Starting off this series of interviews, with upcoming talent doing their thing off and online (specifically Soundcloud), with an artist who goes by the name of Toke A Loc.
Hailing from the state of Nevada in the US, he tells a compelling story; literally going to hell and back surviving life’s unfortunate darts, which have been thrown at him.
Go ahead listen to his music, download and share to all your hiphop loving buddies!
So Toke, where are you from?
Originally I came from mothers womb…lol I’m playin, I was born in Baton Rouge, LA.
Moved to Reno, NV at about 3 or 4 and was raised out there. I would fly down south every summer to see my dad, then after 4th grade, I flew down to Atlanta,GA to stay the summer and my mom asked me to stay because she was broke! I ended going to 5th grade in the ATL then went back to Reno.
I never saw him again after that, he had beat and raped his girlfriend while I was there so I couldn’t wait to leave…he called once after I got back to Reno and that was it…from 6th grade on it was all Reno.
I was in and out of jail and finally went to prison in 2005. I was a drug addict and at times suicidal, I felt like I needed a change of scenery…
I moved out of Reno in 2008 to Mesa AZ which is where I’m at now…
You pretty much lived on the West Coast your whole life. Who would you say musically from that region influenced you and why?
Honestly, it would have to be Pac. Don’t misinterpret, I’m not saying I’m anything like him, but when it comes to West Coast hip hop and who I listened to the most, it was Pac. I 1st heard him on “Same Song” with Digital Underground and I remember seeing an interview with Shock G on Yo! Mtv Raps. Shock was talking about the new music they had coming out, and he mentioned Pac as being that raw real shit..
I picked up 2Pacalypse the day it came out and I was hooked…
What really drew me to his music was his realness, his honesty. He had songs like “Papaz Song” about growing up without a father that spoke to me directly, then there were the songs like “Dear Mama” that, while my mother and I aren’t nearly as close, it was still refreshing to hear someone telling their truth… I mean think about it, that song was basically an ode to his mom, which in “West Coast Gangsta Rap” isn’t usually accepted…but no one said anything when he did it because it was so real.
His passion and honesty, that’s what made him great.
What do you think of the state of the hip hop indie scene right now in AZ?
I don’t know, it’s hard to say. This is really a rock/metal city. When I left Reno, the hip hop scene was still growing, now it’s thriving in Reno from what I see online, out here, it’s still growing here, I mean there are rap shows and all…but it’s more geared towards metal bands.Tough place to start giggin with rap music.
You mentioned you had a period of trouble in your past. In the mix of everything, how ambitious were you with your music back then?
I wasn’t. Back then, I was a music lover/hip hop junkie, but I never believed I could actually rap. Didn’t think I had the right voice for it. I just wrote poems to vent, there were no hooks, or bars, or bridges…none of that, just poems. It was until like…2012. I was about listen to this track from a dude from Reno, from what I heard he was dope, I pressed play and was awestruck at how bad it was….not bad meaning good either!
After that, I told myself if that guy can make that kind of song and people like it…then I can definitely do it..an hour later I wrote my 1st verse and hook to Noodle Productions beat I found on You Tube…been going ever since.
But yeah, I didn’t do anything with it back then…I was too wrapped up in drugs….
What would be your desert island piece of musical/writing equipment?
wow..that’s tough. Probably the Beat Thang…I could bang out my own beats then write. Not sure about the whole power source thing though…;)
Are you often open to collaborations?
Yes and no. Yes normally I am, I have like 11 songs out now and 9 of them are collaborations with Reno rappers (one is with AZ rapper Demzwon) but right now I’m trying to focus on an album…I need more solo’s so I can start giggin.
Do you normally prefer to write/produce alone?
Typically yes. Like I said, I didn’t grow up rapping on the block, so it’s very private for me to write…I pay for professional studio time now, but I’m looking for someone with home recording equipment that’s in it for the love of music…someone I can kick it with and create with…
Where did the inspiration for Run Away with Me come from?
Honestly, the beat. That beat was done by Noodles Productions and it’s fuckin awesome! The sample says..”sleep with me tonight-deep with me tonight”
I had just separated from my ex-wife and I was thinking about how we men will say just about anything to women to get em…the “Johnny Cash” hook was something I heard in my head the minute I heard the beat. I actually wrote about half the verse and hook right when I heard the beat, then I put it away for awhile…
Then, a couple of moths later, I saw a “Snuggle Fuck” meme on Face Book and I thought “I got to use that!” So I finished off the verse and was done. That was actually my 1st recording.
How did you manage to collab with smOke and VI?
