"In fact, what began as a three piece consisting of an acoustic guitar, a set of bongos and Tran rhyming, has blossomed into a 16 piece multi-cultural live band including back up singers of every shape, color and size, and the mind and ear boggling human beat boxing and scratching of Spencer Nezey, who is a one man band in himself."
Antuan Tran has been commanding a growing army of eclectic musical warriors and a growing number of multi-cultural fans including collaborators such as The Black Eyed Peas and Kid (from Kid N Play) in Los Angeles venues over the past two years under the moniker of ANTONEUS MAXIMUS AND THE NUTHOUZE BAND and before you know it, he may just cause a musical revolution, whether the music industry likes it or not.
Born and raised in the Bay, Tran projects a peaceful warrior delivery of positive lyrical messages with a commanding Napoleonic stance, and the rapid fan base of the Nuthouze is not just listening, they're dancing. "I want people to feel good. To get out there... to dance. It's about moving."
Growing old with traditional hip hop, just under two years ago, Tran began driving down to Los Angeles twice a month to expand his own musical vision from Nor Cal hip hop to develop what he calls universal music. "It all sounds the same right now. We need to explore more styles. Let's start saying something instead of saying nothing. Rappers speaking about how much money they got, how many cars... ," Tran says as he shakes his head and twists one of his many dreadlocks.
Although a self-professed non-rapper ("I don't rap, I'm an artist," Tran says), don't let his mischievous smile fool you. Antoneus Maximus and the Nuthouze Band is a modern day carnival style blend of Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic, Fishbone and even Snoop Dog. "Marijuana is a universal language that breaks down all barriers," says Tran. "At times, I find it's the one language that any one body of any culture in a room understands." There's a reason artists such as Danté and DJ Motiv8 from the Black Eyed Peas as well as Kid from the classic hip hop group Kid N Play frequently join him on stage amongst other surprise guests.
In fact, what began as a three piece consisting of an acoustic guitar, a set of bongos and Tran rhyming, has blossomed into a 16 piece multi-cultural live band including back up singers of every shape, color and size, and the mind and ear boggling human beat boxing and scratching of Spencer Nezey, who is a one man band in himself. With such a large musical collective on stage, you'll more than often find some of the hottest jam sessions happening on even the smallest of stages. "There is certainly a structure (to the pieces being played), but certain songs, you have to let the band be themselves and explore. When we jam, I let them wild out," says Tran who also writes and produces each song the Nuthouze performs.
With an almost countless number of acts in Los Angeles looking for a break, it might be expected for one to fall off the path of righteousness on their journey. Yet for Tran, keeping grounded in both his roots and his spirituality remains at the forefront of both his music and his life's philosophy. "Being spiritual is having a way of discipline as well as having faith in something and sticking with it," Tran says as he fiddles with his fried Chicken at a crowded 101 Café. "Me, I feel like the Lord has been guiding me. Know what I'm saying? I have my own personal relationship with the Lord. I talk to him like I talk to my homies. It might be just my conscience talking to me, but that's what keeps me going. I just know its right. My roots are everything to me," Tran says as he gives a re-affirming look across the table to Jimmy Duvall, a cult-status actor, guitarist for the Nuthouze, and one of Tran's closest friends. "You can hear that through the music. 'The 80's song' (a Nuthouze crowd pleasing track) means a lot to me and my mom. It's about the time in the '80s when we were struggling. Your roots are what humble you, they build character."
If it's character you're looking for, perhaps you might find that something clearer than the fog has indeed rolled into Los Angeles in the form of a dreadlocked Vietnamese musical artist who plants his roots mote into Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley than Biggie Smalls. That's right, Vietnamese. "We need to stop being scared of other people's differences. Once we learn other people's differences, we can move forward. We're all the same underneath. Open your mind, look what's going on," says Tran as the last beams of a Hollywood sun reflects off of his sunglasses.
Wake up and see what's going on for yourself this coming Thursday night, March 31st at B.B. King's at the Universal City Walk as Antoneus Maximus and the Nuthouze Band opens for Medusa at 10:00pm.
$8 advance $12 at the door
BB KING'S 1000 Universal Center Drive, #222 Universal City Walk 818-622-5464
Contact the Nuthouze for advanced tickets at 323-466-6302
Diamond in the Rough is a weekly celebration of all those terrific entertainment possibilities being ignored by other media outlets.