Artist of the Week: Coast

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to introducingliston@gmail.com.

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Like it or not, South Park Mexican was the heart of Mexican rap, and when he got sent away it left a massive void in the niche. A few guys have unofficially tried to step in - Rob G, GT Garza, Juan Gotti, etc- but none have ever marshaled the dejection and isolation a lot of inner-city Mexicans feel near as well as SPM. It's not an easy task.

But if any of the current crop have a chance to do so, it's probably going to be Northside veteran Coast - who, coincidentally, is a former Dope House rapper. His flow is heady, casual and occasionally impetuous, his grit is becoming, and his ability to lyrically deliver a powerful sentiment with ease is natural.

We reached out, and Coast was pleasant enough to discuss how Google might hate him, the emotions he needs his listeners to feel, and why older rappers might be the most consequential.

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Rocks Off: Okay, seriously, you should consider a name change. We've been trying to find you online for friggin' ever. The term "coast" turns up just about everything but you on Google. We came across a picture of an alligator trying to open a door before we found you. Guess that's more of a suggestion than a question, but whatever.

Coast: Yeah, it's difficult to come up with good search results for "Coast" through Google - and it's equally difficult to find me on Limewire, too. Sorry, folks. There won't be any illegal downloading of my music anytime soon. Thanks for the suggestion, but I'll keep the name as is.

RO: The first time we heard you was on SPM's Never Change album back in 2001. That was easily the illest guest feature on the album. What we mean to say is, how many times better a rapper are you than Baby Bash? Four times? Five?

C: Thanks for the compliment. SPM has always kept me in his circle of artists to collaborate with. I feel I owe him all the support and respect I can give since he and his brother, Arthur, took a chance on me and signed me to their label back in the day.

They gave me a voice. Even though I have left the company, I still think the world of them. As far as Bash goes, he and I have always been on good terms with each other too, so don't go starting nothing, buddy [laughs].

RO: Tell us a little about the Thoughts on the Wall 2 album. Even on the songs that don't explicitly state it, it seems to deal a lot with issues of desolation and despair.

C: I know the generic answer to this question is "I write songs about the things I've seen and gone through in the hood." I think that same response could be applied when describing my music, but my material goes deeper than what I've heard from anyone else.

Let's say a rapper writes a song about having to hustle drugs or rob people to make ends meet. That's not an untold story in this genre. As for myself, I kinda talk about the same things but I go in with a different approach.

I spend less time ranting about the physical action of doing things and more time describing the emotions that push a person to do those things. I figure if music is my tool to vent through, then I'm gonna vent all the way. Desolation and despair? Yeah, I'll accept that. As long as something is felt from my stuff, I'm cool.

RO: You really opened yourself up on "I Can't Complain," dropped that tough-guy veneer and took an ant-in-the-universe outlook. Subsequently, we think it might be one of your best songs. As you get older, and your world view expands even more, are you going to be producing more songs like that one? It's a good look.

C: "I Can't Complain" is a great song. It's one of my favorites. A lot of my previous work is just as self-reflective as "I Can't Complain," but doesn't compare in relation to how smooth and casual this song is. The tough-guy things do bleed through sometimes but you're right. As I get older, I notice my perspective matures as well. It's a good look, indeed.

Highlights cut from the interview:

  • Seriously, stop trying to download his music illegally.

  • Attn Parents: Corporal punishment is not a crime.

  • New album, Lively-Hood, in the works.

Check out Coast at www.myspace.com/CoastSpace, and follow him on Twitter via @CassetteCoast.

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