The hip-hop pantheon is stacked with MCs and DJs who also wrote graffiti and vice-versa, going way back to cats like Fab 5 Freddy, Kool Herc, and KRS-One. During the ’90s, acts like the Artifacts carried the flag for writers -turned-rappers, making the designation into a hip-hop subgenre of sorts. With their latest mixtape, The Get Up, the San Antonio duo of OBX and DJ Tech-Neek posits the official soundtrack for San Antonio graffiti artists on the grind.
Clocking in at a little less than half an hour, The Get Up consists of 14 solid tracks, interspersed with skits that celebrate the many facets of graffiti culture, including everyday elements such as fat caps and Montana paints. The Current caught up with these two former Music Awards recipients as they prepared their free mix tape to saturate the Alamo City streets.
What can you tell us about the themes explored in The Get Up?
OBX: We wanted to kind of give some sort of love to graffiti. With The Get Up we really wanted to put something out there that was gonna generate some buzz. The last thing that people know us from is The New Hope so we thought let’s put this out there so our name will stay in the street.”
Tech-Neek: We also wanted to give some love to that hunger because San Antonio by far is the best city in Texas when it comes to graffiti. … Everyone’s getting up. Anything you do in hip-hop, no matter what you say, you want to be the best at it. Whether you’re DJing, rapping, graffiti, breaking, you want to be the best. That’s what hip-hop is to me.
Was this a conscious effort to bring these two elements together?
OBX: We wanted to do a tribute to graffiti, because absolutely they go hand-in-hand. San Antonio, musically, it’s a good hip-hop city. I feel like it’s still on the rise. I feel like it’s still coming up, but it’s not really a musically hip-hop city. … I think the city is predominantly a graffiti based hip-hop city, and we want to provide the soundtrack.
Tech-Neek: I have a lot friends that are in RTD, LAWS Crew. I have pieces at the house with some of these people, and I kick it with these people, so to me there’s no difference. We both love hip-hop. So-and-so’s good at graff, and I’m good at scratching. It should be more balanced like that.”
What are some of the challenges of being a working artist trying to succeed in San Antonio?
Tech-Neek: I went to college and got my associate’s, and I work. I have my regular 9-to-5 job that I do, `but` I’ve been DJing since I was 15 so I don’t ever see myself not doing it. I might see myself not doing it in public but I’ll always do it.
OBX: To me it comes down to you know when you’re doing right and you know when you’re doing wrong. I think about it, and half of the people I came up with are in prison doing football numbers; 20-to-25 to 30-to-45 fucking years, and it’s sad. I’ve had boys that were like “let me invest in you, let me put real money behind you,” but I know where that money comes from. People in the street, even if they’re your best friends, you never know their intentions. It is kind of hard us trying to do this full time, me going to school, both of us working. It’ll kind of throw you off a little ’cause real life comes into it. That’s why the music is so fucking good, because it’s all truth. We ain’t trying to be some super thugs with capes and shit. Real life gets me motivated to write. When I see my parents having to put up a fucking for sale sign in front of their home because shit is so fucked up, that makes me want to get in the lab and throw all that shit into my music. That’s why I think me and Tech stand out from a lot of people here. That’s what fuels the music. •