On Wednesday, May 30th local hip hop artist Soosh*e celebrated the release of his latest EP, Big Brother John, here at Sol Collective.
I’ve heard about Soosh*e being an up and coming artist in Sacramento’s local hip hop scene. When I walked into Sol the place was packed. I gave up on taking a head count because I got distracted by the merchandise for sale from Soosh*e’s sponsors, Below the Surface, Above Average, LGT STZ, and TUS (The Usual Suspects, a local hip hop collective). If I had to guess, though, the turnout was probably around 100 people.
In the crowd as well were Soosh*e’s mother, father, and his big brother John who the album is dedicated to. I had the chance to speak with Soosh*e and his big brother, John Lopez.
According to Soosh*e, the Big Brother John album represents where he learned everything in his music career.
John and I stepped outside so our voices were audible to each other. It was kinda awkward yelling over the music I wanted to dance to, anyway, so I was grateful for the relocation.
John spoke highly of his brother, and said he was grateful for everyone’s support that night. The tribute came as a surprise to Soosh*e’s older brother who was unaware of the album until it was finished and being promoted online. Apparently, when he logged onto Facebook and saw the flyer for the show, the album cover caught his attention and then immediately choked him up. “Having the EP dedicated to me was a really big honor,” the real life Big Brother John said.
John recounted how he and Soosh*e spent a lot of time together just playing video games, visiting family out in Citrus Heights, playing sports, and hanging out with friends. They were always listening to music and that’s how Soosh*e first encountered the sounds of Talib Kweli, Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, and Black thought.
“To me, he’s a big brother to my boys. They respect him as an uncle but he’s more like a brother because he’s always there to support them.”
I gathered plenty about Soosh*e from John. He can play various instruments. He can rap. And family is obviously one of the most important priorities in his life, as well as his music. In high school, he performed a song he made for his mother and he even made a song he performed for John’s wedding. “Soosh*e’s not from a broken home and he’s not the stereotype of a demographic. He’s genuinely a good guy and that’s hard to come by, especially with today’s swagged out youth,” said John of Soosh*e.
“It’s cool to see an older generation here to support hip hop,” said John. “Our mom appreciates what she see’s my brother doing out here; he’s not just playing the drums anymore.”
Remember that movie Drumline? Well, Soosh*e used to be in marching band. “That’s where the hip hop sound came into the picture,” Soosh*e said.
“I didn’t want [the EP] to be boring; the idea was to get back to where I started from in hip hop and why I started,” said Soosh*e.
“My brother said hyphy was a fad of hip hop,” Soosh*e stated, “and I started really thinking about where I was going and what I wanted to be a part of.”
I asked Soosh*e about his approach to making music and he told me he turned down an opportunity to work with one of Dr.Dre’s producers.
“I make music when it feels good to me because it gives people a real aspect of what goes on in my head…I feel a certain way and I approach [music] the way I feel it.”
Sac Producer RU has been vital in helping Soosh*e communicate his sound.
“He’s been the one telling me, ‘if you feel like making it then make it,” Soosh*e continued.
Soosh*e introduced himself to the Sacramento Hip Hop scene via live cyphers at Second Saturdays downtown and found “a melting pot of people” to work with like Chuuwee and TUS, for example.
“We’re doing what we wanted to do in the first place. It’s about different groups coming together and this is a testament to what we’ve been saying for a long time now.”
When asked if he considered himself a tastemaker; Soosh*e paused for a split second…
“Being at the center of the hip hop scene, it’s weird saying I did all this. It feels good to know we decided to work together. I know that I can do something more. If I put others in front of myself I can make bigger things happen. I thank everyone for coming out. I’m not the only one trying to bring people together. I’m one of many; Sol Collective is like that.”
Between interviewing Soosh*e and John, I spoke with Brandon Louie who said he came out to see Soosh*E, Task1ne, and DJ Nick Nack.
Louie said he supported where Soosh*e is going with his progressing strengths, confidence and stage presence.
“What sets him apart is the way he puts his soul into his music,” Louie said. “That’s the difference.”