When people think of west coast hip-hop neighborhoods like Los Angeles, Oakland, Compton, or Inglewood come to mind. However a region that can sometimes be overlooked due its disposition outside of the major metropolitan area is the Inland Empire. Just a short drive south of the greater Los Angeles, the Inland Empire has birthed raw talent over the years from grammy award winning producer Hit-Boy, to artists like Audio Push and Curtiss King. A new name that’s on the rise from the overlooked area is producer OhGoshLeotus.
Story | Adam Douglas
Image | Courtesy of OhGoshLeotus
Fresh off of releasing his iTunes chart topping album Jubilee Year with Curtiss King, Leotus dims the lights in his studio and sits back to reflect on his upbringings as a producer. Raised in San Bernardino, the 25-year-old producer reminisces on his parents playing west coast hip-hop growing up, citing the genre as a key inspiration when producing. “I was listening to a lot of WC, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg. Growing up listening to them kind of influenced my sound a little bit. Once I finally got into producing I was listening to that music and trying to imitate that sound.”
Inspired by the 2002 movie Drumline, OhGoshLeotus joined the marching band his freshman year of high school, learning drumming techniques and syncopation which he incorporates into his production, live sets, and occasional DJ battles. During this time he would also frequently attend shows at Riverside’s popular hip-hop venue The Common Ground, where he picked up skills of his hip-hop repertoire. From then on Leotus became dedicated to teaching himself the bass guitar and keyboard to improve his audio production. “When I got my first controller that’s when I started practicing all the time trying to find ways to play cool chords and what not, I’m pretty much self-taught.”
In December 2016, his work ethic paid off when he released a collaboration album with rapper and friend Curtiss King titled Jubilee Year. The EP went along to top the iTunes charts, breaking into its top four. “That was probably my first project that ever made it to iTunes as far as me producing the project. It felt crazy. It was a crazy feeling to know that millions of probably saw something that I created.”
Leotus has collaborated with a handful of artists over his career, but admits that the chemistry between him and Curtiss goes unmatched. The relationship built between the two has proven to produce powerful results. “He gives me an idea, I create off that idea, he’s writing as I’m creating we record it, I’ll mix it and master it and we’re good. It’s fun working with Curtiss. We have something that’s very effective.”
As a producer and engineer, OhGoshLeotus has accumulated a hefty amount of credentials from Curtiss King, StonexSober to Noah James. Most recently he’s gained the attention of west coast rap legend Murs, which led to their collaboration on the Walking Dead inspired track ‘Rick Grimes is Dead’. “When he chose that beat I was like surprised, I was like ‘dude out of all the beats I sent you, you chose that one?’ It worked out though because that song came out dope.” Earlier this month Murs also released another OhGoshLeotus produced track, “Survivor”:
Already working with legends like Murs and casually brushing shoulders with members of TDE in studios, Leotus manages to stay humble and level headed as he progresses in his career, giving kudos to the place that raised him. “Even if I’m doing these records with everybody, I’m coming back. What we have out here is crazy. I feel like we need to come together and make stuff happen instead of trying to move to LA.”
Leotus understands the growth and the development of hip-hop community in the Inland Empire and plans to keep contributing to it. “I love the culture out here. I don’t feel like I can ever rep anything other than I.E. My foundation is the Common Ground, that’s where I learned everything.”
Following the success met by Jubilee Year and having his production endorsed by Murs, Leotus is entering 2017 with a head start. He has multiple projects in the works which include a five beat EP releasing in late March, an album entitled Blap Attack which features Leotus rapping with producer Nabeyin, and another collaboration album with Curtiss King to follow up 2016’s Jubilee Year.