The two members of Audio Push (Julian “Oktane” Browne & Larry “Price” Jacks) were around eight years old in 1998 when Outkast released Aquemini and A Tribe Called Quest first broke up. But that hasn’t stopped the millennial MCs from Inland Empire, California from folding the legendary groups–and others like them–into their consciousness as fans and artists. (“6 years old in detention when Nas was rappin’ ‘It Was Written.”) Though they first rose to national prominence with a pulsating paint-by-numbers dance tune like “Teach Me How To Jerk,” they’ve spent almost the next decade diversifying their catalogue with tracks like “Tis The Season,” which sports a decidedly 90s East Coast sonic influence. A mix of skinny jean couture and cocksure lyricism Audio Push’s style belies the dominant narrative of 2016 that hip-hop’s new guard has this disdain (or worse yet, indifference) towards their forebears.
“A lot of people are awakening. You can only run on a treadmill for but so long with the same stuff and we’re just talking about things that need to be said,” says Oktane. Their long awaited debut album 90951 comes on the heels of their Stone Junction EP released earlier this year. It was their last obligation to Interscope Records, who they were signed to in 2009. Their debut is not just a mash-up of area codes from their hometown (909 and 951), it represents the mash-up of divergent styles and moods they’ve exhibited over their last eleven (!) mixtapes. They are taking full advantage of their unique place in hip-hop as young artists with a veteran’s perspective.
“We’re not gonna wait ’til we’re too old and you don’t value what we’re saying as the youth to speak up,” says Price. “That’s what a lot of these artists—our peers—are doing. They know what’s going on but feel like ‘we’re young’ that’s what the OGs are for. But that’s wack to me. When I was young the old heads couldn’t get to me because you old. I’m more so gonna listen to the homies that’s my age. That’s why I love being 25 and talking like this to the kids. We young. I was born in 1990. I am actually young in this business, but I’m way more aware. I think we’re gonna change the world.”
Recognizing them for the unicorns they are, here are 8 reasons that we’re thankful for Audio Push.
1. Their creativity knows no bounds, even geographic ones.
Oktane: 90951 is really just an area code mash-up. There’s two sides to the IE, one side of it is 909 and the other side is 951 and they separated it because it got so big they needed new numbers. We just mashed that up and made 90951. A lot of people think that’s a zip code, it’s not a zip code.
Price: We were getting hell on Twitter at first but it sparked conversation, so that’s dope.
2. Their opening track “Ghetto Fabulous Filtered Water” is a thank you card to their mothers…
I remember hot days in the Honda, sittin’ in the back
Before I had a dream, before I had a sack
Before I had a lot of girls singin’ all the tracks
Writing raps trynna figure out if my daddy coming back…
Oktane: We’re big on song titles. Off rip when you read our song titles we want you to wonder what it sounds like.
Price: I hate titles like ‘Go Hard.’ We grew up on creativity and add on to the game. When I grew up ‘Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik‘ was a song title. People cared more than just ‘Flex Up.’ We wanted to tell stories. ‘GFFW’ was our message to honor our moms but do it in a way that was fresh. We didn’t wanna do ‘Dear Mama.’ Mom always made sure we were good and took care of us and we knew you had money when we got the fridge with the water filter. We was always broke so when my mom was up we knew. The fridge was full, we got new kicks…
Oktane: And the new fridge had the little thing with the cupholder and water came out. I know that’s normal for people, but that wasn’t standard [for us].
Price: People don’t understand that’s a real luxury. We always had the raggedy ass fridges. So we wanted to have something everybody could relate to. If you had a mom like ours, they did everything to make sure we were good. So we wanted to make sure they knew *in Tupac voice* “they were appreciated.”
3.Their song and video “Spread Love” is the love in need of love today.
“Remind me to get a recipe from Martha Stewart
‘Bout how to cheat the system
And still be the victim…”
Oktane: That song was built and made to change the world. The world needs a lot more love and less lean, turning up and drugs, shooting and killing. You hear the youth in it. That’s the ghetto symphony.
Price: The video is crazy. Our homey Chris murked it. We wanted to give you something different. We didn’t want to stand infant of cars with chains on and with the young Moet. That shit is just dry.
Oktane: There’s too much real stuff going on in the world…kids with no future listening to craziness. Somebody gotta guide it and say ‘we tripping.’
Price: I’ll put those verses up against your favorite rapper’s. We’re saying some shit that counts. “Remind me to get a recipe from Martha Stewart about how to cheat the system and still be the victim.” You n*ggas ain’t saying shit like that.
4. They will look at girl’s booties in church and be ok with it.
“I told the kids don’t do drugs and I ashed in the cup, damn
I told my girl it was love then told thicky-thick wassup damn” – “Hypocrite”
Oktane: “Hypocrite” is just the realest song that everybody is scared to say in person, let alone record on wax. It’s the meeting with your pastor without the little window. We just take down that whole curtain. I’m just as human as everybody else. we all deal with the exact same things and some of the stuff is different but we’re gonna make sure you relate to it. I feel like too many people judge people because they sin differently.
Price: If you got to listen to the “So Far To Go” freestyle that’s where this song spun off from. In it I say “Am I a hypocrite or just real enough to admit the shit” and we spun off from there. We knew there wasn’t a song out there that was that vulnerable and honest. My son is on there saying “aw, man.” That sample is him. And on the third verse my manager wanted us to go in and speak on the game. About how 1500 streams equal one sale. We’ll tell you how we’re hypocrites and then how y’all are hypocrites, the fans.
Oktane: There’s a lot of gems in bars in there like “I tell them I don’t do drugs, then I ashed in a cup/ I told my girl it was love then told thick thick what’s up.” It’s just real things that real people go through.
Price: At the end of the day the purpose of the song is to put it all in perspective…I’ll be in the street thuggin’ with the homies but I’ve always heard the Creator’s voice while I’m doing it.