Twelveâ€™s Career is Budding â€“ Interview with an official Mary Jane Junkee
By: Goldi Schiffner
Making headway in the local music scene in San Diego is not an easy feat, especially with the staggering number of artists set up at home studios. For an artist like Twelve, formerly 12 Gauge Shotie, the nearly seven year long journey is paying off. Without the internet push, and social media resources back in 2004, Twelve and his group Mary Jane Junkeez released an album and a few mix tapes that had the streets buzzing. An organic following soon formed that has pushed Twelve to the front lines of putting San Diego on the map in the world of hip hop.
Since that time, Twelve has transformed from working with the group (which has been on a hiatus due to the incarceration of fellow members) to putting out his own material. It all started at the age of ten when Twelve began to write, channeling frustrations of growing up in a difficult situation through a creative outlet. Soon Twelve began to see a positive reception of his ideas and as he got older, became less interested in high school sports and teamed up with classmates to form the legendary Mary Jane Junkeez.
The enthusiasm in the streets with the groups releases showcasing individual talent, and tracks like â€œSolo Boloâ€ from the album attracted attention from labels. But, instead of selling out for less, The Junkeez chose to stay independent and take control. Twelve has maintained an independent standing and is either open to the right deal, or content on spreading the music without a major corporate partner.
2010 is proving to be the most successful year yet. Highlighting the vast material that Twelve has been working on, is a nomination from the San Diego Music Awards for Best Hip Hop Artist. This yearâ€™s SDMA marks the 20th anniversary of the institution that has crowned San Diego artists like Unwritten Law, Slightly Stoopid and POD in the past.
Itâ€™s no surprise the city is showing love to an artist nicknamed â€œThe San Diego Live Wire,â€ who affectionately has the San Diego Zoo tattooed on his back in an art piece demonstrating numerous local landmarks. And with Twelveâ€™s deep voice, raspy at times, and talent for quick witted flow or beat bouncing hooks; heâ€™s kept fans putting his music on rotation. For those who have followed Twelve for over seven years- the solo debut album is coming soon.
You can look for his past solo work in collaboration with The Jacka from The Bay in 2009 releasing The Price of Money. In early 2010 Twelve and San Diegoâ€™s Lil B Stone released Co-Defendants.
Most recently, Twelve and his main producers at The Batkave, a notorious studio in San Diego, worked together on a West Coast revival mixtape, available for free. Death of the Mixtapes, features over 60 artists in the local arena, bridging the gap between hip hop musicians in the community. Twelve followed the successful movement with his own Mixtapes is Dead, mixed by Snoop Doggâ€™s DJ Jam who is also from San Diego. The mixtape was released at a party on 6/19, to mark the dedication to the city.
But what does all this success, elbow rubbing with industry idols and attention from other cities do to a guy like Twelve? After keeping up with Twelve for a few years now, it doesnâ€™t seem like a thing has changed. Heâ€™s stayed humble but just gained more respect, and most of all, a loyal following.
And his group wasnâ€™t called Mary Jane Junkeez for kicks, debuting with a record titled Operation Gain Green, Twelve asked me to wait a moment as he took a bong rip before we started our interview. How appropriate!
To get a bit of history, when did you first start putting out records?
At the end of 2004, beginning of 2005 with The Mary Jane Junkeez.
How do you feel about the music that you did with your group, The Mary Jane Junkeez?
I feel good because it was a big success as far as local buzz, it gave us the buzz to be able to establish us as artists who are really here to stay.
When did you start to feel the recognition from the community for what you were doing?
Just selling the CDs. When we put a CD out we pressed up 500, and the 500 were gone, we pressed up another 1,000 then they were gone. Thatâ€™s when we were able to see.
Congrats on the nomination for the SDMAs, is this your first time in the competition?
Yes, it my first time being nominated and I feel really good. It shows that they are seeing my work, I work really hard and itâ€™s finally paying off. It is another stepping stone for me to keep progressing. I feel it is an accomplishment in a way. I have been putting videos out, in fact, I just shot another video. I have been doing my visuals, I have a DVD coming out, and I am working on my movie that I am writing myself actually.
How do you feel about the people you are competing with for the title: Best Hip Hop in San Diego?
I know a couple of the artists from the competition and they are great artists too. It feels like itâ€™s a good competition and I am glad to be involved and be their competition at the same time. I think itâ€™s pretty cool, it shows everybody that you can do your music and no matter where youâ€™re from they will recognize it if youâ€™re putting in work. I wish my competition the best.
It seems this year youâ€™ve already done a lot of projects, being involved with The Batkaveâ€™s The Mixtapes is Dead and then releasing Death of the Mixtapes at the 6/19 party- but what can people look forward to next?
Next… I have some things in the works that I am waiting on. I am going to put out my first solo CD. I have put out other projects with Lil B Stone and The Jacka, but I havenâ€™t made my own solo CD, so I will be putting that out. Should be a late 2010 or beginning 2011 release.
Who in the industry do you look up to, or strive to have a career like?
I look up to guys like E 40 and Too Short, you know, longevity. Theyâ€™ve been around a long time and are still doing it, making relevant music and making hits.
Whatâ€™s the best way to keep up with Twelve?
Thechannel12.com is where you can find all my music and my Twitter is 12gaugeshotie and my Myspace is 12gaugeshotie. I got videos out now, you know, worldstarhiphop, everywhere.
Is there anything else you would like to say to the Cannabis community?
Man, Mary Jane Junkeez forever, thatâ€™s what I would like to say. Thatâ€™s how we started and how we are going to finish. I just love my city, thanks for nominating me, itâ€™s all love. I ainâ€™t going to do you wrong, I got your back, let me handle this!
With a bright future for the charismatic Twelve, and an abundant amount of determination and experience so far in the game, itâ€™s likely that weâ€™ll be hearing from him again. With hopes to land the SDMA title, a humble beginning and consistent work ethic have placed Twelve in the top of San Diegoâ€™s elite.
With a website that seeks to grow a community of other like-minded San Diego artists, thechannel12.com is the place to keep up with the beat hungry newbies and veterans who make up the local landscape. Twelve has been quoted as saying â€œYou may have heard it before, but you need to hear it again. Nothing came overnight and everyday you need to keep working towards your goals. If you have a dream, itâ€™s not going to come to you. Reality, you gotta make it happen. You got to get up and keep working towards that goal. Determination.â€ The words of wisdom show the merit of a budding career.
Speaking of budding, you can see Twelveâ€™s Mary Jane Junkeez style on YouTube as he stops by three pot stores in San Diego and willingly showcases his love of the dear cannabis plant. With an infamous love of the green leaf and without inhibitions to hide it, Twelve stays real, and a real smoker that we can all relate to.