Monday, April 15, 2019

40K x King Dice - Ain't Nothing Changed (Audio)

40K has been gone for a minute. he has announced his return to hip-hop with this track featuring and produced by King Dice. Ain't Nothing Changed is a reminder that the artists are sticking to the various things that made them who they are. Higher educational goals, doing for their community, and cannabis usage are all ingredients that make this track fire.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Gnarled World: new albums from So x Gnar and Cam Gnarly

Inland Empire based music producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Dean Baker has more bands than So x Gnar and I like them all equally so it's exciting when any of them drop anything. So Gnar's eponymous debut album is now out. After building a buzz with the minimalist "Feels Good" featuring just vocals, drums and guitar from Baker and Scotty, the boys got in the studio with a bassist and additional guitar (David Bootman & Joshwa Burgundy) to fill out the sound and lay down a record. "Feels Good" is an instant chill rap-rock classic- the product of a youth culture that can distill the Red Hot Chili Peppers into something twice as brief.

"Here to Rock & Roll",  shown above, the second single, is punk rock verses with Kiss style anthem choruses and it bursts with joy. The intro track, "Tidalwave" combines Nirvana like simplicity with modern sludgy blues rock adorned with hypnotic vocals from band drummer Baker. The title cut is Pixies and Fugazi era 90's rock - this group takes you on a tour of post-modern guitar songwriting and their youthful joy and obvious talent is gripping. 

Gnarvana reminds me of Viva Mescal's Weird Turn Pro album where but for one exception the whole album is on one chill wavelength and pulls it off for a sustained amount of time to the point of outstanding impressiveness. This album does that as well.

Perhaps best exemplified by the single "the 9" but the whole album has this feel, especially the collabs with Aye Brook, Maya Huyana, Phantom Thrett & Blu. I love the intros to all of Gnarly's albums, there's always something epic there. The album has tinges of hippie culture reminiscent of albums past but does not dwell on it, more so this album lives in the inner thoughts of Gnarly, thinking about his own self development in the context of the I.E. The album's chill sound is warm, bassy, familiar and original all at once - Gnarly, with his soulful melodic vocals and increasingly wise raps, is becoming an experienced hand at putting these projects together. He's entering a period of unclassifiability - the projects don't fit into a box anymore, they are part of an ongoing journey and conversation with a wordsmith seeker of fulfillment and experience.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is staff writer for JooseBoxx, a youth hip-hop and poetry tutor, and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at

Monday, April 8, 2019

Elephant Skin - Epyk Saga (Music Video)

Epyk Saga dropped this dope music video over the weekend. Elephant Skin looks like that time your homie was like "try this acid" and you were like "naw I don't think I wanna try acid" and then he secretly drugged you and convinced you to go hiking. It's kind of like that. The battle rap veteran drops a lyrical treat filmed and edited by JnB Visuals and produced by Jake Finesse. Listen to Epyk's album HERE. Check out his social media links below.

FOllow Epyk on Facebook here:

Friday, April 5, 2019

As We Mourn: On Justice and Hatred.

On Sunday, March 31st we lost hometown hero and grammy nominated rapper, Nipsey Hussle. Since his death people from all over the world who have been touched by his music and his message have shared stories, pictures and videos of him. Still, there is an overwhelming amount of hurt the community is feeling towards the loss of someone who was here to hussle and motivate.

Everybody mourns death differently and I want to focus my energy here less on the fact that we are grieving and more on what I see transpiring online on this very open wound we have in our community.

The alleged killer, Eric Holder, has been arrested and is in police custody. He will see his day in court, and if he did the crime he will be rightfully incarcerated for the crimes he has done.  Now, I know this does not ease the pain of the loss but we should look at his arrest as a positive. I know that as a black man, and a member of the hip-hop community. Looking towards the court system and law enforcement to help us seems ironic, but - and I say this from my personal opinion - this is what Nipsey would have wanted.

Throughout my facebook, twitter and instagram are loving eulogies, quotes that nipsey said and even the dietary teachings of Dr. Sebi. All of these things remind me of the legacy and influence that Nip had. What I also see are mugshots of Eric Holder, and a lot of anger and hatred from the original post and the comment section.

According to TMZ Eric Holder is in solitary confinement right now because the police are worried that his life is in danger. The police also sought to arrest the alleged killer quickly to prevent the hood from murdering him as well. Nipsey was about to meet with LAPD and Roc Nation on ways to reduce gang violence and keep the peace in our community.

Keeping the peace is not what I would say I am getting from my comment threads however.

I’ve seen calls for the public killing of Eric Holder. I’ve seen people make claims that we are going to see riots and conversations about what block is going to be ‘hot’ for a while. I think of the legacy and change that Nipsey was trying to create and what I see boiling up in people who admire him is the exact opposite of what he was trying to create.

