Up-and-coming hip hop artist Ishmael Sanchez talks about his musical future
“Feeling more impatient than a California driver, been trying to find a way out of this pressure.”
And getting out to follow his dreams is exactly Ishmael Sanchez's plan.
Born in Lindsay and raised in Strathmore before moving to Porterville in 2005, Ishmael aspires to make a name for himself through his hip-hop music. As an up-and-coming rapper, he uses his lyrics to inspire youth and ignite ambition in the younger community.
Growing up in Strathmore was a bit of challenge for Ishmael after his father passed away when he was seven. As his mother began to date new men, he found himself in the throes of a rocky relationship with his mother's new love interest.
“We didn't really bond with him, and it was a really weird time for me,” said Ishmael. “Him and my mom weren't really fond of hip hop music, and my brothers and sisters were into music, but they weren't into it like me.”
At the age of 14, Ishmael began really focusing on music and musicians that spoke to him, especially musicians who weren't 'mainstream' or well-known.
“People like that inspired me,” said Ishmael.
Ishmael's wife, Laura, has stood by his side and supported his dream of becoming a hip hop artist. Her drive to see her husband's success motivates “Team Ishmael” to keep going, even when things aren't looking up.
“The way he is with new people, you can tell he is a little nervous,” said Laura. “But when he is performing he is a different person, and people have pointed that out.”
Ishmael began writing his own lyrics in 2010, but only began performing in front of larger crowds recently.
“Making music in my room was cool and all. To make things legitimate, I would find beats off of YouTube and actually buy leases for them so I could put them on Spotify, Apple Music, and all of that,” said Ishmael. “After doing all of that, it sounded great, but I knew I needed to perform it now, because that is what artists do.”
Growing up as a shy and introverted teenager, Ishmael struggled at first with expressing himself, even through his music, but knew the only way to grow and get noticed was to break out of his shell and perform.
“My first performance was in September 2018,” said Ishmael. “It was in Visalia at the 5th Quarter. It was me and a bunch of other artists and comedians. It was weird because I felt that for the kind of person I was, it would be hard for me to really get out there.”
After receiving a message from a promoter in March 2018, Ishmael was invited to perform at the show in Visalia, and practiced for months to prepare himself for his seven-minute set.
“It went good,” said Ishmael. “I tried to do more body language with hit because I knew I couldn't just stand there. I tried to work with it. I was grateful for the opportunity, but it was kind of weird for me.”
Ishmael took his talent to Music on Main Street, and performed for the crowd on May 31.
“It was well received,” said Laura about the Music on Main performance. “We performed at the Iris Festival as well, which was also well received.”
Although Ishmael does curse in his music, he edits out all profanities for family shows. Even though he does use profanity here and there, Ishmael makes it a point to not rap about anything obscene, such a violence and drug use, in his music.
“You have songs for different vibes,” said Ishmael. “For me, in my heart, I know I have not experienced those things, but I don't have the interest to experience that. That's not me. I can't talk about stuff that I am not living.”
Ishmael doesn't solely draw inspiration from independent rap artists. He is also drawn to music like indie rock, nu-metal and punk rock.
“I like that stuff, it's cool,” said Ishmael. “Indie hip hop artists really influence me too, because it shows me there is more to talk about than what is the norm.”
Ishmael stated that he finds most of his inspiration from his wife, who restlessly pushes him to chase his dreams until he is living them.
“My wife really inspires me, because being able to have, or at least to portray that confidence, really does inspire me,” said Ishmael. “Sometimes I feel like there are things I'm not confident with, and it's something I've struggled with for a long time. She really gives me confidence.”
Through his music, Ishmael's goal is to inspire youth in the community and to give back.
“I see these kids, and it's crazy, because what is around them really affects them,” said Ishmael. “I think about my growing up, and there were so many things that could have affected me, but it didn't.”
Ishmael and Laura are ready to take Ishmael's musical career to the next level. They have purchased merchandise and licensing for his songs, but are ready to expand their marketing efforts to push him forward.
“I can see my career really blossoming into something,” said Ishmael. “I feel like I can really do this and take it somewhere that nobody from here has taken it before.”
Laura's vision for her husbands future is similar.
“I don't want to stop until there is a big sign that says 'Porterville: Home of Ishmael' with his logo next to it,” she said. “That's how big I want to see him make it.”
Ishmael's music can be found on all streaming platforms, including YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Music.