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16 May 2019

Beats With a Message: Thoughts Contained's New Hip-Hop Record Keeps Things Positive

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Thoughts Contained. Thoughts Contained. Brian Blueskye

After I saw Thoughts Contained perform at The Date Shed back in January, I left in awe of both the duo’s beats and message.

During an interview in Palm Springs, Savier1 (Sal Gomez) and Zeke Martinez talked about their recently released EP, and the group’s evolving hip hop sound.

“We started around 2009,” Gomez said. “We were a full band. We had a bass player, a drummer and two guitarists. It was too hard to keep it going.”

Added Martinez: “It was really hard to keep it together and work out schedules with everyone.”

Thoughts Contained’s self-titled album has a lot of positive and uplifting messages. One song that grabbed me in particular is called “Life Savings.” It talks about saving money, and appreciating life instead of material objects. It includes the lyrics: “It’s not how much you make; it’s how much you keep.”

“We like to talk about stuff that most rappers don’t talk about,” Gomez said. “It’s all about different ideas and things people don’t talk about. We try to keep it uplifting and positive. Our new stuff sounds a little different. We’re trying to incorporate more of a modern sound, beat-wise. A lot of stuff sounds like it’s from the ’90s. Pretty soon, we’re going to start mixing it up.”

Many of the songs on the EP include a guest DJ. Gomez explained that these collaborations, while rewarding, can be difficult.

“It’s already hard enough to get your own music going. The DJ is a whole different element and another artist,” Gomez said. “You have to plan ahead of time with their schedules and be a little more patient. For some songs, you’ll have to wait it out.”

Both Gomez and Martinez said their experience in larger bands has helped them with Thoughts Contained.

“I was in a couple of bands before this, with people not always seeing eye to eye,” Gomez said. “With Zeke and Thoughts Contained, we’ve learned from that and have come to the conclusion to move forward and keep going without wasting time.”

Added Martinez: “It has happened before where he’s wanted to do something and say it this way, where I want to say it another way—but it’s never a clash.”

Most local hip hop has come out of the east side of the Coachella Valley, but Martinez and Gomez said that may be starting to change.

“Now there’s more hip-hop stuff coming (out of the west side) of the valley, too,” Gomez said. “It’s always good to hear new stuff, and it’s dope to see the culture of hip hop spreading. It was always small, but now it’s growing in the community. It feels like the spotlight isn’t on (the west) side of the valley, but everyone is working, and it’s changing. I feel like everything has its time.”

At Coachella, local band Ocho Ojos packed the Sonora tent both Sundays—and Gomez joined local rappers Verzo Loko and J. Patron onstage with Ocho Ojos.

“It was really exciting, and it felt like a big achievement,” Gomez said. “I went to Coachella 12 or 13 years in a row, and I was always watching bands and hip-hop artists. … To me, it felt like one of my life goals to scratch off the list. I’m really grateful for that opportunity.”

The members of Thoughts Contained promised more new material is coming in the near future.

“Right now, we’re writing new music. We’re trying to modernize it, like I said earlier with the beats,” Gomez said. “We’re not going to completely change our sound, but try new things. There will probably be a new album, too, within a year or so. We’re trying to work on merch as well. We have ideas and drawings, given I’m an artist, too.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thoughtscontained.

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