Ta’ Sean Du Bois is a San Diego based rapper who’s been lighting up the SD and college scene. His last project, Tea Time, received a great response from fans and now he’s dropping a new EP, Summer San Diego. Ta’ Sean is all about creating lively, upbeat music that represents his favorite city, San Diego. Read on to find out more about his upcoming EP.
When is your new EP coming out?
We’re aiming on dropping the project on July 14th.
What makes this project different from the last one you dropped?
I feel like since Tea Time I’ve grown and matured as an artist. I’ve found and gotten comfortable with my own style and don’t mind expressing my experiences with everyone.
What can listeners expect?
They can expect a different, but still West Coast, sound. They can expect to play it or hear it at the next frat or sorority party.
What were some of the inspirations you drew upon when you were creating this album?
When I was creating Summer San Diego I was really just doing a lot of city watching. I would go on walks in the morning and really just breathe and take in my city’s beauty. Also Jack Daniels, mary jane, and listening to early 2000s music were great influences, too.
You said some of the EP is influenced by the college party scene, can you elaborate on this?
Yeah, so I live not too far from San Diego State and Friday and Saturday is when Montezuma Road be poppin’ with people walking from party to party. I’ve been to a few parties there myself and they are always lit. The guys be smokin’ backwoods, the females be drowning vodka. Everybody is dancing and everybody is having a good time. It’s all about having a good time and that’s what I wanted my tape to be about. Having a good time. State students know how to turn up and I’m proud to say that I’m from a city with a dope college party scene!
What else have you recently been working on? Any shows?
Recently I’ve been working on a lot of visuals. We’ve been shooting videos for the project and so far everything is looking clean. We’ve dropped the “Pi$tol Tony” video already so make sure y’all check that out! I have a couple shows coming up with Eklektic fam but I gotta keep that on the DL [laughing]. Besides that I have one with my homie Lil Mttn on the 28th in LA. Also I have a mansion party coming up on the 8th so that’s going to be dope. Anyone’s invited by the way! Other than that I’m just working on my health and as myself as an artist.
How many songs will be on the EP?
There’s going to be six songs plus a bonus track so yeah!
Will you be performing anywhere in the near future?
Mansion party on the 8th come turn up.
What do you have to say to your fans and what’s one reason everyone should listen to this EP?
I wanna tell all my fans that all you guys are cool and I love you guys and thank you guys for rocking with me. Also anyone who hasn’t caught on the wave yet, make sure you start paddling now. Summer San Diego is going to be that new sound that puts the city on the map like it’s supposed to be!
Yo, shoutout my Mom and Dad, shout out Alton and Aiden, shoutout Eklectik, and shout out to my city San Diego. Let’s get it!
For a class photo essay, I walked around downtown San Diego and passed out donuts to homeless individuals and met and spoke with them about their lives. It was an incredible experience. Hear their stories…
In 2015, San Diego’s streets housed the fourth largest homeless population in the country. In 2007, it was ranked the twelfth largest, but over the last decade it has risen to the levels of Seattle, Los Angeles and New York City in homeless abundance.
I wanted to meet these people living in the streets of San Diego. I went downtown on a Sunday morning with my friend. We bought some donuts at a 7-Eleven and walked around downtown, giving them away to homeless individuals and talking to them about their lives. I was nervous approaching people at first. We stayed away from those who were sleeping, arguing or looked intoxicated.
Some people were more timid when speaking to us. They weren’t used to people stopping on the sidewalk to speak with them. They questioned us and our motives.
We walked into a tourist-central park. It was aesthetically rimmed with tall palm trees, equip with a stone fountain and Starbucks.
I had a fantastic time meeting and talking with these people. Each time I approached one and struck up a conversation, it got easier and I became less intimidated. I realized that they were simply human beings with stories and who were, mostly, grateful for some conversation. My friend and I fully intend to revisit 4th Avenue, where Steven says he hangs out, to see him again. Now when I walk by homeless people I smile and say hello.
