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Local Artist Raps His Way Through California

Local rapper Alwa Gordon will release his second solo album in September and plans to promote it throughout California.

Bank teller by day, rapper by night, Alwa Gordon has been performing for six years, and he doesn't stop there.

He writes his own lyrics, runs an independent label called Can't Stop Us, self produces all of his music videos, in addition to some of his music, and maintains a steady stream of gigs throughout California, all in conjunction with maintaining a full-time job.

The 22-year-old Capitola resident juggles so much, sometimes he feels like he's living a double life.

“It does feel a little crazy being a bank teller, when the night before I was up till 4 rapping at a party,” Gordon said. “It's hard to keep the two worlds separate, but sometimes it's funny to imagine talking to customers, and they have no idea who I am.”

Although Gordon's life may be a mystery to bank patrons, he's well-known around the county, playing gigs at the , , Club Verve and . He has performed in Watsonville, Monterey, Salinas and San Jose, among other venues and cities.

Gordon, who writes all of his own songs, said he got into rapping after his friend, Krishan Simonpillai, invited him to start a rap group, which they called Can't Stop Us. Although Can't Stop Us no longer raps together as a group, Gordon said the title still functions as the name of his music label, under which he'll release his second solo album, 11th Hour, in September.

Gordon described his music as “50 percent party and 50 percent life learning.” He characterized it as a mix of new-school music, with some laid-back hip hop, party music, love songs and hard-hitting deep songs.

He said his music incorporates inspirations developed through past experiences, with the topic of change being something he explores frequently.

“A lot of my songs talk about change, because it's more of a self reflection in terms of what I want,” Gordon said. “I talk a lot about change, too, because I see there is a lot of room for change in our society nowadays.”

Gordon voices his opinion of needed societal change through his song, "All In," which he made into an entire music video with just one message written on a poster board: "Think Global, Act Local."

“That message is the thought that you want to think globally, because we're all part of the world, but it starts locally if you want to make a difference. In other words, before you can change the world, you have to start in your hometown first.”

Another message of change is represented in the song, "Riding Out," which Gordon said reflects his regrets from a period of his life and his desire to change for the better.

“I wrote it when I lived on the couch at my friend's house, and all we ever did was drink every night," Gordon said. “I remember waking up almost every morning on the couch regretting the text messages I had sent out, just thinking that it was time for a change. So 'Riding Out' came out of the mind state that I needed to change what I was doing to make things better.”

Gordon's next show will be Wednesday at the Catalyst, and he'll also participate in the Two Racks Contest on Aug. 20 in San Francisco. For more info, click here.

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