By Tracy Dietlin

Born in San Jose, but living in the desert since 2000, 32-year-old local hip hop performer, Provoked, will once again join some of his favorite collaborators during the “Beats, Rhymes and Spoken Word” set at Joshua Tree Music Festival which takes place October 4-7.

Beats, Rhymes and Spoken Word is kind of a lovechild of DRP’s Mikey Reyes and JTMF founder Barnett English. Saturday night @11pm on the Cafe Stage you can catch some of the Mojave’ best Emcees and Poets as they perform, original pieces of music and literature, backed by a live band and turntablist. Beats, Rhymes and Spoken Word is reminiscent of an old school Funky, Raw, Underground Hip-Hop Dance Party. BRSW performers include: Mikey Reyes, Willdabeast, Provoked, Mycoal Shon Cuevas, DJ ODC, Bassists Bryanna Evaro, and Drummer Tyler Saraca.

Provoked (aka Daniel Sullivan), has been battle rapping since the early 90s and performs often with other hip-hop artists here in the valley. He took some time to answer a few questions for us.    


CVW: I know you mostly as a rapper/wordsmith…can you tell me a little about your background in music? What types of music do you write and perform? Do you play instruments?

Provoked: “I had a wide range of musical influences at a young age thanks to my older brother. He brought me to the famous Bay area punk venue 924 Gilman St. when I was 7, and to see Black Star at Amoeba Music in SF when I was 12. I looked up to his friends, from break dancers, to musicians in metal bands. But it was the B Boys and graffiti artists that really caught my attention. By the time I was in the 7th grade, my Dad and brother bought me a pair of turntables. That same year I started battle rapping, fell in love with rapping in general and haven’t stopped since. I never learned to play any instruments.”

CVW: Please list all the duos/bands/collaborations that you have been in and are currently in?

Provoked: “I’ve been working with Desert Rhythm Project, WilldaBeast, Thoughts Contained, Ocho Ojos, J Patron, and Verzo Loko a lot recently.”

CVW: What’s the difference for you writing/performing solo opposed to collaborating?

Provoked: “The creative process is pretty much the same. But collaborating is a lot more fun at times.”

CVW: Do you come up with your own beats or does someone else? If so please tell me about them?

Provoked: “Most of my beats are Locally produced by Source 1st, Tevan, and Kancun. Drew Flores, James Dorris, and Capitxl G also have production on my upcoming album.”

CVW: Who do you collaborate with best?

Provoked: “Definitely WilldaBeast, Mikey Reyes, Thoughts Contained, James Dorris, and it was a lot of fun to work with Ocho Ojos, Savier 1, And Verzo Loko for Xibalba.”

CVW: Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet?

Provoked: “Any talented musician in the Coachella Valley that’s serious about their craft.”

CVW: Tell us about your project with Mikey Reyes that you’re going to be doing at Joshua Tree Fest?

Provoked: “I was invited to play with Desert Rhythm Project at the last Joshua Tree Music Festival for their Beats & Rhymes set. This is a continuation of that with WilldaBeast, Mycoal Shon, and DJ ODC. JTMF has been my favorite festival since 2005 so I’m honored and super grateful for the experience.”

CVW: What has been your favorite performance moment of your career?

Provoked: “Coachella 2010 at the sustainability stage with @moyo_pollo.”

CVW: Favorite venue to play?

Provoked: “The Date Shed.”

CVW: Favorite bands/hip hop rap artists growing up?

Provoked: “Aceyalone based on his Book Of Human Language album, and Gang Starr based on the Step In The Arena tape I had in 3rd grade. De La Soul’s Stakes Is High album also had a huge impact on me as a kid.”

CVW: Bands/rappers you listen to now?

Provoked: “All of my friends making good quality music this year.”

CVW: Favorite local bands?

Provoked: “Desert Rhythm Project & Ocho Ojos.”

CVW: Who do you most respect in the music business?

Provoked: “I have a lot of respect for pioneering labels like Ninja Tune that have been releasing good quality music for almost 30 years now. Hieroglyphics has always been one of my favorite hip hop crews and it’s awesome to see them still doing it together. I just recently found out about Hiero Day in Oakland and was really impressed to see this year’s line-up. They’ve been going strong since the early 90’s.”

CVW: Who would you want to see in concert that you haven’t seen yet?

Provoked: “Buju Banton.”

CVW: What band/artist would you most like to open for?

Provoked: “I would love to be an opening act on any Living Legends, Hieroglyphics, or Rhymesayers tour.”

CVW: What band/music genre do you listen to that people would be the most surprised to hear?

Provoked: “Experimental Music, and what I like to call Dreamy Atmospheric Tripped Out Chill music.” (smiling)

CVW: What would people be the most surprised to know about you?

Provoked: “I started battle rapping in the late 90’s and was a dedicated jungle / drum & bass DJ for almost six years.”

CVW: Upcoming shows? Anything else you want to share?

Provoked: “Art & Ink Fest at the Indio Fairgrounds Oct. 5th, and JTMF Oct. 6th. Thank you Phil, Tracy, and Chance for this interview. And thank you to everyone that’s been supportive of what I do in any way.  Love is all that really matters.”