Input on how SupaHotBeats convinced him to share his harrowing Columbine experience
So, when did you get into hip-hop?
I was one of those typical kids in high school always freestying at parties and whatnot and that kind of thing. I went to shows all the time. I was going to shows since I was fifteen years old. But when we were in college, like nineteen or twenty years old, we threw a show at the Aggie, and we brought out One Be Lo from Binary Star. We brought him out for the show, and we're just like, whatever, having a good time, and at the end of his set, he asked if anybody in the audience wanted to get on stage and freestyle with him. I was the only person in the crowd that did it, and it turned out that he and I were onstage for like fifteen minutes, just going back and forth freestyling.
When I got offstage, I got like such positive feedback from everybody in the audience, and that's when I kind of realized that maybe I can do something with this. So that was the performance side of everything. And shortly thereafter, about a year after that, about 21 years old is when I started actually writing and started recording and everything like that. So it's been about since 2004, so eight years now since I've been adamant about hip-hop and my artist craft and everything.
What made you gravitate towards hip-hop?
I think it was just more the expression of it. You know? I grew up...it's really bizarre, growing up in small community like I did, with the Catholic school and everything, you know, we weren't really exposed to many things that were considered taboo, you know, like hip-hop. It was a very cookie-cutter type of mentality. But I don't know, man, I just think that the art form itself and kind of just what it meant in everything, I remember seventh grade, 1997, is when Camp Lo came out with Uptown Saturday Night, and that was the album that kind of put hip-hop on the map for me fully. I was like, 'Man, this shit is so cool.'
I remember my parents wouldn't buy me CDs, hip-hop CDs, because of the parental advisory warnings. So I had to find ways to do it. So I had friends at school that had older brothers and things like that or families that didn't care, that would buy them CDs. So I had to find ways to hustle kids or get money, so I could buy CDs from people, or people would buy them for me. And, uh, I used to like -- this is the worst thing ever, especially being at a Catholic school -- but in like seventh grade, I was the first kid with a color printer at my school. And so I would print out tons and tons of pictures of Playboy magazines, and I would put them in a binder, and at lunch, I would sell these pictures in the bathroom for a dollar. That's how I raised money to buy CDs.
Better question is where did you get the Playboys?
I would just print the pictures off from the internet. I was just, like, I don't even know if it was Google search back then; I don't know what it was in '97, but whatever it was on AOL search, I would just go on and... '97 was like the Pamela Anderson, Jenny Mcarthy days. So everyone was so interested in it at that age, that I was just like, 'Fuck it, man. I'm going to try to hustle this.' So I would literally just print out a hundred pictures in color, and just slap them in a binder, and go to school, and be like, 'One dollar a picture.' That was my way of making money.
And you never got caught doing that?
Nope. Never got popped for it. I thought I was once. I got called into the principle's office, I remember, and I had my backpack on with the binder in there. And it was, like, we were at Mullen High School, where I was supposed to go. Notre Dame is where I went to elementary school, and that filters in to Mullen High School. You graduate, and that's where you kind of go into. So we had a track and field type day and I was at the Mullen bathroom, and I was slanging 'em at the bathroom there during this event, and there was like more people out there...ridiculous shit.
But I remember I had my backpack, and I was the only kid at field day with a fucking backpack on, so I already was kind of standing out, because it's like track and field day, and I here I am walking around with this backpack on. But I remember getting called out and brought in. I don't even remember what the discussion was about, but I just remember in my head being so terrified, like, 'Shit! I got caught.' But it ended up being something completely left field and it had nothing to do. I wasn't even in trouble. They were asking me a favor to help out with something, or something along those lines. But that was my one brush with possible expulsion from a Catholic school.
So how did you end up at Notre Dame? Were your parents religious?
My parents. They're from Venezuela. They were both born and raised there. They got married young, about 22 years old, and when they got married, they moved to the States. They grew up -- you know, Venezuela, South America, is like traditional Roman Catholic. So they grew up very religious. But you know, Catholic school, there wasn't much more they could do to us to drive us in the religious sect because we were already there for ten years. I mean, it was like we had to go to church three times a week type of thing.
What did your parents do? How did they end up in America?
Man, it's crazy. They just decided. My uncle, my mom's brother, before my parents got married, he moved and went to Oklahoma, of all places. So he moved to Oklahoma, and he communicated back to my parents that America was awesome and this and that. So my parents got married, and they decided they wanted to start a new life together.
So they moved to Oklahoma to stay with him, and they were there for, I think, about a year or two. I have one older brother, who's four years older than me, and he was born in Oklahoma. And my dad just one day went on this ski trip with some friends that he was in school with at the time out here in Colorado, and as soon as he got back from the ski trip, he walked in the house, told my mom to pack her shit, and they moved to Colorado.
What were your parents doing when they moved here to America?
Nothing. My mom... I grew up in, pretty much, a women's department store. My mom worked at this women's store called Fashion Gal down off of Wadsworth and Belleview. I was born in Arvada, and we moved to Littleton so I could be closer to Notre Dame. It was like six miles from the school at that point. So my parents, their whole thing was the culture of South America, they don't really believe in babysitters and nannies and that sort of thing, so instead of my mom getting somebody to watch me, she would take me to work with her.
So my mom worked there, and my dad worked three jobs. He was a chef, and he was actually the maintenance man at Notre Dame, the school that I went to. So he was the guy that fixed all the sprinklers and fixed the plumbing or whatever. Anything that needed fixing, he was the guy. He did that for a while, and they were both kind of back and forth in and out of school, and my mom finally ended up getting her pharmaceutical degree, so she's now a pharmacist, and my dad's an electrical engineer.
It's pretty cool. They literally came from nothing, and kind of brought us up in this even though we didn't have much growing up, we had everything we ever needed type of mentality. It was cool, because they always overcame any obstacle they could to make sure me and my brother were taken care of, and I think that's where I grasp my pursuit of success with music is especially from like watching my dad, because, you know, he has taken every kind of risk imaginable because he believes in the brighter side of anything on the other side of it. So he comes home and says, 'Pack your shit. We're moving.' He did it for a reason, and it worked out. So I think I kind of adopted that same mentality with my approach to music and my life in general.