Rapper Reggie Stephens, also known as Famouz, and Ribsy’s Nickel frontman Jason “J-willz” Williams go way back—all the way to 1990 when the two played basketball at Santa Cruz High School. And with that longtime friendship serving as the creative nucleus, the two have launched a fresh musical collaboration called Cruzmatik. After high school, Stephens went to Rutgers University in New Jersey, played football for the New York Giants, and then recorded as a hip-hop artist for a spell in Los Angeles. Williams, on the other hand, toured California for more than a decade with Ribsy’s Nickel and shook up local venues with the band’s signature surf/reggae/rock.
But last year, the two came together to create a highly produced, razor-sharp hip-hop group that sheds a glamorous light on their Santa Cruz lifestyle. In the music video for their club-ready hit “Party Don’t Stop”—which, as of press time, had 91,797 views on YouTube—the duo cruises the cliffs in classic cars and parties hard on the Westside’s Its Beach. “We kind of put Santa Cruz on our back, showed a lot of visuals, and it just took off,” Stephens says. “We’re blowin’ up Santa Cruz. Now everyone is feelin’ Cruzmatik.” He adds that their sound is unlike anything either of them has done before. “It’s kind of like we’ve taken [Williams’] lifestyle and my lifestyle and blended them together,” he says. Williams, who is still a member of Ribsy’s Nickel, but was ready for a new challenge, attributes he and Stephens’ natural musical chemistry to their long-lasting friendship. “I go to sleep Cruzmatik and I wake up Cruzmatik,” says Williams. The two are now working on the music video for their song “Up All Night,” which will have a vampire theme a la The Lost Boys. “We’ve shown you the beaches and the beautiful girls,” Stephens says. “Now we’re gonna take you to the underworld of Santa Cruz.”
INFO: To hear music by Cruzmatik and find out more about the group, including performance dates, visit facebook.com/cruzmatikmusic.