I feel very fortunate that I was able to have this touching experience. Homelessness in San Diego is a much larger problem than many locals think. Meeting some homeless faces helped me put a name—names —to this issue.
Thursday, December 1, SDSU hosted the HeadSTRONG Toy Drive in the Student Union in collaboration with Polinsky Children’s Center in efforts to raise toy donations for children. The drive was a huge success, and so was DJ Josh Giggin’s performance.
Josh is the founder of ECLECTIK, his music corporation based in San Diego that’s linking up with artists, producers, and music professionals around the world.
Since July, when Josh launched ECLECTIK, the organization has been growing fast. When I asked him how often he makes music he laughed and replied, “I don’t make music, I’m too busy watching over everyone else.” From a close knit group of friends who share a passion for making music, it’s grown into 20 founding members and 34 members overall in several different countries.
But that’s not important to DJ and founder Josh, he’s simply here to “set a culture.”
“Music these days is really hard to listen to. Just in general, listening, you don’t even know what they’re saying.”
“When I find artists through SoundCloud to bring onto ECLECTIK, they have to have a certain sound. Something you can listen to—easy listening—it inspires you to get up and go through your day. I’m really versatile with my song selection, that’s why a lot of people in our group are really versatile. They can sing, they can rap, then they can trap.”
“I have to be inspired to inspire. If I’m not inspired when I DJ, it’s hard for me to spread that. My main inspiration is to be an inspiration.”
As for who inspires him, it’s mainly underground, “low-key” producers. His favorite genres are trap, new soul, hip hop, and R&B.
ECLECTIK rapper Ta’ Sean Du Bois began writing when he was 6 years old, and his talents have since escalated into what he calls “feel good music” that you can wake up and go to the beach to.
“I always loved reading and writing, it was like my best subject in school and I also really loved music. I liked the aspect of beat, the lyrics, and how the lyrics matched with the beat pattern. I started rapping early, like in high school. We would freestyle everyday afterschool by the ice cream truck, and then I got more confident and I started rapping over like Kendrick or Dr. Dre and then I started writing my own music. I officially started rapping like senior year.”
Ta’ Sean says his main musical inspiration is Kanye West.
“My parents are from the Caribbean’s, so I grew up listening to reggae. I didn’t think there was any other kind of music. My older brother showed me “Champion” by Kanye West and I was just like, ‘What is this!’ That’s when I started listening to like Nelly and not really people who were like ‘in in’ at the time ’cause they were different, but I liked that.”
He’s inspired by artists like these because of their “swag.”
“They’re so confident in themselves, that they’re gonna take something from like 17 yeas ago, mix it with something new, and put it out there. Being confident is hard, being able to do all that is hard, and so they really helped me improve that.”
Since forming ECLECTIK, Ta’ Sean can see his improvement in his music and performing, as can all of the founding members.
“Performing is scary, that’s what’s hard,” he said. Each of the members I spoke to said they still get nervous when they’re about to perform, “but that excitement and joy also drowns that [nervousness], and then you’re hyped.”
ECLECTIK is constantly expanding. Josh told me about their Link Up show in Orange County, which showcased local talent, and their #LinkUp efforts in San Diego as well. With a worldwide organization, communication can be a problem.
Josh: “We’re everywhere, it’s hard for us to all talk and gather our ideas, but everyone believes in the mission. There is a sound that needs to be spread. Money’s not a big thing to us. It’s easy to make good music when you’re not worried about money.”
“We have a DJ in Australia. We have a DJ and producer in the UK, she’s actually planning a music festival and she’s already asked us to go there. One of our artists is going to be going on tour early in 2017. It’s gonna be 17 cities over two months.”
Those are just a few of ECLECTIK’s exciting future prospects. But through all the success, they’ve kept it real. To all the budding artists out there, the founders of ECLECTIK have this to say:
“There’s always gonna be haters. You can’t please everyone, but you just gotta keep going. In a group of 10 people you might get one person that’s gonna like your song, and that one person is gonna make it worthwhile. And that one person is gonna turn into a whole fan base and next thing you know, you’re playing at a music festival in front of thousands of people.”
