Kalani Caraballo is a comic book writer and a good friend of Prime Vice Studios. This year he started publishing an independent Hip Hop fanzine series called, “Street Dreams.”
Caraballo’s storytelling entrepreneurship is an inspiration. We interviewed him for our Creator’s Corner blog segment before and are happy to build again to celebrate his latest issue, especially since we are also big Hip Hop heads. Enjoy!
PVS: When we last connected you were involved in writing and publishing comics. You are now publishing an independent fanzine, "Street Dreams." Please elaborate on this project. What inspired you to do a fanzine about Hip Hop?
Kalani: Back in 2017, when Prodigy of Mobb Deep died, I remember driving home from work and hearing DJ Clue on Power 105. Obviously because of the day's events, he was playing Mobb Deep and Prodigy's solo music, not just the singles, but the obscurities. I remember Clue played “Young Love”, which was a White Label song, that has a Prince sample that never got cleared. But hearing “Young Love” made me think of a certain mixtape that I had seen in my cousin’s collection called "Mobb Misses." "Mobb Misses" was a full mixtape of unreleased Mobb Deep music that DJ J-Love put together.
I couldn’t find it on Youtube and had to search for it, ended up buying a download off of J-Love’s site. From there it just led me down a rabbit hole of exploring and looking for older mixtapes. My downtime from Dummie Comics was spent scouring the internet for these things. After Mobb Misses, I started focusing on looking for DJ Doo Wop mixtapes, and just re-fell in love with the mixtape culture. I remember just wanting more information on these things and there’s not many interviews with DJ Doo Wop, or many mixtape DJ’s in particular.
I had come up with an idea for a Podcast, but not many people around me were as enthused or knowledgeable when it came to mixtapes. Same time, I realized there are a million podcasts in the world and I couldn’t see myself balancing comic books and managing a podcast. So I put the idea of doing interviews in the back of my mind, and then the pandemic happened.
I ended up getting furloughed, and had quite a bit of time on my hands. In the beginning of the pandemic I was working on comic stuff, completed some art, and I was reading these comic book fanzines “Bubbles" and "Strangers." From reading those two fanzines I got inspired to do Street Dreams. Around the same time DJ Doo Wop & Tony Touch announced they were going to do a Instagram Versuz battle with the freestyles from their mixtapes. It was just the right time.
PVS: In the first issue you interviewed several DJs and talked about some of your favorite mixtapes. What are some things you discovered about that industry & culture that you didn't know before?
Kalani: To be honest, I went into not really knowing much about the industry/inner workings of the mixtape game. I knew more about certain tapes, freestyles, and little history here and there. But for the most part, a lot of the information I was hearing was very new. For instance, we interviewed J-Armz, who is a very popular Instrumental DJ. If you listen to Hip Hop Mixtapes from 2004-2010 or so, you’ve heard his signature jet fly by sound before the drums kick in. I didn’t know that he was often re-creating the instrumentals you’d hear on his mixtapes. Hearing that blew my mind, because the beats sounded exactly the same. When speaking to DJ Butter, I didn’t fully understand how the mixtape game was in Detroit/MidWest, being that I’m from New Jersey. Same time hearing the Doo Wop and Big Pun story also blew my mind too. It was an honor to get to sit down and fully pick everyone’s brain in the issue on their respective mixtapes. I truly got more than what I bargained for.
PVS: What can people expect when they pick up a copy of SD?
Kalani: First thing they can expect is Hip Hop. I’m a Hip Hop Head through and through. This fanzine is packed with well thought out content. You’re not going to see anybody with rainbow hair grace our pages. From the readers of the first issue, a lot of them said they’ve gone and listened to the mixtapes that I had written about, we’re putting people on to more than what they’re being fed to them by the mass media.
This fanzine is truly for the culture. We’re talking about things that may have been forgotten, while also shining light on the current. Same time, we aren’t just interviewing emcees, we’re also interviewing people doing great things within the culture as well. I feel like right now, Hip Hop is truly in a renaissance. We’re witnessing something truly magnificent. There's a new era in Hip Hop, and Street Dreams is here to document it.
PVS: The first issue of SD came out this summer and has gotten some interesting attention. Tell us about how this passion project opened up new opportunities for you or others involved in this project.
Kalani: The Fanzine took on a life of it’s own. We got added to Cornell University’s Hip Hop Collection. I know they have Afrika Bambata’s record collection in there, among other Hip Hop artifacts. In doing the magazine, we also curated a Mixtape, which in turn kinda makes me a Mixtape DJ even though I don’t scratch (laughs). On the mixtapes, I prominently feature my friends that are incredible MC’s. I put their Freestyles/Songs as Exclusives. Shout out my guys Genuine, Jus J, and Phace. For Street Dreams Volume 2, we enlisted NZO (FKA Enzo Amore on WWE) to host our mixtape. After issue 1 was released a lot of people started reaching out wanting to be in future issues. My life has truly changed. I’m on an interesting ride with Street Dreams. I’m having fun with this, and trying not to overthink it and really be in the moment.
PVS: Thanks for the honor of including some Prime Vice art in the second issue. What made you want to include that Loso Perez cartoon in this issue?
Kalani: Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to print it in the Fanzine. I thought that comic was a great piece. In the Inner City, Barbershops are a temple, it’s like going to church. You find out everything in the barbershop. In Hip Hop, being fresh all usually starts with your hair, and the barber is an essential piece to your freshness.
The art style just reminded me of Hip Hop, I could see that one panel being a poster in barbershops. Plus, I feel like it’s insanely relatable (laughs), I feel like we’ve all been there at one point in our lives. It’s a dope piece, and I thought it added to the overall vibe of the fanzine. It’s inspired me to want to add more Hip Hop centered comics to future issues. I really want to bridge the gap between Comics and Hip Hop. To me they’re both one and the same.
PVS: Street Dreams issue #2 is about to come out and there's word of issue 3 in the works. Besides the cartoon contribution from PVS what are some other things that people can look forward to in the latest issue?
Kalani: Readers can look forward to another issue of great Hip Hop content. I feel like I’ve truly outdone myself on this issue. Pick up Issue 2, you will not be disappointed!
PVS: How do you see this series growing in the future?
Kalani: Remember how people used to call The Source the Bible of Hip Hop? I see us being the new Bible of Hip Hop. I just want to see constant growth and progression. All I could really hope and ask for.
PVS: Thanks for taking the time to interview with us. Please drop your handles and how we can cop copies of your fanzines!
Kalani: Follow me on IG @k.caraballo. You can purchase your copies of the fanzine through the online shop, Streetdreamsfanzine.bigcartel.com. We have printed and digital copies available.
Both issues of Street Dreams are out now. Get your copies today!
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