North County San Diego hip hop’s own, No1MC, bares his soul, and says, “if [it doesn’t come from the soul], then there’s no need to even do it.” As NoOne shares with SDLovesHipHop, it becomes increasingly apparent that his love and dedication to hip hop culture comes directly from the soul of this emcee, producer, engineer, father, co-founder of Mad Capital Records, entrepreneur, and 9-to-5er. James “No1MC” Dunham clocked out of his day job, changed a diaper and put his daughter to bed, headed to the studio, made a beat, mixed a track, and then hit pause on the madness of his day-to-day to tell you how and why he does it all. Enjoy.
SDLHH: Who is No1MC?
No1MC: I am an MC, producer, recording engineer, father and co-founder of Mad Capital Records – an indie-hip hop label based out of Oceanside, CA.
SDLHH: Now that readers have a bit of a grasp of who you are and what you are about, let’s dig into your story a little. How has hip hop changed your life?
No1MC: A Lot of my life is hip hop, whether I’m recording a client’s track or working on my own music, at a hip hop show, or rocking a set, or even just sitting down to make a beat. And as far as it changing my life, I feel that it definitely has. It feels good to create music and express feeling and thoughts you normally wouldn’t get out into the open. To me, performing is also a great release – no matter how many times I’ve rocked, I still feel a little nervous before a set, but as soon as I step on stage and speak into that mic it all goes away. There’s no other feeling like that; after a show the adrenaline and energy release its therapeutic.
SDLHH: How did you get introduced to/into hip hop?
No1MC: It was a friend who had showed me some hip hop at a young age. And I’m actually embarrassed to admit that as a kid, my first favorite rapper was Puff Daddy. In high school, me and Reckless Vandal (current label mate) would freestyle for fun and as time passed we took it more and more seriously. When I started rapping and studying hip hop as an MC, I started to look at hip hop in a different light than an average listener. When deciding if an artist is dope or not, an MC will look at the flow, lyricism, delivery and rhyme schemes for example while other listeners may just like the beat.
SDLHH: Can you tell us a little bit about all of the ways you contribute to the culture?
No1MC: We try to stay active in the scene, throwing shows and beat battles to showcase local artists. We also have a shop/studio in Oceanside and have local apparel brands in the store for sale. We try to show face at local shows and support other artists’ movements as well.
SDLHH: What’s it like trying to balance being a partner, father, employee, emcee, producer, label-head? Can you tell us the story of a day where you feel you somehow balanced all of those spinning plates?
No1MC: Sometimes it’s hard to find a balance, but I love staying busy. I am a first time father of a beautiful baby girl and it’s exciting and fearful at the same time. Before I had her, my goals were different. Money wasn’t really a concern for me, I just wanted to be a dope MC and spread the music; now I need to make sure I make a better life for my daughter, so making money is a higher priority. Whether it be making money selling a beat, a recording session, or working overtime at the 9 to 5. Which takes away from the time making my own music, but I’m building experience at the same time. All this and finding time to spend with her. I never had my father growing up, so me being there for her is extremely important to me.
SDLHH: What are you focused on musically at the moment?
No1MC: Currently, I am working on an album with production from EQP Beats and another No1Special project with DJ Special Cutz. I have also been busy upgrading and renovating our studio/store front, Capital City, in Oceanside. Capital City is a joint venture we went into with City To City Ent. We sell apparel, drinks and tobacco products in the front, and run a studio in the back.
SDLHH: As you work on creating, performing, producing and promoting music, what keeps your fire going? What’s your purpose, your “why”?
No1MC: I believe that music has the power to change the world and I believe in what we’re doing. I do it because I love it; if I never make a penny I’d still have to do it. I always make sure to come from the soul, if not there’s no need to even do it.
SDLHH: How does your “why” affect everyone in the Mad Capital camp?
No1MC: We try to keep each other motivated and like to make sure we’re always moving. We all have the same goal and want Mad Capital to be successful. We continue to push until we reach the next level, then we push some more.
SDLHH: What’s something you’d like to share with San Diego Hip Hop?
No1MC: I would love to have more producer credits with local artists, build the catalogue of artists I’ve worked with. I feel San Diego has a lot of talent; it just doesn’t have the right outlets. That’s why I feel SDLHH is very important to the scene.
SDLHH: Sincere thanks for the love man. On that same note, 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?
No1MC: There’s too many comrades to name, but ones that are on the ground floor grinding with Mad Capital would be Billy NoJokes, and Oside Blaze. There are a lot of talented artists out here and I’ve met a lot of them, all humble and good people. When we go to a local show it’s kinda like a reunion – for the most part everyone in the scene knows each other. I really dig Odessa Kane‘s music and movement, he’s got a lot going on. Oh, and the SD Dirty Science members Johaz, Choosey and Blame One are really putting on for the scene.
SDLHH: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?
No1MC: All social media @noonemusic
Here is some of No1’s music with @DJ Special Cutz:
Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
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