In an area where rap and hip-hop is nearly non-existent, a rapper is trying to be heard and recognized amidst the pop, punk and indie music scene. Aaron Williams, better known as Aliso Black gives us his take on Orange County's hip-hop scene (yes, it does exist!), his musical influences and what we can expect at his upcoming shows.
OC Weekly: How did you get the name "Aliso Black"?
Aliso Black: I live in a small town called Aliso Viejo which is probably less than 8 percent black. I know everybody that is [black]...at least I think I do. An older cat from Detroit named Craig would yell out Aliso Black! Every time he would see me at this bar I'm always at, so I just ran with it.
How would you describe your music to those who aren't familiar with it?
My music is really all over the place, and I hate it myself sometimes because believe it or not I'm a neat freak. So when I look back at my catalog it seems real messy! Normally I sit down listen to instruments and in minutes they have pulled something from me..I will say this though about my my music; it's aggressive at times, vulgar as well as positive and fun. I am truly unorthodox when it comes to making music. I don't care but do at the same time. It's weird.
What does your music represent?
My music represents love of self and the people that are lost without it, like I am. A lot of the times we know what's good for us but we're still on a path of destruction. So anybody that feels that type of void in their life..I hope my songs about dealing with my own struggles inspire them to conquer what they're up against and have respect for themselves first.
What are your influences?
My influences to make music come from all the greats like James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and guys like that. I know my genre of music is different from theirs. There's so many incredible black artists and to be a part of that would be incredible. Rap wise, I am huge fan off Redman he's sick with it. I always played his stuff growing up and still do.
What's your take on the rap scene in OC?
My take on the rap scene in OC is that it's an untapped market waiting to be recognized. I know the scene would flourish if there were more outlets for artist to showcase their talents. In my dealings most DJ's out here spin a Top 40/Techno mix at these clubs around the county no DJ's are really in the street doing mixtapes etc..which is a great way for a new artist to be heard and when big names come to town promoters are more concerned with their own agendas than breaking what's here and having their own MC's & DJ's come out consistently. These might be the same issues of any place..I don't know but these are some of the problems I see on my side. I commend anybody though that is still pushing the envelope to be heard, stay creative, and creating outlets for others under these circumstances.
Do you feel the scene is under-represented?
I don't feel it's underrepresented. That would be disrespectful to myself as well as people here & before me that are true to this Hip Hop culture and live in Orange County..but like I said I feel there is a lack of opportunity out here that comes from other places besides the artist. Those are the areas which I think need to develop more and build on relationships with each other as well as neighboring cities and states to say hey look what my county has cooking. Every up and coming artist doesn't have a huge following..that's why they need to perform to earn those fans..so they should be able to barter there way into these shows by helping promote set up etc...for a chance to perform..the debate on that from artist to promoter perspective could go on and on but to help the "OC Rap Scene" a common ground needs to be meet.
What others artists have you worked with/opened for?
I haven't really worked with any high profiled artists before. Although I have been on the same show bill with some and opened for guys like Talib Kweli, Strong Arm Steady, Yelawolf, KRS One and most recently "THE CHEF" Raekwon which is going down May 3 at the Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa.
What can we expect at your upcoming show at Detroit Bar with Raekwon?
You can expect some hard lyrics, high energy...maybe a freestyle or two and few buckets of chicken going around during my set on May 3...anything else you'll just have to wait and see for yourself!
You've been performing at Detroit Bar a lot lately. How did that come about?
Yes I have been performing at the Detroit Bar in conjunction with Club Mercy a lot since the beginning of the year. We killed it at the Yelawolf show and since then it's been on...they have reached out in a way I am not a custom to and it feels good to be recognized. They are responsible for bringing some of the premier acts to Orange County and I cant say enough about the intimate setting the Detroit Bar provides with the audience..I enjoy the place and working with Club Mercy.
How many albums/EPs have you completed?
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I have one EP that I created in 2007 called Psych Ward Present Aliso Black..Patient 413. I have also released a few mixtapes since then but would definitely like to put out an official LP one day.
What do you think you bring to the table when it comes to rap/hip-hop?
I believe I bring a piece of reality, contagious energy and a reason to believe rap is still the voice of the people.