Rap Heat Coming from a Latino: Music in L.A. with Sal Roses

“What you give is what you get,
But I only give respect,
Where I really think it’s due,
Tell me who the hell are you?

Sal Roses is a Salvadoran American writer born and raised in the City of Los Angeles, whose parents hail from the Pueblo of Santa Rosa de Lìma, La Union, El Salvador. As a member of the ‘first’ generation of his family in L.A., Roses’s world was one where a survival & entrepreneurial mentality at home often clashed with the systemic nature of American schools, work and life. Before finding himself as an artist, Roses would navigate through violence and abuse at home and his environment, financial instability, and the process of discovering his voice, eventually learning ‘to turn mud into gold.’ He now seeks to influence the world through music emblazoned with messages of confidence, self-reliance, and determination to turn one’s dreams into reality. 

1. Who are some of your earliest musical influences?

Parents are always first. They introduced me to Latin music, including cumbias, románticas, and all that good stuff. But it wasn’t until my cousins introduced me to hip hop that I saw the most for myself in the music. They introduced me to Chicano gangster rap, and that’s when I really started to visualize what these artists were going through. I could see it going on with my primos.

2. Tell me about Appetizers, Vol 1. What led you to this name for your EP?

It’s just a taste! And you can’t have the entree without a set of appetizers. It’s a build up to the full course of art we intend to supply. At 3 songs it felt like the perfect follow up to Killing Other People’s Beats The Mixtape (KOPB The Mixtape). Appetizers Vol. 1 also gives me creative freedom to drop a snack whenever I feel like the people are hungry for it. Just gotta stay hungry.

3. Tell me about the Spanish verse in Now; why did you choose to include Spanish in your opening song?

It was very important to include Spanish on this first project. Spanish and English have been equally important in shaping me to the point that it would have been wrong to leave out a verse in the latter. Plus, now more than ever, you can feel the strength of the language; it just carries a little more weight these days.

4. What do you make of Latinos in Hip Hop in 2019?

We’ve been consumers of Hip Hop from near the beginning but have gone mostly under-represented for a while. As a market, the Latino culture is being targeted more than ever before in the music, but it also calls for creatives like us to fill in the missing pieces. There are still so many stories to be told, so many thoughts to be brought up for discussion, deep rooted issues that need addressing. Our true contribution is still being formed and that’s the most exciting part about it.

5. And so, what if Adam ate the apple first?

This is my favorite line in the whole project! Imagine a world where, for all intents and purposes, Adam took that bite instead of Eve. Would men feel more inclined to push for gender equality? Would we want women to treat us differently? I say this as someone who considers themselves a feminist, pushing for true gender equality and not gender overcompensation. To me it’s thought-provoking, like a whole different world can be imagined just based on that thought.

Sal Roses; Summer 2019

6. Tell me about the drums in Richard’s Drums.

I was making this beat, and my drums were sucking bad. Every single sound before the drums excited me, but when I got to them, they kicked my ass. So I called Richard over, and in like 2 minutes he laid it down. We named the track after him in that moment.

7. Who else would you like to shout out now that your EP is out?

I’d like to shout out anybody and everybody whose been supporting our movement. So much work has been put in behind the scenes just to get to where we are right now. It’s still so small-scale that having true support from people who believe in what we’re doing has been instrumental in creating not just music, but a movement, a mobilization, a future. Thank you all.

To check out Sal’s Appetizers, Vol. 1, find his album on Spotify HERE.

J.T.

Jer knows what's up this Summer 2019, with his J.T. gear on point

10 Ways Not to Beat Summer Vacay

10. Stay home all day playing Fortnite. Because let’s be frank: if you spend your entire summer just wriggling your thumbs to the Fornite Gods you’ll lose extraordinary amounts of sleep and simply age faster, except not in the cool way, but in the way where you end up looking like Yoda from Star Wars for lack of enough sunlight and fresh air.

9. Stay home all day watching Netflix. Face it. No matter how chill it is to stay planted on your couch watching re-runs of On My Block, the fact is that there’s a real block out in L.A. that only you can tell great stories about. Does this mean that you’ve got to write your own magnum opus instead of watching someone else’s? No, but it does mean that getting started on it is probably a good idea.

8. Stay home all day waiting for ______ to get home to take you out. Whether we’re talking about parents, big brothers, sisters, or whoever, it’s fundamental for you to understand that 99.9% of the people around you have their own lives to lead and take care of. This means that depending solely on another person to show you a good time is 1. Going to require lots of waiting, and 2. Not going to work out most of the time.

