S.O.G. Crew: “Around the World with S.O.G.” (Full Blast Magazine)
BY DEV GILLESPIE
The S.O.G. Crew has redefined Latin Hip Hop as they’ve reached so many different levels of achievement through theirmusic. A combination of the Midwest, East and West coasts, the islands and everywhere in between; S.O.G. Crew has had a diverse journey in the music and entertainment world. The crew consist of Dr. Robert Ornelas (Battle Ax) a Doctor of Divinity, ordained Evangelist Corina Gonzalez (DJ Siren) a Cal State University Northridge Graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Consumer Affairs and Marketing, Krista Rocha (Luminous V) a two-year college student, Robert Ornelas Jr. (Lil’ Battle Ax), and Jacqueline L. Garza (So Blessed). Building their own network television show and media production, this crew is just as good behind the camera’s as they are in front of them. Bringing their music to the ears of national leaders, colleges, and prisons the S.O.G. Crew has upped the bar for musicians everywhere.
With a fan base of 125,000+ and features on MTV, Sirius XM Radio, Univision, web sites like Verizon and T-Mobile; the crew’s resume speaks for it’s self. Full Blast Magazine got a chance to chat with the crew about the influence their music has,who they’d like to work with, and what keeps them together and creating great music.
Full Blast Magazine: You all have been able to influence and reach people around the world. Performing before predominant leaders to college students what is the feeling you get being able the have an influence on the world through your music?
Krista: It’s an amazing feeling to know that our music is more than just entertainment. That has always been the goal, to reach people through our music and influence them in a positive way. To be able to give people hope through music is a success.
DJ Siren: Well, in reality, it’s a very scary feeling to know that what comes out of your mouth will perpetually affect another human beings life. Throughout music history, many musicians have been able to affect change or create movements with the messages in their music. My favorites growing up were The Beatles’ message of love and Michael Jackson’s message of expressing outside-the-box creativity. Ours is to bring in the message of hope, perseverance, and love. We really pour out our hearts through our music and believe that what we have to say is something that every single person, no matter what their age, social status, gender or physical disabilities can relate to and find hope in.
Full Blast Magazine: Where is everyone from and how did you all decide to create the S.O.G. Crew?
DJ Siren: Well, we all reside in Southern California. Battle Ax has roots in Long Beach, but currently resides in Anaheim with his wife, Melissa and three boys, which includes Lil’ Battle Ax, his eldest son who is also a member of the group. Then there is Krista who also currently lives in Anaheim. I, myself, live in the Los Angeles County in a city named, Arleta. It’s a city within the San Fernando Valley, which is where I grew up, went to school, college, and ran around on the streets with cousins and friends having fun. The group itself, The S.O.G. Crew was established by Battle Ax back in 1998. There had been members previously a part of the group before I joined at the end of 2005. When I joined, there was Lyrical Shine, the sickest female rapper I have ever met, and Revolutionary. Shine moved on to raise her family back in 2006, while Revolutionary stepped down from the group to tend to his ill parents back in 2008. In that same year, Luminous V came around and is still with the group. Meanwhile, Lil’ Battle Ax, being big Battle Ax’s son, had always had his hand in the music, but just recently joined us on full scale tours because he had finally graduated from high school. And we even use Battle Ax’s youngest son, Baby Battle Ax, to hype the crowd with his break dance and B-Boy dance moves.
Full Blast Magazine: What does each one of you bring to the crew that makes it work out the way it does?
Krista: We each have a role to play in the group. On the music side, Battle Ax plays lead and takes the role of the radical creative. A lot of times his techniques seem really crazy and different but it always works out and surprises everyone. DJ Siren is a girl DJ that influences young girls to think outside the box and that hip-hop isn’t just for men. Lil’ Battle Ax is the young ‘newbie’, if you will. He’s been around music all his life but just recently began touring with S.O.G and he brings that new fire. He’s fun and youthful. As for myself I am the singer, doing hooks and back-ups as well as a female rapper. A double threat. So as a team we are pretty much the whole package.
DJ Siren: Musically, we each bring a different background to the group, for instance, Battle Ax grew up listening to Bob Marley, Steel Pulse, Eagles, Beatles, Michael Jackson, Doors, Led Zeppelin, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Snoop, Dr. Dre and an array of different genres that influence his style of rapping and song choice. He brings the hype and passion out of the music and performances. He’s the main emcee. He’s the foundation. And the same goes for his son, Lil’ Battle Ax, who is lyrically dynamic and has a youthful spunk that speaks measures to our young audiences. Then, there is Krista who brings a soulful singing to the music that takes the listeners even higher in the clouds. And, I being the deejay; a female and a Latina, bring in an element of hip hop that had been long reserved for male figures all except for the advent of Spinderella from Salt-N-Pepa from the late 80’s. And taking the element of hip hop and deejaying to a whole other level, I recently came out from behind the deejay set to rap on the mic and to continue that flow of high energy and excitement which has become the groups’ main characteristic. Baby Battle Ax is our dancer; he brings in the element of hip hop dancing to the performances and displays his skills in break dancing, BBoy, and other styles.
