Benz And A Backpack Interview With Trek Life: Talks Misogyny & Masculinity, The Importance Of Silver Lining, and The Art of Revolution
When Clutch and I were getting started with Benz And A Backpack in 2009, we made two crucial connections very early on, before we’d even really gotten our legs under us. The first was with Gedi of PotholesInMyBlog.com (and if you follow Gedi or Potholes, you already know how vital that was). The second was with underground emcee Trek Life, someone whom we respected both as a rapper and as a person. Trek distinguished himself to us in this oversaturated market by displaying an unparalleled dedication to his convictions: he is a father, a friend, a peer, a mentor, a trendsetter, and above all else he practices a conscientious form hip-hop that has afforded him the continuing opportunity to travel the world and disseminate his message.
We recently caught up with Trek nearly a year and a half after our first interview, and a lot has changed since then. Trek dropped two major projects last year, had a song featured on ESPN, and was written up in the ‘Pop & Hiss’ section of the Los Angeles Times. We figured right now was a good time to talk to Trek again, to reflect on his recent successes and foreshadow his future ones. Hit the skip for the full text, and make sure you holler at Trek on Twitter!
BaaBP: Last year was a big year for you. What are you most proud of about 2010?
Trek Life: Honestly man, just getting the album out is such a solid fashion was great. Rhymes Within Reason with J.Bizness, The ESPN drop, LA Times article, those were big time firsts for me. My first time having a publicist as well, I think I learned so much with ECN‘s release that I’m proud to have survived it. I’m also happy to be able to do things to help promote new artists around me like Hawdwerk & Jansport J, Richard Wright, Mr Sobers, Skeem Price etc. Giving them whatever extra help I can and watching them develop from it has been a shining moment in my career.
BaaBP: What was the reception like for Everything Changed Nothing?
Trek: This is difficult for me. I feel like the blog and review reception was poor, but I also feel like the album was nit picked to death. I was upset at first but then realized that if you wanna be on a high level as an artist, you gotta realize that people are going to do that. But on the flip side the people LOVED it. The release party was hyped and the shows after were as well, and the people’s reaction was more than I could have asked for. I wish more people could hear it. I’m sure it would be received well if more people took a chance on it.
BaaBP: Who did the artwork for the album?
Trek: Oddisee wanted to go with photos for the album. He came up with a core concept and we shot the flicks in Hollywood.
BaaBP: How did you get the name Trek Life?
Trek: My name comes from my close friend Cam J (RIP) bagging on me in High School for walking hella far instead of getting a ride or taking the bus. I don’t like to be involved in a lot of nonsense or bullshit, so I used to just get on my own and walk for miles. Cam started calling me Trek, and it just stuck with me. I added Life later cuz I thought that’s what life really is, and to sound fresh. [Laughs]
BaaBP: How do different intellectual pursuits, like Philosophy, Art, Critical Theory, influence your perspective on life? How do they influence your creations? Your music?
Trek: I honestly draw on just about anything to learn and be inspired from. There are a lot of B.S. philosophies and theories out there that seem counterproductive to me. I’ve learned to filter everything except what’s genuine. I’m into artistry from the core of a person. You can find people who don’t really have a great “message” in their art, but all in all their art represents them 100%. There’s something about that that is more brilliant than anything else.
BaaBP: Your music has these underlying feelings of both positivity and humility. What is your inspiration?
Trek: My general personality is to always find the silver lining in things. I think that comes out in my music since my rhymes are more therapy for me than anything else. Success inspires me more than anything. Not just my own but the success of my peers and other people. I like reading those stories of the husband and wife that risk it all to start their own business and end up doing well. Being rich, of course, would be great, but to be able to make a living off this would be success for me. That’s the way I see it.
BaaBP: What movies have you seen that greatly influenced your music?
Trek: I hardly EVER watch movies, and when I do they are mostly comedies. [Laughs] ‘Friday’ is the G.M.O.A.T. in my book. If I had to choose a movie that inspired me musically, it wouldn’t be recent, but “Cadillac Records” was the last movie that made me write and focus immediately after seeing it.
BaaBP: Many critics claim that there is currently a crisis of masculinity occurring in hip-hop. Do you agree with that statement? How do you perceive the relationship between masculinity, misogyny, and the lack of women in hip-hop?
Trek: For the most part I agree. Most hardcore rap actually seems pretty feminine to me. I mean, they wanna fight if you just “talk” about them, they have all these random emotional tendencies, they constantly fall out with each other and bicker in public about it, seems like womanly actions in my book. I don’t take any of it too seriously, the fact of the matter is that there are people out there that relate to them for whatever reason. As far as a lack of women in hip-hop, the problem is that a lot of female emcees base their image around sex in one way or the other. Either they are using their sex appeal , or they are telling you that they aren’t using it. That’s not solid enough ground to build a career on. There comes a point where you just have to do you, whatever that may be. If you look at the women’s careers that lasted over the years, that’s what they did, they just came out and defined who they were then lived by it for better or for worse.
BaaBP: What did you think of ‘The Social Network?’
Trek: Man I haven’t even seen it yet, I can’t sit down long enough to watch movies lol
BaaBP: Comparing the protests in Egypt with Wikileaks, do you think there is anything online that can replace a demonstration in the streets?
Trek: No way, there’s nothing out there that exist stronger than visible collection of people behind one cause. The internet only sparks these collectives, it also takes minimal commitment to be on the internet behind something. But when you look out see a crowd of people ready to fight, protest or even die for what they believe in, you get a clear picture of what’s really going on.
BaaBP: Obviously, you’d take the Lakers in a Celtics-Lakeshow match-up (I’d take the Celtics). But please answer this question honestly: Blake Griffin or Lamar Odom?
Trek: Lamar Odom. He can play EVERY position on the floor effectively. Blake Griffin is an awesome athlete and hopefully age doesn’t take away from that, but Lamar Odom’s talents are timeless. I feel like he could’ve gone down as one of the greatest to play the game if he simply tried harder nightly.
BaaBP: What was the last book you read?
Trek: I had to re-read The Alchemist again for some reason. It was calling me lol, Currently reading Devil in a Blue Dress.
BaaBP: What’s on the horizon in 2011 for you?
Trek: I promised myself I’d branch out a little more sound-wise, so I did this song with a crew called the Kilahurtz, a few house songs and some other things. I’m not sure if all those things will feature this year but they are done.
Everything Changed Nothing is being remixed by a collage of producers and coming out in the summer titled Wouldn’t Change Nothin.
Finally finishing this EP with Vinyl Frontiers (I’ve been holding this project up for a while now.
My next album Hometown Foreigner will be completely produced by this cat Maestroe of E-Super, very excited about working with yet another dope producer from LA.