Vocab Slick’s roots in hip-hop stem from his teenage years spent rhyming in the northern Bay Area of California
like so many wild teens, he fell into a life of drugs, hustling and eventually stints in jail.
The young rapper—then known as Vocabulary Slick—turned things around, cleaned himself up and transferred that energy into his music. And in 2003, he not only released his solo debut, Lyrically Conscious, but also formed the group Distant Relatives with his childhood friend, Emotionall. Shortly thereafter, they were joined by rapper Maynee, and released their first full-length, For The Passion, in 2006.
The group was struck by misfortune not long after their debut dropped, when Emotionall was detained and shockingly deported to Mexico. Vocab and Maynee were unsure of how to proceed, but they decided to press on as a duo, all with the mission of creating “truth music.” The two MCs were soon joined by gifted Bay Area-by-way-of-Ireland DJ Ricky Switch, who joined them on their next release, 2007’s The Ethx of Distant Relatives, produced by Fremont, Calif.’s Ethx.
Vocab soon showcased his talents as a solo artist with a powerful single, 2010’s “Dark Day,” while also continuing to work with Maynee. The two dropped their next Distant Relatives record, This Changes Everything, in 2011 to critical acclaim and global recognition. The Albom produced entirely by Rick Vargas and featured guest appearances by The Grouch & Eligh and Zumbi (of Zion I).
What followed was a time of personal challenges and growth for Vocab. In the summer of 2013, his mother passed away and his daughter was born. And then in January 2014, his longtime friend and Distant Relatives partner, Maynee, died suddenly. Facing tragedy and pain, Vocab did the only thing he could do—he took his heartbreak and emotion, and put it all into his art.
As the man said himself: “I took that pain and poured it into my music.”
And he did exactly that in April 2014 with the release of the Somethin’ Slick EP, which he quickly followed up that November with his stellar Issues and Episodes album. Not to be outdone, he co-founded the Slap Frost Tour alongside DJ True Justice and Z-Man, who together performed for three weeks straight, hitting all states from California to Wyoming.
The tour was an immense success and grew into an annual tradition with bigger lineups and extended dates. 2015 included performances from fellow Bay Area heavyweights Locksmith and Paris, while 2016 boasted the likes of Planet Asia and Chino XL.
Vocab’s hard work and never-ceasing grind didn’t—and won’t—stop there, though. He embarked on a lengthy 2016 summer tour with Equipto and DJ True Justice while also finding the time to wrap up his latest solo project. The EP, The Day After Yesterday, is produced entirely by Rob Wright and is set to drop in early 2017.