Asked where to draw the line between soul and hip-hop, San Diego’s Kiyoshi is quick to say he doesn’t see any such line. “They are one,” he affirms. “In hip-hop, there is soul. Hip-hop is the language, the essence, and culture of the people. It’s heartfelt, and hip-hop speaks to the soul. Soul music is the feeling. These two forms of music are both rooted in the groove and the feeling. You feel it in your heart.
“I believe that soul is more of an umbrella. Hip-hop is a sub-umbrella that specifically refers to the culture that African Americans and Latinos created from the streets, and the struggles in the 1970s, as a way to express themselves through art (graffiti), music (turntablism & emceeing), fashion, dance (breakdancing), and overall lifestyle. I grew up in this culture almost all of my life. I live and breathe it. It’s brought me much joy and much value.”
Kiyoshi hails from Saginaw, Michigan (the same town that gave us Stevie Wonder), but he moved to San Diego in 2011 to take a job at Ashford University. He’s lived in almost every neighborhood in the area, and he’s not shy about assessing them. “Mira Mesa is more chill and family/residential based,” he reflects. “North Park is more urban, hip, hipster edgy and artsy with a younger crowd. Ocean Beach has a more hippie, artsy, beach-town vibe. Chula Vista is closer to Mexico and has a family vibe. Del Mar is pricier living and so is Encinitas. Encinitas is a nice town with a cool beachy, spiritual vibe (Yogananda lived there).”
“Carlsbad is nice. I live here now with my good friends down the street from the beach, so it’s pleasantly convenient for me to walk there when I want… North County San Diego is amazing and beautiful. It just lacks diversity and melanin.”
He’s fond of charity work, and his Veteran’s Day gig at the San Diego WorldBeat Center benefits the veterans-empowerment group the Travis Manion Foundation, together with the education philanthropy organization the Stan Lee Foundation. “I’m all about giving back to the community,” he says. “I believe music is my purpose; it’s why I am on this planet. And when I can do this in conjunction with a cause, it’s a win-win for everyone.
“My heart is in inspiring others to be better versions of themselves. I enjoy working with other organizations that are on the same page with similar intentions.”