And if that doesn’t happen, “we’ll find you,” they added, laughing. Josh did a great job DJing the Toy Drive at SDSU. And I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from ECLECTIK in the near future.
When I first saw Stanaj he was on stage doing sound check, laughing and joking with swooning female fans, getting ready for the Less Stress More Love show with SoMo in San Diego. The 22-year-old R&B singer is fresh to the music scene but harbors the skills of a seasoned professional. Just releasing his EP, The Preview, this past August, he’s already on his first nation-wide tour and upcoming worldwide debut. He’s been endorsed through social media by stars such as Kim Kardashian West, Russell Simmons, Chris Brown, and NBA player Brandon Jennings just to name a few. He sang his way to Coachella prior to releasing any original music, sang “Let Her Go” on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and got signed a year ago with LAVA/REPUBLIC. How has this kid done this? When I heard him sing, that question was answered.
I met with him backstage about an hour before he was to perform. Between the exclamatory “Baby girl’s!” and his signature serenades, Stanaj was a hoot to interview. He wants to be an all-around artist, like Justin Timberlake, dipping his talents into movies, TV, and music. He’s got the personality to do it—his charisma filled the room. He was gracious and thankful to be there, and told me the fantastic story of his journey.
“It’s been pretty freakin’ crazy, you know, starting about a year and a half ago. I mean, I was doing music in New York right out of high school, but I had no luck and it was kind of just go, sing at a karaoke bar, kind of thing. What happened when I came out to California, I was basically doing the same thing in L.A., I was just singing at a random place—karaoke bar—and just from social media, there was a basketball player there, he put me on his Instagram, his girlfriend put me on her Instagram, and then this person found me, and this person found me, and next thing I know I’m signing in Drake’s house.”
Stanaj’s life is a modern-day male version Cinderella story, or, as his family nicknames him, Forrest Gump, and goes to show what can manifest when hard work, pure jaw-dropping talent, and a little luck come together.
Stanaj got his start in singing at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in a children’s choir. He says that experience definitely shows up in some of his songs, especially his upcoming releases.
“I always loved it, and there are some songs that I actually haven’t released yet that have kind of like a super choir-driven base to it, it’s pretty cool.”
Hailing from Albania, he also sang Albanian music and, being the youngest in a big family, was exposed to multiple genres and decades of music growing up. From all the different types of music he grew up loving, it was ‘90s R&B that stuck with him.
“I just always had a thing for it. I love the soul that they were, you know, projecting. I love the emotions in the songs. It just, I don’t know, struck a cord with me.”
We talked about his almost-magical transition from making music on social media to making music with the likes of writers who work with Rihanna and Chris Brown.
“I was writing songs in my bedroom, to writing songs with Grammy Award winners.”
Through his crazy journey, he’s learned a lot.
“It’s an art to write a song. In itself, just the structure of a song and how many measures and when to go to the pre-, how long the chorus should be, like I had no idea what the hell any of that meant. So going from writing in my room to writing with Justin Tranter, who wrote “Sorry” for Bieber, to Haze Banga who’s done songs with Beyoncé, you know, these people who are just like mind-blowing musicians and songwriters, you learn a lot. Like a year ago, I think I’d written like 200 songs, and it’s funny—you can see the progression from the beginning to where I am now.”
Stanaj’s career is moving forward pretty fast. With all his celebrity endorsements and incredible raw talent, it’s a speeding train going in the right direction. Not long from now he’ll be hooking up with the best in the business—we talked about who he hopes to collaborate with in the future.
“I would love to collaborate with Justin Timberlake, if I could make a song with him that’d be pretty amazing. I love Ariana [Grande], she’s great—super good vocalist. And Drizzy Drake.”
Drizzy Drake—the mysterious Instagram picture that made Stanaj famous over night. He told me how a random friendship turned into him playing piano at the YOLO mansion.
