Awol One
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Awol One

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop World


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"Pitchfork review of Awol One's Propaganda"

Underground hip-hop is quickly becoming clogged with depressives. From Atmosphere to Sole-- and even Eminem in his totalitarian, sensitive dickhead guise-- rappers of late seem desperate to let the world know that, "Hey, I'm a fucked-up piece of shit, too!" And the extent of self-loathing in hip-hop is only spiraling deeper in oppression; even though it's a universal sentiment (everybody hates themselves sometimes), you just wanna point to Tony Soprano and recommend some therapy, 'cause clearly, help is no longer considered socially emasculating.

Awol One, thankfully, doesn't suffer from this affliction to the point where it becomes the sole message of his music-- though he certainly whips up a vast mire of his own insecurity on Propaganda. Sure, he spits some self-hate through his phlegmy rasp, and even a little reflective self-pity, which actually finds a comfortable residence in his morose, boggy half-singing. But mostly, Awol solves his own problems before he begs for sympathy. When he asks, "Why do I always destroy all the good things in my life?" he answers his own question: "Self-destructive behavior." Atmosphere, listen and learn.

Of course, Propaganda does have its share of self-destructive behavior. There's plenty of it-- including self-abuse. But Awol gets most specific when he's reflective, when he finds solace in a rhyme. Acting not so much as a mirror as a barometer, he observes, "Music is just like a heartbeat. Watch the world, and I gotta take notes," and simply, "Music makes me feel alive." He presents himself as a scribe, representing for those that beat themselves down, empathizing with their plight, sometimes calling them (himself?) out: "You look so sad in your self-centered, lonely life." Propaganda is pregnant with these kinds of conversationally paced cadences and Awol's perpetually gritty vocal timbre, which conveys a certain raw fragility. Like just about everything these days, it's so goddamn meta.

Honestly, though, it sometimes hurts to listen to this, which means he's doing his job. Because the record is, for the most part, art as therapy, the nerve Awol hits is sometimes too raw in its brutal emotional honesty ("Sometimes I don't mind being a loser. But I'm not a beginner"). Not to mention Fat Jack's beats-- low-key and spacious, almost minimal, and about as funky as a funeral procession. There's no escapism in Awol's inner dialogue, no effort to paint himself as fucked-up-crazy and therefore cool; there is beauty, however, in the knowledge he's spoon-feeding you the cold, hard truth.

— Julianne Shepherd, February 3, 2003 - Pitchfork

"LA Record review of Owl Hours"

Journalists love comparing Awol One to Tom Waits, but that’s like comparing Robert Englund to Boris Karloff. Awol One has just one “character,” but it feels chillingly real. His voice on Owl Hours is so deep and weary, it’s almost like he’s taken a hit of nitrous. And his lyrics are so cynical. “Brains Out” is like a Gravediggaz song where the gun turns inward: “I’m sick and tired of being stuck in the same route/I got a date with myself and I’m blowing my brains out.” Is this the same guy who enjoys “seeing my daughter smile” later in the album, and should we call for help? Canadian producer Factor really sautees the menace with groovy organs and piano plinks and electro beats somehow reminiscent of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater.” “Stand Up” is probably the jeep beat hit off the album, but give an extra special listen to “Back Then”—this ode to long-lost young love tugs the male heartstrings harder than anything by fakers like the Streets. With Owl Hours, Awol One proves himself the most brooding of the Shape Shifters crew—and any similarities to Steven Wright are purely coincidental.

—Dan Collins - LA Record

"Exclaim! Review for Owl Hours"

Awol One & Factor
Owl Hours
By Thomas Quinlan

How Cali Shapeshifter Awol One and Saskatoon, SK producer Factor convinced Pimp My Ride rapper Xzibit to executive producer their second collaborative effort may forever remain a mystery, but it's certainly clear that the two are going for broke on Owl Hours. Awol doesn't shy away from the "lyrical conundrum music" his fans love him for but on this self-professed party album he almost always delivers it in a more energetic rap-style inspired by Factor's upbeat, groovy production. He only offers his smoker's sing-song on a trio of love songs: the cryptic "Celebrate," the Leave It To Beaver-referencing posse cut "Back Then," with Gregory Pepper and Ceschi, and the Caribbean-flavoured "Destination," as well as a handful of choruses. But the biggest selling point ? Xzibit ? contributes a fun shout-along chorus and wicked sing-song closing verse, plus an appearance from crew-mates Tha Liks on ode to alcohol "Waste The Wine," Factor's beat perfectly matching their drunken style. But as good as those guest appearances are, underground heads will be more impressed with the appearances of Myka 9 and Aesop Rock on the smooth, catchy funk of "Stand Up," an inspired combination of MCs that follows through on its potential. While the mainstream might not be ready for Awol One, Owl Hours is evidence that he's more than ready for them, and getting impatient. (Fake Four Inc.)
- Exclaim! Magazine (written by Thomas Quinlan)

