Don Stoaker – The Sunset Kid

Born in Harlem, NY during a winter storm in January 1978, The Sunset Kid was raised in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn.

He discovered his passion for making music at the age of 10, when he was first introduced to a music production software application called Dynamic Drums.

He discovered his passion for writing rhymes on his fourteenth birthday, after purchasing the Cypress Hill single release “How I Can Just Kill a Man” from the Music Center (the local hip hop record shop at the time), and then deciding that he wanted to spit his own raps on the instrumental. It all started innocently enough – – just a new and fun way to pass time on a rainy night after school. At the time, he had no idea that he would one day go on to wreak such havoc some 20 years later.

He has drawn inspiration from over 3 decades of hip hop music. Afrika Bambaata & The Soul Sonic Force, The Sugar Hill Gang, Run DMC, Slick Rick, Dougie Fresh, Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Biz Markie, Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, KRS One, EPMD, Gangstarr, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Leaders of the New School, Cypress Hill, Nice & Smooth, Das Efx, Naughty by Nature, Redman, Funkdoobiest, Pharcyde, Geto Boyz, Nas, Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Onyx, Bootcamp Click, The Notorious B.I.G., M.O.P., The Beatnuts, Fat Joe, Big Punisher, Terror Squad, CNN, Smoothe da Hustler, Trigga da Gambler, and a host of others. As you can see, his soul was saturated with hop hop.

One of his main priorities as a rapper has always been to represent his hometown, Sunset Park, to the fullest extent. That is for the most part because he never heard any mainstream rapper from Brooklyn (let alone all of the rappers who aren’t from Brooklyn) so much as mention Sunset Park. “The first major label rapper I ever heard mention Sunset in a song is Maino”, he recalls. “And that was probably like in 06 or 07. I’d hear Red Hook and even right up to Park Slope but never Sunset. It was like hip hop was purposely ignoring that little corner of Brooklyn. And I don’t think I’m bugging out or exaggerating or anything, ’cause in the mid 90s a major motion picture called ‘Sunset Park’ was released, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the real neighborhood. Today some might even say the soundtrack to the movie is a hip hop classic. On the Wikipedia page for the movie, there’s a picture of Sunset Park High School, but that school didn’t even open until 2009, over 10 years after the movie was released. ”

Another thing that caught his attention from early on was the fact that many fellow Brooklynites who did not live in Sunset would often imply that the neighborhood was not real, or live. “I got a bunch of cousins who lived and grew up in Flatbush. Whenever they’d come to visit or sleep over they’d always say that ‘Bay Ridge’* is soft. I laugh about it now, but back then it would get me tight. And I was hearing that ever since the 80s. I was like 7 years old. Even some dudes I knew who lived in Sunset their whole lives would say shit like that. I never quite understood it. There was drugs, gangs, murders. I don’t glorify any of that, but what more do you need to make a hood real?”

He released his debut album, “Stomp and Crush”, in September 2007. In June 2011, he put out a 10 track EP called “How to be Hard”. He is currently working on new material.

*Historically, Sunset Park was just a park in what was considered Bay Ridge. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s/early-1990s that it started to splinter off as a seperate neighborhood with its own identity.

Official Website