A year ago today, I decided to make music. I am Antonio Cortez Appling. I go by “PAZ1”. Most know me as a poet but few know me as a local emcee. Last year, I was challenged by my friend Carmen Duran to make a contract and mash out the melodic craft for one year (by any means). This year has been fulfilling and depressing at times – as interpersonal conflicts have stifled plans and self reflection has revealed more areas of opportunity than I could have ever imagined. I’ve never felt more encouraged and discouraged, but at the end of the day, the music is still inside of me. I have prescribed to what Brother Ali states:
“…(I) vow solemnly not to die. While the music is still inside of me.”
I grew up listening to funk and soul and Motown. like most Midwestern black youth. I used to love the rainbow lettering and Detroit map label on the top of all my uncles vinyl. In Canton, Ohio, were I grew up before I moved to San Diego we only got to listen to rap on Saturdays for a couple hours. In those hours though I heard a young LL Cool J and D.O.C and fell in love with Poor Righteous Teachers and a group of rap hippies called De La Soul.
When I was twelve, I stole for the first time. It was an N.W.A/The Police cassette tape – lying vulnerable in the pocket of one of my fellow elementary school classmate’s jean jacket. What was I doing stealing? What was this kid doing rocking denim? How ironic was it that it had Dre and Cube and Yella and the D.O.C on one side and Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (Sting) on the other? These are all valid questions…none of which I’m going to answer right now. All I can say is, “F the Police “ seemed quite ironic coming out of my speakers knowing that written in red Sharpie on the other side was the official name for the one-times. I must note that I don’t think I ever flipped that bad boy over and I don’t think I listened to Sting until my aunt Renee worked his CD in amongst some Enya when I was older.
I’ve wanted to rap since I moved to San Diego in 1993. I used to record hip-hop verses over radio dubbed mixtapes. You remember the putting tissue in the holes at the top of the tape days right? I recorded over everything I could…my moms Whitney tapes and many a Luther Vandross album. I would record over Kenny G and Anita Baker just because they sounded old by name. I’d sit in my bunk bed or in a near by tree and record freestlyes in between breaks in the songs on the radio. I thought I was ill.
It was at this point that I started penning verses. I could walk you through G Funk and The Row and my early Jay-Z days. We could stroll down the Ruff Ryders era and the Rawkus awakening. I could even probably tell you about returning to the roots and dusting of the “Stake is High” album, but I guess I’ll leave it at this, I’m still that kid: young and optimistic, believing that he has something to contribute. I still believe music can make you feel like you are stealing for the first time or listening to a classic. There is a lineage and a legacy of hip-hop music that I will be apart of. I don’t have a choice, it’s me, God and KnewBalance – we are moving forward with the ministry of sound He has put before us. I hope people come along. I promised that I would give this a year, but I just might give it my life. I am a PieceMaker.
“The peacemakers shall be called the sons of God.” (The Book of Matthew. Chapter 5. Verse 9).
Feel free to listen to what we’ve put out this year:
- G.O.O.D. December: A track a week in the month of December of 2011. Inspired by Kanye West and his G.O.O.D Friday collection. We freaked the beats and changed the concepts.
- The PieceMakers “Golden Era Mixtape”; We decided even if people didn’t like the flows they would love the infectious, classic hip-hop sounds (Sounds like why Rocafella signed Kanye and let him put out “College Dropout”)
- Soul Anchor Collective: This is the record label/blog/hip-hop review site operated by Nate Whitsell and Antonio Cortez Appling.
Thank you for joining us on this journey.