When I think of ‘justice’ I’m not just thinking of holding his murderer to account for their actions. I think about doing justice on behalf of the name of Nipsey Hussle. Which is why our talk about the streets killing Eric Holder and all that anger and hatred that is being built up, we have to shut that shit down. Immediately. For every other person who has walked a similar path to Nipsey, for the kids and budding black and brown entrepreneurs who were able to use his CoWork facility Vector90, for all of the good that Nipsey was creating. Do justice by Nipsey and remember what he stood for and not fall victim to our demons.

The circumstances leading to to Nipsey’s demise, the personal relationship that Nip may or may not have had with Eric Holder don’t mean shit to me, all due respect. We shouldn’t let it matter to us. Relationships, just like how we grieve, are complex. People’s life’s stories are complex. At the end of the day how many people from any walk of life, end up having a philanthropic heart like Nipsey Hussle? The answer is not many. TO show pictures of Nipsey and Eric Holder, and to turn it into some teachable moment about friends, family and loyalty are wrong. Even if there is some truth to the statement, think about the consequence of us speaking like that. How are we going to build stronger foundations if we fear trusting our loved ones? If we take his death and say this is why Black people can’t come together. What do we gain? Nothing. Hell, in reality we lose, because we’re going backwards.

Trust is difficult. Love is difficult. Forgiveness is difficult. Grief is difficult. Life is difficult, and that’s okay. What’s not okay, is just retweeting rumors. What’s not okay, is retweeting people who are just being negative and hurtful. Just inciting hatred. I see people who are speaking very reckless online, but it’s never an original post. It’s a retweet. It’s always someone who thinks it’s their duty to shed a light on this hatred that none of us need to feel, from voices that we don’t care about, about someone who we admire.

This power that we all have on the internet can magnify and silence voices by what we choose to share and consume. When you share things that are hateful, that are hurtful you’re adding to the negativity. Especially if your intention is just to get people who are already hurt, angry. And if you have a significant presence online what you add to the conversation holds even more weight. Just use your head.  

To summarize. Do justice by motivating people and sharing Nipsey’s hustle or shut the fuck up.

This post was contributed by Calligraphy, 
Calligraphy is a writer, DJ, and Business owner. 
Follow Calligraphy here Instagram & Twitter

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What Nipsey Hussle's activism says about the possible and the practical in politics

How reactions to Nipsey Hussle's death show much countercultural critique of neoliberalism and market-based solutions may be hollow

California and the world lost a luminary artist and philanthropic entepreneur on the last day of March 2019. I have to admit a case of whiplash when seeing all the praise for Nipsey Hussle's activism on the internet given that the kinds of community work he did is the kind of community work white
politicians get bashed as neoliberal sellouts for. 
When Nipsey Hussle put ideas into action to help his community, it wasn't a war to disband police or a revolt against a system of market capitalism but almost the exact opposite: STEM center/co-working spaces designed for corporate partnership, retail stores, working with local police. Even though there are major exploitative elements and flaws to capitalism, Hussle recognized that people in his community need to be able to benefit and succeed in this world of corporations and currency. I'm not saying this is a "checkmate!" to critic of police and capitalism but rather to introduce something to think about: perhaps someone like Hussle who had experienced hardships of difficult urban struggle understood that there is a reason people partner with the powerful and learn to deal with the world that is as opposed to waging an ideological battle about how the world should be. 
I fully agree with those that have major structural criticisms of the police state and late capitalism, but I also think there's something to the idea that there are roles for different people to play and that sometimes people have legitimate reasons to work with unsavory characters within imperfect systems to achieve good and advance goals. I've noticed most people at least implicitly agree given the preponderance of comments memorializing the rapper saying it wasn't just about his music but all the good work for his community. I can't help but notice that these within-the-norm community outreach efforts are the kind of thing the very same people online memorializing him would bash a politician for because they support the structure of police and capitalism. Perhaps all the people praising Nipsey's firmly-within-the-market-capitalism-norm-for-activism community work would consider this the next time someone who did similar charitable activities that is not a beloved hip-hop artist dies. Perhaps such folks could consider this idea even in assessing the actions of living community actors.
I would also note that I find it profoundly unlikely that government agents killed Mr. Hussle given that STEM hubs, co-working spaces for corporate partnerships, retail stores and advocacy for working with local police are among municipal government's favorite activities and initiatives to support among their citizens. Nipsey wasn't advocating the dismantling of capitalism or markets or police, he used markets and other imperfect existing structures to lift his community - it seems to me he was about helping people have opportunity in the imperfect world that exists instead of fighting a battle about how the world isn't what it should be. Laudable pursuits all, but not the kind of thing the government kills you for if you're using logic and really thinking about it. Don't besmirch his memory with desperate grasping-for-straws ridiculousness.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is staff writer for JooseBoxx, a youth hip-hop and poetry tutor, and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at

Monday, April 1, 2019

King Dice Says: Why Losing Nipsey Hussle is More Important Than You Think

Sunday March 31st, Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in Los Angeles, California. To be frank, open, and honest his death hit me really hard. I mourn over the loss not only because he was a man with a family but because we, as a community lost someone making great strides to overcome stereotypes in all the best ways. Like too many young Black men, I too was seduced by the allure of street life. The glamourous things that came with guns, girls, and gangs disillusioned me. As for Nipsey, I don’t know why and won’t began to try to understand his reasonings for getting into that lifestyle. What I can say is that his affiliations to street life and L.A. gang culture were no secret.

