In the chaos of what life has to offer, music has always been a central factor in showing the complexities of what living is all about. From heartbreak to good and bad times, music captures those raw moments for others to experience.
In the four years since I’ve been in the 831 here at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), I’ve seen so many local and student artists create and perform great music. Monterey Bay isn’t known for having a bustling music scene, but the scenes happening here deserve more attention than they are getting.
With Now Playing In The 831, I intend to explore who these artists are and the music they make. These are people who are not only living their normal day-to-day lives but doing so while actively pursuing their passion for creating. I couldn’t think of a better person to start this off than San Fernando’s finest, Akif Khaled, known solely as Akif.
“Music has the power to take you back to different places in time. When I listen to a lot of songs, I get taken back to a certain moment in time. It could be a few years ago or it could be 10 years ago, I just want to be able to have that same impact on people with my music.”
Hailing from the San Fernando Valley, Khaled like so many others, grew up on the music his siblings would regularly play. Listening to hip-hop and rap will make a fan of anyone, but to then create your own interpretations of it, is something special in itself.
“I always wanted to be able to create music that can give me the same feeling as the songs I’ve grown up with. So that’s kind of where my love for music comes from. Just being able to replicate those feelings that I’ve heard.”
It takes a leap of faith to start something new and for Khaled it started with a simple purchase that turned into action, snowballing his musical aspirations into a reality.
“I think back to 2016 when I bought a microphone for $50 from Best Buy. That night, I was just getting used to making songs using Audacity and I just loved the process and I’ve been doing it for seven years now.”
And that’s what music is all about, love. That love for the art seems to come so easily from Khaled, but it also helps that he is undaunted by fears of any failure, fueled by his deep sense of unapologetic and brazen self-confidence. Using that to his advantage, he saw an opportunity to create something better for his brand.
“Coming from the valley, the music scene there is very saturated, so part of the reason why I decided to come out here was because it’s such a different place. I don’t see too many people popping out of here like that. So I thought I could start from square one and really establish a fan base here.”
Risks don’t often translate to rewards, but for those who play the game hard, anything is achievable. Since beginning his studies at CSUMB, the fanbase he sought out continues to get bigger. Through his entirely self-produced beats and music inspired by rap and hip-hop about his perspective on the world and surroundings, Khaled has garnered significant buzz in the scene, especially the hype he brings surrounding his performances.
“At the end of last semester, I was performing a track that was unreleased at the time, and when I was performing it, I was able to get my first mosh pit. My friends showed me videos showing the mosh pit forming in the center. It proved to me that I know what I’m doing when it comes to this music stuff and what I think sounds good, sounds good to other people as well.”
“A lot of the time when it comes to my music, I attack it differently when I want the crowd to get hyped up with me. So the fact that they’re willing to respond to me because I interact with them on every song and they’re having a good time, it really matters to me at the end of the day.”
It’s apparent Khaled is in it for the long haul as it’s all for the love of the art. Music means so much to so many people and it’s truly one of the rawest forms of self-expression. For Khaled, he is living that to the fullest, not letting anything deter him from pursuing his lifelong passion. Creating and sharing his music is what he knows best and what he intends to do for the foreseeable future.
“If you want to be an artist, all you have to do is create, it doesn’t really matter if you’re gonna have 20 people listening or 2,000 people listening. As long as you create, you are an artist. I just want to provide my perspective on how I [view]the world,” Khaled shares. “I hope everyone can take something away from my music and hopefully be able to apply it to themselves or be able to get themselves out of a temporary issue.”
“I’m very much into boom bap and jazz rap and I love the contemporaries that are in that genre. So I feel the song is the best summary of them. It’s about not having regrets, despite the way that life turns out. I think my flow and lyricism is just really stellar in it, and it’s also a really good song to play for a crowd.”
“It’s like Hercules, but just with a P. It’s a song that shows how open I am to trying out a new vibe and type of sound from the music I’m making. The song was really fun because I experimented with my lyricism and how hard I can go. I did it with a friend as well and that’s when my music is at its best, when there’s collaboration involved.”
“It’s the lead single from my album because of me. A lot of the way the song is arranged and written is a lot like my older music back in my SoundCloud days. It’s just a bit more modernized and a lot more nice. It’s one of my og-sounding type of tracks.”