#WestCoastWednesdays presents Veks

Missing Children was supposed to be prophetically titled by it’s author/creator, North County San Diego emcee, Veks, as a “goodbye” from the inevitable missing child. Veks never would have guessed that the overwhelming positive feedback, from other future missing children, would have been the antidote to the poisonous thoughts in his mind that he was sure would eventually kill him. Hip hop saved his life. Not a trite slogan, rather one of the truths that Veks holds close to his heart, and the sentiment that essentially keeps me writing about hip hop. Veks goes so far as to call hip hop his “savior” during the interview, and flippancy in one of the least likely traits to be attributed to the hip hop purist. While Veks approaches his craft quite devoutly, there is no pretense, no piety, simply a subtle yet pervasive passion. Rappers know they’re supposed to tell others that they do music for themselves first, but often their entire catalogue serves as a powerful counterargument; not so with Veks. We are grateful to have gotten to share some time with Veks and I am convinced that his story will remind you of why you love hip hop, whether you are one, like so many I meet, who feels hip hop lost its way, or if you, like Veks or me, have never lost faith in hip hop. Listen. Read. Enjoy. Share.

NW: Who is Veks?

Veks: Veks is an all around B-Boy from Vista, CA, in the upper county of San Diego; A creator with much passion for the art of hip hop and self expression.

NW: How has hip hop changed your life?

Veks: I don’t quite remember being introduced to hip hop, but with family, and friends of family, always kind of being a part of the local scene, it was pretty inevitable for me to enter that realm. Over the years I feel like it literally saved my life. As a teenager, I was very troubled in the mind, negative and depressed. It was hip hop and poetry that was my most efficient outlet of expression. Through it I’ve been able to overcome my life’s biggest challenges.

NW: That’s like the heartbeat of Nate Whitsell, to hear that hip hop means that much to you. I respect and admire just about every aspect of your artistry, but what I probably admire most is your approach to hip hop, to the art and the culture. What would you say your “philosophy” (for lack of a better term) for creating and sharing your music is? How have you been able to steer clear of the hype-centric, microwave-convenience approach to rap?

Veks: Hip hop changes so quickly in the media, just as every other genre has, and continues to. When I found my love for it, and worked at it, it wasn’t to find approval from anyone else, but to satisfy my soul. I believe in staying true to yourself, and respecting your own heart and passion for whatever that passion may be. I have never gone out of my way to neglect my love for the culture, and I don’t plan on it.

NW: To help build some context for your previous answers, and those to follow, who were some of the artists who inspired you coming up?

Veks: My favorite artists and biggest influences coming up were MF Grimm & Last Emperor. I also cannot leave out my family, Adikt One, and a family friend, Blame One, both of whom inspired me as a young cat to continue to work on my craft. Of course, there are a bunch of other honorable mentions and favorite artists of mine, but that would be a long list. These select few had the biggest impact on my artistry and ability to express emotions through lyrics.

NW: The way my mind works, I am always comparing artists’ essences, be it a content, thematic or stylistic essence, I just can’t not do it. Now that my disclaimer is out there, I have to make a comment and ask your thoughts/feelings about it. Ever since the first line I heard from you, I have connected you, your style, and maybe even your content, to Benefit. Are you familiar? Is he someone you look to as a peer in hip hop? How does such a “comparison” make you feel?

Veks: I must say I love that comparison and am humbled you say that; I admire him as an artist very much. As a youth, I listened to his music a lot.

NW: That’s rad. You are a dope producer, both of instrumentals, and beats meant to be rapped on, and an emcee; which came first, beats or rhymes? How did you get introduced to both?

Veks: Thanks for that! Rhyming came first for me. I was first introduced to it at about age 12 from a cousin of mine who goes by the name, Define P. Together we started a group with his little brother, Professed. The name of that group was Family Tree. Like many other aspiring rappers, we would use instrumentals we’d find and did not own the rights to. After gaining more interest in creating original songs, I began making beats on FL Studio. I was like 14 at the time, and Adikt One played a role in introducing me to beatmaking, because he was also using FL Studio and was the first person I knew who made beats.

NW: You are such a multi-faceted artist/entrepreneur, and I’m wondering where that comes from? Do you have a mentor who you look to for guidance as a businessman?

Veks:  When it comes to expanding my business, I look to many for guidance and insight. My biggest mentors though would have to be DJ KidRiz & Blame One. They’re the ones who, ever since they met me, have gone out of their way to show me support and help bring me onto a bigger platform. I definitely appreciate our friendships.