“So, recently I was seen at the karaoke bar, basketball player put me on his Instagram, and this guy, Jas Prince, hits me up and we ended up becoming friends. I never like Googled this guy or anything, but he’s the guy who found Drake. So one day, I’m playing basketball at his house and Drake FaceTimes him and we ended up going there and that’s how I met him.”
“We didn’t end up working on any music, not yet—hopefully—but they would keep inviting me over. It was just a super, super cool experience to see. You know, I got to go into his home studio and listen to some songs, I got to play the piano in his living room, it was super cool. Awesome guy, and hopefully one day I’ll get to work with him.”
As for who inspires him, Stanaj has got a long list. He hopes to grow into a career like Justin Timberlake’s, and after his enthusiastic chat with me, I don’t doubt he’ll one day be on movie screens. As for musicians, he loves Boys II Men, Brian McKnight, and other stars who ruled the ‘90s R&B scene. He calls his style a new twist of R&B and pop, and said his recently dropped EP The Preview embodies that type of “cinematic soul” he wants to be known for.
The Preview was Stanaj’s chance to showcase his original sound, and, thankfully, there’s so much more of it to come.
“I’m releasing another project soon, I don’t have a date yet, but I’m releasing another project soon and then I go straight to Europe. I’m going to London to work on an album, London and then Sweden, and then I have another tour come spring.”
His Albanian family doesn’t know what to make of him.
“I don’t think they really understand what’s happening. Like they do, but then at the same time they’re like, ‘Oh, how’s it going?’ Like I was just on Jimmy Fallon and they’re like, ‘Oh that’s nice.’ Meanwhile everybody here is like flipping out.”
Right, and there’s a funny story about Stanaj singing “Ain’t Love Strange” on The Tonight Show.
“It’s funny, I met Jimmy in 2013. I walked up to him on the sidewalk and I sang like a quick snippet of something, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna be on your show one day.’ And then, literally three years later, I’m on his show.”
Stanaj and Jimmy Fallon ended up re-creating the same video Stanaj had taken of that experience backstage.
Before wrapping things up, Stanaj had a message for all his fans that have supported him from the beginning: deep down, he’s still that kid singing karaoke and is super grateful to be where he is.
“I’m beyond grateful to do this every single day. I know it’s been said, ‘It’s because of you,’ but it really is. It really is true, that it’s like the most grateful feeling having people appreciate what you love most in life. Just thank you, on a different level of thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Stanaj thanked his fans at the show by singing his heart out on stage. He opened with “Goddess,” followed by “Ain’t Love Strange,” “Sleep Alone,” “Romantic,” and even sang his famous rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. Fans went crazy, screaming every word of his album. His stage presence was so energetic and genuine, it was hard to believe this was his first tour.
I look forward to seeing more of Stanaj in the future, as I’m positive he’s going far. He has almost an unbelievable story; karaoke-bar singer pulls himself up to the level of A-list celebrities all because of sheer talent. But hey, stranger things have happened.
This show was crazy. It was unlike any other show I’ve ever reviewed, mainly because of the uniquely high level of interaction between Hopsin and the audience. He brought three volunteers on stage who claimed they could rap a verse of his classic Sag My Pants, crowd-surfed, and came to the edge of the stage and shook hands with everyone (myself included!) in the front row. I was particularly thrown off guard when he singled me out and spoke to me as part of a transition to a new song. He came to the edge of the stage, crouched down, and said to me, “I know you from somewhere, you look familiar.” He got a line of it wrong and messed up the transition, but his fans chanted his name “Hopsin! Hopsin!” signaling they were still having a great time.
He covered a wide variety of his music, which he pointed out before the show, saying he would because he ‘knew how it was from the fans’ perspective.” From Ill Mind 5, Pans in the Kitchen, I Need Help, to newer Ill Mind 8. His fan interaction portrayed that realness that he’s advocated since the beginning of his career. When he came down to shake everyone’s hand he even said, ‘Just to show you all this is real, no Hollywood bullshit.’ Being Hopsin’s main selling point, the crowd thoroughly enjoyed this.
