You’ve no doubt heard about the drug dealing or gang member pasts of the biggest names in Hip Hop music – whether their tales of violent street life and crime are 100% authentic or mostly made up for the street cred hype, it’s rarely been portrayed as something to overcome or turn away from, yet that is exactly what California-based Hip Hop artist Elliott Niezel has done.
His rocky past and violent, destructive ways aren’t a point of pride or a source of bragging for Niezel. No, his past was sad and messed up. His life was going nowhere until he did something about it, and he wants others to do what he has done – to rise above it and live a better life. “Gangs, violence, and destruction made all my musical ambitions kinda sink to the wayside,” Niezel says.
“I didn't have any aspirations to start writing music and making real records until I escaped that lifestyle and my personal addictions and demons. I was addicted to every substance under the sun, and now I am addicted to music.”
Niezel’s current healthy addiction to all things music began when he was just a kid in Santa Barbara, his hometown. As a product of poverty and a broken home, Niezel was a quick study and natural fit for the selfish and destructive lifestyle of the streets. Even though all his time and attention went to drugs, alcohol and gang living, Niezel says music never left his side, just his dreams.
He always had the dream to become good at rap, but he just got too caught up in the non-stop fast-paced party lifestyle. Nothing else mattered, he says, until his freshman year of high school when he discovered he could freestyle and rap. For the next several years, Niezel’s hidden newfound talent was neglected and pushed aside while he wrecked his life over partying, drug dealing and crime.
“I was addicted to negativity and thought it was the coolest thing in the world…Now I’m hooked on positivity, and I see my old outlook on life as real messed up and backwards,” he says.
Niezel’s only moving forward in life now and is creating his funky reality-based Hip Hop with a groovy twist, or what he calls Groove Hop. His first recording project was with a lifelong friend and fellow Hip Hop artist known as Zionics – their duo is called Resorvation, and their first record was recorded on an old laptop computer with a homemade ‘panty hose and coat hanger’ vocal pop filter… Yeah, it doesn’t get any more real or ‘street’ than that. Now, Niezel’s a recording veteran with five studio projects to his credit, including records with Resorvation. “Against the Grain” – his latest release – continues the Groove Hop positivity that comes from a creative soul who knows he’s very lucky and blessed to be making this inventive, honest Hip Hop from his soul instead of being dead or in prison.
Check out Niezel’s work on Facebook or at elliottniezel.bandcamp.com, and whatever you do, listen to the message while grooving to the beat. There’s a magic in there. Music changed his life for the better, and it could do the same for you if you need a better direction.