"Awol One: Interview :: Shape Shifting MC Parties With Xzibit On New Album"

Awol One: Interview :: Shape Shifting MC Parties With Xzibit On New Album
By Jason Kordich Photography by N/A
07/27/09 :: URB web

Blurred vision, stumbled steps, and devoted drinking might sound like the equation for a typical night out on the town, but for East L.A. resident AWOL One (Anthony Martin) it turned out to be the formula for what he deems to be his best work in his 15 year career. Executively produced by the X man, Xzibit, AWOL One's latest offering, Owl Hours, has the Shape Shifter teaming up once again with Producer/DJ Factor for a theme-focused project that offers a realistic and relatable party experience. URB caught up with AWOL to find out what happens when drunken rhymes meet drunken rhymes, Xzibit serving as Xecutive producer, and the next Shape Shifters project.

URB: It's been two years since your last project, Only Death Can Kill You. What has transpired over that period between that project and your new project, Owl Hours, that has had the most influence on it?
AWOL One: Maybe the main thing is we weren't really planning to make an album. Factor was working on his album, and I did a track on there, and that was kind of the first time I had worked with him in a couple of years, and he started sliding me some other beats and everyone he was sending me was a banger and before we knew it we had half of an album done. It kind of turned into an album from there. It kind of just happened.

URB: Is that something that has been pretty common in your career?
AWOL One: I would say about half of the music we make is because we want to not because we have to. It is just kind of how we spend our time.

URB: How did Owl Hours, meaning what goes down late at night, become the theme of this album?
AWOL One: Probably because most if was recorded at night or at a club. It was all kind of recorded and written in the late-night style. It was originally going to be called The Owl, but actually X was the one who said to call it Owl Hours because it would make way more sense. If we called it The Owl, people might think we are on some Devil Worshiping shit.

URB: If you had stayed with that title, would the direction of the project have been the same?
AWOL One: It might have been a little more serious, maybe trying to drop some wisdom and some shit. With Owl Hours it was just on that whatever happens type shit.

URB: One of the things that really stood out to me about this album was how quickly the album moves along. Was the issue of pacing important when you were working on this project?
AWOL One: For this one definitely. Just from learning how to make a smooth show, just the pace, and people's attention spans, and I kind of structured my songs a bit different than I normally do. We were going through different sequences and we found out that made it feel seamless.

URB: What is it about the sound that Factor creates that makes your relationship so special?
AWOL One: I originally met Factor in Canada when I was touring with Busdriver and Circus. I meet a lot of people that I really don't keep in touch with, but for some reason, we just kept in contact. His beats are always changing. I just like the fact that he has so many styles. He will give someone else a beat and it will sound totally different than something he would give me, so I respect his diversity. He is just a really chill guy to work with who just rolls with what is going down.

URB: Comparing Owl Hours to other projects you guys have worked on together, it is stark of how different the songs sound. How would you describe the sonic quality of Owl Hours?
AWOL One: For this one we definitely spent allot of time in the mix. We dropped the vocals in L.A. I really feel this time he really stepped up his production quality. He spent a lot of time mixing and adding real musicians. This is my first album where we have actually had people play a lot of live shit after the beats are done having cats play live stuff over it. I think that really helped it out because a lot of hip-hop is mad repetitive. I think it definitely changed the way that I will make music in the future. - URB

"Okay Player review of Owl Hours"

Awol One & Factor
Owl Hours
(Fake Four Inc. : 2009)
Posted on 07/28/2009

Say what you want about Xzibit (yo dawg!) but he deserves only respect for his prominent support of the West Coast. Even more so when it’s for such an album as diametrically opposed to his own oeuvre as Owl Hours. He’s the executive producer here and drops a reassuringly offensive verse on “Brains Out,” but his presence shouldn’t distract from Awol One and Factor’s achievement in creating one of the most challenging and provocative records released this year.

As the title suggests, Owl Hours was created mainly at night, and is infused with those moments of uncertainty, introspection, paranoia (and inebriation) that come only when it gets dark. It’s an unsettling world full of contradictions and juxtapositions where tales of regret and recrimination sit next to (almost) celebratory anthems of friendship and empowerment. At the eye of the storm is the walking paradox that is Awol One. He’s at once both “the school bully and the school nerd”, going “up town, trying to get down, downtown, trying to get up”, defined by darkness, yet aware that “darkness reveals the light.”

This schizophrenia is mirrored by Factor’s excellent production, which embraces almost every direction apart from what you might call a ‘standard’ hip-hop sound. He veers from cold, pounding electro on “Official” to the folk-hop of “Back Then,” to the lolloping Hawaiian guitar and organ of “Destination.” It’s the perfect counterpoint to Awol’s deceptively offhand drawl and brings the album back from the brink of alienation that it flirts with on the opening “Glamorous Drink”.

