We all fell in love with ‘Ye as a College Dropout, and this juncture in DreCat’s journey will prove to be a time when we fall in love with his music as well. Similar to the aforementioned hip hop icon, DreCat has chosen to go the less conventional route, dropping out of nursing school at SDSU, much to his parents’ chagrin, and choosing to pursue a career in hip hop. Of course that’s a story we resonate with at SDLHH, but that decision has landed many a bright young person on his/her ass, and left him/her wondering where to go from there. That cautionary tale may be applicable while watching some make such a risky move, but after seeing DreCat perform, opening for Phora at the Observatory in North Park last week, I am convinced that he has what it takes to make it. Even though DreCat may have registered late in hip hop’s freshman class, he has proven to be a quick learner and is fast approaching graduation from the elementary level of achievement many artists never pass through. In this week’s #WestCoastWednesday interview, Dre’ shares what “making it” means to him, and shares where he has come from, where he’s at, and how he will eventually “make it”. SDLovesHipHop thanks DreCat for dropping everything to share a piece of his story with us today. Read. Enjoy. Share.
SDLHH: Who is DreCat?
DreCat: Your average dude that loves to partake in medicinal marijuana activities while tryna rep for the Filipinos in the rap game.
SDLHH: Well, I finally met you in person at the Phora show at the North Park Observatory, after hearing about you for a bit and seeing you in different digital contexts. I want to ask you a series of questions based on the context we recently met in. First, how and when did you first hear about Phora? What about him made you want to open for him? How did you land the spot opening for him? I love his message and his purpose. Do you feel you are equally focused on creating music that impacts people deeply? What would you say your purpose/goal is?
DreCat: I honestly only heard of Phora 2 days before I got the text to open up for him. I was at my homie’s house party and he had his youtube playlist on; I heard “Rider” playing and had to go check who it was, then I saw the video, fiya!
I got the show by linking up with Droops of OutdaHouse Productions. I met him performing in Santa Ana, for the East End Block Party, the homie Tyson Pruong and the Konsept Project put together. Droops was the host, he f*cked with our set, and said we needed to perform at the Observatory, so we exchanged info. Droops first text to me was the Phora show, and after hearing all his music, instantly connecting to some of the tracks, and watching this mini doc of his story/hustle, I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity.
I’m still new, but definitely a fan of Phora; dude can rap. But when I heard Sinner pt.2, I had the chills because of how much I related to it. I was watching the video and started to read the comments. I saw the impact of the song on all the listeners, and knew I had to be a part of this show; what he does with his music is something I hope I can do as well at some point.
I definitely feel like I’m equally focused on creating music that impacts people, but I know I’m not there yet. That is one of the main purposes for my music, which is to have an impact in someone’s life the way music, in general, did for me.
SDLHH: That’s great to hear. What a fun string of events. Okay, I’ve had Californ-IPA on repeat in preparation for this. After some listens, I feel I have decent grasp on you as an artist. I feel like you enjoy, and create, mood music – music that is, in itself, an inhabitable space, its own atmosphere, environment. I would guess that you really love hip hop culture and the legacy we have come from. As an emcee, who are some of the artists who have paved the way for you to grow into the artist you are today? Who inspires/challenges you? Who do you bump when you are on a road trip? What’s your go-to when you’re bummed?
DreCat: Damn I’m stealing that fasho! Mood music…gahdamn that’s perfect. I was really late into music. During my first year of college I actually started doing homework and listening to albums, before that I just listened to whatever was poppin’ on the radio/MTV. Some of the artists that really had an influence on me were Biggie, Tribe, Clipse, Lord Quas, Blu, Kanye, Devin the Dude, and so many more I could add; it’s always changing, haha.
Many of the artists killing it today keep me inspired: J. Cole, Kendrick, Drake. The growth of their careers is amazing.
Road trip, we bumpin’ Jet Life and Taylor Gang lol.
Go to when I’m bummed? Can’t be sad when you listening to Tribe. RIP Phife.
SDLHH: I know that this isn’t really progressing chronologically, but I want to know how you got into hip hop. Who/what introduced you to hip hop? Can you tell us the story of when you felt like you really met her, really fell in love?
DreCat: Watching the homies Cali K-Fresh and Cali King James record in a basement about 8-9 years ago, and seeing the whole process of rap songs being recorded before my eyes, I was hooked. Then I went to a Rock the Bells show in SF, saw Tribe with Busta Rhymes kill the show, had the crowd going crazy…For sure a moment during that set was when I committed to making rap a reality.
