Photograph by @MightyMuds
Katlee310: “I’ll sell a thousand oranges on a busy intersection."
Hip-hop 9 to 5: After concert venues shuttered in March, many San Diego hip-hop artists reverted to regular jobs, following the beat of former and current Billboard charting rappers.
“I have friends who were full-time musicians,” says Kahlee310, a Mira Mesa-based rapper. “Most are struggling to thrive in a time where there are no regular tours or live performances. From emcees to radio and club DJs spinning nightly at some of the most popular spots in the city are now working the night crew stocking inventory at the local Target, or driving for Uber and delivering fast food to your doorstep. Working your way up at a 9-to-5 job and supporting your family through legal means is sometimes looked at negatively.”
Last year, a video surfaced of Georgia rapper Yung Joc driving a ride share vehicle in Atlanta. On the video, the passenger recognized the Grammy-nominated “It’s Going Down” rapper, then attempted to shame him by sharing the gotcha video on her social media. I documented and edited a video of him visiting the now-defunct Blazin’ 98.7 radio station downtown in 2007 when Forbes reported him clocking $20 mil for that year alone. I sat behind the computer and edited his soundbites and mannerisms for hours, and despite him, rocking “bling and drip” seemingly worth more than the balance of our mortgage, the “20th richest rapper at the time” appeared humble and genuine.
A father of eight kids, Yung Joc — Jasiel Amon Tucker Robinson on his Georgia driver’s license — responded to the attempted shame video of him driving. “Anybody need a ride?” he posted on IG. “I know they gonna hate, but somebody wanna get wasted and get to their destination safe and sound. Download the app, and I just might #PullUpNGo.”
It’s unclear whether the rapper worked for the ride share company, owned it, or did a publicity stunt for the app, which resembles that of Uber and Lyft.
Other rapper-dads took to spokesmodeling gigs since the pandemic started. Ice T, “New Jack Hustler” rapper and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit actor, appeared in a Car Shield commercial posted on YouTube on April 4. Before October, Chime hired Grammy Award-winning and “Bank Account” rapper 21 Savage to speak on their debit card services and how to “make financial peace of mind a reality for everyone,” including his three children.
But there are the naysayers who believe, when a rapper is snagged doing regular gigs or co-signs for “corny” companies that are not on the hip-hop tip, it’ll harm the rapper’s brand. When I reached out to a handful of local artists about the 9-to-5 subject matter, 36 year-old Kahlee310 was the sole hip-hop head who spoke on the topic. He’s the founder of #HipHopWEDS and @Bars_Weekly, platforms for San Diego hip-hop events and local artists’ features.
“I’ve had a full-time job through my whole involvement in hip-hop, allowing me to not only contribute to the growth of my family life but my music career as well. I have friends whose bi-weekly paychecks allowed them to collaborate with some of their favorite rappers and producers while traveling the world, driving nice cars, and living comfortably in their own home with a family.”
Well-known rappers and DJs are reportedly selling their vehicles, jewelry, and personal record and tape collections online to stay afloat as the new year rolls around.
“The reality is,” Kahlee310 continued, “I’ll sell a thousand oranges on a busy intersection where I grew up before I allow my kids to go hungry, and though embarrassment is tough at times, my pride isn’t worth their hardship, or mine.”