The last time I checked in with Bakersfield rapper Jeffrey Watts, the then-17-year-old Frontier senior was about to put his reputation on the line with the release of his mix tape.
Eager to make a name for himself in the underground rap scene, Watts put all his DIY skills to work, including collaborating with producer Tree J, known for his work with rapper Mac Miller, and promoted his work.
Three years later, Watts, who continues recording and performing under the stage name 1k Watts, remains more eager than ever to keep evolving.
“My first mix tape was based off of my experiences in high school, so a lot of it was inspired by daily life with friends and thought filled songs of dreams and aspirations,” recalled Watts. “My second mix tape was built off of experiences a year after high school, but more expanded. I evolved an enormous amount in between that year as an artist; my voice and writing excelled immensely.”
Watts' newly released single, “A Toast to the Hustlers,” is no school daze soliloquy, but more of a testimony to what matters most to an enterprising 21-year-old. "Gimme my advancement, I’m trying to make expansions, money, music, fashion, boy I do it with a passion …"
“Now I feel like my writing is top tier, I could compete with anybody when it comes to intricacy and structure of verses. ... It's almost as if I'm writing in first person right now, for instance I'm rapping about today's life, not the future, not the past, everything I'm referencing is in my day-to-day life.”
Just as some of his previous projects, Watts found another winning collaboration with rapper Dizzy Wright, who also makes a noteworthy appearance on “A Toast to the Hustlers.”
Before they met in the studio, Watts recalls crossing paths a year earlier at a marijuana dispensary: “It was cool because Dizzy is definitely an influence of mine, especially during my high school years. We talked for a few minutes, cracked a couple jokes and he asked if I played some hoop, so we met at Silver Creek not long after and played a couple games of ball. I brought my music up a couple times, but he didn't seem too intrigued by it. A few months later, I ended up having a conversation with a manager of his, and we set up a single that he ended up being featured on.”
According to Watts, the new track garnered more than 15,000 online plays on various online streaming sites just a few days following its release on Aug. 24. Recorded locally at AUM Studio, “A Toast to the Hustlers” is already primed to be another underground hit.
“I'm versatile so I can find my way on any instrumental from 808s to boom bap, but I'm also a student of the genre, I try to keep to the roots of hip-hop, and pay homage to the ones who paved the way, being conscious of what I'm saying to the people, and making sure people can vibe to and enjoy my music.”
The 08 Orchestra
In other local DIY music news, Bakersfield rock quartet The 08 Orchestra premiered its new music video to their song “Bartender” on Aug. 8 on YouTube.
Filmed on location at Ethel’s Old Corral, the Hectic Films-produced video is a hard rockin’ romp, day-in-the-life story of an average American dude in need of a little liquid relief.
The video is a pretty good score for the group who formed late last year in, you guessed it, the streets of Oildale.
Vocalist and guitarist Brandon Morrow said they contacted the local film outfit via Facebook after seeing they were looking to collaborate with a band on a music video.
“We were just so stoked to make a video. Everything that Ricky (Bird, Hectic's director) had planned sounded great to us. It really fit our sound and what the song was about.”
The video opens with an aerial shot of the Ethel’s sign, into a close-up (underscore close up) of model Jessica Noble strolling through the bar’s door and behind the bar. Morrow enters the scene for a drink, Noble smiles, and they’re off. From there, the video is interspersed with shots of band members — lead guitarist Cody Norman, drummer Stevo Beavers and bassist Hunter Scott — performing outside and inside surrounded by rowdy friends, and even some random spots featuring some good ol’ local folk relaxing on the porch.
“The team there at Hectic was completely professional, especially having to deal with our constant joking around.”
You’d have to have a good sense of humor to film in this extreme heat Bakersfield has been dealing with, and so they did with some help from the crew and Heliarc Records owner and operator, known only as “JD.”
“As far as the toughest part of filming, I'd definitely have to say it was the heat. Standing outside of a trailer under the Bako sun is no joke. JD was the MVP for that though. He kept us hydrated.”
The video may not be Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss” with the great pyramids of Egypt in the background, but it is Ethel’s, dude.
Is the band ready to do it again? Hell yes, Morrow says.
“We’ll definitely be down to do another one in the future.”
Prayers at B Ryder’s, 3401 White Lane, 8 p.m. Friday. $15, all-ages show. 397-7304.
When self-described SoCal “cholo goth” electro duo Prayers was introduced to the rest of the world in the controversial and ultra-violent 2015 video “Young Gods” (those are real fists flying), the world had no idea what to make of members Dave Parley and Rafael Reyes aka Leafer Sayer. In addition to their stylish videos, their music and lyrics are dark and poetic, and, as a package, they were too much to deny. After building a fiercely loyal following underground and catching the ears of everyone from The Cult’s Ian Astbury — who took them on tour — to Blink-182’s Travis Barker, then snagging a prime stage slot at Coachella, the group also has a cool local connection in the video to “Black Leather.” Along with tattoo rock star Kat Von D, the black-and-white video features Bako couple Noelia and Jose Citialin. The duo's Friday performance in town is a rare visit you don’t want to miss. Also appearing is Thrill Touch. More information at numbskullshows.com.
The Expendables at B Ryder’s, 8 p.m. Sunday. $20, all-ages show.
Among the ganja-fied heavyweights of the California reggae roots scene, Santa Cruz’s The Expendables are a true fan favorite. Over the years, the group has made regular local stops to our area performing to packed houses who know every word. This tour also marks the group’s 20th anniversary, and to celebrate they’ll be performing a slew of classics from their discography. The show, also featuring Spawnbreezie, is expected to sell out.