The Cawz of Sacramento’s Hip-Hop Legend, Cawzlos
By Aaris A. Schroeder
I was really excited about interviewing Cawzlos – not just because he was a part of The Cawz, one of Sacramento, CA’s more popular hip-hop groups which mysteriously broke up or because he is a major networker and asked for the interview; it was mutual. My story of The Cawz goes way back to ’00. It was magical from my end. I remember hating the radio and beginning to pick up independent newspapers and magazines, free of charge at cafes and record stores, purchasing underground music I knew nothing of and being the driver for a few ‘street-painters’ when I came across “The Cawz.” This small, collectively created newsprint filled with graffiti art, poetry and info about shows and such. I posted my favorite pages on my door with clear tape and thus my future was spoken before me.
I always wanted my own magazine but never knew how to get it going, after starting an online e-zine; one of the first in Northern CA, I started attending local music shows, one of which was Crazy Ballhead where a hip-hop trio performed with gusto and consciousness. I was in awe, asked for a press kit, which was mailed to me and when I received my package, I passed my door and immediately looked down at the folder in my hand. The Cawz.
So when Cawzlos asked me for an interview, of course I was down to do it. Not only to allow him to speak but to find out some things for myself and for the Sacramento people at large. What happened to The Cawz? What are they doing now?
As told by Cawzlos:
I originally met Adam [Fink] when I was a freshman [in high school]. Wasn’t into graffiti or hip-hop, the only music was Beach Boys cuz my mom listened to it. [I] was hardcore into drawing and comics. I met with Adam and my cousin Andy [who] got me into graffiti art. I was skateboarding and in trade for teaching a kick-flip, Adam taught me graffiti – we became best friends. [I] gave up everything for weed and graffiti. I was 14-[years-old].
Three or four years went by and I was one of the most recognized artists in my city. One of the first [painters] who got me into graffiti was Refa1.
I was destroying things and received a fine for my actions. [It] became a turnoff – I knew I was the best so I had to go to the next thing in my life. People saw the artist name on the wall, not as “me.” I [started] to get into ‘politickin’ and trying to believe in things – transitioning into emceeing.
I was destructive. I didn’t know anything about hip-hop or that graffiti was connected. [Soon found out that] rapping is the most raw and pure way of expressing my emotions. By the time I was 18-years-old, we named ourselves The Cawz. That was all that came out of my mouth. Everything I did was for the cause.
We started recording tracks and it took four years to make [our first album.] I was the leader, the P.R. guy, ultimate promoter. He was the artistic rapper. We had to get a manager after that because egos were erupting within the group. Byron got out of the picture at that point and we were creating an album entitled, “Gray.” [We] severed Byron as an artist.
That was the peak of our existence. I was personal friends with Jimmie Ivine [manager] and on the verge of being signed to Sony and a label that someone from Bone, Thugs and Harmony managed – we couldn’t hack it. I moved to Southern CA.
My uncle was murdered so I moved back to Sacramento in ‘01 – got heavily hooked to cocaine a few months before we broke up. Adam and Jeremiah wanted to do a project together. I thought they were building an alliance against me and I was in denial that The Cawz was over. Acerock came up with the name Cawzlos for me and I just ran with it.
I started working with 26-hrs on numerous projects as well as Slopeed Chase of PaperChase. I got all my material together and performed at The G St. Pub in Davis, CA. It was the most horrible show – we didn’t have all the music, I was free styling.
I was a solid artist because of Jeremiah and Adam. It wasn’t about hooks, I wasn’t into it – I have done at least 150 shows in the first year, second year solo twice as many. Everybody was supporting me as an artist. Nearly two years ago, I was doing shows with Chase and Doey Rock by means of Fuse Entertainment ran by Rich Wing.
Doey Rock and I were using each other on a business level. We did a song together called, “When Worlds Collide,” he didn’t want to perform on stage at first but then he did. I respect his hustle.
I felt indestructible and I felt tapped out. I built a portfolio because I felt I was going to get a deal. Rob, a personal trainer who knew someone who works with ‘the stars’ introduced me to this guy who listened to my music and immediately wanted to manage Chase and I as a duo. We met this guy’s step-brother who hits up a guy who liked our music. So we drive to Sherman Oaks, roll up to a mansion, go inside and Michael Conception, music Mongol whose list of accomplishments start with Teddy Riley of Blackstreet is sitting inside. I felt as if I was in a unique situation. This guy told us to perform. He tested us.
He liked what he heard and he liked us. We were then signed to Grand Jury Entertainment for album production and moved to LA to develop music. Chase got into production and I got into management. We didn’t put an album out, just unreleased songs.
Six months later, Chase moved out and I stayed there. I started learning all about the music industry. It taught me how to be loyal and how to have the proper mannerisms. Cuz that is what [Michael] is and that is what started to become.
My business mind and existence is because of him.
I had a choice where I could be a business man and not do music or do music and a little management. He taught me a lot and I have a lot of respect for him. I wanted to continue to do my art. So I came back to Sacramento.
When I came back, I introduced Doey Rock to [DJ] Kodak Visuals, BC (the crew of Kodak Visuals] from Sacramento – Kodac and Doey are doing stuff [now]. I never turned my back on Sac but a lot of people felt like I turned my back. I don’t know what I was doing. I told Doey I was moving back to Sac to work on music and not on a friend level. [Apparently] it rubbed him sideways. Doey felt that I was not being loyal as a friend and in the business we were working in. Nobody has the right to tell me I am not loyal At this point, I can speak on what the fuck I want to. I respect his hustle. I don’t feel his business ethics or tactics or how he went about [everything]. It seems he isn’t feeling me either. He accused me of being childish even though I feel that hip-hop [at large] is childish. We’re children of the game.
I went on tour, I got offered by Middle Class Rut, signed to Def Jam and a San Diego turn Lodi, CA hip-hop group to be their manager. I knew of Middle Class Rut for seven years so managing them was simple. MCR wanted to even help produce an album under Trend Setturz for me when I returned to Sacramento to record an E.P. I don’t have a name for the album yet. I hooked up with Wyzdom [Verbal Venom] and Mahtie Bush [The Alumni] and received part ownership of Sat Hates Hip-Hop and Sac Loves Hip-Hop.
So there is Cawzlos’ musical history. Not as pretty as I would have liked it to be but it looks like he came out ahead, educated himself about the music industry and popped himself right into the right group of cats here in Sacramento to make things happen. TrendSetturz, whose slogan is, “Being yourself is in” is a mesh of Sacramento’s best artists, collectively working together to better the state of hip-hop in Sacramento. Not only Cawzlos, Bush and Wyz – Carlos of Apes in English, 26-hrz and anyone else that wants to join can be a part of this little collective. I have even joined a meeting or two, one of which my lead photographer showed up to, nice touch guys!