Social Encore: Enter The Horror Show
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Music is something universal and relatable for people of all types of different backgrounds.
Here in Hawaii, a group of local hip-hop artists have come together to launch a collective known as the Workhouse, and two of those artists — Josh “Decibel Grand” Dombrosky and Jon “Jon Cozy” Sucaldito — will start a new musical journey as The Horror Show with an album release party on Saturday, Dec. 28, at NextDoor.
“The Horror Show Massacre” starts at 9 p.m. and will feature the Makakilo-based duo alongside opening sets by Graves, DJ Tittahbyte, Techmarcher (DJs Technique and Nightmarcher) and Murder Mainstream. Cover is $5 for 21-and-over, $7 for 18-20 years old; CD copies of the album will be available that night for $10.
The Hip Hop Duo, based out of Makakilo, Hawaii combine lyricism, aggression, and a fresh take on hip hop/rap in order to bring you their debut album, “Viddy the Horror Show.” Cover for 18+ is $7 and cover for 21+ is $5. You’ll be able to snag an album hard copies for $10 that night.
I was able to sit down and get to know Decibel Grand and Jon Cozy recently as the pair shared a few snippets from their debut project, “Viddy the Horror Show.”
JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO: What inspires you to write your song lyrics?
DECIBEL GRAND: I get inspired by all types of stuff. A dope record, a good movie, a good book; wack (stuff) inspires me too. I could hear a song and feel like it’s garbage and wanna out do it, so I start writing.
My team, Workhouse, inspires me. Kwalified put out a couple albums in the last year and he’s killing (it), so he pretty much inspires my work ethic. Cozy, in my opinion, is the dopest writer in Hawaii, so being able to have been in the studio with him over the past year has been great. Seeing him do his thing kind of helps push me to wanna go harder on every track. (My) dude Rukka really inspires me to wanna flex on wack cats and really style on them. You ever listen to the patterns that Rukka uses? Nobody’s touching him. Watch out for him, he’s next up, bet that.
As far as rituals, I like to be mad. Even if I’m writing happy (stuff). I’ll have a few beers before I start writing if I’m hitting the studio, but my favorite time to write is at like three or four in the morning when everybody’s asleep. I’ll go outside and light a cigarette and just write pages of (what’s) been on my mind for however long. The silence is real reflective for me.
JON COZY: The music we decide to use is usually what inspires me to start writing. I listen to the beat, feel the vibe, and just start going from there.
Sometimes it’s the other way around, where I have a line in my head, then I start building music around those words. I could read lines in a book, or hear something an artist says in an interview, and that could inspire me to write. Even a painting or a picture is a source of inspiration to me, and you can see it in my style because I paint with poetry.
I cut my heart out and fill my pen with the blood every time I decide to mutilate the pages of my notebook — unless I’m writing on my iPhone, then I just get carpal tunnel.
JLQ: Cozy, what inspires you to make beats? If you were to chose a producer to work with, who would it be and why?
JC: I’m not musically literate at all, and my style of production involves a lot of just (messing) around until (the beat) sounds cool. It’s been working for me so far, but I do eventually want to learn how to play an instrument. There needs to be a method I guess.
As far as mentors, I’m willing to learn anything from anybody that is willing to teach (me) something. Nobody knows everything and everybody has something to teach.
JLQ: What inspired this album?
JC: The inspiration for the album title was the Stanley Kubrick film, “A Clockwork Orange,” and the themes of human nature and conditioning are present throughout every song: the good, the bad and the why.
I feel a certain way about certain things because society has shaped me that way. People are made up of different people. Thoughts inspire as well. Thoughts become things. Those things became “Viddy the Horror Show.”
DG: Aside from what Cozy said, I really inspired myself.
Prior to The Horror Show, I had been out rapping and running around and what not, but there was never really a direction. Yeah, I was recording music … but there wasn’t really a message. Horror Show kind of helped me find myself as a MC, so when it came to working on this album, I had set standards for myself. I knew there was a certain level of lyricism I wanted to achieve. I knew (the) sound that I wanted to have.
I guess wanting to do the things I set out to do is what inspired … me.
JLQ: When you look at hip-hop before as compared to the present, what do you think has changed and why?
DG: Everything changed.
JC: Everything has changed. Hip-hop started out as an urban youth movement in the Bronx based around the elements of DJing, B-boying, MCing, graffiti and knowledge. Uplifting the community and the respect and awareness of history were important aspects of the culture.
Today, hip-hop culture is commoditized and packaged as a product. I’m the bastard child of bastard children with parents who forgot where their parents came from. It’s changed because of money and ignorance.
JLQ: What do you think Hawaii-based artists need to do in order to improve the situation?
DG: Work. I think we just gotta keep working. I don’t feel like Hawaii has enough product. I mean, we’re doing (things), but we’re not really doing (things), you dig? There’s always more that could be done.
There’s all these little groups and dudes (who) drop a track or two here and there on Soundcloud and YouTube or whatever, but who does that really reach besides your friends on Facebook and your Twitter followers?
People out here dropping one song on Soundcloud every six or seven months and they are (complaining), “Nobody (works) with me, they must not recognize real (music).”
It’s like shut up, get a project together, invest your money into your craft. Pay for the studio time, buy some beats, pay to get your music put out on iTunes and Amazon and all that mess. Hustle your music!
