Where does it say that hip hop as a lifestyle has an age limit? For rapper and graffiti artist Ernie Fresh hip hop became his way of life at age 12. His entry point was collecting tapes, attending sock hops and all nighters at skating rinks, idolizing DJs, and mimicking the graffiti tags on the older kids’ back packs. By his 20s he’d formed the rap group Who Cares along side childhood friends and musicians he’d met through the scene. Who Cares was 14 years of trying to qualify as the underdog. While they were the perpetual openers, the list of shared bills includes: Digable Planets, Kool Keith, Percee P, Slick Rick, the RZA and Egyptian Lover. Only now, with the dissolution of the group, are people beginning to comprehend how far ahead of the curve Who Care’s music remains.
Now, Ernie Fresh is a solo artist. At age 34 his passion is unwavering, the freshness does not fade. The fruits of going solo already resulted in a collaboration with DJ Shadow on his most recent album, The Mountain Will Fall. Career changes won’t alter the message in Fresh’s music. He’s still that latchkey kid channeling his emotions into music as a means to battle negativity. His process is still rooted in the pillars of hip hop culture as his obsession and lifestyle.
Photo by: Josh Johnson