Sunday, May 17, 2020


I can’t even believe how hard this song rocks.

Bluesy husky vocals are undergirded deftly by a muscular hard rock ensemble.

Sometimes rock is just confidence – the song is earthy and familiar yet totally exciting, catchy and satisfying simultaneously. I’m gonna need a larger project from this Fontana-derived group.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers

Friday, February 7, 2020


Yo, if you are not familiar with San Bernardino's sole record shop, get familiar. I've compiled here stuff I saw in the store THIS week that you can and should cop for your significant other for Valentine's Day before they get snatched up.

    They have multiple copies of this? Your girlfriend likes Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, trust me. Get this now.

       Aight it might be over 30 but somebody's bae wants this Rob Zombie vinyl.                                

You're welcome!

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers

Thursday, January 9, 2020

“loves company…” : write-up on INVISIBLE MISERY by CALMFIXUP

            “Shake them bones you’ll feel no sorrow / you may end up in a grave tomorrow”

The more I listen to the rock albums of my comrade in West Coast Avenging, Calmfixup, the more I feel like his singer-songwriter journey is a story of building emotional armor. His first album The Last Time I Start Over is this naked cry of the last moments of youth saying I’m still confused, I’m still figuring life out but I’m gonna be confident about it going forward.

His new record Invisible Misery is like Tony Stark built his armor – the lyrics are less nakedly vulnerable than the last album but they’re still honest, just with more craft. Meneses (the alter ego secret identity of Calmfixup) is a great singer who never falters but something I keep hearing from people is they want the vocals on these records louder.

Sonically, TLTISO reminds one of Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana while IM reminds me of the Beths and A Perfect Circle. Listening to his singer-songwriter arc over the years, Calmfix is like a petri dish of rock paradigms – it sounds to me like he has all the styles mastered and he gets to deploy them to express his own particular brand of thoughtful and plaintive poetry. The sound is bigger and more confident than ever before. The songs are catchy as hell from “Dubious” to the chill and hypnotic “Belle”. “Tad” is ominous, “Fell” is wonderfully poppy. The whole album is that strong albeit a bit brief – it’s a melodic tour de force with smart rhythm as ballast : witness the misery.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Truth about Indica and Burritos: a brief essay about capitalism

I remember probably 8 years-ish ago in Riverside chilling with my friends Elizabeth and Brian, having a conversation where Elizabeth showed me a story about a dystopian future and two signs: one said “get fucked senseless” and the other was “have love made to you tenderly” and the line for “get fucked senseless” was astronomical, included most of the population and the “love made to you tenderly” line had basically no one at it. There was some late-capitalism context to the story but the commentary it was making becomes clearer to me as I age.

I remember I used to be annoyed when I’d see a given ethnic food place joint only populated with people of that ethnicity. “Shouldn’t we be sampling other cultures’ cuisines?” I thought. Now I know people are so stressed out from the day-to-day grind of modern life that they are just seeking familiar comforts. Comfort food.

I remember I used to be into cannabis sativa because I could stay awake more on it, it helped me wake up happily in the morning, they made my thoughts a little trippier; kind of the more stereotypical version of what getting high in the middle of the twentieth century was like. Now I’m more into indica because I work, I’m older, my body hurts more, my stomach and head pain, my tiredness. Another part of why I and a lot of other people are more into indica as we get older (and our tolerances get higher...) is that an indica is more likely to give you that stoned-off-your-ass-spacing-out-couch-lock feeling that makes you feel like you’re 16 and trying this shit for the first time again. We like to let the feeling wash over us and have an excuse to do nothing. A related result of late-capitalism is that indica is more popular because it's the more "medicinal" of the types: everyone is convinced they need maximum CBD for muscle relaxation and pain relief, don't want the potential anxiety of the more cerebral sativas. This is all part of everyone feeling so rundown all the time trying to keep up with modern life's material demands.

The older and more battered by late-capitalism we get the more we just want a) someone else to do all the work of intensity in our lives b) familiar comforts that nurture us spiritually and physically.

Growing up I remember girls eager to dispel myths about penis-size preferences, often going on about a good mid-size fit is ideal, the intensity of feeling like you’re being stretched out not always being desirable etc. but as I age and in particular observe people who feel especially whipped about by the economy I hear more women talk about wanting a big dick to distract them, desiring something intense enough to make them feel fucking something, anything amidst the stressed numbness their day to day has become.

We want to be fucked senseless because we don’t want to have do the work of distracting our consciousness from what tires us. The idea of a big thing being done TO us becomes more attractive as we become more tired and jaded. We don’t think it will make us happy – just a comfy warm distraction, at least in the afterglow of detachment. We southwesterners want the massive burritos we grew up on. Capitalism wants us on indica because it's the one that makes us sleep and consume. We want indicas because we see ourselves as in pain, as tired, as needing our muscles to be relaxed. The psychedelic creativity stimulation of sativa falls by the wayside as it doesn’t provide the gut-hit THC-pleasure-blanket around your abdomen that indica does so we forsake the intellectually stimulating for the more obvious physical comfort. 

