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Armed with a lyrical style that’s gritty and self-aware, Long Beach indie hip hop artist Kaze Jones drops his highly anticipated debut solo album, Inside Out, with veteran SoCal artist and producer, Ariano. Although Kaze has been grinding in the LA underground hip hop scene for the better part of 10 years with his crew, Dusty Crates, Inside Out is an intensely personal project that has allowed him to speak on issues close to his own heart and in his unfiltered voice. As an artist who has always been connected to his community, whether as a math teacher who taught at Redondo Beach High School and a charter middle school in South Central, or as mentor and father figure to disadvantaged youth, Kaze uses his skills to connect with people through the craft of lyrics and delivery.

Recorded over a period of 14 months, Inside Out is an effortless collaboration between Kaze and Ariano, with the latter producing, mixing and mastering the entire project. It’s an album that has been 16 years in the making, beginning with a 16-year-old Kaze seeing Ariano performing at show in Long Beach and snagging a free CD, following Ariano’s career as fan for years, and ultimately coming full circle in 2017 through a series of Instagram DM’s leading to the recording of the first track “Lessons.” The single proved there was an undeniable musical chemistry between the two artists and paved the way for the two to begin creating Inside Out, a monster 21-track album with the shared goal of staying true to LA underground hip hop roots while delivering truth with a worldwide reach.

The duo’s intentions for the project become clear with the aforementioned lead single, “Lessons,” a gritty and emotional track, where Kaze delivers intense ‘lessons’ in his verses. From there, Kaze and Ariano dropped “Karma,” a track that delves into the ills of society and how what goes around comes around. This led into the most socially conscious single released off Inside Out, “Where Will We Run?”, a cry for help and a brutally honest reaction to the fear and anger that we have come to know in these uncertain times of gun violence. Other tracks on the album take a more personal turn, addressing personal sacrifices made in pursuit of the music (“Paid the Cost”), the sometimes struggle to stay true to yourself (“Dream State”) and the doubt over self-worth (“How Much More Can I Be?”).

While just about every track on Inside Out carries an awareness of self and society at large, perhaps the most impactful track is “Go for Broke” which pays homage to and commemorates the contributions of the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the US Army during WWII. As a 2nd generation Japanese-American himself, this was a special project for Kaze and opened the door for he and Ariano to work with the Go for Broke Foundation, the Japanese National History Museum, and have the track incorporated into curriculums within the LA Unified School District, UCLA and Cal State.

These tracks and the remainder of Inside Out all carry messages of social awareness, with a crew of featuring artists who believe in that message offering up their own perspectives. Collaborator Ariano maintains the largest presence, providing hooks and sample-free, live instrumental production that drives the album forward. LA hip hop heavyweights Aceylone, Born Allah, Def-I, Nu3tron and LA Symphony’s Cookbook all make appearances on the album, along with relative newcomers Sage One the Wise, Kaze’s protégé Lil’ D4nnyB0y and Ariano’s own son, Sage Price. Kaze’s crew Dusty Crates (MTHREE and CRATES) and his long-time collaborator Dunce also appear.

Inside Out is an album that stays true to LA underground and Long Beach sounds, with pieces of both woven into every part of the project. From the griminess of Kaze’s in-your-face verses and 90’s hip hop-influenced tones and Ariano’s deep roots in the scene, to LDontheCut (DJ for Sublime with Rome) contributing cuts, the album pays tribute to their musical origins while also honoring Kaze’s Japanese-American heritage. From the track “Go for Broke” to the project’s Japanese inspired artwork (created by Long Beach artist Joon the Goon), it all creates a flawless project, proving that Kaze Jones can’t be put into box with his hip hop style. He’s part of a new wave of artists in a growing Asian-American hip hop scene. Backed by Rawtoons (David Ing, Todd Walden), an artist-driven clothing company dedicated to bringing original and timeless designs to the streets, Kaze Jones, along with Ariano, is ready to bring the fire with Inside Out.