StreLoc: An Interview About Rap, Mental Health, and the SL51 Story
Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Jason Austad, otherwise known as StreLoc (SL), is a 43-year-old multifaceted rapper born and raised in Lake City in Northeast Seattle, Washington. Currently, Jason performs in the rap duo known as SL51 which consists of himself: StreLoc, and Five One. SL51 has performed at a handful of clubs, bars, and festivals throughout Seattle and looks forward to performing again as the United States moves into the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.
Jason grew up in Lake City, Washington with both of his parents. From a young age, Jason began exploring music playing the trumpet, french horn, sousaphone, piano, and a bit of guitar. In his late teens, Jason stopped practicing these traditional instruments to experiment with a new musical passion: rapping.
This passion began in ‘85 or ‘86 when Jason was hanging out in his great-grandfather’s yard with his older cousin, “[who] had a big boombox and a Run DMC tape, Beastie Boys tape, and a Fat Boys tape. That was the first time I really remember being exposed to it, and I was, you know, just straight hooked after that.”
Although these were the first rap artists that Jason remembers listening to, he was quick to state that rappers such as Ghetto Boys and NWA were some of his OG influences molding him into the rapper that he is today. “Earlier hip hop was more about, you know, getting the party started and putting your hands in the air. And then I heard "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" and "Fuck tha Police" and I was like, okay… This is a little different. I really claim to that; to the aggressiveness of it.”
Jason said that one of the primary reasons he began rapping was because “People that I met in high school were also into hip hop and I got involved with the wrong crowd here and there but [hip hop] was kind of also my saving grace to keep me from being with the people who were constantly out there getting in trouble stealing cars, robbing people, stuff like that. Just, you know, it wasn’t for me. But a lot of those people also seem to like to rap even though a lot of them weren’t that good at it and aren’t doing it anymore.”
Further elaborating on his origin story Jason said, “[In high school] I would just kinda rap along to songs I knew and, you know, I had always been into poetry and all kinds of music so one day I just, you know, I took a stab at it and it just stuck.”
Rapping as a hobby quickly turned into a release for Jason, “It’s not that I wasn’t out there doing bad shit with my friends who were doing bad shit but [rapping] was definitely an outlet for me. You know, it was something more positive and I could put it out there: what I was going through, the feelings that I felt, and what kind of made me want to go out there and be a good bad kid and stuff. That was therapy for me. It was being able to, you know, put the words together; just having them in rhyme form. [Rapping helped me] really get what I was going through internally out there.”
A catalog of Jason’s songs are constructed from his own lived experience including SL51’s song "They Won’t Let Me in the Club". “The song "They Won’t Let Me in the Club" is a 100% true story. My buddy was at the bar, we showed up early and then security came up and they didn't want to let me in. Like my wallet was in my backpack and everything I'm like, ‘DUDE, this is literally my fucking face on the flyer. I'm performing tonight…’' He continued, “so we ended up having to push our way through the front. Now the security guard comes up like what's going on-- all these fucking guys trying to sneak in was like ‘dude, NO, they're performing tonight! There's literally a flyer right there-- there's a poster right there! Their faces are so big.’ It was something we just started talking about joking about in the studio one day I'm like dude, let's make a fucking song about it. You know 50 Cent had "In Da Club". Why not? "They Won't Let Me in the Club". And so that's where that song came from.”
Using rap as an outlet has helped Jason continue a discussion about mental health forwarding a seasoned perspective to the discussion. He admits that he hasn’t been actively performing for the last six years because of his mental health state these past few years, some private events in his life, and the COVID pandemic.
Jason has advice for anyone going through mental health issues or experiencing a loss. “Make sure you surround yourself with a good support team but keep your circle small. Don’t let a lot of people just jump on your coattails and ride them with you because as you start to fall, they just take off. Always believe in yourself and just don’t give up because you never know. The day you give up could have been the day that you made it.”
Jason is looking forward to performing as soon as possible, saying that he desperately misses entertaining people. During the pandemic Jason began hosting trivia nights with a range of personalities (namely Marti Martini and Rocky the Roadie), working on a screenplay, and creating a Podcast called Sippin’ With Jae and Stre.
He doesn’t really care what the medium is, Jason just wants to entertain as he said, “Just anything that involves entertainment whatsoever, I get involved in it.”
Looking forward, Jason is planning to release his two upcoming albums with Five One under SL51 and then begin moving towards a mentorship role for up-and-coming artists. “As far as recording and performing, that’s nothing that I’m ever going to stop doing. But I see myself a lot more behind the scenes and mentoring, you know, up-and-coming artists after these next few albums. But yeah, the goal is to keep climbing the ladder until there’s not another rung above me to grab on to.”