For me this idea is also apparent in the classic Tool song “Stinkfist” which is about needing something more intense to get a kick/high/satisfaction after instant-gratification society has numbed our senses.
What made me want to write about this is the cannabis aspect and thinking about what I miss when I don’t indulge in the more physically subtle but still cranially rewarding sativa and observing mutability in social circle sexual dynamics that I didn’t previously expect.

Social media’s culture of bragging about being emotionally distant to me is reminiscent of the loneliness of the “be loved tenderly”-line in the story Elizabeth shared with me. It’s not just that people in their desire to have an experience happen to them want to be fucked senseless but also that the idea of being tender and intimate with a stranger sounds like a lot of work at best and intense discomfort at worst. What is worth having or experiencing is not easy and automatic and all that.

While I understand these aged weathered hungers for fuck, food and fun ultimately I don’t think any of it’s an excuse and I’m saying that out loud for myself as much as anyone. I’ve become an indica-monger for real and need to, at least from time to time, put more sativa into my herb diet so I can have those transcendent mornings again. I stay pretty adventurous in terms of food when given the chance and in terms of sex well I’m lucky enough to have a long-term partner and I don’t really have to pick between two anonymous sign-holders like in the anecdote above.

But the indica thing gets to me, I’ve noticed it about myself and I want to do better. It reminds me of a larger trend of age – that the optimal little touches I often enjoyed in my early and even mid-twenties just go by the wayside as life busily and loudly marches on. I feel the awareness of these forces and dynamics in life are a good start to resisting them and really want to encourage you to think about what the hustle and bustle of life’s stresses stops you from trying, experimenting and enjoying and resist it. Smoke that sativa, try that new food, make tender love. Might be worth the extra effort.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Mystic Talks with Beats on The Boxx After Winning the Whats Beef Beat Battle (Part 1)

Mystic talks with King Dice about his career so far, switching from hip-hop to EDM, winning beat battles, and the equipment he uses to make music.

Follow Mystic @SoundsByMystic

Follow King Dice @KingDiceSays

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

BRAC: The Sacrifices Moreno Valley and San Bernardino made for global peace

Wise up about the region’s recent history

Moreno Valley and San Bernardino used to have a big Air Force base employment sector due to March Air Force base. Then the Cold War ended and President Clinton, the first post-Cold War president, in recognition of this enacted BRAC, Base Realignment And Closure, because the country didn’t need to maintain so many full capacity military bases in the wake of the end of our decades long struggle for power with Russia. So the Inland Empire, being a politically not-that-powerful region for a few reasons ( as a conservative part of a liberal state, it was unlikely to be a factor in flipping the entire state in a given race) was on the chopping block. We were to help pay for America’s peace dividend: and so, March and Norton Air Force Bases two of the area’s most important economic engines had their operations drastically reduced and even partly privatized in terms of the campus’ use if I’m not mistaken.

So we laugh at San Bernardino and Moreno Valley for being ghetto and poor but these are the harsh realities of society: people don’t want to pay for militarism forever and Bill Clinton was actually trying to reduce the military industrial complex’s massive pervasiveness a bit in a time when that was politically sellable. Sometimes unpopular things are the right thing to do, sometimes the right thing to do has unfortunate consequences. Sometimes smaller pictures suffer in service of the bigger picture. I’m not justifying any particular side of a debate on these issues I’m just saying know the context. Know that it’s more than just “haha so ghetto and poor i could never”. 

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Shots Fired: The under-discussed classism of dismissing California’s Inland Empire

It’s hypocritical to yap about Reagan all the time and then leave poverty out of your analysis of the I.E.

It’s wild how we love to give rappers passes for stuff we don’t give anyone else passes for.
Jokes about how ghetto the Inland Empire and San Bernardino are about class, about making fun of
people who struggle economically, don’t have pristine environments and struggle with poverty.

To take the semantic stance of “oh he didn’t say the I.E was bad just that he was glad that he wasn’t
raised there” is to work very hard to ignore the class implications of dismissing California’s Inland
Empire a region that includes Temecula, Victorvile, Corona, San Bernardino, Muscoy, Redlands,
Riverside, Fontana, Ontario, Rialto, Highland, Colton, Grand Terrace, Hesperia, Lake Arrowhead, Lake
Perris, Crestline, Upland, Cucamonga, Bloomington, Alta Loma, Etiwanda and more. 

photo of gathering at Serious Cartoons Records & Tapes in San Bernardino, CA; submitted by Noa James

As the word “ghetto” finally fades into tackiness, people look for other ways to make fun of people that
are poorer than them and for some Southern California residents, “San Bernardino” or something like it
are shorthand for that. This is why it’s important to educate people about social justice, socioeconomics
and numbers more broadly: it’s not like it’s a city of people who decide to be poor or “ghetto” or “dirty” or
“shady” or whatever: statistically over ⅓ of the population of San Bernardino is actually literally living in
fucking poverty. Half of the city is receiving government aid of some kind. People who run cities and
municipalities have to look at a region’s “taxbase” in other words, who is paying the taxes to fund a
government and a society: when half of your people are on government aid and ⅓ in actual life or death
struggle with real poverty then you have a very small taxbase to fund services and make things better
with. This isn’t hard to understand. But some people still want to joke about Sanbernaghetto like a bunch
of people just decided to make a shitty city.

