Posts Tagged ‘ psycho realm ’

Psycho Realm’s 
Message Resonates As Strongly As Ever [via LAWeekly Music]

[Editor’s note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss’s column, “Bizarre Ride,” appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]

Sick Jacken sees the gas mask wherever he goes. That’s the iconic emblem of Psycho Realm, the underground rap familia that he and his brother, Gustavo “Big Duke” Gonzalez, founded in the late 1980s as adolescents on the streets of Pico-Union. Since the mask was first used in the album artwork for Psycho Realm’s eponymous 1997 debut, Jacken has spotted it on the streets of L.A. barrios, at his daughter’s elementary school graduation, even in his parents’ ancestral hometown of Mazatlan, Mexico. Its ubiquity is testament to the group’s ability to transmute its experiences into sagas of the streets of any hood with shared social concerns and sense of struggle.

“We went on a tour of Mexico, and when I walked up the hill to my dad’s old house, the first thing I saw was a kid waiting on the steps for his grandma,” Jacken, who was born Joaquin Gonzalez, says at his three-room studio compound/tattoo parlor in an industrial park in Santa Fe Springs. “He walked over to me and says in Spanish, ‘Can I show you something?’ Then he picked up his pant leg and showed me the Psycho Realm tattoo.”
Adorned with a 1930s gangster fedora, the logo is based on a photo by noted local photographer Estevan Oriol. To Psycho Realm fans, it’s not merely a cool ghoulish image, it’s a flag of undying allegiance.

Jacken’s latest, Terror Tapes 2, a collaboration with fellow Pico-Union rapper Cynic, drops May 15 and builds on the connection painstakingly forged over 20 years of recording and rocking everything from Paid Dues to MEChA shows at Cal State Northridge, Big Duke’s alma mater. In fact, the group’s first break arrived after B-Real of Cypress Hill caught Psycho Realm at a 1994 benefit against neighborhood violence.

Soon after, the Cypress Hill star helped them get a record deal with Sony-Ruffhouse. So deep was B-Real’s admiration that he even joined Psycho Realm for their debut album, before amicably stepping back to let them forge their own path. Fans flocked not merely because of Psycho Realm’s ease at rapping in English and Spanish but also because it was the lone major Latin rap group chronicling the daily obstacles faced by first- and second-generation Mexican and Central Americans.

“Psycho Realm fans are as die-hard as Raiders fans. They buy the posters, the tickets and the shirts. [Jacken] is a people’s champion. He’ll sit and talk with his fans after the show, even have a drink with them,” says legendary Cypress Hill producer DJ Muggs, who collaborated with Jacken on the high-concept conspiracies of 2007 album The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin. “[Jacken] was an avid reader as a kid and has a unique inner vision for storytelling. He’s lived many years in a short time.”

Jacken’s story starts in Pico-Union, the largely Central American and Mexican American district near downtown, the area patrolled by LAPD’s infamously crooked Rampart Division and the equally notorious 18th Street and Mara Salvatrucha gangs. During the ’80s and ’90s, it regularly had among the highest crime and murder rates in L.A. But until the Rampart scandal broke in 1998, Psycho Realm might have been among the most prominent voices chronicling the havoc inflicted by LAPD’s Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) Unit.

“They’d plant guns or drugs on homies right in front of you,” Jacken says. “I knew people who got million-dollar settlements after being shot by the cops, but most of them blew it or had the money taken by their attorneys while they were in jail. The CRASH unit would do drive-bys. They’d steal cars from other neighborhoods and bring them to Pico.”

Though Jacken never fell into the gang life, he could easily be mistaken for someone who had put in work, sporting all black, a menacing bald dome and sunken eye sockets that betray immense pain. That’s no accident. Beyond the childhood friends lost to the streets, Jacken’s brother and musical partner, Big Duke, became a quadriplegic after a 1999 shooting outside of the Original Tommy’s at Beverly and Rampart. A fight had broken out moments earlier, and the elder Gonzalez had the misfortune of walking across the street at the wrong time and catching a bullet to the neck.

The shooter was apprehended and imprisoned, but the incident’s impact derailed the group’s career. After a year in various hospitals, the elder Gonzalez returned home to begin a lengthy recovery. Today, he runs Psycho Realm’s merchandising and has begun producing other artists, but for the first several years after the shooting, a distraught Jacken lost himself in alcohol abuse.

