Thom Stockton survived age 27, and has the album to prove it
There is no way to pinpoint who Thom Stockton is. He completely massacres any stereotype or physical judgments that anyone may push on him. He’s got the push-broom stache of a ‘70s porn star, but a rambling lyrical style that makes the likes of Obie Trice swoon.
Born and raised as a third-generation Stocktonian, Thom has an immense pride for his hometown of infamy. So much so, that the city has earned its place as half of his rap moniker. A few years ago, Thom’s first song was “My name is Stockton,” where he rapped about the city. Eventually, he felt like the song perfectly embodied who he is. Naturally, the self-revelation came: “I am Thomas, Thomas Stockton.”
Most people, including myself, know very little about the city of Stockton other than its crime rates and financial devastation. Stockton crime rates are some of the highest in the country, ranking fifth on Forbes Most Dangerous Cities list in 2013. Despite these ugly details overshadowing Stockton, it’s important to remember that there are still people who were born and raised there, who absolutely adore it and fight to show others that there is more to it than the bullshit. Thom Stockton is one of these people.
“I consider myself constantly defending Stockton, even when I really shouldn’t have to… What I love about Stockton most is that people don’t expect much from us,” Thom says. “If they really knew, they’d be baffled and embarrassed that they were so naïve when it comes to judging what they don’t really know.
“A decade ago, we were an all-American city,” he continues. “Somehow along the way, some things went sour.”
I have to note that Thom gave me flashbacks to a few years ago when I was interviewing the musician Matisyahu, who repeatedly felt the need to sarcastically slam Sacramento into the ground (“Cool, you guys have a river? I have a river in my backyard in Oregon.”) despite never really spending any time here. It was weird and makes a case for Thom Stockton: it’s a spectacle to you, but this place is who I am.
His hometown, and the social issues surrounding it, resonates in a large chunk of his music. “I’m not a politician, I’m not an activist, I just have a heart for things that I truly understand,” he says.
His 2012 song, “Be You,” is considered the theme song of the lyricist. It is an ode to the art of being purely self-loving and to respect and appreciate the roots of who you are. Stockton’s current mayor, Anthony Silva, recently discovered Thom’s music, and the two began emailing back and forth. Long story short, they are going to have lunch soon to discuss “mutual interests.”
Stylistically, Thom is extremely hard to pinpoint. His personal style is sometimes surfer dude, sometimes akin to Ricky Reed of Wallpaper, while others say he’s a rapping Danny Green. He raps with a sort of sand-blasted rasp that is part true-to-Stockton grit and part inspirational and self-loving.
“I’ve been compared to Brother Ali, which is dope. Might be a voice or delivery thing…or it might be the whole elephant in the room that we are both white rappers,” Thom says. “I really try to ignore the white rapper talk. It’s not a black and white thing, its a hip-hop thing. When I first started rapping, I got compared to Vanilla Ice a lot, which kinda sucks.
“I guess its like being from Stockton. I am Stockton. I’m misunderstood, and not what you would expect.”
This summer Thom Stockton is releasing his album 27. An album with a lot of “symbology,” he says, jokingly referencing the famous line from Boondock Saints. 27 is representative of the infamous “27 club,” a group of musicians who all coincidentally died at that age. When Thom was 27, he was well on his way to meeting the imminent doom that accompanies living life way too fast. “It was the darkest time of my life,” he says. “I was left thinking, ‘If I die, what will I be remembered for?’” These are concepts all explored in the song “Legacy” off of 27.
“I didn’t come out with an album when I was 27 because I was so trapped in my own mind,” Thom explains. “I couldn’t get out of my own head to properly get stuff down. Some might call it writer’s block, but I just called it being messed up and struggling. I was hearing the beats in my head and just couldn’t connect it.”
27 is full of nuances and exactly 27 minutes long. The album is solely about Thom, from his love of the living legends to the significance of his tattoos.
“My favorite part of my music is the way it connects with people,” he says. “If I feel it, chances are someone will listen to it and they will feel it to. I make music as a release. The point is to feel and release positivity, negativity and most importantly to connect.”
In every Internet bio, Thom is called “Mr. Make-It-Happen.” He credits this to his notorious nature of being that guy who, no matter what, will find a way.
“I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. There is a way,” he asserts.
In 2003, Obie Trice’s album Cheers was released, completely inspiring Thom.
“I put it in my head that I will rap with this guy. When I put things in my mind, it exists. I just have to manifest it,” Thom says.
A few years later, after some connections and phone calls, Thom and Obie were flowing together on Thom’s own track, “From the Hometown He Rose.” It all happened when Thom was laying tracks with Dr. Dre’s son, Curtis Young, who overheard Stockton’s dream and made it happen. No more than a month later, Obie and Thom were in Los Angeles filming a music video together for “From the Hometown he Rose.”
Thom will be bringing his Stockton pride to Harlow’s on July 24 in celebration of his album, 27. “Mr. Make-It-Happen” will perform a few oldies as well as the new album with ‘stache, dookie chain and all.
See the newly formed Thom Stockton Trio live at Harlow’s on Thursday, July 24, 2014. Stockton is joined onstage by drummer Jesse Salazar and DJ Epik. They will be opening for Sapient and Illmaculate. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the cover is $10. Learn more at Thomstockton.com.