I met Mescal at his Boyle Heights studio off of 1st St in East L.A. where I was immediately introduced to his East of the River crew. Mescal is the definition of a passionate hustler. Quickly I learned how heavily involved and engaged Mescal was as the day went on. His Instagram bio alone reads "MC & Founder of the @EOTRNetwork. Media Director at @Elcompadrerestaurant. Event Manager at @Theblvdh. Owner of EOTR Studios." and that's not all he does.
After getting to know everyone, and giving everyone some insight on what I was trying to accomplish through my photography; they invited me to explore an abandoned zoo known as Griffith Park Zoo which was open from 1912-1966. During the ride, and the time spent exploring and shooting is where I came to realize just how easily everyone got along. Stories and laughs flowed easily through the crew, and it was evident that their love for Hip Hop was strong.
Later we walked over to Al & Bea's Mexican food restaurant which was rated one of the top 5 burritos spots in L.A. On this short walk Mescal expressed his love for Boyle Heights, and filled me in on the changes that has been happening in town. (be on the look out for a Boyle Heights, CA post) We munched on burritos and fries, then head back to the studio where we talked about the different ventures that he has been getting into, and listened to some of his new tracks.
Images by Mark Mendoza - So who is Mescal, and what is The East of the River?
Mescal - Mescal is more of an idea than anything else. One thing I love about hip hop and art in general is you get to create who you want to be. A few years back I wanted to recreate myself and my musical identity, and that's when Mescalito was born. He's my crazy and daring self who does all the things I always wanted to do. East of the River is a collective of artist and entrepreneurs that look out for one another. Its like assembling the network of talent together to help each other - a support system of sorts.
IbMM - Who are your inspirations?
M - My inspirations are people like my mom and my grandma. I get a lot of daily inspiration from just seeing how hard people work and just observing the regular folks on the streets, and in the community I live in. I feel like its my purpose to speak for them and to represent my name, and my culture correctly.
IbMM - What do you think music does for the world?
M - I think music shapes the world. Vibrations shape the surroundings on both physical and meta-physical levels. Music affects our mood and our brain activity so it's a very powerful thing. I think music has the power to hurt and help the world. We all can relate and experience music differently. It's important to be aware of what you're listening to and putting it inside your mind.
IbMM - Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
M - I see myself as one of the most established and respected Hip Hop Artist in LA. My mission will not have changed, but the scale and the impact will be at an all time high. How High depends entirely on how Hard I work. So we'll see.
IbMM - If you could tell 18 year old Mescal anything, what would it be?
M - Um, I'd tell him to get to work. I'd let him know that there's going to be tough times ahead, and if he can focus on the things that are most important to him then, he'll be just fine.
IbMM - Do you have a favorite song, and who are your top 5 Emcees?
M - My favorite song? There's too many to decide but since I'm such a live in the now type person, I'll say my favorite song right now is "Before you go" by Myself and Mad Macks. Top 5 MC's of all time in no order- Eminem, Royce Da 5'9, Big Pun, Tupac and Biggie.
IbMM - If you weren't doing music, what would you be doing?
M - It's hard to say because I've always done whatever I want. So maybe I'd be a chef or some kind of motivational speaker. Maybe a private investigator or a journalist. Im not sure.
IbMM - What got you into music?
M - I've always been a hyper active type of kid. I always liked to dance, and sing, and just be really rhythmic, and weird. So music just made sense to me and being in front of a crowd always seemed to be my calling. So one day i just decided to pick up a mic and give this whole rhyming thing a shot, and it worked out.
IbMM - What do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
M - I want the listener to feel my presence, my pain, my perspective. I want them to feel connected to the journey I've been on and the message Im sending through my lyrics.
IbMM - What's your favorite lyric?
M - Hmm, I love this hook I wrote for a track called Homie Testimony and it goes like this:
"In the land where the moms bury their sons,
the G's carry the guns, The Cops sharing the grudge-
Collide- in the streets you can leave,
we see you on TV, we scream!
Don't You Forget Where You Came From.
Plah! Where you're more likely to get shot then a job,
these GR lines stay mobbed,
but we mosh out the pit,
we can finally hit the top but-
Don't you Forget Where you came from"