Rapper Jack King, aka Parker Edison, is a TedX speaker and a member of the award-winning rap-jazz group Parker Meridien. He came to local notice in Parker & the Numberman, who earned a Best Hip-Hop Album trophy at the 2011 San Diego Music Awards and took home the same prize in 2012. Edison also executive produced a 2015 compilation called Reclaiming the Community, featuring Aki Kharmicel, Odessa Kane, Tiny Doo, and others. In 2016, he won a local peacemaker award from the National Conflict Resolution Center for producing the Reclaiming the Community Music Project, which showcases the storytelling community of Southeast San Diego. Parker Meridien teams him up with local jazz cats like drummer Nathan Hubbard and bassist Harley Magsino. Edison is now the host and co-creator of a podcast series called The Parker Edison Project, where, he says, “I’m specifically looking at it through the black lens, because that’s my lens.” Ten episodes are currently planned to run, one every two weeks. The first entry features guest Latanya Lockett (B-Side Players, Psydecar) discussing “Womxn On Film,” another has Ricky Garcia, aka local crooner Oranje Space, revealing how music helped him to stop stuttering, and additional planned topics include sex, food, fashion, money, religion, the theater, and cinema.
The LGBTQ-led band Hemisphere promotes diverse musical collaborations, drawing on rock, pop, jazz, fusion, and metal for inspiration. The multicultural group features openly gay members Rob Shinno (guitar, vocoder) and Don Bowman (vocals, sax), as well as Mike McQuilken (drums), Nathan Brown (bass), and Max Zape (keys). Founded in 2000, the band has played at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival and was a San Diego Music Awards nominee for Album of the Year for the full-length Blue Planet Dreams. Its most recent album American Dreams includes guest players like Grammy winner Tommy Aros (Fattburger), Rebecca Jade (2020 SDMA Artist of the Year), Leonard Patton, trumpeter Derek Cannon, and guitarist Patrick Yandall. Local jazz star Peter Sprague served as engineer and mixer, and the album was mastered by Bernie Grundman (Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, Prince). A collectors CD was offered with a 16-page pamphlet of liner notes, images and lyrics. Hemisphere has a new music video for the album track “America.” Using social distance precautions, the footage was shot in Rancho Bernardo during early September 2020 at Studio West.
Based in Oceanside, Monarch is a hard rock/metal group founded in 2007 by Ratt Black guitarist Casey Trask (the Three Tremors, Cage), backed by founding drummer Adam West, and joined in 2016 by singer-guitarist Matt Smith (Nihilist, Damcyan). They’ve shared the stage with bands such as Death Angel, Nervosa, Powerglove, and Act of Defiance, and won the 2019 Wacken Metal Battle USA competition, earning the chance to play at an upcoming festival. Their upcoming sophomore album Future Shock (due April 16), tracked at Clarity Recordings in El Cajon, marks the debut of a new bassist who joined last year, Gabe Mendez (Supra Summus, Sister Steele). The first single is now available, “Shred Or Die,” with a video streaming online. “We’re all just super excited to get this album out to everyone because I think everyone right now needs something new to get excited about,” says Trask. “At the time of this release, parts of the world are still under quarantine from the Covid 19 virus, and we think it will be a welcome escape from having to worry so much right now. We should all be cautious of course, but we can’t make our lives not worth living.”
Jaylen Robinson, aka Lemon Grove rapper Rob $tone, came up as a member of the 1207 hip-hop collective. After a brief time living in Atlanta, GA, he returned to San Diego and released his debut mixtape Straight Bummin’ in 2015. His first video was for the track “Nachos.” $tone scored a hit single in 2016 with “Chill Bill,” inspired by and featuring samples from the film Kill Bill, with a video currently at 289 million views. Said to have been written in the back of a police car, the song reached number 29 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and was later remixed with rappers D.R.A.M., Denzel Curry, and Cousin Stizz. After releasing his I’m Almost Ready mixtape in 2016, he toured as an opening act with A$AP Ferg. The following year, he was featured in a new designer footwear line released via Creative Recreation. His last album Don’t Wait For It was preceded by single releases for “Holy Grail” and “Two Spoons Freestyle.” $tone has a new 7-song EP, Solitaire Stone, and an upcoming album called Bonafide. The EP single “Fantasy,” produced by Big Jerm and Jay Card, comes with a video streaming online that was shot at various hangouts around San Diego.
Reggae rocker E.N. Young has a new single called “No Complaint.” According to Young, “This song is a rendition of a classic Half Pint song from the ‘80s with an original verse added. The song features a rootsy vinyl-inspired lo-fi sound of the early years in reggae music. The lead synth has a classic duck-tone wobble with King Tubby-type dub effects surrounding it. I extended the mix and added a section of dub after the tune that was common on vinyl 12-inch single versions, to fill the entire side of the record. That dub section starts with a hard cut on the snare, which was typical in the old studios in Jamaica. The engineer would cut the tape on the visible transient, which he presumably thought was the kick but was actually the snare, and spliced the two versions together. I grew up hearing this hiccup on the 12-inch extended versions and grew to love it. The dub version also features subtle effects on the bass that resembles the likes of Mad Professor from UK. I had a great time recreating some of the great works in reggae music and will continue to pay homage to them with more music.”