Jonell Green, a.k.a. Awall, a.k.a. 2Piece, has been a staple of Tacoma's burgeoning hip-hop scene since the late '90s. With a new distribution deal and his fourth solo album, “Supanova,” due on Nov. 12, he's a local artist to watch as 2013 winds down.
Recently, we caught up with the rapper, who will perform some of his new cuts on Aug. 31 at the Loch's downtown.
Tacoma Weekly: Most rappers have one stage name. You actually have two aliases. What's the story behind your names?
Awall: Well, I got the name Awall a long time ago when I was 15. I had run away from home; and one of my best friends ... was like, ‘Oh, you went A.W.O.L. on your mom,’ and we started laughing. Then he was like, ‘Oh, that should be your name,’ and it just stuck.
Then 2Piece, I had just recently found my father, who passed away. But I met him and went down to Louisiana, and a cousin of mine gave me that name. He was like, 'What you drinkin', 2Piece?' I was like, 'Why do you call me that?' And he was like, 'You ain't even a whole bird. You're just two drumsticks.' It just stuck, so I was Awall, a.k.a. 2Piece.
TW: Before I got my hands on some of the new cuts, I knew you from collaborations with Josh Rizeberg and Boombox Massacre. How did you get started in the rap game, and where did you cut your teeth performing?
Awall: When I first started, me and my brothers used to do lip-syncing contests in Seattle. After I started getting older, I just wanted to make my own music. So then a partner of mine, Young Crime, was doing a project with Way Out Records. They were doing a release called “It's Raining Dope,” and he brought me along. That was the first album I was featured on.
TW: How would you describe your style?
Awall: Well, I call it “diversitle, diversistyle” 'cause it's pretty much all cultures and stuff up here. The stuff I rap about, I pretty much try to cover all bases for everybody.
TW: What can people expect from the record?
Awall: I'm more talking about what's going on in my life and how I've grown and I've got kids now. We've got a song called “What's Goin' On?” doing something positive for Trayvon; just doing more positive songs, getting away from the clubbin' and all that stuff and focusing on what's really going on.
TW: Of course, the Trayvon Martin situation has been in the headlines for a while now. How did that inspire you to write a song?
Awall: Are you familiar with Zulu Nation (an activist group founded by hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa)?
Awall: I'm one of the 15 founders. We just started a chapter here in Tacoma with Josh Rizeberg and a couple others – Scooter at the Dash Center. That's where we hold our meetings and stuff. We were just sittin' around talkin', and that's how that (song) came about.
We organize fundraisers, raise awareness of what's going on the streets – throw block parties, shows. We just started open meetings this month, so every third Saturday of the month at the DASH Center on MLK.
TW: What are you doing in preparation for the album release? Are you doing a lot of shows around here?
Awall: We're working on putting a tour together. But right now I'm just doing show around (here.) I'm doing a record release for Young Mister down at the Loch's on the 31st.