In the 1980s, during hip-hop’s golden era, four elements played an integral part in the emerging culture: break dancing, graffiti art, turntablism and emceeing. They represented an experimental time when the genre was fresh and innovative—a far cry from the futuristic sounds of The Neptunes or the tectonic boom of Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz’ “crunk” style.
Cardnas and McGee, who together make up the local hip-hop group The Lost Elements, valiantly attempt to bring those four crucial elements to the people of Santa Fe. The two draw from both classic hip-hop and new-school sounds; they cite A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, Pharrell Williams, Organized Konfusion and Gift of Gab as influences. While McGee spits fluid, melodic and wordy flows, Cardnas’ quick lyrics accompany the beat as opposed to simply rhyming over it—a style popularized during the ’80s.
“I want people to realize hip-hop is not what you see on MTV. There’s a very relevant culture behind rap music but somewhere along the way that culture was lost,” Cardnas says.
He is not alone in his frustration. McGee recognizes there is a lack of understanding and community support when it comes to hip-hop.
“This is an art-driven town and people should be supporting the arts. There used to be legal graffiti walls everywhere and more venues to throw shows. I want to propel awareness and knowledge for the younger generations as well as educate them on what hip-hop is really about,” McGee explains.
This shared vision is the driving force behind Cardnas and McGee’s desire to succeed in a town that seems to ignore most forms of rap music.
After returning from a recent mini-tour of California, Arizona and New Mexico, The Lost Elements are showing an unstoppable passion for getting its music out there. In an effort to spread the love of hip-hop culture and music, the duo promotes community-oriented events such as the July 4 Boys and Girls Club Basketball Tournament at Santa Fe High School. In addition, it is working to secure capital investments to open a new venue that will house a record and clothing store along with plenty of stage space for national, international, local and up-and-coming artists. The venue also will provide a production room for The Lost Elements’ In Your Head record label, which is officially off the ground and running.
“We want to book everything from folk, indie and world music to hip-hop and reggae. All genres will be welcomed. We definitely won’t just book hip-hop,” McGee assures.
Thankfully, a seed has already been planted at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, where Cardnas has been busy putting together “Freestyle Fridays,” a night dedicated to unifying local graffiti artists, hip-hop heads and break dancing crews.
Similarly, Los Angeles native Gabe Ortega (DJ Aztech Sol) is a hardworking local artist with a slew of assorted music experience under his belt. Growing up in LA during the ’80s, he was able to get heavily involved with break dancing crews, which is how his interest in music flourished. Fast-forward two decades and Ortega can be found performing his own fusion of Latin, funk, hip-hop, electro and techno.
“I want to help exploit new sounds and establish a more diverse musical culture in Santa Fe,” Ortega says. “I have more of an eclectic sound and if that’s what it takes to bring all people of all walks of life together, then so be it. I honestly believe that Santa Fe is well on its way to a booming scene. The whole film industry has created a lot of buzz and there is a high demand for music. People are starving for it.”
Inspired by monumental artists such as Kraftwerk, Run DMC, Juan Atkins and Africa Bambaataa, Ortega decided to start producing his own music. As DJ Aztech Sol, he has a bi-weekly event at The Lodge along with veteran DJs Atron and 5L.
“The Lodge is actually a gold mine and it’s been very underused. There’s been talks of expanding it, but for now, it’s been a very good outlet for me. It’s a rush,” he confesses.
Like The Lost Elements, Ortega is donating his production skills to various local projects, such as making beats for Circumference of Rubixu, the popular Nosotros or Cas_Uno and Yaku. The joint ventures clearly indicate that
local musicians are beginning to work together to nurture Santa Fe’s blossoming music scene; it’s a feat that may be challenging, but it’s far from impossible.
The Lost Elements featuring Cas_Uno, Yaku And Sphinx 22
5 pm, Friday, July 4, Free
Santa Fe High School
2100 Yucca St.
Aztech Sol, 5L and Atron
9 pm, Friday, June 20, $5
750 St. Francis Drive