Blessings and respects to you from Mega Dap, CityBeat's new chronicle of San Diego hip-hop culture.
I know, some of y'all are like, "It's about damn time!", while others are all screw-faced, as if the words "San Diego" and "hip-hop" fit together like "military" and "intelligence." S.D. is like that, a concrete expanse so vast that it's easy to forget that the soul roots and $4 catfish sandwiches of Imperial Avenue are just a 20-minute drive from the sunburned sausages at the PB Block Party.
Well, don't get your fat laces in a twist-that's why Mega Dap is here, to give a pound to all area hip-hop culture, from the metaphor militias dropping bombs at MC battles on El Cajon Boulevard to the DJ battles waged in the basement spots of Chula Vista. From the fresh breakers scuffing their Adidas in Chicano Park jams to the bootielicious jiggy clubs downtown. Every few weeks in these pages we'll serve up a steaming helping of local flavor, plus some "Jump Offs" for you to get your fix.
On that note, I'm proud to set this column off correctly with a 619 original-Chula Vista-based rapper Madd Joker. If you haven't peeped one of his records or his many appearances on local mix tapes, Joker has been lacing rhymes with metaphors in his rugged patois stylee since 1992.
He just dropped a new 12-inch, "Represent the Struggle," on his own label, Kulcha Records. DJs and vinyl addicts can pick it up at The Armory, Access Music and AC&S.
I caught up with Joker at Pokez, where he broke down the significance of the album's bugged-out cover, which features pictures of Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman and Pancho Villa.
"I'm a political rapper, and I'm trying to cast some light on the crazy situations within our government," he says. "I mean, you've got people dying in Iraq everyday for what? I just wanna open people's eyes, and exercise my constitutional rights to express myself. Some of what I say may be controversial, I may get some extra attention from the government, but I have to get that message out there."
Joker rhymes in patois, the Jamaican slanguage familiar from dancehall reggae music. Turned onto the style when he started out as a reggae DJ, it's what Joker calls "true English" because of its raw extremes.
"In reggae music, the DJ controls the mic, the opposite of hip-hop," he explains. "But that's how I got my sound-from influences like Yellowman, Captain Sinbad and Charlie Chaplain."
Joker is proud of S.D., dropping names like Orko and Mr. Brady who, along with the rest of the peeps in town, have different styles, despite operating in the same area code. But he thinks the city's got a long way to go to rival other cities who have established hip-hop scenes.
"There's no labels here, so there's not a lot of support," he says. "Plus, I think the sunshine can poison people's minds and make them lazy."
Deciding he'd have to spearhead his own success, Joker started Kulcha Records, along with his producer King Jahzzy, in 1996. They've since released three 12-inch singles-"Gotham Takeover," "Death in the Arena" and now "Represent the Struggle." The latter features guests from an all-star cast of local MCs, like Orko, Bass Black and Medafor, dropping verses over Jahzzy's thick West Coast, keyboard-driven production. The beats will rattle your Pinto, and the Dre-influenced keys will ring sweet until your momma tells you to turn it down.
Check for a full-length in June, in CD and LP formats.
Turntablists, listen up: California Sound & Lighting is taking sign-ups for the San Diego DMC Championships, on June 20. The winner represents S.D. at the U.S. Finals in L.A. on Aug. 7. Don't know your skratches from your juggles? Don't trip-sign up for San Diego DJ Academy's six-week-long DJ seminar held Saturdays at CSL in Clairemont.
Sdhiphop.com throws its weekly open mic and turntables function, House of Rep, at Recognize (4746 El Cajon Blvd.) every Wednesday. On May 19, it's Omni and Los Able Minded Poets, and on May 26 it's a whole mess, with Don P, Ill Society, Mic Curb, Boogie, Top Notch, Mack Millz, Stan the Man, DJ Tru and DJ Legend.
At Honey Beehive (14th and C Streets, downtown), Vinyl Elements presents Reaction, a two-room monthly showcase with underground hip-hop, house, drum 'n' bass, breaks, funk and live art. The next one is May 21 with C-Bottlesworf vs. Dubrockwell with MC Many Pieces, Sae What?, Steve Mazich and Andres Octavio handling the sounds. The live art will be created by 40 Oz. Comics man Jim Mahfood.
Thursday nights, Still Life and Hippoh spin hip-hop, true-skool to new skool, at Buster Daley's (3112 University Ave.).
Sundays, check "Sunday Night Shakedown" with Jersan and Beatnick at the Red C Lounge, and "Remix" with Mike Czech, Myxlplix, Sum and yes-shameless self-promo-@Large, at Bar Dynamite.