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‘Music is life’: Local hip-hop artist releases single about La Jolla

Local hip-hop artist The Toven has released "La Jolla," a single inspired by the coastal community.
(Courtesy of Bigger Vibes Inc.)

Drawing on a variety of musical influences, local hip-hop artist The Toven has released a new single called “La Jolla,” inspired by the community’s many neighborhoods and features.

The song is about “The Jewel,” The Toven said. “[I] tried to let the music speak [and] paint a picture for La Jolla.”

The Toven, born Morrell Coleman and raised in southeast San Diego, said he “grew up a little ways away from La Jolla. That’s the goal, to be out by the water on the coast somewhere. People fantasize about living out there.”

He said the song also was inspired by “some artists that I admired [who were] actually born in La Jolla,” such as jazz musician Michael Franks. “I listened to him growing up … it has a lot of meaning.”

Franks “had to get some of his musical inspiration right there in La Jolla,” The Toven said.

He said “La Jolla” is “a song that most people probably wouldn’t even expect to come out of my mouth, but why wouldn’t it? I was born and raised in San Diego, so I should have been talking about it, or places like that. … It was really a benefit of growing up in San Diego.”

The Toven said his music is “predominantly hip-hop, but at the same time I grew up appreciating music from all genres,” which influences everything from his songs to his pseudonym.

“The Toven,” he said, “is kind of a play off of Beethoven. I’m a big fan of classical music.

“Most people don’t know that hip-hop was created out of every genre of music you can think of. Hip-hop is not a unique, individual genre … so that’s how I approach the music.”

“La Jolla” is the second single off The Toven’s forthcoming album “Welcome to San Diego,” which is slated for release Wednesday, Aug. 11.

The Toven said he hopes the album will grab “the attention of the people in the city that I grew up in. It’s for them. I’m trying to please the home crowd.”

The Toven says his music is inspired by many genres.
(Courtesy of Bigger Vibes Inc.)

“It doesn’t matter how big a star I become to the rest of the world,” he said. “It’s really, first and foremost, to capture the city, the county that I grew up into a musical bottle and putting that out.

“I feel like I have a little bit more responsibility, being born and raised out here, being a music artist, not to just run somewhere else or go to Hollywood and try to make it. I feel like I need to talk about what’s around me first and try to make sure we are impressing the people around me first.”

The new album “is probably my best work,” The Toven said. Representing San Diego in song is “hard to do. This is a place [with] a lot of beautiful sites. It’s hard to put all that in a bottle, [but] I feel that we did it musically.

“It takes you from places all the way from southeast San Diego to Encinitas to Carlsbad, Del Mar [and] Mission Beach.”

The Toven said he feels people would be “comfortable listening to my music,” as it doesn’t “really focus on what we usually focus on in hip-hop. We just focus in on the views, the different things that San Diego has to offer.”

The Toven is nominated in the Best Hip-Hop or Rap Album category in the San Diego Music Awards on Tuesday, Aug. 24, for his 2020 debut full-length album, “Bigger Vibes.”

“Bigger Vibes” is a “great project,” The Toven said. “I tapped into my love for rock ‘n’ roll as well as hip-hop.”

“Hopefully we can pull off that win” at the awards, he said. “But it’s just great to be recognized like that,” especially since he put out the album “right at the height of the pandemic” and thus there was little promotion or performance connected to it.

The Toven said he was born Aug. 11, 1973 — considered the date that hip-hop began — which means he was “a baby of hip-hop, a baby of … a diverse collection of music that I was listening to,” he said.

“Music is life,” he added. “It’s the universal language; you make music to connect with life, to tell your life story. Hopefully other people can relate.”

To listen to “La Jolla,” visit bit.ly/TheTovenLaJolla. For more information about The Toven, visit thetoven.com.