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Though he injured his knee in Iraq, Marine sergeant Gabriel DeJesus reenlisted for another four years last August. The Camp Pendleton--based motor-transport mechanic is on "light duty" due to his knee tear, but now he wants out of the military so he can rap.

"Even in Iraq I made tracks," says DeJesus (a.k.a. Technique). "I built a recording booth in back of a truck in a war zone in Iraq. My wife would send me blank CDs, and I'd make music I'd pass out. I wrote music every day.... When I got back [to Camp Pendleton] I built a studio in my house."

DeJesus, 23, says he tried to launch a group and record label with fellow Marines, "but it never went like how we wanted it to." Discouraged, he reenlisted. Then, DeJesus met Lil Uno, the local artist who runs Sicko Records and hosts an all-locals radio show on 98.9.

"He was asking hip-hop artists to get in touch with him," says DeJesus. The two met, and Lil Uno offered DeJesus a contract that provides for studio time, CD manufacturing, and distribution.

"As soon as [Lil Uno] presented me with the contract, I took it up the chain [to get permission to leave the Marines].... [My staff sergeant] looked at me and started smiling. He said he was a religious man and that things happen for a reason. He said my orders to get transferred to North Carolina got canceled that day. He told me he was behind me 100 percent and that I should pursue what I had to pursue. Then the higher-ups, like, captains, started talking to me. They said it was better if I just stayed in."

DeJesus says he is researching how to exit the military but that if he is not released he will fulfill his obligation. Regardless of the outcome, he would be happy to represent the Corps in TV ads for recruiting.

"My lyrics are not about drugs and cars and rims.... At work, guys joke around with me.... I say, 'Who said I was a thug? Just because I'm a rapper does not mean I'm a criminal.' "

A Technique track will be included on Heatrocks, a Sicko compilation of local artists' music to be released in August. Sicko has plans to issue DeJesus's own CD on September 26.

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