7. Don’t visit your local public library. Who needs books, right? Books are for school! And school is OUT. So what does the library matter? Oh, idunno. I guess it’s just there to provide you with free air conditioning, peace and quiet, and time, all of which are key for you to develop the outline of your own On the Block. But wait, that’s what you’re NOT trying to do, right? You’re NOT trying to create your own elaborate stories, but hoping to leave it for others to do, right? (WRONG)

6. Eat lots of McDonald’s and other fast food. Did you know that in a single day the average McDonald’s in your vicinity takes home nearly $7,500, or about 75% of what the state of California spends on educating just one student in a single school-year? How much do you take home, after your 3rd happy meal for the week? You take home a $21.00 LOSS, my friend, not including gas. We can do better!

5. Drink lots of soda and consume endless amounts of Takis. Look, I get it. Often when you’re Young, you’ve got maybe just five dollars in your pocket. Once you get to the market, you feel the only things you can get with that are a bag of Takis, chewing gum, and a Gatorade. But did you know that for five bucks you can also get a half-gallon of milk, a container of strawberries, and a handful of bananas? For what, you ask? To make your own strawberry banana smoothie, which gets you more natural sugar without all the extra calories, bud!

4. Don’t read Jimbo Times: The L.A. Storyteller. Because free Los Cuentos merch for what, you say? Who needs that!!! NOT YOU.

3. Don’t sign up for a free class at your local community college even though in L.A. it’s practically free for students under 18. After all, learning is too much of a lethargy anyway, right? And there’s no time for that. Wait, what does lethargy mean again? Not time for school!

2. Don’t Exercise. After all, exercise is for animals, and humans aren’t animals, we’re mammals. Which is so different, right? Oh, wait. Not time for school!

1. Don’t care. Because since we’re not doing much this summer anyway, whatever this potentially productive activity could be doesn’t even matter! Just imagine how much doesn’t get done when we think this way and act accordingly! A lot.

J.T.

How to Beat Summer 2019: Part III

Los Cuentos with J.T; Summer 2019

Alright, so you made it past How to Beat Summer 2019 Parts I & II and are now nearing the finish line. However, if you think the third and final part of this series will be easier because you’ve gotten through the first two lists, you’re in for a surprise.

1. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS OR ENTERPRISE. To some, this may sound “too far advanced,” but it can be done in so many ways that it’s actually much easier than it appears. You can start a band, or you can start a rap career. You can start painting, illustrating or photographing the world you live in, or you can start making delicious soup out of it; you can start on your path to becoming a motivational speaker, or you can start on your destiny as a fashion designer. But first, you need to start by getting organized, which is where your outline comes in. Depending on your choice, your outline will answer one of the following questions from this list:

I. What will your podcast talk about to make it unique?
II. How will your raps set you apart from the competition?
III. What will your paintings show about the importance of self-expression?
IV. What will your photo or drawing capture that the world needs to see?
V. What will the name of your soup kitchen be?
VI. What will your motivational speech sound like? Or, who will your ‘target audience’ be? (E.G. Youth, undocumented, queer communities, etc.)
VII. Who will your fashion design be for? (Same as above)

Your business can also be an idea from outside the list, but check with me first about it. No matter what the idea though, you’re going to need an outline explaining the mission of your business. For any questions on your outline, I’m just around the block.

2. RECORD YOUR FIRST PODCAST FOR YOUR BIZ. UPLOAD IT TO SOUNDCLOUD. HIT PUBLISH. Here, you’re not only going to create your own original content, but you’re also going to build a platform to showcase it like a pro. But wait, I can hear the doubts trickling in already: What are you going to record? Or, what if you record, but people think your podcast is silly? Or what if no one stops by to listen? These are the kinds of questions that many creators ask before starting something new, but the fact is that such questions just get in your way; they’re based on fear, not reality, and this is because we all have the ability to be creative in our unique way that others can learn from. Moreover, what you should really be concerned about is how if you’re not taking advantage of how quickly you can make your own podcast in 2019, that’s a way bigger loss than someone thinking your recordings are silly. And. Here’s. The. Best. Part:

This Summer 2019, if you’re up for this challenge on our list, I will show you how to make your own podcast. Wait, did someone say challenge? Like our Hat Challenge, or our New Hoodie Challenge? Yes, indeed, Youngs!

3. COMPLETE BOTH ITEMS ON THIS LIST TO WIN THE FIRST EVER BLACK & WHITE HOODIE BY J.T. That’s right. If you choose to start your rap career this Summer 2019, you’re not only going to write and record your verse, but you’re going to record your own podcast telling people more about your rap. The first step to building your podcast will be an outline. If you choose to start a soup kitchen, you’ll record a podcast describing your kitchen’s menu with details like how I’ve done with these posts.

To make things more interesting, you’ll also be choosing a pseudonym, or a mysterious online name specifically for this project, which in actuality is how a lot of the internet used to be, since a lot us were shy about our work when we were just starting out! Complete these steps, and I assure you that you’ll be the first student to ever WIN the First Black & White Hoodie by Jimbo Times.

SO, are you entering the challenge? Then get a MOVE ON! For all yours questions, try the new contact form to reach me. I can’t wait to see all your ideas!

J.T.