By Alejandro Nicolas / Staff Writer
Inside a clammy local studio called “The Manson Motel,” human services major Jian Salas, aka Jianni Xavier, sits and writes a new record for his upcoming album.
Surrounded by crunched-up papers with old rhymes, cigarettes and fast-food wrappers, Salas explains that the life of an emcee is a struggle, but what he wants to express is the struggle of the streets.
He said, “At the end of it all, I want the music to be political.”
The 27-year-old North Long Beach resident and LBCC student begins his verse with a powerful opening, “Working nine-to-five feeling like a slave to the money. Either figure it out now or stay living hungry.”
As Salas paced back and forth, thinking of new lines to recite he explained he came from a long history of gang violence.
“That’s the way it is around here. I was influenced by the streets.”
Through all the muck of city life, Salas said he seeks refuge in the studio where he can be himself and express himself through words and song.
He is familiar with sheet music, knows how to play a few instruments and can also sing.
Salas juggles school, work and parenting while simultaneously recording, promoting, performing and writing.
“Chasing my dreams has been overwhelming, but I don’t regret it. I need it for my spirituality. I almost gave up.
“When I got out of prison, they gave me $200 to find my way home. I spent $50 on the Greyhound, $100 on an interface and the rest on a microphone. I wasn’t going back.”
Salas has been making music for nearly 20 years and his major in human services is helpful.
He said, “At the end of the day, it is about being a voice for the people. I had a way of figuring it out. But as far as human services goes, it is helping me to see what specific areas need attention.
“For example, why some people are oppressed and others are not and most importantly, why. My major is educating me on the way the social system is set up. It’s like therapy to me.
“Realizing and understanding why I am the way I am gives me clarity.”
Salas has high hopes for his music career. With a few quiet words, he explained, “I’m just trying to dig deep in my soul.”
Rashida Crutchfield, an adjunct lecturer in the human services department who also teaches at Cal State Long Beach, said, “He is an exceptional student. He offers thoughts and ideas that add to the depth of our conversations in class. He is a joy to have.”
Samuel Jobe, 35, a human services major, said, “He’s going to be a great social worker in the future.”
The hip-hop artist plans to transfer to Cal State Long Beach next year then to a master’s program. He plans to focus on social work once he finishes.