By his mid-20s, rapper Nu3tron had already attained the positive elements of a life well-lived. He had a nice house in Anaheim Hills with a lease in his name, a booming business, a budding rap career, a steady girlfriend, oh...and a warehouse full of weed. For about three years, he managed to balance a 200-plant medical marijuana growing operation in Santa Ana while grinding to change his status as a rapper from part time to full-time. He was touring incessantly as a core member of Huntington Beach-based hip-hop entity Technicali and managing his business with the help of two partners and his girlfriend. He was living the goddamn life.
"I'd been from the bottom of the hill my whole life," he says. "I've always been from Orange or Anaheim and looking up at the hills. So it was a huge accomplishment for me. I had the girlfriend, the dogs, the whole white picket fence, everything was good."
But looking back on it, the 29 year-old wordsmith born Matthew Leonard concedes that the naivety of youth coupled with his unabashed hustle towards the American Dream created some negative energy he didn't expect.
Last summer, coming back from a long-winded summer tour across the country, he quickly realized the life he'd built at home was crumbling around him. His partners weren't taking care of the bills for the house and the operation they were running, and he later broke up with his girlfriend after he discovered she'd been fucking someone else in his bed the whole time he was away.
With yet another tour on the horizon that year in Arizona, the charismatic rapper with a preacher-style flow opted to spread his musical gospel over cultivating his lucrative pot business, which didn't sit so well with his partners.
"It was getting close to crop time and they knew about the tour and they hit me up and they said basically like, if you leave to Arizona, we're gonna rob you," he says. "I was like 'Lemme make it easier for you, you guys just keep everything. I'm out.'" He wasn't kidding. Within days, he'd moved out of the house, moved back to his dad's house to sleep on the floor and has since incurred a massive lien against him for the unpaid lease on his former pad.
Despite all the negative energy, Nu3tron mustered enough positive energy to inspire the tireless effort on his forthcoming EPNot the Same
, to be released though local clothing company Analyze and Interpret.
This recent burst of creativity was a new occurrence for the local rapper and former semi-pro skateboarder, who'd spent years on a diet of slowly gestating projects, hobby recordings and opening act slots for Technicali founders LD and Ariano. His first album, The Phoenix, took him over a year to finish. This time around, the OC rapper found himself recording from sun up to sun down in the studio of longtime friend O'Neal Garcia, founder of Analyze and Interpret.
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"It was crazy how much time I spent in the studio by myself," he says. "Waves of people would come over and there would be that moment where they'd all be there and then go out and party and then there'd be a new wave of people who would meet up to party and I'd still be working."
The point he says, is to create enough charge behind this album and full length follow-up The Book of Matthew to create a life that affords him something beyond the typical suburban view of happiness.
"With a lot of rappers out here, it's more of a 'hey, look at me temperament,'" he says. "Like 'Oh, I want girls to see me doing good, or I want my boy from high school who I used to rap with to see me doing an interview with OC Weekly. For me, it's like, I want the world to see." Nu3tron performs on Friday with Riff-Raff and Lil Debbie at the Observatory. For full ticket info, click here.