Homeless man with a laser gun defending his tree stump from mud monsters. True story.
HI$TO is one of the more well-versed producers in Baltimore right now. Originally from Houston, he’s immersed himself into the city’s underground electronic and rap scenes where he’s produced for collectives like 7th Floor Villains and last month at KAHLON, he completely ripped his DJ set. Last month he also contributed to True Laurels Vol. 3, as he touched on his journey as an artist and looked back on SWSW 2013. Read the full entry below and check HI$TO’s SoundCloud.
March 11, 2014
Yo, you know the cool thing about spirit? When you truly listen to it, destined things happen. I moved to Baltimore from Houston after graduating high school with pursuing my music career burning deep in my spirit. There were some, even people closest to me, that couldn’t understand my actions and grind (some still to this day).But I remained true to myself and where my spirit guided me.
I’ve been around here almost 4 years and I’ve experienced a lot acting out on this journey. From countless studio sessions to DJ gigs I got, and deal-ing withdifferent artists. Living here pursuing this dream sharpened me all around from the good and sometimes crazy situations I been in. Some people said they didn’t believe in me, some ﬂaked, some faded away, and some stayed down. But now after some time and a more conscious mindset, it’s seems the right people have been placed in my life in the craziest ways.
March 2013 I went to go visit Houston for SXSW in Austin. Everyone I planned on going with ﬂaked most of the week and I really wanted to go. The night before I sat down and thought about going alone. I didn’t have enough for a place to crash there over night and I thought staying on the streetswould be risky. I woke up the next morning and it was burning in my heart to just go so I bought my MegaBus ticket for noon and got my mom to drop me off at the station. As I boarded this guy already seated instantly gave me a CD and said he rapped. I sat across from him and said I produced. There was another guy boarding that over heard me saying that and asked what type of stuff. I told himI was pretty versatile. He sat in front of me then he asked if I knew a producer named “Juke Ellington.” I said I had a homie in DC that just did a remix for him and he said the same, plus he runs a Juke collective in Chicago. His name was Rashad.
From that point we exchanged SoundClouds, listened to each other’ssounds, talked about the events going on and ended up teaming up the whole night in Austin hitting up events. We ran into so many positive people togetherand went on a random adventure after everything ended. Next afternoon on the way back on the Megabus, we kept talking until I ﬁgured out he lived 5 minutes from where I was staying in Houston. Rashad and I kept hanging while I was intown. We made music, discussed ideas, and kept building. In January we put out a huge mixtape called Juke World Order that’s been featured on Rewd Bull, Do Androids Dance, FACT Mag and more.
Crazy experience but I went where my spirit led me to. Ever since, I’ve gotten to meet more people who are really down and positive. These people show love, keep me motivated and do positive things together. We’ve gotten far doing what we do. Not just for ourselves, but what the universe destined us to do. I’ve come a longway and I’m seeing how things are getting better for myself and the people Isurround myself with. We still have a way to go but persistence is the key. So if you have a vision or passion burning in your heart, just go for it and don’t be afraid to ﬁnd your full potential. Life’s short. So what do you have to lose when you could gain the whole time? Peace.
#tbt Baltimore shordy yurdme 😂 #baltimorevsphilly
I met producer and DJ, Neuport around the time of January’s KAHLON. He came down to DJ that night, played a great set and kicked it in Baltimore for a little while. We stayed in touch and I eventually asked him to submit a diary for True Laurels Vol. 3. He sent it to me within days and, because of Neuport’s transparency, it’s one of my favorite True Laurels diaries, to date. Read the full entry below.
Thursday Night / 11:28pm / March 7, 2014
I’m smoking a newport and looking down at Bushwick Ave from my 4th floor Brooklyn apartment. The air is cold coming in from the open window. My stomach hurts. My boy, Tony bought me dinner tonight, Indian food. I wanted to get the most of my one good meal of the day. The feeling in your gut when you’ve ate too much food feels similar to anxiety. I know that feeling well. I’ve always physically felt anxiety in my stomach. Its a sensation that I hate. The sensation that heroin and pills always took away.
I haven’t used heroin in years now. It almost killed me. It did kill me. I woke up in the back of an ambulance one summer night, in a grocery store parking lot. “Woke up” to the medics asking me if I knew my name. It took me a moment. I was drenched in sweat and the front of my t-shirt was cut from top to bottom, exposing my chest. They cut my shirt open to resuscitate me. The lady medic told me I was purple and not breathing when they arrived. I had OD’d in my car and somehow had the sense to get out right away. As soon as I opened the car door everything turned black. Someone saw me fall in the parking lot and called 911. I can say for certain that if I didn’t open my door and get out of my car I wouldn’t be here right now.
At the time I didn’t see this as a blessing. Now I do. I was pretty miserable after the incident. I was facing some pretty major legal charges and my family wanted to send me to a treatment center in Minnesota. I eventually obliged. If I thought I had bad anxiety before, I was in for a rude awakening. One thing about being sober is you don’t have those tools you once had to cope. Those tools that worked. Not having control of your emotions is very real. Learning to deal with these emotions is a struggle. Someone asked me a question that helped me a lot with this process, “What made you happy before you started using drugs?”.
As a kid I always loved music, skateboarding, and drawing. It wasn’t exactly easy to just jump back into but I knew it what I had to do. Somehow I got linked up with some pretty like minded people going through the same shit that I was. Its crazy to look back now and see what some of us have accomplished. For others its a revolving door of jail, drugs, sickness, and treatment. Others have sadly passed since. For me, I had a second chance to do something different. Sometimes it’s easy to forget this. I have to remind myself now and then.
My anxiety hasn’t gone away but facing anxiety and fears is the best way to overcome. If you’re scared to do something, do it. You realize it’s all in your head. You move forward. You have nothing to lose, only so much to gain.
Final time I’ll bug you about these! This time with a dumb selfie! My recent zine contributions:
Comics Workbook Magazine #3: I wrote an essay on Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females’ comix and drawings. Also features, a cover by Dash Shaw, Nancy ruminating from Dorothy Berry, an essay on sexual assault in comics by Laura Knetzger, an interview with Annie Mok, and more.
True Laurels #3: I wrote reviews of ISSUE’s Liquid Wisdom and Ricky Eat Acid’s Three Love Songs. Also features an essay on rap videos by David Turner, an essay on Dolemite by Kasai Rex, an interview with Lil Bibby, SXSW photos by editor Lawrence Burney, diary entries by Schwarz, Chiffon, Neuport, art by Mike Hinson, and more.
First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support the release of True Laurels Volume 3 at Printed Matter, this past Saturday. The cozy bookstore was packed out and having people come by, eager to learn about a project I just thought of five months ago felt great. Skinny Friedman DJ’d an amazing set that went from Soulja Boy’s “Ocean Gang” to Baltimore Club legend, Miss Tony’s “Pull Ya Gunz Out”. Derrick Adams gave an insightful artist talk that touched on young artists’ need to experiment, the representation of Baltimore in his work and how he incorporates pop culture into his work. The highlight of the night was Abdu Ali's performance. I'm not sure if anyone who hadn't seen him before, was prepared for the energy he was about to project. And putting out an elevated amount of energy seemed to be Ali's mission as he performed his most hard-hitting tracks: “Machete Warz”, “Mad Ambrosia” and “Say Somethin”. Probably the rarest performance to go down in a bookstore (lol). His performance was documented by Erik Puotinen, who got some great shots of Ali at his most energized moments of the night. Check them out below.