by The People’s Minister of Information JR

Raw G is an up-and-coming Bay Area bilingual MC who just dropped her debut album, “Esperanza.” For years she has established a local presence, burning up the opening act slot for performers in the Bay.

Raw G and the legendary DJ Premiere
Raw G and the legendary DJ Premiere

But most importantly, Raw G is an established “raptivist” – an MC who is involved in activism. In fact, Raw G will donate all proceeds from “Esperanza” to a high school in Oakland that is dedicated to working with newly arrived immigrants. Check out Raw G in her own words:

M.O.I. JR: Can you tell people how you became a rapper? When and where did you start?

Raw G: I was about 12 years old when I got introduced to Hip Hop. Without understanding a word of English, it captured my attention.

I was in Mexico around 1996 when I was listening to 2Pac, KRS-One and Wu-Tang. I met the first rap crew in Guadalajara whose lyrics were in Spanish, and that’s when I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

Expressing what I feel has never been a problem for me; finding out I can do it in a creative way without caring about what people are going to think or say inspired me to fully speak my mind and heart.

I started writing more and rapping. I came to the U.S. in 1999, and I learned English by translating lyrics from Hip Hop artists I was listening to at that time.

M.O.I. JR: Who were some of your first musical inspirations, and who inspires you now?

Raw G: There were a lot of artists I was listening to back then, but who really inspired me was 2Pac, Cypress Hill, KRS-One, Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Fugees, Snoop Dogg and others.

Right now, some of the artists that inspire me are still the same. I guess I’m stuck in the old school vibes, ha ha.

Also NAS, Jay Z, Mos Def, Joey Bada$$, Eminem, Nneka – and outside of Hip Hop there are so many artists I listen to who inspire me to experiment with new things within my music.

Expressing what I feel has never been a problem for me; finding out I can do it in a creative way without caring about what people are going to think or say inspired me to fully speak my mind and heart.

M.O.I. JR: How long have you been organizing concerts? How did you get into that?

Raw G: Being an artist led me to start organizing events. I have never liked waiting for others to do things for me and didn’t like waiting to be booked to perform.

So I started organizing the Oakland Lyricist Lounge in 2006, opening up the platform to a lot of us who really just needed a space to share and build community.

The love for music kept me going on this role as an organizer and promoter. Music is the best way to bring people together.

M.O.I. JR: What are the biggest highlights of your Hip Hop career?

Raw G: I’m thankful for everything that has come my way within my career. The biggest highlight I would say is my hustle to achieve greatness regardless of the obstacles that come along the way.

Having the opportunity to share the stage with artists I truly admire and feeling the audience feeling what I do is what keeps me going.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little bit about your creative process? Do you write songs as poems or do you wait to hear a dope beat?

Raw G: When it comes to writing, it really depends on the moment, what I’m going for and who I’m working with. A lot of times I have a melody or concept in my head and record it on my phone.

Or I have a beat that I like and start writing to it – or simply just start writing a song and produce the music to it after. So I would say a little bit of everything.

Raw G ‘Esperanza’ CD coverM.O.I. JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your album that you just released? How long did it take to record?

Raw G: “Esperanza” is the first studio project that I released. It projects a message of hope. It has different vibes – from jazzy, strong beats with soft, aggressive breath and melodic vocals.

“Esperanza” follows the release of two music videos. This record took me a long time to put out, because I didn’t have the time and the resources I would’ve like to have had to make it happen production-wise.

The work behind it wasn’t the typical, “Let’s get in the studio for six months to make a record.” It was more like, “I hope I get to make some progress and get to it at the end of my day.”

What you’ll hear on this record is a preview of what’s coming in my next album. I am donating all profits from this project to Oakland International High School, which targets newly arrived immigrants.

“Esperanza” is the first studio project that I released. It projects a message of hope. It has different vibes – from jazzy, strong beats with soft, aggressive breath and melodic vocals.

M.O.I. JR: Are there any features on “Esperanza”? How did you pick who you were going to work with?

Raw G: Artists involved in this project are Gift of Gab of Blackalicious, Josh Davis aka DJ Shadow, Jeremy Storch, Lila Rose, Naima Shalhoub, Nikila and Modern Future. I truly respect the work of each artist I collaborated with.

It came to mind to make a song with these artists after I already had the layout vocals and production done. When I listened back, I heard their vocals and styles in my head and knew they would bring something special to the tracks.

M.O.I. JR: How can people hear and purchase the album?

Raw G: You can listen to “Esperanza” on Spotify, Soundcloud and Band Camp; it’s also available for purchase on iTunes and all online stores. All profits from this project will go to Oakland International High School.

M.O.I. JR: How can people stay up on your music and events?

Raw G: You can stay connected by visiting my website, www.raw-g.com, and following me on Facebook and Twitter.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

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