school like crazy and finally dropped out in March of that year.

The 1990’s

In early 1990, when I was 16, I had a chance run-in with an old elementary school friend who was now “rapping.” He introduced me to a couple other guys who were rapping and we started trying to do music together. One of the guys had a drum machine and I ended up making what would become my first beat/song on it that summer. The MC was a 15 year old Latino kid named Rhythmo and the song was called “Catch Me if You Can.” In 1991, I managed to get my hands on my 1st drum machine, an Alesis HR-16a and quickly went to work at trying to master the art of making beats. Back then I used to incorporate a lot of scratching into the songs. Most of the music I made from 1990-1995 had scratching or some kind of DJ work in it until it was no longer cool to have a DJ on your records anymore.

I continued to make music from 1990-1996, but not seriously. I think I spent more time in jail and fighting with my baby mama than anything during those years! After a 4 month jail stint in 1996 that almost sent me to prison, I decided to get my life together. I finally listened to my friends who said I had talent and I got serious about my music. I enrolled in Shoreline Community College’s audio engineering program and minored in business. One of my teachers and head of the music program, Bruce Spitz, one day asked the class if anybody was already making music? I raised my hand and told him I had a rap group. Bruce said he’d like to hear some of it, so I brought him a CD of my most recent 4-track work with a group called “Full Time Soldiers.” He took it home for the weekend and listened to it. Upon returning to school on Monday he asked me to stay after class. I kinda panicked, because most of the time when a teacher asks you to stay after class, it’s not a good thing! But, in this case it was. Bruce said he was impressed with my CD and actually started talking about it in detail and asking me more questions about my experience. I basically told him I already knew everything we were being taught and I had taught myself years earlier. At this point Bruce asks me if I’d like to teach my own class? I was like WTF? Are you serious? He proceeded to offer me a job teaching “Hip-Hop Drum Programming 101.” I was very flattered, but at that point I was dedicating all of my time to starting an indie record label, so I declined.

Y2K and beyond…

In 1998 I started Street Level Records and released my first fully produced album, “Full Time Soldiers,” which was recorded at SCC while I was a student there. I never expected it to do much, but it ended up creating a huge buzz throughout the Puget Sound and was selling pretty well in all the record stores. In 1999, I built my first DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and started cranking out the music from home. In March of 2000, I released the follow up F.T.S. album “Money Motivated” and it was a huge success locally. We were doing shows, on the radio, taking over the internet…we were everywhere! I won’t focus on the negatives that came out of those times, but I think it was a learning experience for all of us. Things fell apart and I put a new squad together in 2003. More albums, more problems. In 2005 I released my last (to date) official D-Sane produced project, “Crytical Condition.” Things didn’t work out yet again and I had had enough of the “music biz,” so I shut SLR down indefinitely.

Since 2005 I’ve been focusing on my production and audio engineering work, most of which can be checked out via my “Discography” or “Productions” area. I still support the SLR catalog and in September 2011, to the delight of fans, I reactivated Street Level Records and released numerous albums worth of unreleased music, with more on the way!