It was a warm Friday night when my cameraman and I got in the car and took the long journey up to Carlsbad, San Diego. North County San Diego is an area of the city known mostly for nice beaches, tourism, and retired couples, so it was quite a surprise when I found a young white rapper repping the area with pride. This rapper goes by Steez76D. Born Stephen Hansink, the San Diego born-and-raised MC is repping his city and is making waves along the way.
Steez invited me to meet him at a local music studio known as “The Dungeon.” Sharing a beige office complex with a few other businesses, the studio was on the second story of the building, surrounded by dry cleaners and a law firm. When we walked up I looked at the clock and saw that it was exactly 8:15, the agreed upon time of our meeting. A few minutes later, an average height guy wearing a stained Ralph Lauren button up and blue jeans walked up to us and introduced himself simply as “Steez.” As we ascended the stairs and approached the door into The Dungeon, the smell of weed was effusive. We stopped for a moment to admire all the posters in the front window as Steez pointed out many local San Diego artists; some of the posters were for his own shows. The studio space was being used by some of Steez’s associates recording and rolling blunts. It was an uncomfortable environment at first due to the lack of space but then we grabbed a seat outside of the studio and I began to pick the brain of the 24-year-old artist.
See the end point, see where you’re
at and connect the dots.
As he sat across from me, I forgot I was talking to a “rapper.” There was no talk of his accomplishments, money and stardom; rather, he began by giving praise to his local North County San Diego community. Being born and raised in the city, he said he feels he can create his art here in San Diego and not feel judged. It seems he has established a safety net and throughout all his endeavors, he always feels backed by this community. His humility and modesty were one of the first things I noticed. He never acted boastful or braggadocious, yet was still aware of the skills he possesses. He seemed to have a real sense of his life and what he desires to accomplish. “Just See the end point, see where you’re at and connect the dots,” he said. With San Diego being so diverse, Steez is able to obtain many different styles in his life and his music. Finding inspiration from his family and surfing, “down-to-earth” is the best way to describe the young artist. Looking up to artists like Brother Ali, Andre 3000, and Bone Thugs and Harmony, it is difficult to put Steez76D into one subgenre of hip-hop.
Steez has shown versatility as an artist throughout his already lengthy discography, in which he has already released an album, 2 EPs, and 2 mixtapes. He’s shown he can shine on trap beats, like on his recent mixtape Surf’n The Trap in which he raps over beats crafted for the top trap artists and spits lines like “Pyrex cookin’ in the kitchen need a chef assistant.” He also has a fantastic EP entitled Jet Lagged with UK artist Peaky. Jet Lagged contains beautiful, progressive electronic beats in which both artists make their lyrical-heavy approach the centerpiece of the album. Both artists boost each other up, neither outshining the other but working together to create a great project. Check out one of Peaky’s solo tapes .frwd. Steez76D’s most notable project T.R.E.E. is a great showcase of all the skills he possess.
A year past T.R.E.E.‘s release, Steez’s ability to show a great array of emotions still comes through loud and clear. The album was originally titled Over Worked and Underpaid due to the artist grinding so hard and getting no reward from it. The title was changed after he realized that the fast-paced undertones of the album fostered a sense of hurriedness when listening to it; the album cover reflecting a cartoon Steez sprinting through an ominous forest. Some tracks were recorded in the midst of Steez’s darkest days. On “Precaution,” Steez uses a voicemail from a friend who was just dumped to introduce the track, going on to warn men about women who only want you for your money. One of the most notable parts of the album is a Dizzy Wright feature; the two rappers connected online and Steez kept the track in his vault for over two years until he felt it was the right time.
“Adult Rap” is the next area of expression Steez76D says will be headed to. It seems that with some experience under his belt, the young MC will be able to build on a new platform of artistry. Imagery and emotional journeys are what Steez looks to bring to the hip-hop scene. As a notable figure in North County, Steez is the perfect artist to bring life into the hip-hop scene of San Diego.
The stigma of being a white rapper is one that Steez is aware of. He stresses not looking and judging him on his outer appearance but instead listening to his music and then make a decision. Steez wishes he could be judged off the contents of his heart instead of his skin tone.
I wish I could really see people for
their heart and the way they think.
With regard to the future for Steez76D, the list of new content coming is very long. Currently Steez is working on a project with Netflix that he will be acting in as well as making the intro track for. Steez is an unsigned artist, however that didn’t seem to worry him much. Not pressured with making money from rap, Steez said Rhymesayers Records would be the top label the young artist desires to sign to. He is also releasing a song with 10 other rappers for a big movie called Oceansideism which will be about Oceanside, San Diego. He also has plans to re-connect with Peaky and tour together throughout Europe. I got the chance to hear a snippet of his upcoming track “Blue Faces” which could be Steez’s best single yet. Still getting surprised by fans saying “What’s Up” in public, Steez76D is a prime example of a New Age artist. Humble, versatile, and a good rapper, while he might not be staying in the same lane as the founders of the genre, what he is bringing to the table is incredible. Through his lyricism, Steez76d is found to be a very introspective lyricist, often in dimly lit rooms late at night thinking about his life. With lines like, “Slow growth is still growth, I feel it so close,” his writing only further exemplifies his personality as a deep and determined individual.
Photos By Jon Reyes
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