Those who have been following Potholes should be quite familiar by now with the name Trek Life. The up-and-coming Los Angeles emcee has outrageous talent and is proving that for once, good guys can finish first. After releasing a steady stream of music over the past two years, Trek is preparing to release his latest LP, Everything Changed Nothing, produced by Oddisee. We got a chance to catch up with Trek for a nice chat about the new album, his inspiration and his unfailing optimism. Hit the skip to read his thoughts, and to get a never-before-told story:
PIMB: How are things in Trek’s world? What’s been going on this summer?
Trek: We just got some sun out here in L.A. so my little girl and I have just been spending time at the beach pretty much every weekend. Other than that, I’ve been getting ready for the album. There have been a lot of video shoots, random exclusive joints that have to be done and songs that I have to do that have to be turned in for other people. So right now, it’s just been work and the beach.
PIMB: There’s an interesting story behind how you and Oddisee first met, which he explains briefly at the beginning of New Money. Can you dig into that a bit more for us?
Trek: My homeboy introduced us. I was out here [in L.A.] with J-Live when they were on tour and Move.meant was opening for them. So at random I got a last minute phone call – I was just at the crib watching Family Guy – and my homeboy said I had to come through and meet somebody. So I roll through and he introduced me to Oddisee, and Odd gave me the whole spiel. He said he was looking for an artist to work with in L.A. I was already familiar with his work so I said I’m up for whatever you’re trying to do.
Another part of that story that’s never really been told before is that at the time it was actually between me and another local rapper. Oddisee started working with both of us, and I don’t know how much it was actually between us two emcees, but Oddisee and I really hit it off from the moment we were introduced. We had a mutual understanding of each other. We had the same goals in mind musically. We started hanging out and working, and from there it just blossomed into a remix album.
PIMB: You have met a fair share of challenges in your life, yet you seem to persevere. Can you describe what life was like for you before Price I’ve Paid and New Money? Was it difficult trying to come up as an artist in Los Angeles?
Trek: The answer to that is somewhat of a yes. I didn’t really come from that kind of L.A. family where there are big aspirations for the kids to grow up and be a big actor or star. My sister was into that, but we were kind of just regular, day-to-day working people. My father told me I had to get a job in L.A. and that I can’t just run around trying to be a rapper. And honestly at times it was pretty tough; there were tough adjustments along the way. I had a very cut-and-dry upbringing. The actual climb itself of doing the music and being recognized for whatever challenges I had, really came once I started putting my life experience on paper rather than just rapping for the sake of rapping – just matching words. The minute I started to write what was really going on in my mind and what I was going through day-today, I saw a complete turnaround. I was about 23 at that time, and everything automatically turned around.
PIMB: You recently went on tour through Europe with Oddisee, Fashawn and more. What was that experience like for you?
Trek: I don’t want to say the European scene is really new, but it is new enough that they still have an appreciation for hip-hop because hip-hop is different enough from their everyday culture that it can be highly interesting to them. The crowds are a little more receptive for new artists at least. That said, it was Trek Life and Diamond District on tour. When we met up with Fashawn, Blu and Exile, the shows were just bananas because every artist on the bill could perform. You know, I consider myself a top-level performer, and I was an opening act. So when there’s that much energy in one show, the audience’s engagement level is just crazy from start to finish. yU is one of my favorite emcees, as well as XO, and I grew up with Blu & Exile so I was very familiar with them. But I wanted to see Fashawn personally, so I was in the crowd for his set. It was great. I got to have the experience of performing with people who are at least equally as talented as myself in front of an extremely receptive crowd, and I got to be a fan at the same time.
PIMB: Your music has a very positive outlook. Did your optimism come naturally, or was it something you were taught while you were growing up?
Trek: My mom’s the optimist. That’s 100 percent where that comes from. My dad is kind of an optimist, but he’s more of a “you better get your ass out there and work” type person. My mom always told me, “Just keep it moving. Tomorrow’s a brighter day; tomorrow’s a better day; tomorrow’s another day.” She’s focused on getting to the next step, so that’s 100 percent my mom right there.
PIMB: Let’s dig into the new album, Everything Changed Nothing. The first track “Ready to Live” is an absolute gem, and sets the stage for the rest of the album very nicely. What was your motivation behind this track?
Trek: It’s similar to the theory behind “Can’t Complain” off the Rhymes Within Reason album. I was having a real shitty day. I think it was in the middle of the most f***ed up week I can ever remember having. Trying to write under those circumstances for me is often really difficult. I don’t like to write those type of songs where you seem upset at everything that’s going on, only to look back and think, “well, I wasn’t really feeling that way.” When I sat down to write “Ready to Live” I wanted to write the exact opposite of what was going on. I wanted to write the happiest song possible, and hopefully it gets me out of this – and it actually worked. Sometimes just writing down things that are good is all you need. Some people heard that song and thought it was a knock on the Ready to Die thing, but it wasn’t even like that. So many people I know have these negative circumstances, and I wanted them to look at all the positive things going on instead.
PIMB: L.A. has a notably strong music scene, and a long-running history with hip-hop. How has the West Coast, and Los Angeles in particular influenced the brand of music that you create?
Trek: The Pharcyde era. Pharcyde, Funkdoobiest and Dilated [Peoples]. I guess you could really call it the Unity Era. Freestyle Fellowship also. It was exciting to me because at the time I was a teenager, and I could really enjoy it. I was going to Unity and to clubs to see Aceyalone perform, and I attempted to battle Myka 9. That scene appealed to me because I could get involved. It was also a nice alternative to the cliché perspective of L.A. hip-hop – the gangsta era and drug dealers.
PIMB: Everything Changed Nothing is quite the interesting title. Is there a specific meaning to this title?
Trek: I was with my daughter, and you can’t fathom the amount you can love a person or anything more than you can your child. So I’m sitting there thinking of all I have to do for my daughter. As I hold her, I think how even as I have everything that I’ve ever wanted right in my hands, nothing in the outside world changes. People are still outside hustling. People still tell stories about ridiculous things that they say they’ll do, but really can’t. You know, ultimately, it’s the internal changes that we make that matter most. The album is extremely internal in that regard. I’m talking about everything that means anything to me, but I’m also telling you that the outside world does not always change.
PIMB: Do you have a particular favorite track from the Everything Changed Nothing? What do you hope that fans take away from the album?
Trek: It first was “As The World Turns”, but now I’m more partial to “Might Sound Crazy”. And, ultimately I want to be in that list of rappers you talk about. You talk about Blu, Von Pea, Jay [Electronica], Fashawn – I feel I should be in that list. Everyone feels they should be in that list. I want people to look at me and think I can give stories, I can rhyme, and I can do it all. I feel like for some reason, and maybe it’s promotion, I haven’t been able to make that list for a large amount of people. I’m hoping in the end I can be placed on the list of elite, up-and-coming emcees. And just as a general feeling, I want people to walk away from Everything Changed Nothing with a positive outlook on life. I want people to know that they should never quit. I want people to be inspired to take positive actions toward living a better life.
PIMB: Thanks for taking the time to chop it up with us. Any final words for the fans out there?
Trek: Me putting out records constantly – that’s just the attitude of a person who never quits. And to anyone who aspires to be anything big, you know, the cameras will be flashing and you’ll be marketable, as long as you focus on being dope.