Releasing his debut solo album Lyrically Conscious in 2003 following several stints in jail, Bay Area, California rapper and Distant Relatives member Vocab Slick formed the group Distant Relatives with his childhood friend Emotionall and rapper Maynee (stream “Celebrate” featuring The Grouch and Eligh). Emotionall was subsequently deported to Mexico, and Maynee passed away in 2014, one year after Vocab’s mother passed and his daughter was born. Vocab bounced back with 2014’s Somethin’ Slick EP, followed by the Issues & Episodes full-length. Vocab co-founded the Slap Frost Tour, which grew into an annual festival featuring the likes of Planet Asia, Locksmith, and Chino XL. Vocab recently toured with Tha Alkaholiks and Gavlyn following the release of his EP The Day After Yesterday.
You’ve been in the game for a while. What inspires you to keep going?
I love what I do. I love performing and I love creating. At this point I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Aside from me really enjoying the craft, there’s also a therapeutic part of it s well. I’m clean and sober and have been for some time so writing down what’s going on in my head is pretty vital to my mental health.
Does any current music motivate you to create? Or is it more about your personal journey?
Anderson.Paak motivates me. I like his stuff. It’s creative. I really like how he goes back and forth from singing and rapping – very well executed. I can listen to the Malibu album all the way through everyday. I’m also very inspired by what Black Thought is doing, not not only now but his whole career. He is so good it’s unfair. It’s great to see him get the accolades he’s getting – long over due for sure. Of course it’s always about my personal journey. My music is heavily influenced by whats going on in my life. I am very transparent that way. My life experience, the triumph and tragedy, the highs and lows all get documented in my music. Even though some things may be uncomfortable or painful to write, I feel it’s important that I speak on it. As an artist I think I have a responsibility to give people the real. You never know if people are going through something that you’ve gone through and if you have the courage to write about it, it might be just the thing someone needs to hear to help them out in a difficult situation.
What do you think has been most key to the Bay developing such a thriving independent hiphop scene?
I feel like the attitude of the Bay Area is unlike anyplace in the world. We all strive as artists for an Independent original identity, that translates into our own individual need to be heard. So what you get is a melting pot of dope music and artists who are truly original. From Too Short to Hieroglyphics and everyone in between, the environment and atmosphere of the Bay is to encourage and cultivate that, and the best way to get heard is to do it yourself.
What’s next for you musically?
I’m leaving for tour this Thursday with Casual of Hierogylphics for the 5th Annual Slap Frost Tour. When I get back I’ll have a few singles and videos to follow as well as a record in the summer.
What do you foresee for this year in hiphop?
I think were going to see a rebirth of Lyricism this year. Definitely feeling the shift already. There is a ton of newer cats that I’ve been hearing that are spitting, and that’s been great to hear.