“The Rise of the Turtle,” a new instrumental hip hop album from Sacramento Knoxx, is a shining example of the type of independent hip hop being released from Detroit artists today. Uplifting and full of creative twists, the Southwest Detroit representative showcases a number of hard-hitting beats that have helped him become a rising music talent.
“The Rise of The Turtle” is the third instrumental album released this year from Sacramento Knoxx, including “Heart Beats” and “The Selena Tape,” a tribute to legendary Mexican American singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, who continues to influence popular music today.
Born Christopher Yepez, Knoxx began making music as a youth learning jazz and blues, but then discovered hip hop as a creative art form that spoke to his generation. Influenced by the storytelling lyrics of 1990s hip hop, Sacramento Knoxx, now 27, could relate the hardships being told by rap artists around the country to the problems of Southwest Detroit.
The rapper’s love for creating hip hop beats began by making “pause tapes.” He looped instrumentals together using his mother’s two-cassette boom box. Sacramento Knoxx would patiently rewind one tape back to the beginning of the loop while pushing pause and record with the second tape.
which he made by looping instrumentals together using his mother’s two-cassette boombox, patiently rewinding one tape back to the beginning of the loop while pressing pause and record with the second tape. This gave him the sound of a full band without the expense of gathering instruments, players and recording equipment.
Knoxx slowly began to get access to computer recording equipment. He learned the sequencing program and developed his own technique and style along the way.
“Nobody showed me the ropes; it was just me and my homie. We figured it out and we pushed forward,” says Knoxx. “It’s just been a slow climb, just evolving with that sequencer and then putting more technology to it.”
Since these humble beginnings, he has become a respected contributor to the local hip hop scene, building relationships with other local artists and collaborating on different projects. Sacramento Knoxx produced every track on the debut solo album released this year by Mic Audio of Stereo Boyz and directed two videos from the release. He’s also produced videos for his own projects, adding a personal dimension to help listeners connect with his music.
Knoxx helped establish “The Raiz Up,” a weekly Sunday afternoon gathering in Southwest Detroit for the hip hop community and local youth to come out and participate. He built relationships with local hip hop artists and collaborated on different projects.
“Basically, I was like I got this vision, let’s just do it,” Knoxx told the Michigan Citizen. “I hit my collective up and said let’s just go out there and do what we do, do what we love, drop the knowledge and teach others if they want to learn — it’s open. I got the mechanics together and said, okay, we need a generator, speakers and everything else.”
“The Raiz Up” is a free event held at different locations in Southwest Detroit where there is always a forum to start conversations about social issues such as education, local economics and crime in the city. The gathering carries forth the tradition of hip hop culture as an effective tool for education and awareness.
“Whether it’s five people out here or 50, this is in existence as a platform to come learn something. Even if you don’t want to learn, come hang out, chill.”
The title “The Rise of the Turtle” represents Sacramento Knoxx’s indigenous roots and his ties to Native American culture. He is Ojibwe people. The reference to the turtle refers to it being a symbol for the earth.
He cites a famous quote from Louis Riel, a 19th century political figure of native Canada who fought for the rights of indigenous peoples and who stated, “My people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
Sacramento Knoxx sees now as a time for the people to regain their spirit and come together for a stronger future together. For him, hip hop music and culture is one way of making those important connections.
“It was powerful to me,” says Sacramento Knoxx. “People are in this music sometimes for a lot of things. My thing is to share what I can bring.”
Download “The Rise Of The Turtle” from Sacramento Knoxx at www.SacramentoKnoxx.bandcamp.com