Local MC Scorpz the Venom has been rapping for 15 years and has carved out a successful career in the underground scene. But in 2018, he wanted to see if he could stretch his sound a little outside of the standard hip-hop lines. So he called up his frequent collaborator Fury Figeroa to work on a track with him. Fury has been in the hip-hop scene even longer—almost two decades—and has worked with Scorpz for the past seven years.
The two created the track “Pesos,” which mixed elements of reggae, rock, dub and just a dash of hip-hop. Scorpz laid down an acoustic reggae guitar track, while Fury filled out the rest of the parts. After another collaboration, “The Big Hustle,” in which the duo seemed to be experimenting more with reggae, rock, and R&B than rap, they were forced to consider whether these two songs should be Scorpz tracks—or something totally new. Stress Nada was born.
“We felt like it could be something bigger than what we had intended. It could be its own movement, because it was so different and original. Like its own genre,” Fury says. “It’s a little too different from what we were doing as hip-hop, so let’s create a whole band, new name, and see what happens.”
Both artists continued to work on their individual hip-hop careers—they did a joint headlining West Coast tour this past March, just before Covid-19. At the same time, they continued to write music for Stress Nada. In September, they released their first official single, “Get On My Level,” a taste of their upcoming self-titled full-length, which will be released in early 2021.
It’s a chill, funky track with soulful vocals, featuring Scorpz fingerpicking a repeating acoustic guitar groove while Fury plays a fat bass line—all of it stitched together with a mid-tempo hip-hop beat.
“It’s real feelgood, upbeat, positive stuff,” Fury says. “We just decided we wanted to keep it on that level.”
With the release of their debut single, the group has emerged fully formed and ready to make a huge impact in 2021. When the two MCs headed out for tour last March, they had seven songs and were talking about the possibility of prioritizing Stress Nada. Covid-19 accelerated that process. Now it’s their main focus. Fury even bought a bass guitar, so that he could play an actual bass on the album instead of just his synthesizer, giving the songs a much more visceral groove.
As the year progressed, they saw the relevance of the positivity they were trying to spread. The message in their music—that happiness is something you choose, no matter the circumstance—is baked into every note of music they’ve created for Stress Nada.
“The whole ups and downs of life, and the uncertainties that we all face, especially this year—everything’s changed, and who knows if it’s ever going to go back to normal?” Fury says. “We’re trying to keep a positive outlook and say, ‘Hey look at the bright side of things.’ It is challenging. You can’t really depend on any person or thing to bring you the happiness. Happiness comes from within. It’s a personal decision.”
For two hip-hop veterans, crafting an album for Stress Nada was a totally new experience. Suddenly they were dabbling in all these styles that hadn’t been part of the mix before. But it was also an extension of the creativity they’ve been fostering since the early 2000s. They just widened those edges a bit.
“I’ve been listening to a lot of other genres more than I have in the past. Reggae, roots and rock. Analyzing some of the arrangements and mixing it in with our own style,” Fury says. “We’re not scared to try something new and experiment. We’re still going to be doing our hip-hop thing. We’re just trying to create a whole new audience for this. But still trying to maintain our flavor so they know it’s us.”
For more information, go to stressnada.com.