Filmed on a tight budget, Penuckle’s track aims to reveal the misgivings of his own locale. “It has a very high crime rate,” he says, “it is not a safe place to raise children. Who is proud of that, seriously? So, [the song] is a call to the citizens of this city to stand up and fight for themselves. This city is plagued with secrecy and corruption. It is filled with a government who talk of understanding, but go home and make jokes about the city they preside over.”
Penuckle’s determined career is no joke. Over the past decade, he’s compiled a list of impenetrable credentials: Releasing albums with major distribution, performing at high-profile venues throughout the West Coast, licensing his songs to television networks, plus sharing the bill with legends including the Wu-Tang Clan, Murs and Del.
“When you’re from the Inland Empire, people automatically assume you do gang-related rap,” he says. “They also assume that you don’t put any time or money into your product. They stereotype, basically. The advantage of being from here is simple: You get to show and prove.”
The remarkable range of artists on which he’s raised—from Aretha Franklin to Public Enemy to Metallica—has molded Penuckle into the proven performer he is today, whether it’s at the San Manuel, or, in this case, at a packed-out Japanese fraternity party.
“A huge portion of the crowd was actually from Japan and didn’t speak English too well so I thought it would be a difficult night,” he recalls. “By the end of my set, I had 300 cats literally jumping up and down and waving their hands singing my song ‘I Love Being Black.’ That was truly awe-inspiring. I genuinely felt that performance to the bone.”