What's up Leafers? Welcome to the latest edition of On the Rise where we interview upcoming hip hop talent. Today's guest is artist, Aaron California. Aaron is a Mexican-American hip-hop/rap & RnB, singer and songwriter of various styles with heartfelt lyrics that stray from the typical subject matter in today's rap, often compared to Immortal Technique, Marlon Craft, and Rittz. His music is all written from a very real perspective and always contains a positive message. He has found inspiration in Mos Def, Ice Cube, Twista and Mac Miller. He has been featured on Indie Hip Hop Promo and one of his career highlights include opening up for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony in 2018. His debut EP "The 2 Straps Chronicles: Chapter 1" highlights his old school hip-hop roots while touching on current events and crafting cautionary tales that you can envision occurring in your mind as you listen. The Cali based MC has been on our radar for a while so we had to tap in with him! Check out the interview below.
Westleaf Staff: What's up, Aaron? Your sound is dope. When did you start making music?
Aaron California: I first started making music making beats with pencils on the table tops and freestyling at recess. Over the years I’ve expanded my musical interests to include other instruments as well, such as guitar (you can hear me playing in November’s release: Stay)
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! What city do you represent?
Aaron California: San Luis Obispo (SLO Town)! Los Osos to be exact. I’m originally from Vallejo, but the 805 has been my home for the last 16+yrs it’s all love though.
Westleaf Staff: Shout out to San Luis. So how did you create your stage name?
Aaron California: It’s honestly a slight variation of my real name and I think that helps represent the realness in my music. My first name is Aaron and people tend to struggle a bit with my real last name (which sort of sounds like “CALIFORNIA”) so it felt like a natural name to use.
Westleaf Staff: That's a dope name. And it came naturally! So how did your early life shape your interest in music?
Aaron California: To be honest it had everything to do with it. As a kid, I would see the way that people would react when their favorite song came on and I thought “I want to do that one day” and that’s been a driving force for me ever since; to make music that moves people.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! Music runs through your veins. So who is your biggest Musical influence?
Aaron California: This is a really tough one because I can’t narrow it down really to just one artist. I’d say that currently maybe Mac Miller’s later work is a big inspiration for me to kind of think outside of the box.
Westleaf Staff: Dope choice! We love Mac! What's been the defining moment in your music career thus far?
Aaron California: Opening up for Dizzy Wright and getting to talk to Demrick and Marley B and DJ Hoppa about my performance. I look up to those guys so it was dope to get feedback from them.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! Congrats on those connections! So what makes you a unique artist?
Aaron California: I’m not an actor. A lot of artists have kind of gone all in on the “fake it til you make it” idea and it’s played out. I’m not going to tell you that I have a bank account that looks like a phone number, because I don’t. I’m not going to tell you that I’m perfect or my life is perfect because I’m not and it isn’t. When you hear an Aaron California song, you’re either going to bob your head til your neck hurts or you’re going to hear some real, relatable material. Period.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! So what does art mean to you?
Aaron California: Truth. To me, the person that we are out in public or on the clock or at a party with people who could put you on - that’s not real, that’s a mask. To me, art is the only time we get to show or see what’s behind the mask, that’s when we see people’s truths.
Westleaf Staff: True! That's deep! Where do you see your music career going over the next few years?
Aaron California: Hopefully to a radio station near you! I’ve been putting in a lot of behind the scenes work to get my music out there so I’m hoping you all see the payoff very soon.
Westleaf Staff: I wish you much success! Before we go, describe music in three words.
Aaron California: Powerful. Rejuvenating. Universal.
Follow Aaron: @goforaaroncali
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