Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Last Days of Cesar Solorio (Part 1 of 2)

Local hip-hop wunderkind Cesar Solorio just turned 20 and dropped a new album…so why is he leaving hip-hop?
Cesar Solorio at Back to the Grind, Riverside CA 1/10/2015

*This article was written immediately after the release of Solorio’s latest album ‘SOLORIO’ early in 2015*

The Last Days of Cesar Solorio
By Tristan “Tanjint the Wiggy Woo” Douglas


I love that Cesar Solorio knows his culture. But what makes him such a millennial is that it’s many cultures: he raps about hip-hop culture of both coasts, he raps about youth culture (“it’s not a date anyway…”), stoner culture (“ swisher sweets taste better than my exes lips”), hippie culture and IE Latino culture (“good wood I rock on my neck that I bought at the swap meet for six dollars and zero cents”). He is loyal to what he sees as valuable in these cultures: homies and hedonism. His persona is charmingly alternatively cynical about and smitten with women. This is probably the natural state of many a man which is perhaps why it’s such a timeless artistic stance.

It’s not that you can’t tell Solorio is rapping about a young life (you can) but it is surprising that he documents it so articulately in real time. I also wrote about my life as a 17 through 19 year old but I suspect it wouldn't be as impressive as Solorios’ consistent, full-bodied, hip-hop songs if you guys were to hear it all recited back right now. He raps with an impressive dexterity about his situation; to put it simply he raps like a 25 year old describing a teen’s life. It takes a special awareness and meta-cognition to recognize you’re in puppy love with someone while fully enjoying the experience and the flighty even humorous ephemerality of it all.

(Left to Right) Cesar Solorio and Notiz Yong
 at Back to the Grind, Riverside CA 1/10/2015
As a dude with a little sister about Solorio’s age, part of me thinks ‘what the FUCK?’ when I hear his song glorifying nitrous inhalation but another part of me just cracks a smile at the artistic commitment of making a whole well written song about such a crazy youthful indulgence. Who among us can’t say we were similarly reckless and indulgent while young? Solorio’s music gives a voice to an epicurean youth that is seldom phrased so neatly and elegantly.

With 3 EPs and two LPs under his belt, Solorio says he is going to quit rap this year to get other aspects of his life together. He says if he ever comes back to music what he does will be quite different. I believe the hell out of that. His latest EP reflects both a consistent style but an earned maturity that I think warrants a listen.

In mid 2011, Botnee of Feel the Real clothing and apparel began sponsoring the hip-hop activities of Cesar Solorio. He would hook Cesar up with FTR clothes and Solorio would rep the brand. Late in 2014 Botnee told me, “I have a lot of respect for Solorio because in a lot of ways he does it on his own. It’s hard coming up as a solo artist.” True that.

Botnee, founder of Feel the Real Clothing,
Back to the Grind, Riverside, CA 1/10/2015

I first met Solorio at a Sunny Days and Vibes concert thrown by MC Lyfe. When interviewing Solorio for this article, he was very quick to cite Lyfe as an important help to his music and performance endeavors. “Lyfe would always schedule me to rock a set at the Sunny Days and Vibes and that gave me a way to try to express all the work I was making.”

When my band the West Coast Avengers, filmed our first video in Claremont early in January Cesar Solorio rolled up in a dangerous-looking jalopy, down-as-fuck, following our asses all over the eastern outskirts of Los Angeles county. He didn’t ask for anything, did everything we asked of him and was a fun person to have at the shoot. I took note of how down he was to support the community around him.

It was around this time that other local notable artist the Problm Child reached out to me about Solorio’s new EP. He said he felt this album was a classic and I wanted to see for myself. I had already heard his SoundCloud in its entirety but I figured it was time to actually listen to all of his whole albums on Bandcamp where they’re all streaming free.

When I interviewed Solorio for this piece I told him that I suspected he would take a break from music, get the other aspects of his life straight and then as a result have a lot of growth and experience to vent about, perhaps through music. I told Solorio that my friend Sean said listening to his stuff reminded him of listening to Atmosphere in high school. Solorio lit up at this, “I mean that’s one of my biggest influences. I remember hearing Atmosphere when I was like 10 and thinking, I want to do this.”

“It’s not music. I’m not where I want to be in other aspects of my life…just personally.”

(Left to Right) MC Lyfe, Stanley Ipkis
 at Back to the Grind, Riverside, CA 1/10/2015
I have to admit I understand this perspective. He’s been doing this from ages 17 through 20, has dropped 4 EPs and 2 full length albums and still the habit of doing hip-hop is costly. Near the end of our conversation Solorio explained, “if I do ever come back to doing music….it’ll be different. Really different.”

Botnee explicated for me a bit, “Solorio has heart. I admired that he did his own stuff. He’s a solo artist and it’s hard to come up as a solo artist. He was one of the first like two people to actually come up and buy a shirt off of me. I was like ‘hell yeah’.

Botnee didn’t even know that much about Solorio’s sudden decision to “quit” rap. I told Botnee that Lyfe and himself were prominent parts of the personal narrative Solorio shared with me for this piece and Botnee said, “see that’s why I mess with him; he has heart.”

Since our interview I’ve heard that he is looking into studying and teaching English as a day job. I laughed when I found out, amused that the subject of my latest piece was quitting rap to study English while I had resolved to quit studying English after grad school ended for me this last summer, allowing me to focus more of my energy on writing and rapping. Amused that even in Cali, perhaps especially in Cali, the grass is always greener.
Cesar Solorio 
at Back to the Grind, Riverside CA 1/10/2015

Come back next week for my complete write-ups on Solorio’s discography! 



--Tristan Acker

Tristan “Tanjint the Wiggy Woo” Acker is a San Bernardino based writer, performer and musician; he holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from California State University at San Bernardino. 

You can read his poetry at Squalorly, Inlandia, El Portal, Dead Flowers and other print and online magazines. 

Listen to his work and his work with his band the West Coast Avengers at westcoastavengers.com. 

Follow him on twitter @Wiggism or e-mail him at tristanacker@gmail.com.