I never met Nipsey Hussle. I was not a super fan of his music. I am not from L.A. nor do I have any direct connection to anything he was involved with. So why is his death weighing so heavily on my heart? I think it represents a larger concept for that I’ve pondered upon for over 10 years. It reminds me that I’ve internally struggled with these questions for a long time: Can you ever do enough a good to outweigh the bad? Can you outrun your past? Is there a path to forgiveness for those that bring harm to others?

I started following Nipsey Hussle and his career when I heard he was selling an album for $100 dollars (and the next one for $1,000). What I initially thought was a publicity stunt had some sound business acumen behind it and may be one of the things that started me on a path of understanding some of the personal core financial principles I believe today. As I followed his business moves I saw his vision through a mini documentary about him opening The Marathon Clothing. I was an early follower of his business incubator Vector90 located in L.A.’s Crenshaw district. I listened to his philosophy on money and financial independence through his project Victory Lap. Although through these ventures he seems like a good man, I cannot speak to whether he actually was. However, I can speak about what I believe he represented for young men like myself.

I don’t think I was ever “the worst person in the world”, at most, I was probably mischievous. I fought around my city and did my fair share of things that come along with immersing yourself in a street lifestyle. Part of the reason I have this positive disposition so many know King Dice for, is because I am dedicated to righting any wrongs and compensating for any bad I may have done. People like Nipsey Hussle are symbols of hope for people in my position. To see someone come from the same background as me and find the courage and means to build up the community and share quality knowledge with the masses assured me that I can also achieve these things. It proved to me that I don’t have to be defined by stupid things I may have done in my past because I can build a brighter future. Someone destroyed a symbol yesterday.

I was young when 2Pac died and I can’t say I truly understood the outcry the culture felt. I always found ways to dissociate the historical fact from the symbol and hope he represented for so many. Today I understand. I understand how hope lives on, good people can be murdered, but what they represent can be eternal. I wrote this, not only to explain my perspective on a horrible situation but also because I had to find a way to deal with my grief as well. At this point I don’t know if this is gang-related, clout chasing, government conspiracy or any of the other silly reasons floating around the internet but I know he is gone, and the world is a little less bright for it.

This post was contributed by King Dice, 
King Dice is a writer, emcee, producer and general genius. 
Follow King Dice here Instagram  & Twitter

Nipsey Hussle Dead at 33

Rapper, entrepreneur, and social advocate Nispey Hussle died yesterday in front of his LA Storefront The Marathon yesterday, March 31st.  Nispey and two others were fired upon multiple times and the perpetrator of the crime is still at large.

Born Ermias Asghedom, he leaves behind a wife, two children and a a legacy of progression and hope for his fans worldwide.

 Nipsey's latest album, Victory Lap, was Grammy Nominated with Hit songs "Last Time that I checc'd" and "Hussle & Motivate"

Layered into Nispey's provocative and truth to power lyrics we're the actions and ambitions of a person who had genuine love for his community and enfranchisement for the Youth. He created a CoWork building called Vector 90 for local professionals and budding entreprenuers in LA to have a place to operate their business through. He worked on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs for the youth to prepare the inner city kids that lived in his neighborhood for a quickly changing economy that requires more and more educated work force.

Nispey was in the works of releasing a Documentary talking about the trial of Dr. Sebi who challenged the pharmaceutical industry with his approach to diet and nutrition.

Social Media has been unified in their grief for the slain artist. From LA City officials, athletes and the Hip-Hop Community. His untimely passing is one that has weighed heavy the sphere of his influence.

Here is just a taste of the type of person Nispey was and the message he was trying to give to his fans and supporters. 

"Money is a tool – it’s the means, not the end. Inspiration is the metric that dictates whether or not a project is a success. It’s more realistic than trying to aim for radio play, or trying to satisfy an AR, or the other gatekeepers on these platforms. I don’t even know how to create with those things in mind. But if you tell me the goal is to inspire? That makes my job a lot easier."
Nipsey Hussle


This post was contributed by Calligraphy, 
Calligraphy is a writer, DJ, and Business owner. 
Follow Calligraphy here Instagram & Twitter