While it successfully sets the tone for the rest of the album, its biting critique of someone intoxicated with alcohol and themselves and its bleak industrial beat really throw the listener in at the deep end. Thankfully you’re pulled up straightaway by the more upbeat “Celebrate,” whose chirpy piano hook lightens the mood without ever losing the slightly seedy, bitter tone that runs through all of Owl Hours. Even “Stand Up” and “Waste The Wine,” the other party tracks, retain a slightly drunk, out of control feel to them.

But this doesn’t detract from their power, if anything it enhances it. Like Atmosphere, Awol spins tales of the seedy underbelly of life that don’t pull any punches. “Waste The Wine” is an ode to friendship, but there’s no place for any sentimental “friends forever” schmaltz here. Instead we’re presented with a slightly more down to earth scene where “my homie’s wasted, he peed his pants.” It’s friendship, warts and all, and underlines Awol’s determination to show life how he sees it, whether you like it or not.

Plenty of people might not, but then they’ll be missing out on the poignant beauty of “Back Then” and the gently uplifting finale, “Sunset Sandwich,” that reminds us that every night, no matter how dark, is always followed by morning. Owl Hours is a record from a searingly honest and talented lyricist matched with a producer with a gift for creating catchy songs that don’t sound like much I’ve heard in hip-hop before. It might be out of your comfort zone, but that’s the point. If you’re “up for the challenge of going off-balance” set on “Waste The Wine,” then Owl Hours is very much for you. And to be honest, if Xzibit can dig it, so can you.

- Will Georgi - Okay Player


Awol's extenstive discography includes highlights such as:

- Souldoubt (w producer Daddy Kev) - 2001

- Speakerface (w producer Mike Nardone) - 2002

- Slanguage (w producer Daddy Kev) - Mush Records - 2003

- Awol One s/t - 2004

- The War of Art - 2006

- Only Death Can Kill You (w/ producer Factor) - 2007

- Owl Hours (w/ producer Factor) - 2009



AWOL ONE, born Tony Martin in East Los Angeles California, was born like any other human kid......from a zygote. His father, Portuguese, and his mother, Irish, grew up on the east coast and moved to L.A. where they met and conceived a little walrus. The walrus grew to love music and art, He knew that he would do it forever, now in his early 30's he feels that he has recorded his best album yet, the upcoming Fake Four release "Owl Hours".

Over his nearly 15 year career Awol One has built a strong and very loyal grassroots fan base from his albums and touring extensively throughout the U.S , Canada, Japan and Europe solo and as a member of the legendary Shape Shifters and Project Blowed crew The Massmen. AWOL's music has been featured in Movies, MTV, The Source Sound Lab, and countless skateboard and graffiti dvds , also magazines such as the cover of L.A. Record, URB, Spin, XLR8R, Slap, Thrasher, Vice, Life Sucks Die, Mean Street, Revolver, L.A. Weekly, O.C Weekly and was winner of the 2002 LA Weekly Music Award. He has collaborated on tracks with very high profile hip hop artists such as KRS One, Kool Keith, Evidence and Atmosphere just to name only a few. Awol and Factor even rocked to packed crowds of teenybopper indie rock fans when they toured with Montreal band, Islands, and stadiums of car fans Djing on the Lowrider Magazine Tour. He also creates custom art for other people, makes beats and helps run a hip hop skateboard company, Soundclash Inc. at the same time being a father. Through the years Awol continues to gain respect from artists and fans of all genres and never fails to keep his art and music completely real and original while giving respect to other artist and musicians.

While touring through Canada a few years ago with Busdriver and Circus, Awol met the Producer/DJ named Factor and began building a friendship and working relationship from there. Following the success of a single called "try" , the duo of Awol One and Factor released "Only Death Can Kill You", a mellow hip hop record full of Awol's perfectly simple yet clever self analyzing lyrics and characteristic gruff voice over Factor's melodic and precisely crafted production. Almost 3 years later they are releasing a completely different sounding album - Owl Hours - what some would perceive as Awol and Factor's album of mass and magnitude. Production moves from Electronic Pop to Folk Hop with a number live musicians contributing their talents. Topics range from celebrations, darkness, love and analysis to straight up drunken party anthems all told through the eccentric eyes of Walrus One. Guest vocalists on "Owl Hours" ( including Aesop Rock, Myka 9, Tha Alkaholiks, Sunspot Jonz of Living Legends, and executive producer Xzibit ) all seem inspired and come off strong as ever over Factor's catchy, hard hitting beats. Also included on the Owl Hours album is a Bonus Dj Fingaz remix feat. Xzibit and B Real of Cypress Hill. Fans of Awol's past work and former naysayers alike all agree that this is an extremely fresh, wize and enjoyable 35+ minutes of music.

To many, "Owl Hours" will be an Awol One highlight......and he's just a stupid human.