A Walrus Shrugged

AWOL One, the rapper laureate of La Habra

"There's just so much random stuff out there. We were just like, 'We gotta do a concept record,' rather than one dude going around [to other producers and MCs], getting all these different vibes from people and shit. That's not a complete feel, a full vibe. It started like that, and then it just developed.

"What I'm gonna try to keep doing is just to keep it on a [single] vibe. The next record with Kev is called Number 3 on the Phone—'cause number 3 on the phone has the letters DEF. We got these phone things we're gonna do that's gonna interchange between the songs. It's not just random shit; it's a whole vibe. Even Speakerface [a long-aborning collaboration between AWOL and producers Mike Nardone and Kutmasta Kurt that's due next year] is a vibe."

AWOL arrived in New York on Sept. 10 for a set of shows. "We landed, and the next morning was when it happened, probably like 30 blocks away. The person that we were staying with turned on the TV and just started crying. We went out there, and we saw all the smoke and everything. We were inside, glued to the TV, going, 'Is this happening?' That night, we were all watching TV, and it said the Mass was gonna be held at 666 E. Babylon! We were like, 'Oh, my God! This is the end of the world, right now; we're watching it on TV!' What a coincidence. . . . "

After a few days, "I wanted to go home. I thought this was just the beginning. And I thought if I was gonna die, I want to die with my family. So three of us got on a Greyhound to get back to LA. It took three days. I read magazines; I wrote rhymes. I had so much quiet time to myself. Figured out a lot of shit."

Home with the family: back to normal, back to stable. Back to shows with the crew AWOL has been part of for years, the Shapeshifters. "For Halloween, we did this show at the Galaxy [Concert Theatre]. Three hundred people in costume! It was a mad party. I think the devil was there that night. He was dressed as . . . the devil." AWOL shrugs. Chuckles. Wonders . . .

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