Organic food advocate by day, hip hop musician by night — they're not two occupations that generally go hand in hand. But J. Namoa, better known as King Namoa, isn't your general hip hop artist. His distaste for violence and gang banging described in the hip hop played on the radio sets him apart from his peers. Instead, he believes in his music, the community and our ability to change the world if we want to.
Originally from Hawaii, Namoa came to Petaluma looking for more opportunity as a musician. An orphan, he was just 18 years old when he left his foster parents and moved to Petaluma. Homeless and jobless, but talented and in need of direction, he started hanging around the homeless shelter in town where he met a musician named Mike.
"Mike was so gifted. He rhymed for days about stuff that mattered," he said.
Namoa, who grew up singing in choir and playing his foster mother's piano, started writing poetry and music with Mike.
"I started taking it all real seriously, including my life," said Namoa. "My music is about unity-coming together as one. Unifying our community — hip hop has had a bad reputation over the years and hip hop as a whole has so many different genres you can blame."
These days Namoa not only writes his own songs, but also the background music that accompanies his lyrics. He describes the end result as reggae/hip hop.
"It's how I'm able to say how I feel and make it sound good. Whether it's about breaking up with a girl or a crazy thing I see in the newspaper. My closest friends are musicians, so I'm surrounded by music. We'll jam for hours," he explains.
Namoa is putting his musical connections to good use for an upcoming hip hop showcase at the Phoenix Theatre on March 28. Both producing and performing in the show, he believes that musicians need to band together in order to get their names known.
"It's all about combining fan bases. All the other artists have such big fan bases. Obvi is signed to Teen Backpack, an official underground label in San Francisco and is doing really well. Simon Sez just graduated a bit ago and still has a really big fan base that's in high school," said Namoa.
"It's all about making your name know. There's no such thing as a solo mission. You have to have a team. We're all getting together and making this hip-hop thing grow. We want to insight free thinking into the hip- hop nation," he said.