Talk With 3D

By Nate Whitsell

IG: @sdloveshiphop

I hope you enjoyed the latest visual release from SD Hip Hop representative, tattoo artist and member of the Red Lotus Klan, 3D, produced by Ethyx and directed by Platform Collection curator and photographer, KillcREY. One thing our genre is always reminding us of is that we are seconds, inches, just a few decisions away from watching all we work for – whether family, faith, fortune or fame – slip away.

Hip hop culture is a culture created in response to struggle, to strife, to the slipping away that is sure to take place in this life and has become an outlet for many of us to wrestle with that adversity, be it internal demons or external forces. In all honesty, we each have a measure of both internal struggle and external hardship dealt to us, and honest music broaches those realities with steadfast sobriety. As you may have guessed, and will be convinced of after spending time with 3D and his catalog, he is an artist committed to this kind of honesty, both in life and art. With his inner demons and his outer obstacles on his sleeve (literally, in some cases – he is “Tatted up and Blasted” with symbols of his story), 3D shares a bit of his journey with us here. Enjoy.

Nate Whitsell: Who is 3D?

3D: A father, an emcee, and a tattoo artist who loves to create in all forms.

NW: Can you tell us a story about how hip hop has changed your life?

3D: Hip hop has changed how I view life! It’s a culture where I found my place, where I’m accepted for who I am. I get to express myself with artistic freedom. From being a young b-boy, to a growing emcee. Now, the influence of graff and art helps to shape how I create tattoos. My lifestyle is music and art!

NW: Let’s begin with your beginnings. In an interview from about five years ago, you share that your big brother was your mentor, your rabbi in hip hop. What was that moment when you were seeing his involvement in the culture, and you thought, “this is me, this is what I’m about”?

3D: When I started seeing people’s reactions after I would rhyme or spit. I wanted to keep getting good at my delivery and patterns, just so I would stick out as an emcee in any cypher. Also, being a young Mexican with soul, my music was not your typical “Chicano Rap.” I wanted to be the next Qtip, Nas, Big Pun.

NW: Once you began taking steps to be a contributor to the culture and not simply a fan, what was one of the first experiences you had that encouraged you to keep making music?

3D: I was put on vinyl in early 2000 by Madd Joker. We won Best Hip Hop Album of the year! That made me realize anything is possible and it taught me to hustle independently as an artist.

NW: Here we are, decades later, and you continue to build your catalogue, and to grow as an artist. What keeps you motivated to create?

3D:  The people! They won’t let me give up! Also, with so much wack shit out, it’s almost my duty to keep dropping music with substance. I’m always having fun doing music and getting out of my comfort zone. Don’t wanna keep doing the same shit over and over. I have to grow and think out the box .

NW: Before I get too immersed in the present, I want to look back with you a little more. You have roots in a very well respected San Diego hip hop collective, the Red Lotus Klan. Can you explain how you became a part of the RLK, a bit about the dynamics of the group, and what we can expect from RLK moving into the future?

3D: RLK is Big!!! From NYC to CA! My boy ScvtterBrvin is the founder. He actually brought me in. I owe him a lot; he took the time to produce me, vibe with me, and spent countless sessions in Logan Heights and Sherman in his lab. We have so many talented emcees, producers, and graffiti artists in RLK. It’s where I feel at home!!!! Also Dablin Souls is my actual group (myself and Vernon Bridges)

NW: It seems like the member that you are most actively involved with right now is one of the producers, Infinity Gauntlet; what about his production draws you to it? What does his production pull out of you?

3D: He produced the REAL LOW KEY album I dropped a few years ago. Incredible production. He is like theatrical with the ways he puts music together! The entire project he hand picked samples specifically for me and my style. He brought out the 3D, the emcee, with the unorthodox style I’m known for. Very RAW, GRIMEY, PROJECT INDEED.  Very blessed to have him in my corner.

NW: That being said, you also just dropped the for “Slippin Away,” produced by ETHYX. First, what’s the track about, what’s it saying? Second, how did you and ETHYX link up, and what makes him an exceptional producer? Finally, does this release mean that there is a bigger body of work we can expect from you in the near future?

3D:  Yes. This song is available on our album Being Human Is Boring, which dropped in 2016. It’s available on Spotify, Bandcamp, etc. Ethyx is incredible! He produced this song “Slipping Away” which is about my relationship with the mother of my kids. Reality music! Very personal song about our relationship, the ups and downs. A lot of people in relationships can relate. And yeah, this song is all singing; I decided not to rap. Crazy thing is, the entire album is boom bap and underground hip hop. I wanted to throw this song on the project to kind of catch people and listener’s off guard!

NW: I want to go a little deeper into your answer to the first part of the previous question. Are there demons that you wrestle with that cause thoughts like your beautiful family slippin away? If you’re comfortable sharing, what are some of those demons, and how do you deal with them?

3D: Yes, I got demons. I have hate in my heart from others doing me dirty in the past. It puts me in a bad place, a dark place. Almost like fuck the world type shit, but then I see my kids and my lady trying to put a smile on my face and I can snap out of it. Love over hate.

NW: Thanks for sharing a pretty personal piece of your story. Now, set’s take a little lighter, surface approach to the song. Stylistically you make a ballsy move and sing/melodically rap as you mentioned earlier, which isn’t necessarily what you’re known for. What about the content made this delivery more appropriate? After recording it, what were some of the thoughts that went through your head?

3D: I did it in melody fashion. Felt natural to me. I did it in one take. Wasn’t going to release it; I was kind of shy about it. I didn’t want to be judged. But I finally said, “F*** that, it’s me and I’m honest with it. Drop that now!”

NW: Alright, now let’s transition to what you have coming up. In the lead up to this interview, you mentioned you have a project dropping soon. Can you tell us a bit about it? Is it going to be produced by some of the names we’ve become familiar with as you’ve shared?

3D: Actually no local producers. I’m dropping kind of an EP – 6 songs with my good friend and engineer,  DJ SLAYER (Vizion Records). I consider this my 1st mixtape. All of the rhythms are reggae or ska tunes from records, live recordings, or bands. We will be releasing it as a free download. Basically, it’s an experimental project we did together. Dropping on July 21st, this SUMMER! The project has a California vibe, well if we were an island. Low riders, palm trees, BBQs, and energy, it is all good vibes. I feature only two emcees on this: Chuuwee and Max. Unfortunately, it’s still untitled, so stay tuned!

NW: As we begin wrapping up today, what’s something you’d like to share with San Diego Hip Hop?

3D: I respect honest people and honest music – honesty goes far with me.

NW: One emphasis of these interviews is to see a heightened level of unity in the San Diego Hip Hop community. Can you point to some other artists who you see as comrades and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?

3D: VEKS from my crew stays hungry and building. Also Ryan Anthony. My Boy Obnoxious. My boy Don Julio from The Avenue (PUSHN CLOTHING); he always supports local music: TheAve sells local cds, still to this day. A lot of talent in San Diego. I don’t pay attention to the hate in the city, I’m too busy having fun making music and laughing.

NW: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?

3D: IG @3dtat2artist