Every genre has boundaries – those areas on the outskirts, no-go zones for the purists. But for the most adventurous souls, what lies beyond those boundaries is the promised land. New millennium trip-hop quartet 10-19 & The Number Men have set up permanent residence on the outer edges. They stretch and bend the boom-bap boundaries of traditional rap music into a surreal mix of rhyme, rhythm, and melody. 10-19 is a cornerstone of San Diego hip-hop, described by San Diego Citybeat as “underground rap at its most wonderfully weird.” Backing him up are prolific multi-instrumentalists/producers Joel Kynan, Brian Scafidi, and Sean Burdeaux. “July 10th” is the second single off the group’s debut EP, Spokes, and it’s a trippy twilight ride through 10-19 & The Number Men’s subterranean world.
Spokes was released January 2021 through the It’s Okay, I’m Crying label, a San Diego-based music and art label, also home to the Number Men’s solo projects. A product of quarantine, the remotely-recorded “July 10th” is surreal, dark, and dreamlike. Lyrically, 10-19 & The Number Men navigate apocalyptic terrain and lay down some lean, shadowy grooves, taking the listener on a psychedelic journey through some trippy atmospheres and unknown neighborhoods. 10-19 switches gears between straight-up spoken word and a laid-back flow, painting a picture of a life lived without strife, where FOMO isn’t even a thing. Equal parts ominous and inviting, 10-19 & The Number Men push hip-hop to demonstrate that positivity doesn’t always have to be wrapped up in sunshine.
The group sets up shop in a few spots that lend themselves to getting up to no good late at night. But they’re just here to play, and these abandoned locations are just right for those who are open to the message. They begin deep inside a cavernous, graffiti-covered drainpipe, lit by blacklight, just as at home as any other group would be on a stage or a studio. An empty parking garage plays host next, another stretch of apocalyptic terrain they blend right into. 10-19 holds the camera’s focus with ease, a born orator, a true believer in his rhymes and the stakes. The clip was shot and directed by Upstate Productionz, a San Diego-by-way-of-New-York production house, who have made a name working with much of the local hip-hop scene.