SDLHH: Since taking that step, what has been the highest moment? I know that that high has been tempered with a low, low. What’s the lowest point of the journey been so far?
DreCat: Highest moment fashoooo that sold out Phora show! Never performed in front of a crowd that big, I want that every week! Still early in my career so there’s always some lows, but without the lows, how will you learn to get high?!
SDLHH: Well, you handled the Phora show with the poise of an artist who’s paid dues for sure! As I’m writing these questions, I’m listening to “Ballast Joint”. That’s the joint that really hooked me during your performance. Not sure if your use, as an emcee, of Ballast Point’s slogan, “dedicated to the craft”, is what did it, or if the clever mind that instantly connected his music to an experience for all beer drinkers in San Diego, or your energy on the stage, or perhaps it was the perfect merging of all of those factors, that made me a fan, but that track did it. I know that a lot of thought went into that song. Can you tell us the story of how you came up with the concept and any other interesting tidbits that went into creating “Ballast Joint”.
DreCat: Defnitely a mix of what you said, haha. When we wrote that track, it was during the opening of all the ballast point breweries, plus the homie Jamal had the discount on Ballast Point, so we always had cans, bottles, growlers all over the place during our sessions. Producer, Chris Punsalan, sent me a folder of beats, that one came on, I was staring at the Sculpin can for the longest and was like, “Aye, I’m dedicated to the craft too Ballast Point.” Found a melody, called Cali King James and boom, “Ballast Joint”.
SDLHH: Being an artist who creates moods with his music, I know that production is paramount for you? First, who are the producers you worked with on Californ-IPA? How did you connect with them? What about their production made them right for your lyrics/lyricism?
DreCat: The main producer for Californ-IPA was Chris Punsalan from Las Vegas. I connected with him through e-mail after seeing his music video with Preston Harris. I worked with Preston at Vans Shoes, and was searching his music on youtube where I came across their collaboration. He sent me beats and the raps started flowin’.
SDLHH: Who are some of the producers in SD who you’d like to work with in the future? Why?
DreCat: Brandon Grimsley (Produced by IIVII), he produced the Super Bad track, but I grabbed it from his throwaway page, definitely have to book an actual studio session and work with him. 18sense is someone I look up to his work with Dre Trav and Ric Scales, they be killin’ it. And for the tracks I got in the near future you’ll see me working with B_Lake, Tre Castro, Colter Jack, Beats by Dave, and Bene Quilo.
SDLHH: A lyric you rapped just popped into my head. You mentioned that you dropped out of college. Where were you going to school? What were you studying? How do you think your connection to that subject naturally fits with your artistry? How did your loved ones, friends and family, respond to that decision?
DreCat: I really had no idea what I was doing, I thought all I had to do was graduate and everything was set. My mom said I should do nursing, so I went to SDSU for nursing hahah. Realized quick I had no business in that field. Out of everything, my gut was telling me to keep with the rapping, and when it convinced me, I wasn’t changing my mind.
My older sister supported me the most; everyone thought I was crazy because it did come from out of nowhere, so can’t blame them haha. Dad was for sure disappointed but knew he couldn’t change my mind. But my mom….aww man lol, she was crying non-stop; I felt like the worse son ever. She’s cool now, but there is an empty frame next to my sister’s college diploma with a sticky note on it saying, “Still waiting…” hahaha.
SDLHH: Well, you can put your first platinum record in that frame! Have you ever winced, and said, “aw man, I should have stayed in school just in case…”?
DreCat: For sure do! Most my homies now all graduated, they got houses and buying new cars and I’m like, “Sh*t, shoulda stayed in school.” Haha but nah, the investments I’m putting in music now will definitely pay out in the end, just gotta stay movin’.
SDLHH: As you fight the reflex to look back, but stay true to your music moving forward, what are some of the goals that call out to you? What is the moment that you have marked in your mind that will represent “making it”?
DreCat: Making it to me is when my art can pay the bills. But on some goal/musician’s dream type sh*t, I want at least 2 Grammys under the belt, and sell out Petco Park on some Beyonce/Taylor Swift type of show lol.
SDLHH: What’s something you’d like to share with San Diego’s hip hop scene?
DreCat: I just want to be a part of it and help grow the scene in any way; there’s so much dope hip hop music in San Diego, so many slappers that should be on the radio.
SDLHH: One emphasis of SDLHH is to see a heightened level of unity in the San Diego Hip Hop community. Can you point to some other contributors to the culture who you see as comrades and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?
SDLHH: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?
Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
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