There’s a lot to factor in: a city slow to take advantage of the potent cannabis economy, going through
bankruptcy, high rates of violent crime. In the last 35 years the Inland Empire has lost jobs at Kaiser
Steel in Fontana as well as military-base shutdowns in Moreno Valley and San Bernardino and these
are cited as the biggest factors in discussing the last few decades’ poor economic performance for the
region. During the recession we were hit particularly hard and were slower to recover. Countless people
lost their homes in Fontana, Upland and Cucamonga around 2008 and left to cheaper Bernardino,
Moreno Valley and Rialto in the decade since. 

Dark city?

That’s something I don’t get: American media is so obsessed with both the stories of races co-existing
and post-industrial towns economic situations. The Inland Empire is all of that and more than most
places but still it is dismissed as dismissible, forgettable, “ghetto”, meth-ridden. It’s almost as if lots of
activists, media figures, corporations and more that say they care about minorities and quality of life for
the unfortunate do not actually care.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote the famous Atlantic Case for Reparations article in 2014, talks a lot
about how the dominant American narrative has always indoctrinated us to think that people of color
invite their challenging circumstances with particular short-comings in work-ethic, “family values”,
“strong male role models” etc. but all studies show that when you factor in structural barriers to normal
healthy economic and family life installed into the superstructure of our society by centuries of white
supremacy and imperialism, black and brown people are not intrinsically less likely to work or be there
for their kids or have good values etc. So to bash areas like the Inland Empire full of impoverished
brown people working their asses off is to victim-blame. When rappers like Tyler or Jay Z or whoever
dismiss poor people and poor areas firstly it’s not a coincidence that that is the area that they chose to
bash and secondly, it’s part of the same right-wing white supremacist ideology espoused by the old
white guys pictured with Reagan people are always meming about, the same philosophy that birthed
Trumpism, the post-Paul parts of the Tea Party movement. 

This is not to say any rapper that says shit like this is a war criminal in the class struggle but rather
just to say be aware of this train of thought’s origins and context. Realize when framing is causing you
to elide class in your analysis of something.

                                               THOPFest Ontario, CA photo by J. Sevilla

What does all this have to do with hip-hop?

Personally it doesn’t bother me that much that bigg-ish rappers say stuff like this from time to time.
I’m even starting to like it because it helps me find other social media accounts of people that live in the
I.E. but what does bother me when I see people co-signing the bashing of the Inland Empire because it
reminds me of how ingrained into us hatred of the poor is by American culture. It’s one thing to say it’s hot
or to complain about the struggle but I disagree with comments about the area or its people being
intrinsically uncool or whack and I object to comments about “it’s bad for creatives/we don’t support

Imagine going to the home of a family that is hungry and criticizing them for pirating music online or not
having nice enough art on their walls. That’s what it is to say the I.E. doesn’t support its creatives: yeah
Mo Val, San Bernardino, and many more have major economic issues, why wouldn’t support for the arts
be part of that context? That’d be like a city being on fire and you kept complaining about this one random
part of the city that’s on fire as if the rest of the city wasn’t on fire.

Anyway yes: there is less city by city support in terms of dollars for the arts in the I.E. than in an area like
Long Beach that is both more affluent and staffed by city leaders that prioritize a more progressive vision
of culture and the arts. Because so many people are struggling economically, it’s harder for artists to
make a living off of solely a regional customer base. Harder but not impossible granted. But in terms of
the people? In terms of the talent? 

It’s just wrong to say there’s not opportunities. I’m from San Bernardino and the proximity to San Diego
and Los Angeles and my own diverse area has allowed me to achieve a healthy amount of my artistic
goals and has since given me as much of a platform or shot as I could ask for to try to tackle the rest from.
If someone wants to show me how per capita (controlling for population) compared to x, y or z region
there’s less opportunity, given the economic context I’d be very open to such an argument but to say
there is no opportunity and that “people don’t support each other” is factually incorrect.

photo credit: China Tokyo Japan, submitted by David Dee

Given the economic challenges of the Inland Empire, people should be amazed at what HAS been built: the Common Ground, a massive legacy continues, THOPFest, Punch Line Kings battle league, a cannabis friendly record store venue in Serious Cartoons and way more….this is just the stuff that’s still happening right now. 

Stop twisting it in your head to something that it’s not: the I.E. is a region with talent like many others
and it’s also a region with massive swaths of impoverished people. These are two distinct categories
but these identities intertwine, so when people try to dismiss and then people try to say you’re crazy
because you’re feeling a certain way about it just remember your correct feeling of there being something
wrong about such dismissals is you knowing deep down that this is all part of the only argument that ever
really mattered: the one about valuing all humans regardless. 

Stop twisting it in your head to something that it’s not: when they dismiss the I.E. they are spitting on what
they perceive as lower-class people. Class struggle is real and social media and the internet allow people
to tell on themselves about whose side they are on; we’re not haters for keeping note on when people
reveal themselves.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and
Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based
nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers