If Albuquerque hears its belly rumbling for hip-hop, there's good reason.
“The stuff that comes out of there [in Albuquerque] is so potent,” says Santotzin, a.k.a. Julius Gallegos. Still, compared with a city like Portland, which has a good foundation in hip-hop and a strong and supportive community—Burque comes up short.
“Albuquerque venues are funny about booking hip-hop shows, with a lot of shows ending in violence,” says Gallegos, who moved from the Duke City when he was 15 after seven months in the New Mexico Military Institute. “In Albuquerque, people are a lot hungrier, and it's not directed in a positive way. I've lived here [Portland] a little more than 10 years. In that time, there's been, like, one fight in a hip-hop venue. Club owners are really happy about that.”
There's support in Portland, and a lot of people willing to help new artists. Portland's also a little show-spoiled, says Gallegos, with a hip-hop performance happening every single night of the week. Gallegos will often just pop into a venue, and if the people know him, he can be sure he's going to get some stage time.
The community, the Portland drive, as well as love from his friends and family in Burque, helped him put together The Gemini Collection, which he calls his life's work. “This is my whole life in one record,” he says. “It took more than two years to actually put the whole album together.”
He'd like people to know that if they give him a chance, they might be surprised. “The energy, the positivity—keeping it independent is real important, too. But then again, how are you supposed to emcee if you can't make rent?”
In DIY fashion, Gallegos handles all his own promotions, booking management and graphic design. “I guess it comes down to budget,” he says. “You've got to pay people to do things. I've been doing this long enough that I'm confident enough in my networking skills that I can do it myself.” He's financed by his cousin C-Los in Albuquerque, and he has 500 units sitting in Los' office. Burque fans have really started to show love for the disc, so “an official release seems proper.”
He tries to keep the tracks soulful and funk-based with good drums, pianos and horns. “I want to make it sound like music, not just a video game or a ringtone.” Gallegos grew up mostly on funk, soul and gangsta rap, though he's quick to point out that that's not his style. Instead, he shoots for the introspective, rhymes of substance with a street edge.