Acting Out Presents: Rappers C.J. Amparan, Miguel Sahagun

Nora Abou-Dabous

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Rappers Miguel Sahagun and C.J. Amparan grew up in Santa Barbara together. The childhood friends show off their skills by performing a free style “rap battle,” and were asked by The Channels to refrain from cursing and misogyny.

Miguel Sahagun

Miguel Sahagun can be found carving up his hometown hills of Santa Barbara on a long board, but with a “dome bank” of endless verses, Sahagun has found the right voice to express himself.

Drawing from idols like Eminem and his late childhood friend Luis Soto, Sahagun is a “scholar towards hip-hop.”

Sahagun explains his style as one centered around delivery.

“It’s like setting up a joke – the better you time it, the more impact you have,” Sahagun said.

Two years ago, Sahagun and his friends discovered a free style of rapping with the intention of finding a true form of self-expression.

They are all “self-taught” rappers that practice everyday to add to their vocabulary and fine-tune rhythms.

“The key to rapping is constant practicing. Always thinking about grammar and flow will help,” he suggests.

Even if the pressure of performing is too much, Sahagun doesn’t let the slip-ups get him off his game.

“If I mess up, it’s fine. I don’t care if I get embarrassed for ten minutes, I still show everyone my skills,” he said.

Growing up with “90s heads for family members,” Sahagun has always been surrounded by music. Some of his favorite artists being Mad Lip, Flying Lotus, No Doubt, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

His musical background includes experience with the piano and trumpet, and even dabbling in the marching band at Santa Barbara High School for two years.

Other genres peak the interest of this tongue-twisting talent. “I love jazz and rock. Anything other than country for me to be honest, that’s not my thing,” said Sahagun.

For Sahagun, freestyle rap is “just the right cup of tea,” that he usually shares with his best friend C.J. Amparen.

“Oh I’ve known C.J. since the diaper age man,” said Sahagun.

He and Sahagun, along with their friends, take their talent for tempo to cyphers, where they freestyle, with and against one another.

“Rapping has inspired me to pursue my education,” Sahagun said.

He is using his experience at City College to get him to eventual goal of being in the business side of the music industry.

C.J. Amparan 

Christopher Julian “C.J.” Amparan, 20, started rapping in his junior year of high school, and coming from a family of musicians, he always knew that music would be a part of his life.

It was his friend Miguel Sahagun, whom Amparan met in elementary school, that introduced him to rap and encouraged him to try it out.

“Miguel is my motivator and he pressures me into things I would never do by myself,” Amparan said. “He has really gotten me to step up and become a confident kind of person.”

Ever since, the friends have progressed their music and style, and they encourage everyone they meet to join them in their freestyle rap, where they improvise the lyrics as they go.

“Miguel told me that in order to become a professional at anything, you have to put your 1,000 hours of work into it,” Amparan said.

As a child, Amparan listened to everything from classical music and opera, to rap music and R&B. In first grade, Amparan received his first rap CD from his father and since then he has been in love with music.

“The thing I’ve learned about rap is that when you close your eyes and feel the music, that is when you really get into it,” Amparan said. “Whatever you say in that moment is who you truly are.”

Amparan draws influences from different artists and studies several genres in music. He said that he was inspired by hip hop music from the 90’s, and that he is “a jazzy kind of guy.”

“The 90’s was probably the realest time in hip hop, according to me,” Amparan continues. “I listen to hip hop produced today, but nothing beats the classics.”

Amparan is a City College student and he is double majoring in communication and psychology. He said that even though he won’t major in music, it will always be a big part of his life.

“I really want music to be around in my life,” Amparan said. “Music makes me feel great, and it allows me to get into my zone. When I’m in my zone, I can do anything.”

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