Oceanside, California is where beach culture and real life come together and she has birthed a hip hop scene that is tough to match. Fans and artists alike might very well fight you if you aren’t feeling the music, let alone if you disrespect the movement. Such a serious and passionate environment shapes serious and passionate artists who pay dues and earn their stripes. Steez76D is a product of his environment, and his ability to stress the beauty of life juxtaposed with the weight of everything in news headlines constantly bombarding us is evidence of such. I learned of Steez’ music at a show I believe he threw at one of North County hip hop’s mainstays, Boar Cross’n; never having heard of Steez76D, I went to see Dirty Science affiliates Johaz (of Dag Savage and Deep Rooted) and Blame One, but definitely left interested in Steez’ music as well. A fun story (which he and I can tell you over a beer or coffee, depending on your taste or mood) cross’d our paths again and I knew he had to be featured on #WestCoastWednesdays. After spending hours with Steez76D’s music, not even amnesia could make me forget just how dope he is. All that said to emphasize just how happy I am to share this week’s interview with you; I hope you enjoy reading it and, even more importantly, that you take the time to click the hyperlinks and enjoy the music that it exists to highlight. Read. Listen. Enjoy. Share.
Steez76D: Steez76D is an up and coming artist and entrepreneur, born and raised In San Diego, CA.
SDLHH: Dope. Can you tell SDLHH a story about how hip hop has changed your life?
Steez76D: I’ve been able to connect and build with amazing people who are part of the culture. I travel internationally to link up with other talented artists to play shows and create new music. I was just out in London last November, making connections and growing the brand and was to able to record a song with “Peaky” from the UK. It’s just crazy to think I’m traveling the world while doing what I love and how happy that makes me.
SDLHH: That’s amazing to hear. In both what you just shared, and as I’ve dug back into your catalogue, it is obvious that hip hop is woven into the fabric of who you are. Who first got you into hip hop? Who was your first mentor in the culture? Can you break down what the process of being a fan and becoming an artist was like for you?
Steez76D: When I started creating hip hop music and putting it out there for people to listen to, I had no Idea what I was getting involved in. I underestimated everything about the culture and was shocked to have stumbled upon such a large and established community of people. I just woke up one day and said, “let’s get started,” and I’ve been creating ever since. It didn’t feel real at first because I didn’t see the impact I was making on people, but after a while I started seeing results. You have to be your biggest fan and push yourself to new heights.
SDLHH: Okay, it sounds like the culture and community sort of showed you the way, well that and you pushing yourself. What happened to get you to turn the corner from enjoying creating music, to taking the craft more seriously? Who were some of the people that either tried to deter you, or who were those that encouraged you from day one?
Steez76D: Everything changed when I turned 21 and was first introduced to the bar scene. I remember going to “Lyrical Skoolyard” at Boar Cross’n in Carlsbad to watch Binary Star and I saw this glossy flier taped to the front entrance. I noticed the structure of it and how the headliner had the biggest picture with the largest font. The other artists on the lineup also had their names on the flier, but with a much smaller font and picture. Right then I understood the hierarchy of the rap game and came to the conclusion that if this was indeed a game, then I need to start making my way up the ranks. I have always had support from close friends and family but I would definitely credit some of my ambition for creating music to a fellow emcee 18sense. I went to high school with him actually, but I didn’t know him personally at the time. I just knew that we both were making hip hop music and putting it out there for people to listen to. We had a mutual friend introduce us to each other in a studio session and we’ve been developing our craft and working together ever since. Of course there are going to be people out there who don’t want you to succeed for whatever reason, but you got to just phase them out. There isn’t anyone I care to mention, but just know I don’t keep shady people in my circle and If I seem distant it’s because I am.
SDLHH: So much packed into that answer! I hope readers click the hyperlinks and learn about all of those jewels you just shared with them. I spent my time listening to you on Spotify as I prepped for the interview. You have three albums up there: 1. Amnesia (2017), 2. Steez76d Karma (2016), and 3. T.R.E.E. (2014). They all have very unique feels, obviously unified by you and your style, but can you break down each album a little for us – perhaps discuss the head/heart space you were in and what your vision/inspiration was for each?
Steez76D: T.R.E.E. – ( The Real Earn Everything ) is a compilation of beats from various producers around the globe. I wanted to have a dynamic range of beats on the project to explore my sound as an artist. The production featured Lo-fi Sp 404 blap beats as well as West Coast anthems from back home in California. Steez76D Karma was a record split into 3 different sounds (West Coast, Hip Hop,Trap). I wanted to highlight some of the different tones used throughout rap music that made it so unique. I dropped Amnesia after traveling through Europe this last time. I had a foggy understanding of why everything was happening to me in my life and this project just kind of created itself naturally.
