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SGV 008: Rap transcends trauma for ‘Woman in the Crowd’ Vel the Wonder

Chris Greenspon January 7, 2021 67

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SGV Weekly
SGV 008: Rap transcends trauma for ‘Woman in the Crowd’ Vel the Wonder

Vel the Wonder is an emcee from Baldwin Park with a very personal style. It’s unapologetic, “nuts hanging” out even as she tackles painful subjects. Hip hop seems to ground her wherever she is in life: the happy early years on La Sena Ave in North Baldwin Park, bussing it all over So Cal to paint graffiti, visiting countries she might never have thought of when she first picked up a mic. 

She’s not always an easy listen. When she’s flowing about the traumas women go through, it’s spine chilling. When she’s expressing her constructive attitude about art, it can be off putting if you expect anger and obscurity in music. But it’s always sincere, and not written to measure up to what anyone else wants. 

Vel’s rise as an artist has been down to earth, despite the fast buzz she picked up. She made her way through the underground thoroughly, performing in Riverside and NELA, working her own merch, and producing tons of collaborations with peers. But the rapper hasn’t thrown herself at us. She lets the fans find it on their own. The HBO featured track ‘Frutas’ took her exposure to another level, but it came on the back of relentless releases, not publicity blasts. It actually took me five years to get this interview. I originally pitched it on an LA radio show – to no response. But a show about the SGV on the other hand…

Vel The Wonder – Frutas (Official Music Video)

LYRICSSiete de la mananashe’s so pretty Cubanafrijoles y bananasyea.. still cuttin’ up fruitsiete de la mananashe’s so pretty Cubanafrijoles y bananasyea.. s…

In this episode we talk about Vel the Wonder’s enduring connection to Baldwin Park, and examine her growth as a musician. Listen to more of her music on Spotify and buy her latest album Trophy Wife. Special thanks to Mariel, The Cypher Effect, and Professor Galactico.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Local woman Gabby Canal (sic) succumbed to her injuries from Saturday’s shooting in West Covina and passed away on Monday, January 4. To assist with medical/funeral expenses, give to her family’s fundraiser.

Songs featured in this episode:
Isaiah’s Father (Laced with Pearls)
Los Arboles (Laced with Pearls)
Ice Cream (Single)
Mija (La Sena Ave)
La Sena Avenue (La Sena Ave)
Vinyl Frontier (La Sena Ave)
Painter’s Touch (La Sena Ave)
The Cypher Effect (first appearance)
Woman in the Crowd (Joyride)
Opposite Direction (Joyride)
Frutas (La Sena Ave)
Deep End (La Sena Ave)
Double Line (Trophy Wife)
Trophy Wife (Trophy Wife)

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Chris Greenspon

I'm a radio journalist from La Puente, California. I've worked for KPCC, KNX, and KFWB, and freelanced to many others. My specialties are human interest stories, cultural criticism, and audio engineering.

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