By the release of 2003’s A War Story Book II, Jacken had regained his focus and began building the Psycho Realm brand into a mini empire, with its own merchandising, art and online promotions team. At this year’s Paid Dues Festival, the gas mask’s visibility was matched only by Wu-Tang and Odd Future merchandise.

Outside of the West, Psycho Realm are a niche group with a minor but fanatical fan base, but they regularly sell out shows in Mexico, Russia, Germany, Spain and South America. At home, they are proof that, even in the Internet age, legends can remain local.

“People identify because they look at us as their voice. We talk about things that affect the street and things that we’ve been through,” Jacken says. “When we get messages from fans, it’s always: ‘Your music changed my life.’ ‘I was fucking up on the streets.’ ‘I thought I had no future and now I’m going to school,’ or getting a job. Or ‘I lost a close relative to violence and your music helped me.’ I guess people use it as psychotherapy.”

via LaWeekly Music

Psycho Realm – I’m Gone [Official Music Video]

Visuals for the single “I’m Gone” off Terror Tapes vol 2

Psycho Realm at Paid Dues 2012 [via]

The Paid Dues Independent Hip Hop Festival brought to you by Guerrilla Union took place in San Bernardino, California on April 7, 2012. The Festival featured hip-hop heavyweights, from the Shaolin’s Wu-Tang Clan to the City of Lost Angel’s own The Psycho Realm.

With thousands of the sick side soldiers in attendance, a majority of them in the latest Psycho Realm graphic tees, the arena was filled with anticipation. When Sick Jacken, Cynic, and DJ Fm appeared on stage you could hear the deafening chants of “Psychooooo”.

Sick Jacken started the concert with his new single “I’m Gone”, off the soon to be released “Terror Tapes Vol. 2” featuring Cynic of Street Platoon (to be released on May 15, 2012).

One of the memorable moments of the night was when Sick Jacken gave a shout out to his brother Big Duke and the crowd shouted back “DUKE-DUKE-DUKE”, DJ FM then cut into “Premonitions” from their first self-titled album, where Big Duke’s voice filled the entire auditorium with his legendary style “Para toda la gente. lo que va a pasar aqui. son recursos del nuevo mundo. todo se tiene que arreglar aqui. porque aqui nadie me manda…”

Cynic and Jacken followed that up with one of my favorite jams “Dead Lines” off The Street Platoon’s “Steel Storm” album and The Ollin Project Compilation.

The day also marked Sick Jacken’s birthday, but the surprise was on us. B-Real of Cypress Hill came out from backstage with a microphone in hand and started spitting…

“We came to drop these styles; it’s no shock We rock ’til the cops come and knock non-stop We come from Psycho Cities and Blocks We’re raised by gunshots low life in hip hop”

The street anthem “Psycho City Blocks” is guaranteed to cause a massive mosh-pit, on any night.

After a solid hour on stage Sick Jacken thanked all the “Psychos” for sharing his birthday with him. He ended the night with “Good Times” – with a bottle of “Gentleman Jack” in his right hand and the mic in the other…

“I like to have a good time, Joke a little, Toke a little, Drink a little wine”

Words and Photography by Salvador Rojas


The Psycho Realm Interview: “We Are Latino Rebels” and Sick Jacken Shares New Single


Are you a Psycho? No, we are not asking your mental state. If you live in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles and are a fan of The Psycho Realm then you know that the answer to that is YES!

Brothers Joaquin Gonzalez (Sick Jacken) and Gustavo Gonzalez (Big Duke) started the group back in the early nineties. Their music focuses mainly on what they have experienced growing up in Downtown Los Angeles. They got their first break when their song “Scandalous”, was released on the soundtrack for the film “Mi Vida Loca” in 1994.

Their major break came when they hooked up with B-Real from the Hip-Hop crew Cypress Hill, which at the time was at the height of their career. B-Real joined The Psycho Realm and they released their first album in 1997 labeled “The Psycho Realm.” The album was a huge success and it gained The Psycho Realm a global following. We had an opportunity to talk to Sick Jacken from The Psycho Realm and Cynic from Street Platoons, and this is what they had to say.

LR: First of all guys let me just thank you for the opportunity to speak with you guys today.

Sick Jacken: For sure.

LR: For those of who don’t know who The Psycho Realm is, tell us who you are how did you get in the biz?

Sick Jacken: I grew up in Downtown L.A. In the Pico-Union district. I got involved in music because of the break dancing and Hip-Hop that swept through our community. I got hooked on it instantly.

