In the mid 1970s, in reaction to both world events and a stagnating musical scene, the punk rock revolution was born. Though crude and loud, the songs had undeniable power because they touched a nerve with young people all over the world who could envision, as the Sex Pistols sang, “no future.”
Fast forward almost 50 years, and the prevailing sound of youthful rebellion isn’t the stripped down, 1950s inspired insolence of punk, but the decidedly buoyant and beatheavy delivery of rap and hip hop. And like the young bands of decades past, modern rappers are tackling social issues head on.
Locally, one of the hottest bands of rappers stepping into the line of fire is Unrehearsed Music Group, made up of three guys who go by the rap names Oddball, D-$moke and 3DWon. And the past few years have given them plenty of material to work with, from the pandemic to racism to mental health.
Though the album came together quickly, Daniel Grijalva (aka D$moke) explains that it has been in progress for a while. “[And] five years later, a dream has turned into a reality,” he remarks. “Even with our world full of chaos, we pulled together to finish and create this album. You never take no for an answer. If you want it, you go out there and make it happen.”
Adds Luis Vasquez (OddBall, aka Yung OB), “We put so much emotion, energy, and finances into this album. The group as a whole went through much adversity just to get to this point. And despite any obstacles from here on, we are fully invested in seeing this through, no matter what.”
The track listing was being finished at press time, but the roughly 16 songs were all laid down at Zona Zero Recording Studio. Collectively, the music shines a spotlight not only on events such as the Jan. 6 insurrection, but also illuminates the emotional toll of living in a world in turmoil.
The trio says that as Mexican Americans they have experienced discrimination, and can identify with the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement. Though they don’t shy away from using very direct language and profanity, their message is tempered with hope, as evidenced by the song “Visionary,” which includes the lyric, “Can you imagine all the things that we could change / how much better people we can be / if the cycle never ends. ... I don’t have all the answers, but we have to start somewhere.”
Concludes Vasquez on his goal with the album, “I just want to show everyone that there are different paths to greatness, but it all depends on how much work you put in.”