Petty officer third class Matt January’s biggest disappointment in his six years in the Navy came last year aboard the USS Nimitz.
Jay-Z was coming onboard to perform.
“Jay-Z is the reason I do music,” says January, who performs as Young Massacre. “We were supposed to keep it a secret. But everyone knew he was coming. But, right before he was supposed to fly in, we were told that he couldn’t come because of a security situation.... I guess they kind of compensated for it by giving us a steak dinner.”
January, 26, got out of the Navy shortly after that. He now lives in his hometown of Oceanside. “I was raised here. My dad was a Marine for 20 years.”
January, who has been serious about hip-hop for three years, says his ship’s commander allowed him to record onboard on a sort of don’t-ask-don’t-tell basis.
“We used our own computers to record. It allowed us to do something else when we weren’t working or at the gym. We basically just had to find an area on the ship where we didn’t bother anybody. The majority on our ship liked hip-hop.”
But not everyone. January says the Midwest farm boys didn’t get it when he and his fellow rappers performed at onboard talent shows. “They would just look at us as if to say, ‘What the hell?’ Or they just wouldn’t give us any eye contact all.” But he says when he would perform at bars in Dubai or Singapore, he and his fellow rapping sailors were treated like rock stars. “They embraced it. Especially in Singapore. They loved the music and the whole [hip-hop] culture. The response made me more motivated to pursue music.”
January performs a new song, “Dedication,” as a tribute to Junior Seau.
“I met him one time at Seau’s. I used to see him all the time when I drove past his house on the beach. I’m sure he didn’t know I existed, but as a man from Oceanside, he did so much for our community.”
“Dedication” can be heard at soundcloud.com/mattjanuary.
Young Massacre performs July 29 at a talent contest called Artist Search at the Stage downtown.