NW: One of the enterprises you are responsible for is Missing Children Records. Can you tell us the significance of the name, how MCR came to be, and what your vision for the label is?

Veks:  Missing Children is actually the title to the first collection of songs I put out, one which I thought would be my last collection. Like I mentioned before, as a teenager, I was battling depression, suicidal thoughts and was highly convinced I wouldn’t live to see the following day, almost every day. That collection of songs I considered to be like a farewell to life. But upon putting it out and receiving positive messages and confirmations that my music helped others also battling depression, that really saved myself. From that time on, I continued to put out music and it’s just always been under Missing Children Records. Which thankfully now has become a legitimate business that puts out limited vinyl releases for some artists I really respect, which is my vision for the label… to just provide dope sounds on physical formats.

NW: Man, that’s heavy. Thanks for sharing such a personal piece of your journey. You are also a member of the Red Lotus Klan; can you let readers who might not be familiar, know a bit about RLK? Also, how did you cross paths and begin working with RLK?

Veks: Red Lotus Klan, to me, is like a family of creative individuals from San Diego. I first was introduced to RLK from my good homie, 3D. He then introduced me to the likes of Vernon Bridges and Scvtterbrvin. All 3, instantly from the jump, treated me with respect and took me in like a brother; even helped me with a place to live on several different occasions. Me being a member of the collective was always mentioned particularly by 3D, which later resulted in making it an official thing after I planned to move out of North County and down to South San Diego.

NW: I know you have a release that is ready to drop, but has been sort of hung up. What’s going on with that album? Why did you choose to put it out with an entity outside of MCR where you have a little less of the control over the project? Do you feel it is important for other artists to diversify their platforms/outlets as you have?

Veks: Honestly, I work on so much at one time that I’m not 100% sure which album you are referring to but I’m thinking it could either be my 2016 solo album, Born Gifted, or our 2nd Last Jazz Club album, Jazz Is. Both are set to release this year. Born Gifted will be released by Soundweight Records and it’s a little early to say, but the Last Jazz Club album will probably be released by me on our label. I feel it’s important for us to connect with outside entities because, at the moment, we are still a very small label, so building with the other established labels is a good look for us as a growing movement.

NW: That’s perfect; I was originally referring to Born Gifted, but I’m glad my ambiguity got us two answers! With so much going on, how do you determine what you need to do on a given day? Do you just do what you feel like, and then watch projects come together as you create, or do you schedule times to produce, to write, to record, to work on the business end? How do juggle it all!?

Veks: Nothing for me is scheduled, or even planned out really. I kind of just create when I have the time, which nowadays is not so often. At times it can be stressful because I do like to work on so much at once, it’s almost hard to balance it all. But staying busy in a creative aspect has always been my goal.

NW: You have touched on where I’m going a bit already, but I want to drill down a bit into your mind, your process. Your music has a weight to it. From the tone of your voice, to what you rap about, as well as how you rap, your inflection and what not. Where does that weight, that seriousness, come from?

Veks:  Although over the years I have learned to not let my emotions get the best of me and just have more fun with my art, it ultimately comes from being hurt: the pain I feel or have felt in my lifetime.

NW: Being that your music is so weighty, so heavy, do you find the creation process to be therapeutic, cathartic?

Veks: Oh, most definitely. I literally view hip hop as my savior, so when I’m in the lab creating, it’s like I’m at church. It’s my consolation during hard times, and even good times.

NW: Man. I’m loving this. I’d love to keep going, but want to respect your time. As we begin wrapping up, what’s something you’d like to share with hip hop culture?

Veks: Truth, and respect for those who came before us. Often times I feel like the newer generation of hip hop heads don’t understand that it is important to learn the history and respect it. Those who cannot understand this, I feel do not deserve a spot in our community.

NW: Amen to that. One emphasis of Nate Whitsell 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 right now?

Veks: The first person I think of is Ric Scales, a very talented MC and a great representation of hip hop in San Diego. He’s very humble and brings a positive vibe to the table at every event and gathering, while focusing on uniting us as a community more than making it a competition, although he is also a beast of a battle MC, so don’t get it confused, haha. Of course there is also SDLovesHipHop.com, who I feel makes it a top priority to unite us all in the community, and for that I really appreciate and respect them.

NW: Thank you for your time, energy and sincerity. Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?

Veks: Readers can follow me on instagram at @veks_lastjazzclub for most updates, and they can visit our label page at missingchildrenrecords.bigcartel.com to see what we have out! Peace, and one love to Nate Whitsell because I love hip hop and I love my hometown of San Diego.

Peace, Love & Hip Hop,

– Nate Whitsell


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