Well, VI (or Devon as I know him) is a friend of mine, I’ve known him since like 2000 or so. He was signed to MadeSicc Music (or SiccMade) (Brotha Lynch Hung’s label) back on 2006…
So what happened was, I got the 2nd verse done by a dude named Samson. I put it out to ask around for a 3rd verse and Samson said that his verse was off beat…I tried like 6 times to get it fixed and each time he said he didn’t like it.Finally I took his verse out, by that time smOke and I had worked on 2 remixes (Badlands and Wild 4 the Night) so I just asked him to replace Samson’s verse…he said no problem.
Then, when he was about done, VI got out of prison, so I just asked him to finish it up….
So even though it was the 1st song I ever recorded..it was like the 3rd or 4th song I released.
Are there any other artist’s you’ve worked with in the past?
From Reno: I’ve worked with
Walker the Adikt (Voices),
J1Three (Keep it Real/Badlands/Lay Down),
Yan Doe (Keep it G-he also made the beats for Here I Am and Demonz)
and Young C (Keep it G).
And from AZ Demzwon (Life is a Bitch)
Plus me and smOke have a couple more (Wild 4 the Night/Badlands/Keep it Real/Beat Killa)
Do you prefer performing live or being int he studio?
Well, like I said, I have to get some things in line to start giggin but I think I’d prefer the live performance…if I can see people enjoying the music then I think it’ll fuel me more. I get very unsure of myself, even in the studio. I actually can’t wait to start touring…
Tell me about where you were mentally, what kind of place were you in when you write?
Ok, well, like I said…back in the day, in my 20’s I was into drugs and in and out of jail. Back then I wrote poems to vent…
So, when I separated from my ex wife in 2012 I was a different person. I was clean and sober, I went from having 4 kids, to being alone. The divorce I could deal with, but I am a family man and not having my kids was very hard…
Not to mention I went from a 2500 sq ft home to renting a room..I was alone in a city where I don’t really know many people, my kids were gone, and at times…those old familiar feelings (from my 20’s) would come back. But I ain’t going out like that….I’m not about to kill myself, instead I started writing rhymes again.
So, at first I was writing while somewhat depressed…that was my mind-state.
Nowadays, I’m no longer in a rut, so when I write now, I just think about how I used to feel…
From reading your profile I see you’re quite proactive and have a mission to want to get your music on as many Ipods and MP3 Players as possible for free. Why have you taken this route, as opposed to charging for everything you put out?
Well, I’m a lifelong music lover, so while I’m new to the music scene as an artist, I’m not new to the consumer part…I stopped buying music years ago and none of the kids I talk to EVER buy music.
So, I think the songs I have out are good quality songs and I see them as a promotional tool. If I can get people to play my songs and fall in love with them, know the words etc..then they’ll be more likely to attend once I start giggin…I will continue to give the music out for free.
My last release I put out on iTunes for .99 ONLY because it was the only song I owned the legal rights to…honestly I was hoping on some sales from friends and family just to kinda keep the momentum and motivation going…but after like 3 months I only have 1 sale…lol!
I can’t take it off iTunes (well I probably can) but I figure I may as well leave it for people to hear….lol
Now if I were to sign to a label I might put out an album for sale, but until then I’ll continue to put it out for free. How the hell can I ask someone who’s never heard of me to buy my songs when they don’t even really have to buy their favorite artist’s songs?
It’s 2014, if you want the new Eminem song and don’t want to buy it…you can convert the You Tube video into an Mp3 and there ya have it.
Are there any established artist’s in your area you’d like to work with?
Yeah, there’s a dude out in Tucson named Havick I want to work with…
But really if I were to work with anyone established it would be ANYONE form the Strange Music roster.
What is the best way for people to get hold of you off and online?
Right now Face Book is the best and easiest way to holler at me…
My artist page is>>>https://www.facebook.com/
and my personal page is>>>https://www.facebook.com/
I’ll get any messages there, but you gotta either “LIke” my artist page or send me a friend request…if not messages go to my “Other” inbox and I never see those.
Lastly, are there any closing words?
Sure, I may not be the best rapper or the dopest of all time…but I’m a real dude and the “suicide rhymes” aren’t a gimmick. I have sat on this floating rock of a planet with 7 Billion other people on it and have felt utterly alone. I have looked at the sky and said my goodbyes more then once.
If you listen to my songs and it touches you in any way, then please feel free to reach out to me. I’ll talk to ya. I’ve (obviously) been there.
So if the songs touch you…and you’re dealing with any kind of thoughts of suicide…PLEASE listen to the music and let it help empower you then PLEASE reach out to me. I’m never too busy for someone in need….