Alan Navarro doesn't like starting what he can't finish. It's a motivating factor that inspired the moniker Endz, though it's only the beginning for the MC with endless potential. Back in the day, hip-hop was there when he was a kid trying to get his act together. "In high school, I just never gave a fuck. I had a lot of police contact. I got caught up on some stuff, but I loved listening to hip-hop," he says.
"What got me into it was just that I could express myself at no cost, and every time I went through some bullshit, writing was like therapy to me," the 22-year-old Navarro adds. Instrumentals don't always come free, though, and producer Yon P Beats gave him his first one for $20. "He saw my potential and never charged me again."
Others would soon also take notice. Endz was around 18 years old when he really began putting his music out, doing underground shows in Los Angeles. But it was back in his hometown when a chance encounter proved pivotal. "I met Rage through a sack. I was picking up weed," Navarro says of his fellow Orange-based rapper. The two sparked a conversation and began collaborating. "We got together and dropped a whole CD that ended up influencing the whole Orange scene."
On that 2009 album, Abstract Inspirations, the standout track "Cops" featured back-and-forth storytelling rhymes about being hassled by authorities. Two LA-based, film-school students turned the song into a viral YouTube video that helped to attract attention.
Stepping aside from collaborative projects, Navarro followed up by spending an entire year working meticulously on his first real solo effort. The resulting mixtape, Half N Half, finally dropped in early 2012 and featured beats by talented local producers as well as rhymes over established instrumentals such as Grand Puba's classic "A Little of This." It helped build momentum for Endz as an MC with an energetic, near-flawless flow. It didn't hurt that the collection also offered up "Orange County Livven," an undeniable banger that comes correct in reppin' our humble county.
Quick to expand his boundaries, Navarro wasted no time in changing up styles on No Colored Flowers, an EP released to fans for free last Christmas. "I felt like anybody can rhyme nowadays. It's hard when someone can really sit there and pour down their exact feelings," he says of wanting to add depth to his delivery. Even so, the rapper harbored doubts while recording. "No one has heard me this deep. The beats are slower. The songs are more serious. It wasn't going to be the hype, catchy shit from Half N Half."
The new material was well-received and bore the imprint of musical influences gained from joining the Locally Grown Collective during the summer. The rap group netted an OC Music Awards nomination, a ceremony Navarro was unaware of this same time last year. And the expansion and experimentation continues. "I know boom bap's my home, though," he says, noting his love for Pete Rock and J Dilla beats.
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All the attention that came to Endz in 2012 caught the rapper off guard, but Navarro--whose "odd roots," as he puts it, stem from Acapulco, Mexico--keeps it humble with people he meets while on the grind. The rapper's first solo headlining show is Friday, but he already has his sights set on a certain annual, hip-hop festival stage.
"I see EndzGotOddRoots at Paid Dues, dog!" he says, pounding his fists on the table for added emphasis. He also has advice for those along the way. "If you want to fuck with me, come real or fucking get to steppin'!"
Endz performs with Critic, Rage, Mic Hempstead and others at Jasper's Bar and Grill, 3672 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 751-4604. Fri., 8 p.m. 18+. $5. For more info on the rapper, visit www.facebook.com/Endzthemc.