Editor's Note: The Daily News was informed by a promoter that Mark Battles abruptly cancelled the rest of his Vasi World Spring Tour yesterday, including Saturday's show in Longview. An explanation was not immediately available, Promoter Andrew Kiggins said he was "super confused" about the situation. TDN will update this story when more information is available.
When Hvshi first met Indianapolis rapper Mark Battles, he was just a fan. Now, the Longview artist is returning for a hometown show Saturday after touring around the country with Battles.
“It’s a little dream come true,” Hvshi, 19, said of touring with Battles.
Hvshi (pronounced “hah-shi”) has had a long road to gaining a foothold in the hip-hop world. The Kelso High graduate said he fell in love with music thanks to his dad’s influence.
After graduating from high school a year early thanks to Running Start, Hvshi couch-surfed around his friends’ homes while he frequently took the train to Seattle to attend the Art Institute of Seattle. He said he was recording music to help pay for his college classes, but after a while, the “insanely expensive” process didn’t seem worth it any more.
“At that point, I was putting myself through so much just to do this,” Hvshi said of attending art school in Seattle. “If I put that into my music, I might be able to make something happen.”
Then, after meeting Battles following a Longview show a couple months ago, Hvshi and the Indianapolis rapper collaborated, and Battles was impressed with what he heard.
“(Battles) came over and worked on some music, really liked it… and he put me on the team,” Hvshi said.
Hvshi’s music, particularly his recent single “Said We Couldn’t” featuring Battles, mixes hazy, spaced-out cloud rap (fitting, given that Hvshi said his biggest inspiration was Kid Cudi) with hard-hitting trap percussion. It’s a good match with Battles’ calmly confident flow.
The duo, along with the rest of the Vasi Crew — rappers King Kap and 12Fifteen and DJs Yung 1, B-Easy and Shale — have gone on a tour around the Midwest and West Coast, including shows in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver and Salt Lake City.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hvshi said of the tour. “A lot of new experiences and stuff and going to places I’ve never been. This is the first airplane I’ve ever been on … (it) opened my perspective up.”
However, tragedy struck during the tour: Hvshi’s father died from a gun-related accident while his son was on the road. Hvshi said although this was “a lot to take in,” he plans to pay tribute to his dad through his music.
“My dad was one of my biggest inspirations for me, gave me his passion for music,” he said. “(I’ve) got to keep pushing on … and honoring his existence that he gave me.”
The young rapper’s favorite shows were in Tuscon, Ariz. and Battles’ hometown of Indianapolis, but he’s especially excited to come home to Longview on April 7.
“It’s going to be super cool to come back home off of (the tour) and see it from a different perspective,” Hvshi said of Longview.
Along with the Vasi crew, the April 7 show will also feature local rappers Saige and Yhung N/A, who currently attend R.A. Long and Kelso high schools, respectively; as well as Los Angeles artist T. Fitz and Jacksonville, Fla. artist Billy Winfield.
Although the Longview-Kelso area isn’t known as a hip-hop hotbed — its main contributions to music are country singer Cort Carpenter and inspiring the name of a classic Green Day single — Hvshi hopes he can possibly change that reputation.
“That’s why I was so nervous coming out of here, there’s not really a music scene for any of that,” Hvshi said. “It’s a blessing that I connected with Mark.”