Lil Ax: We are a strong group because each one of us brings our own flavor and swag. DJ Siren brings her strong determination and DJ skills. Krista brings her powerful influential song voice to the arena for all the young ladies to meet. I am the youthful hype man and my dad Battle Ax puts it together with his wise leadership.
Full Blast Magazine: Your resume is lengthy and impressive, but what is most interesting is that you have performed at prisons and rehab centers. What was that like?
Battle Ax: I know how it feels to be down and out. I spent a lot of time in the Orange County jail in Santa Ana, CA and know how it feels to start all over numerous times. We do well in places were racial tension is high. We are there to encourage all the homies.
DJ Siren: Oh man! Performing for places like the prisons, youth facilities, rehab centers, elderly facilities, deaf and mute, homeless, and hospitals is such a joy to do! It’s an on-going love that we have for the people. And meeting them in the places where they least expect it is what we do best. We’ll go to all these places because no other major artist or group wants to go and because they don’t realize how important it is to encourage these people who are stuck in a place they don’t want to be. It’s a joy to see faces light up. If we can, we will leave our music there in the facility so that they can continue to be uplifted and encouraged by the sound of our music. Battle Ax in the beginning would go into the prisons of Mexico where they have no bars and the convicts outnumber the guards; or into the AIDS colonies to pray for the dying to see them become well again! So, to enter into a prison or rehab center or any other non-major grandstand stage, for us, is driven by love. We see it as a blessing and honor to reach these people on a personal level with our music and the example of our lives.
Full Blast Magazine: How is SOG Media Promotions & Productions going?
DJ Siren: S.O.G. Media & Promotions is going very well. It is growing at a steady rate. We just produced the music video for “Welcome to My World‟ the remix that has been picked up CBS Interactive Music Group and is currently being pushed through a number of their channels and partners including, www.MP3.com. We currently partnered up with www.ArtistDirect.com,www.RapIndustry.com and are still negotiating other partnerships. And prior to that, we produced “God Builds,” a music video for one of Latino Rap’s historic rappers, Mellow Man Ace, who is well known for his 1990 hit single “Mentirosa‟ and his involvement with Cypress Hill. Aside from producing music videos, we are producing a television show called “Elite TV-From the Red Carpets to the Streets.” It has been in the making since 2008 and previously viewable only online. Elite TV is an entertainment program designed to portray the elite in society in a positive light. From Hollywood actors to spot light musicians, television actors, sports professionals, models, and radio personalities, Elite TV is providing a platform for these entertainers to share with the public what’s really on their hearts about their careers, family, business and life. Right now we are reviewing offers to host the show on cable and satellite networks. So, it’s doing very well for itself and keeping us on our toes!
Full Blast Magazine: What are some plans for the S.O.G. Crew for the Spring/Summer?
DJ Siren: Well, we’re excited to announce that our single “Welcome to My World‟ will be releasing officially April 3rd through Fontana Distribution and Executive Music Group! And we already kicked off touring this year with an 11 day road trip to Oklahoma, Nebraska, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico on our “Where Legends Are Born Tour‟. We’ll be making a guest appearance at our nation’s Capitol in the beginning of May and then off to the Virgin Islands for an Elite TV special coverage of the Ambassador of Native American Nations Dr. Robert Ornelas (a.k.a. Battle Ax) making his first visit to the islands and initiating communications with the islands government officials. This is one of the many facets of The S.O.G. Crew that reach beyond the realms of music. We are real people; leaders, educators, and inspirational speakers that have a love to reach people that goes beyond not only using music, but media, politics, arts, and more. So, later in the year, in June, we’ll continue with the “Where Legends Are Born Tour‟ and hit the east coast states and include: Chicago, IL, Nashville, TN, Atlanta, GA, Buffalo, NY, Brooklyn, NY, New Haven, CT, and a few other cities. We have it in our hearts to visit the Hawaiian Islands again and will be looking into doing that late in the year. We have many friends and partners on the islands that we like to revisit and stay consistent with. Pioneering new areas such as Alaska has kept us mainland bound for a year or two and I think we are ready to head back to the islands, so, I know we are all excited about that. And not to forget, we’ll continue to push out new music through our newest partners Fontana Distribution and CBS Interactive Music Group throughout the year. So, be on the look out!
Full Blast Magazine: Who is someone you would love to work with that you think would surprise your fan base?
Lil AX: Honestly, I would like to work with Taylor Swift. I think recording a country song or album would surprise our fans. Shout out to Taylor Swift!
DJ Siren: Hmm, well, we are willing to work with anyone in any genre and I believe our fans and true supporters understand that about us. So I don’t think they’d be shocked so much as delighted to find out who we would end up working with. We just love music and like having fun. We recently did a track with a popular Native American, named Jim Felix from Canada who has a blues/country/gospel/classic rock sound. But, some that I would personally enjoy doing a song and music video with is Will.I.Am, Aerosmith or even one of the Marley brothers. And I’m sure our supporters would enjoy the outcome.
Battle Ax: I would love to do something with Paul McCartney, Guns N’ Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers. If I had to be more modern I would choose Eminem, Drake and Adele. I would totally make them my family before we ever did music together.