Written by Jacob Tucker
On its surface, Palomar College may seem like nothing more than a commuter school; where students come to class, buy a sandwich, go to the library for a couple hours, and then go home. However, if one keeps their eye open, they may find that rare pockets of Palomar are home to a thriving culture.
One of these pockets is on the small garden of blue pebbles under the MD building, where freestyle rap is the preferred mode of expression.
“This is our spot,” said Bryan Hernandez as he motioned to the surrounding blue pebbles. “We kinda just form around here and guys will come up and they’ll just take their spot on the beat, then they’ll just rap and they’ll speak.”
Hernandez, or “Dr. Peppa”, is a 21 year-old marketing and communications double major who only started rapping in March when he met the other guys who regularly hang out at the spot they affectionately call “Blue Rocks.” Since then, the group of five has been meeting up almost every day at the spot to freestyle.
“A lot of people will come up and just watch. They’ll be walking by and just looking, and we’ll by like ‘hey come on,’ and then they come,” said Elijah Prince, a 19 year-old computer science major who goes by “Lij.” He added that it’s not just other rappers, but other musicians who will play guitar, keyboards, or other instruments.
Prince and two of the other rappers who frequent Blue Rocks, Judah El, and Kosi Bunguy, have formed their own rap group called “Wavphilez,” which has recorded about a dozen tracks since they formed after March 6, where they met each other at a freestyle rap session happening in the SU quad.
Judah El, or “Good Savage”, an 18 year-old studying music and business marketing described the day. “There was this dude by the name of Looney, and he had an open mic,” El said. “I was like ‘yo, is this open?’ and I grabbed it and started freestyling.”
El said that after that day the group of guys, who had all just met each other, decided they wanted to keep rapping together. “There was about four or five other cats, but us three was the only ones who really came together.” This was the birth of Wavphilez. Their music can be found on YouTube.
Though the three-man group regularly meets to record tracks, Blue Rocks has been open to everyone. This inclusive positivity is something that defines the character of Blue Rocks. “The demographics of the people range so much,” El said. “Old white ladies, Asian ladies, people our age; like anybody can come to our rocks and it’s open. We give off a lot of positivity.”
This includes Thomas Hood, or “Moose,” a 23 year-old who is doing his general education and studying American Indian studies. Hood said he likes to avoid rapping about aggression and anger, and that rapping with the guys at Blue Rocks helps him with that. “They help me stay away from getting really aggressive,” he said. “If I get aggressive, they help me channel it in the right way because they’re like family.”
This positivity is something that goes beyond the general vibe of Blue Rocks, as it is one of the philosophies that unifies these rappers and permeates their lyrics. For Hernandez, education, leaving behind the “hood mentality,” and looking to God is what he likes to focus on in his rhymes. “When I was younger I had a whole bunch of junk in my head, now I’m just feeding people good stuff that they can learn from and that they’ll remember later on,” He said.
When asked if being able to rap at Blue Rocks has changed their experiences on campus, all of the guys voiced agreement.
“It’s crazy because I was thinking about dropping out before,” said El, who explained that being able to rap on campus gave him a motivation to stay.
“Like, on bad days we get together and everybody’s in a shitty mood, but we get together and play some music, and then eveybody’s happy and we’re good to go. We recharge each other,” Prince said.
“It’s also because of the similar philosophies,” El said. “Because we all try to spread positivity or not be negative in a way, we unite to each other, like… rocks,” he added, as everyone laughed.