One of the most unique things, which I’ve never seen before at any show, was bringing up members from the audience to sing Sag My Pants. Three guys volunteered to each sing a verse and then Hop and the crowd sang the chorus. Two of the guys did really well, and got to jump into the audience and crowd-surf. One guy was better at crowd-surfing than the other, and the other one fell at first—but got lifted up eventually. The third lyricist froze on stage, his girlfriend was standing next to me in the crowd and she said that it wasn’t a lack of memorization; just nerves. Still, Hopsin congratulated all of them at the end.
Some of Hop’s music is controversial (which is why we love it) and he was very respectful about it. For example, before singing Ill Mind 7, which is based on an internal monologue questioning the existence of God, Hopsin disclosed to the crowd that he was not meaning to offend anybody; that these were just his thoughts. As an outspoken Christian, his music sometimes conflictingly speaks on his devout faith in God and other times doubts His existence. Hop’s lyrics reflect very realistic virtues, as his opinions are always changing and he does not represent any one belief, which makes him relatable to many.
Hopsin ended his show with Bout the Business, after being enticed back on stage for an encore. His fans were more than loving; everyone was in ecstatic support. And he deserved it; he was incredible live. He rapped and sang every song exactly how it sounds on the tracks. The most impressive was how he kept rapping even while crowd-surfing! Flawlessly! Here’s to hoping he goes on tour again soon 🙏🏽
Once again, The Observatory was an awesome venue. We got to the line about an hour before the doors opened, and ended up standing right at the front, next to the stage. One thing they did, though, was brought on way too many openers. Hopsin’s openers were pretty good. Token was my favorite, he had great energy. But the San Diego area’s opening groups were just laughable and exhausting. Hopsin’s got some true fans to stick around through all of that!
But, all in all, The Observatory is always a great venue.
Jay James is a Producer creating free-flowing Electronic / R&B music. He’s also a Music Major at SDSU.
“I will produce the song, I’ll mix, it, I’ll master it. I’ll do the artwork, stuff like that.”
You’re producing your music, have you ever produced anyone else’s?
Yeah I’ve produced for a ton of different people, friends, other artists. I don’t want to name drop [laughs] but yeah I’ve produced for other people in the industry.
Where did you start?
I’ve been playing piano since I was three. I just taught myself how to play, and then I picked up guitar, started picking up some brass instruments, and it got to a point where I was like I wanna be in a band but I always sucked at working with people, because like people are unreliable. So I was like I’m just gonna record these different instruments on top of each other.
So what you’re doing right now, what you’ve put forth in your more professional recent setting, what are you mostly focusing on and how are you making it?
My workflow is kinda weird. I use a few different kinds of software to get the sound that I have. I usually start with the keys, I’ll just be sitting playing something, like ‘Oh I like that’ and I’ll take whatever melody or chords I came up with and then I’ll use other instruments and start layering and adding other counter melodies until I have something.
Are you ever inspired by other artist’s sounds?
Yeah, all the time. I guess like my biggest inspiration that you can like hear is probably like Kanye, Dilla, Flying Motives, people like that. And I also like to incorporate live instruments because I pay live instruments and I go to college where there’s music programs with amazing musicians, so I try to like get all that in there and just make it work to where its like you don’t hear something and its like ‘Whoa where’d that come from,’ you’re just like ‘That works perfectly.’
What inspired you from the beginning?
I watched a documentary on Timberland in like 7th grade, and I was like ‘Why don’t I do that?’ Music’s always been a huge part of my life. I kinda grew up in a church with a lot of music there and I was always involved in that. I’ve always been the kid tapping on things, banging on pots and pans, so it always made sense that I was gonna make music.
What about your cover art, what was the inspiration there?
My album artwork was based off a picture that was taken of me. I went home for summer break and I found a bunch of old pictures and I took pictures of them with my iPhone, and like uploaded it onto Photoshop and f****d with it and sent it to him [friend] and then he messed with it and that was it.