But, that’s just me, I’m like Sway, I don’t got all the answers. It’s hard for me to answer questions like this. I’m still trying (to) figure out what I have to do to help contribute. Right now, I just feel like I just got to keep working. Every day, work harder than I did the day before.
JC: The students and teachers need to be better students and teachers. The architects fell off and the children are lost. We’re all sheep trying to be zombies.
JLQ: What do you want listeners to take away after listening to this album?
JC: I want people to understand this isn’t just rap, but it is also music and the work of artists. An artist’s duty is not to recreate reality, but to express their vision as they see it.
A writer that I really admire named Grant Morrison once said that some things don’t have to be real, they just have to feel real. I want people to feel something. Some people smile when they think about their God, whatever God they choose to believe in. That God may not be real to some people, but regardless, the smile on their face is the realest thing in the entire world. They may or may not feel the same things that I felt while creating this music, but as long as they feel something, that’s all that really matters to me.
DG: I just wanna be heard. There’s this image that me and Cozy give off to people unconsciously … that we’re these “evil, Satan-worshiping, hate women” type of folk, which is not the case at all.
When I rap about bad stuff, its because I’ve been exposed to that bad stuff. Like, how am I supposed to rap about anything positive, when I don’t see positive?
With this album, in my verses I’m basically starting a conversation with you, telling you how I feel about things around me. So, if there’s anything I want people to take from this album, its just to digest the things I say with an open mind. Don’t just write me off.
JLQ: Why do artists like you need to be heard?
JC: I don’t ever feel like I need to be heard. I want to be heard.
I’m kind of socially awkward and find it hard to express myself in a conversation. With music, I can express my thoughts and feelings purely. When you’re like me, you keep a lot of emotion bottled up inside this magic lamp that won’t bust open no matter how hard you stroke it. But when you’ve got the right words and the right touch, something honest and beautiful happens.
If you appreciate that, then listen to me.
DG: (It’s) cliché, but music is life, man. I don’t know what I’d be doing without it. I’m a rapper. I’m a musician. I’m an artist. I’m an MC. I live this. I couldn’t quit even if I wanted to.
I never had anybody to talk to growing up and my stepdad raised me to be a “man” and taught me that showing emotion was weakness. So I grew up always angry. I was filled with hate. I wanted to kill myself. I even tried doing it a few times. But when I found music, (it all) finally made sense to me.
I don’t need to be heard, but my microphone listens.
JLQ: How is Hawaii’s hip-hop scene different?
JC: Hawaii hip-hop needs to stop being Hawaii hip-hop and just be. A box is a coffin you put dead things in. We can’t thrive in a box, so don’t put us in one.
Hip-hop is universal and based on unity. When we stop thinking in terms of region and drawing lines around people to cage them in, we’ll be free. Then we’ll grow. Big fish need big ponds or else they’ll never be big fish.
DG: I feel it’s a bit more pure. Not necessarily doper than anywhere, but it hasn’t really been infested by white America. So majority of the hip-hop made out here comes from an honest place.
JLQ: Who really pushed you to stick with hip-hop?
DG: Workhouse. All day. Big Mox really played a factor in my rapping. The knowledge he drops onto the younger cats is inspiring. And being the legend he is, I listen and just soak (it) up.
Bambu, an MC (who) I really (like), came down here and I was able to get in the studio with him and lay a couple of verses and (shoot) a video. He told me how dope (I) was and I couldn’t believe it, (but) that helped.
My girlfriend really pushes me a lot. I tend to really be inside my head and beat myself up constantly, and she’s always there to kind of get me back on track and focus.
My day job really pushes me because I hate doing it. The money’s good and this and that, but that’s not at all what I wanna do with myself. I’m only happy when I’m rapping.
JC: My team, Workhouse, because we’re thick as thieves.
Since I was in high school, DJ Revise has been pushing me to be better than I am and constantly reminding me of my potential.
Christian Mochizuki inspires me with his work ethic. My family keeps telling me to quit. All the help I don’t get inspires me to be strong and convinces me that I can do whatever I want and be good at it.
JLQ: What is your favorite track off the new album?
JC: Musically, my favorite has to be “Black Paintings.” The way the different sounds come together with our lyrics is amazing to me.
Lyrically, my favorite is “Dubious Maximous” because our lyrics and the theme of the song is very honest. We’ve all been confused by love, and in this song I get to express my confusion as clearly confused as I can portray with my current level of consciousness.
DG: “SceneOne,” because we don’t do spoken word, but we killed that. “HELLo Mr. Mayhem” sort of sets the pace for the album. “A Very Important Piece of Art” goes hard.
(On) “Mouth Sweat” I feel I flexed on my patterns. “|G.R.E.Y.,” (because) why not?
“Dubious Maximus” (because) its unique. Can’t name me somebody that has used that concept before. “Black Paintings” (is) some of my favorite production ever. “Blood on the Toilet Seat” (is) the first song we ever made. “LIMP” (ha) the most ignorant hook I ever made and I dig it.
The beat bangs (on) “Bite Me” (and) “December 32nd” (is) BOOM BAP. “Class Cutter” (is) hella personal and I’ve always wanted to do a song about my mom. (The third verse of) “Fat Mustache” (is) one of my favorite verses. “LIIT” (has) FRENCH in there. Come on, son.
(On) “Rabbits Foot” we stunt on sucka MCs, and “Picture on the Wall” because I sing on that (one).
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.