By Marissa Mooney |Staff Writer|
The Common Ground at the Vibe Bar and Grill in Riverside makes for a manic Sunday Funday, an event that is presented once a week by local favorites Noa James and Curtiss King.
On May 27, James joined forces with the Inland Empire fashion line MOvintage to present in front of a packed house of fashion and music enthusiasts.
Adam Daniel Martinez, also known by his stage name Faimkills, was one of the rappers performing that night. Martinez started out playing guitar for the San Bernardino-based band Spirit Fangs in 2008, but has recently focused more on his rap career.
“If your aim is for fame or notoriety, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” said Martinez about the meaning behind his stage name. “It is a reminder to myself that I never lose my intentions as an artist.”
Martinez began rapping at the young age of 11 and became serious after graduating from UCR with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2008.
“[My influence] has shifted so much from rap in the 90s to what BET and MTV fed me, but by 2003, I began to notice underground rap like The Roots, and Mos Def,” said Martinez.
Martinez is a friend of Noa James and is a part of Black Cloud Music. Black Cloud Music is an independent rap label that was founded in the mid-2000s in the Inland Empire by local artist Jynxx. Noa, Curtiss, and Faimkills are just a few of the talented rappers on the label.
Black Cloud Music is a D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) label with no producers, no merch and no managers for the rappers. All of the artists on the label pursue and make their own music to present to the Inland Empire. The Common Ground is one of the many accomplishments that Noa James has embarked on.
In 2007, Noa James and his girlfriend Lesa Vilaihong began a venue called Building Blocks in downtown San Bernardino, which morphed into Project Load IE, which finally blossomed into the Common Ground in 2009.
The venue started at the Vibe. Due to an overwhelmingly positive response, the event started occurring every Sunday. “Even people who aren’t into music got to hang out,” said Martinez.
Noa James began rapping at 13 and began to join rap battles. After a tough journey through life, Noa James channeled his life into his music.
“Noa decided to enroll in a writing class at the local community college to help him transfer his thoughts and struggles on paper in a way that truly exposed his reality and emotions,” stated Noa James’ biography.
“Over the years Noa’s autobiographical rhymes have made him a pioneer in the art of story telling and although his powerful stage presence and large stature has made him a force to be reckoned with it is the size of his heart, that has remained most imminent.”
Noa was voted “Best Rapper” by IE Weekly 2010 and continues to perform at venues like the House of Blues and, recently the Paid Dues festival.
On June 3, Noa James will be hosting the third anniversary of the Common Ground at the Vibe. To check out Noa and Faimkills’ music, you can visit blackcloudmusic.com