Cynic: I have always been into Hip-Hop. I would watch “Yo MTV Raps” and my friends would listen to it. However I could really appreciate the art form.

LR: What makes The Psycho Realm stand out from all of the other Hip-Hop groups out there?

Sick Jacken: We don’t try to be like anyone else. We have our own sound our own style.

Cynic: You’re not gonna hear us rap to the same beat like other artist. Even our voice may change depending on what the beat asks for.

LR: The 90’s were the golden age of Hip-Hop. That’s when you guys came on the scene. What was it like to be in the middle of all of that?

Sick Jacken: The 90’s for Hip-Hop was like the 60’s for rock and soul. You had a lot of real artist doing their thing then. We were just thankful to be a small part of that.

LR: Growing up in Pico-Union is no joke. What was one of your scariest moments?

Sick Jacken: There wasn’t a real scary moment for me. It was all just part of living in the hood. You just get used to it.

Cynic: After a while you become desensitized. I saw people who were shot but at the time it was more about the curiosity of knowing what that looked like. It was the streets version of anatomy class.

LR: Who were your influences growing up?

Sick Jacken: My father always played instruments so music rubbed off on me.

Cynic: No one really. If anything I am influenced by the artists I am around daily.

Sick Jacken: I agree. We influence each other.

LR: You’ve had a chance to work with Cypress Hill. What was that like?

Sick Jacken: Working with Cypress Hill was cool. They really helped with the promo of the first album. B-Real wanted to do a song with us but we told him we don’t do features. So he joined the group for the first album.

LR: Any plans on reuniting soon?

Sick Jacken: We never ended the relationship with Cypress Hill. We are always working on projects together. We have done a few songs together since and we have a few more coming out soon.


Sick Jacken and Big Duke from The Psycho Realm

Growing up in L.A. Random street violence is always in the back of your mind and that random violence caught up with Psycho Realm. On January 29th 1999 tragedy struck The Psycho Realm. Big Duke was shot in the neck outside a local fast food joint in the Rampart district of Los Angeles. He is now a quadriplegic. However this has not stopped Big Duke from being an active part of Psycho Realm as his brother tells us.

LR: Sick Jacken, how is your brother doing?

Sick Jacken: He’s good man. He’s focusing on his recovery, you know? Right now he helps us a lot by maintaining our presence online and also handling all of our merchandise.  Despite his circumstance he continues to be very creative. He is producing beats. He is also been producing some new local artists so stay tuned for that.

LR: Are there any unreleased songs with Duke coming out?

Sick Jacken: Actually we are currently working on a compilation right now where Duke will be making a comeback.

LR: Give our love to Big Duke for us man. We can’t wait to hear the compilation.

Sick Jacken: Thank you, brother.

LR: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about being in the Hip-Hop biz?

Sick Jacken: Stay on top of it. Don’t get comfortable and evolve.

Cynic. There are no “good deals.” Stack your chips.

LR: You’ve had the chance to travel the world. What has that been like?

Sick Jacken: It has been a great experience to be able to work with artists from Spain and Mexico and South America. Never thought it would blow up like this. I’m actually working on a new Spanish album with some great artists from Spain. Look for it later this year early 2013.

LR: The Psycho Realm has a great global following. I know there are Sick Side Soldiers all the way in Germany. Where is the furthest you’ve known about a fans?

Sick Jacken: The furthest I’ve known of someone with a mask logo tattoo has been in Russia.

LR: Everybody wants to know when Terror Tapes 2 is coming out.

Sick Jacken: May nth. Stay tuned for that! (Listen to first single right here right here)

LR: Finally, where can we find you guys online?

Sick Jacken: You can find us at , on Facebook at and on Twitter at @sickjacken

Cynic: You can find me on Twitter at @Cynic_SS.

LR: Guys again thank you very much for letting us talk to you today.

Sick Jacken: Thank you, bro.

Cynic: For sure.

The Psycho Realm just toured Mexico the last two weeks, playing in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and San Luis Photos. You can also catch them on April TH at the Paid Dues Festival. In the meantime click on here for something to hold you over until then.

Sick Symphonies TV – I’m Gone – Webisode #2

Song Of The Day : Psycho Realm – Love From The SickSide

Happy Valentines Day! SickSide Love!

Song Of The Week: Psycho Realm – Lifestyles

Can you relate?

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