SDLHH: Alright, let’s zero in on your most recent work, Amnesia. “Lennon Was Right”, “Unbelievable”, and “Amnesia”, are the tracks that captured my soul from start to finish. In my opinion, for whatever it’s worth, the thoughtful, reflective, yet true to the grittiness of life tracks are your bread and butter. First, do you agree? And, why do you think that that is where you find your pocket as an emcee, as an artist?
Steez76D: Yeah I totally agree with you, I think my style comes so natural to me because I’m just reflecting my thoughts and turning them into songs. My mood is constantly changing and it inspires me to make the music that I do. I trust my creative process so I’m able to focus more on the storytelling. I am influenced by my surroundings so I am a result of my environment.
SDLHH: The leadoff track is crucial. It can determine whether or not someone digs into your entire album. What about “Chemtrails” made it the right one to set the tone for Amnesia?
Steez76D: I wanted people to be forced to listen to conscious thoughts on the first song because I’m trying to stimulate their minds with thought provoking lyrics. My goal is to make a positive impact on society through my music and encourage them to grow and expand their knowledge of life. By constantly educating my listeners though new songs I have high hopes that they can take the wisdom I’ve shared and apply it to their own life.
SDLHH: Man, that’s dope. To that point, I want to stop and process through some of what you say on “Chemtrails” as well, it’s super content-dense and worth another question or two. The chorus says:
“The last days when the sun’s blocked out // From the fog and the clouds // Tryna kill us slow on the low, no doubt // Planes overhead, I see them chemtrails, the chemtrails, chemtrails”
Throughout the song you use chemtrails as a metaphor for the pollution “they” are putting in/around “us”, as well as literally, discussing the pollution that is contaminating our food, and therefore our bodies and minds. Can you just take some time to share your thoughts on who “they” are, what “their” overarching purpose might be, and then how “we” ought to recognize and react to the “pollutants”?
Steez76D: I put a negative connotation on the word “they” to identify them as the opposition. “They” to me is the government, which keeps us uneducated and suppresses the people. I also include my personal demons in the “they” because they are my opposition, my enemy, as well. We as a people really need to wake up and be the difference this world needs to thrive. Instead, we often turn a blind eye to change and the puppeteering continues. Educate yourself and help save the people and the planet before it’s too late.
SDLHH: Hip hop spans the gamut of the human experience, running from thought-provoking, soul-stirring content to silly, get lit, turn-up party songs and everything in between. How do you stay balanced as a person, and an artist, when the heavy content is all around and you obviously tap into that vein? Who do you like to listen to to escape the craziness a little?
Steez76D: Lately, I’ve been listening to Jet Life, which is Curren$y, Trademark Da Skydiver, and Young Roddy. I can appreciate authentic artists influencing the culture. The music is so good, I can just kick back and vibe out to the beats. I stay balanced by watering all my gardens simultaneously. I enjoy learning and I care about my mental health, so my life is propelled by the desire to succeed. Life is always gonna have it’s up and downs, but it’s what happens next that matters. I just stay working with a positive attitude and let life determine the rest.
SDLHH: Let’s say that something you’ve said here piqued a reader’s interest in your music. You have one track to win them over, which song should they listen to? Why?
SDLHH: Funny how that works. That’s my favorite track for sure! Well, as we begin wrapping it up, I’d like to give you space to share anything that’s going through your head/heart. Where’s Steez76D at right now?
Steez76D: I’m Just trying to be as happy as possible and make better music. I have a tsunami of content I’m about to unleash for the people to digest. It feels like I’m really dialing in where I need to be for this new year to have the most success.
SDLHH: What’s something you’d like to share with San Diego’s hip hop scene?
Steez76D: Thank you for all of the support the scene has given me. I appreciate everyone I have met on this journey and if I haven’t met you yet, I hope to change that soon.
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 artists who you see as comrades and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?
SDLHH: Thank you so much for taking time to share with us. Finally, where should readers go to connect with you? To stay in tune with you and your #FRESHstate family? Can we catch you live any time soon?
Steez76D: Search @Steez76D on whatever social media platform you prefer, you can find me everywhere.
Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
#SDLovesHipHop exists to carry on a conversation about hip hop music and culture as a catalyst for change in individuals’ lives and communities. If any of the artists above, or this article has struck a chord in you, SHARE THIS and PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT explaining how.