Republished courtesy of The Michigan Citizen. Targeting the state’s African American and progressive minded community, The Michigan Citizen covers economic and social development throughout Michigan’s urban communities.
“The Rise Of The Turtle”, the newest instrumental hip hop album from Sacramento Knoxx, is a shining example of the type of independent hip hop being released from Detroit artists today. Uplifting and full of creative twists, the Southwest Detroit representative showcases a number of hard hitting beats that have helped him become a rising music talent.
“The Rise Of The Turtle” is the third instrumental album released this year from Sacramento Knoxx, including “Heart Beats” and “TheSelenaTape”, a tribute to legendary singer from Mexico who continues to influence popular musict today.
Born Christopher Yepez, he began making music as a youth learning jazz and blues, but then discovered hip hop as a creative artform that spoke to his generation. Influenced by the story telling lyrics of hip hop in the 1990s, Sacramento Knoxx, now age 27, could relate the hardships being told by rap artists around the country to the problems of Southwest Detroit.
His love for creating hip hop beats began by making “pause tapes”, which he made by looping instrumentals together using his mother’s two cassette boombox, patiently rewinding one tape back to the beginning of the loop while pressing pause and record with the second tape. This gave him the sound of a full band without the expense of gathering instruments, players and recording equipment.
From this self-starting beginning, he slowly began to get access to computer recording equipment, learning the sequencing programs on his own and developing his own techniques and style along the way.
“Nobody showed me the ropes, it was just me and my homie, we figured it out and we pushed forward,” says Sacramento Knoxx. “It’s just been a slow climb, just evolving with that sequencer and then putting more technology to it.”
Since these humble beginnings, he has become a respected contributor the local hip hop scene, building relationships with other local artists and collaborating on different projects. He produced every track from the debut solo album released this year from Mic Audio of Stereo Boyz, and also directed two videos from the release. He has produced videos for his own projects, adding a personal dimension to help listeners connect with his music.
Sacramento Knoxx also helped establish “The Raiz Up”, a weekly Sunday afternoon gathering in Southwest Detroit for the hip hop community and local youth to come out and participate in creating art and building relationships with others in the city. A DJ is always on hand to feature new local music, and the team brings out beat making equipment to teach the basics of making hip hop instrumentals.
“Basically, I was like I got this vision, let’s just do it,” says Sacramento Knoxx. “I hit my collective up and said let’s just go out there and do what we do, do what we love, drop the knowledge and teach others if they want to learn, it’s open. I got the mechanics together and said ok we need a generator, speakers and everything else.”
“The Raiz Up” is a free event held at different locations in Southwest Detroit, and there is always a forum to start conversations about social issues that are of concern to the people attending, whether that is education, local economics or crime in the city. The gathering carries forth the tradition of hip hop culture being an effective tool for education and awareness. “The Raiz Up” will take place at on October 28 at All Saints Park on Longworth and Mullane, from 1pm to 5pm.
“Whether its 5 people out here or 50, this is in existence as a platform to come learn something. Even if you don’t want to learn, come hang out, chill.”
The title “The Rise Of The Turtle” represents Sacramento Knoxx’s indigenous roots and his ties to the native culture. He is of the Ojibwe people, and the reference to the turtle refers to it being a symbol for the earth.
He cites a famous quote from Louis Riel, a 19th Century political figure of native Canada who fought for the rights of indigenous peoples, who stated “my people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
Sacramento Knoxx sees now as a time for the people to regain their spirit and come together for a stronger future together. For him, hip hop music and culture is one way of making those important connections.
“It was powerful to me,” says Sacramento Knoxx. “People are in this music sometimes for a lot of things, my thing is to share what I can bring.”
Download “The Rise Of The Turtle” from Sacramento Knoxx http://www.SacramentoKnoxx.bandcamp.com.