Wow, cool. How much of your music has vocals?
About like 50 percent of my music has vocals. It’s rarely me; I think I’ve put out one song where I was kind of singing on it
And you don’t want to do that? You like making it more?
I’m not ready yet. I’m not happy with where my voice is yet; I’m working on it. Until I’m ready to put out music where my voice is very prepared, I’m not going to.
Yeah, that makes sense. Ok I want to talk about your success on iTunes, like your album Beautiful. When did that come out?
Yeah, my album [Beautiful] dropped in May, and the first week or week and-a-half, it was on the iTunes charts and that was cool.
Damn! That’s exciting to see.
That was wild. I didn’t have a body of music before that.
I don’t put out a lot of music compared to how much music I make. Like there was a time when I was making three or four songs a day.
Are you very picky in what you put out?
Very, very pick. Like people have to push me to put out music. Recently it’s been better; I think I’ve been putting out as good as it’s gonna get. That’s like my philosophy. I try to make it as perfect as possible and I try not to rush, but sometimes you just gotta put it out.
What’s your favorite work?
I definitely have a favorite song, my song “Polaroids.” The biggest reason, is like so when I was working on the EP I had six songs that I had in mind but I had about ten songs that I had done, and I was like alright I’m gonna put out like 6 songs. But some sh*t happened between me and the artist and their label where I couldn’t put out the music and it was very frustrating. So I wrote a new song and then I sent it over to Crystal, who’s the singer on there, and so I got her part and then I was like this needs something else so I extended the song and worked with another producer and had someone play guitar over it and I added that rap verse in the beginning.
So kind of because it came from something that didn’t work out.
Yeah, it was kind of rushed but I was really happy with it.
Did you have a vision for the whole album?
I like to do concept albums; my first album [Beautiful] is based off a story. So everything is based around the same general ideas. But for the EP I didn’t want to do too much of that. The EP was more of leftover things from the album. After the album I was like ok I’m not going to make music for three months, but I started making music again after two weeks.
You can’t not make music.
So it’s kind of the pieces that didn’t follow the script of your album
Yeah, but then the concept came into it. Like I said, I came across those pictures, and so a lot of the music has kind of a nostalgic feel to it. All the songs have reference to something that’s happened. I wanted to make it personal, and I want to turn it into a series KOFI 1, KOFI 2, in the future.
“I just want to make music. I just want to be an artist; I want to have my foot in every avenue of art that I appreciate. I’m really into fashion; I’m really into photography. I want to have the opportunity to make music the rest of my life.”
Have you ever done any shows?
I’ve performed before but I’ve never performed my own music, not yet. I’ve had the opportunity, like a lot of venues have contacted me asking me to play, but same with the singing thing, I’m just not ready. I took a different approach to things than most artists I feel like and I want that to resonate with my performance
A lot of the music I have, I don’t think it would be very entertaining live.
So that would change the music you make a little bit.
Definitely it will; when you go to a show you usually want music that’s a little more upbeat. I have sitting-down, thinking-about-life music.
You do; you really have to listen to it. As an artist does that bother you at all, that you might have to change it up?
I mean, I don’t want to be a boring artist and only make a certain type of music, so I’m branching out to other genres still in my own way. I eventually knew I was gonna have to do something where I could perform.
Gospel was a big part of your childhood; do you ever see and impact of that in your music?
Oh all the time especially vocally, like how I like people to sing things is very like… have you ever been to church? You know, being in a room, and the church choir is singing, it doesn’t even matter what they’re singing, it’s that environment.
Yeah, that feeling. Like if you can make music that gives that feeling to your listener, then you’ve succeeded.
I think that’s what I’m trying to do. I want people to put in their headphones or turn on their car or whatever, to listen to my music, I want that to evoke some sort of emotion. More than just expressing my own feelings, emotions, or whatever, if I can get something out of someone else, I won.