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Eastern Sunz

While hip hop is often associated with the drugs, graffiti and gang culture, rapper Aaron Harris classifies his project Eastern Sunz as "intellectual hip hop."

"Political and environmental themes dictate the content of our music," says Harris, who has been writing rhythms since third grade.

Eastern Sunz features Harris and Travis Taylor, who go by Courage and Travis T, respectively. The pair will perform a set of their raps and beats at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27, at Tabu, 72 N. Pioneer St., Ashland.

Currently based in Portland, Eastern Sunz has its roots in Ashland. Taylor is a graduate of Southern Oregon University, and Harris attended Ashland High School. Their first album, "To Those of Higher Consciousness," was Harris' senior project.

Eastern Sunz now has four more albums to its credit — "Hip hop Apocrypha," released in 2002; "Art of Spiritual Warfare," released in 2005; "Nine Triangles," released in 2007; and "Corroded Utopia," released in June. The last track on "Corroded Utopia" also features Swedish rapper Promoe.

Each album addresses sustainable ways of living and interacting with the planet, says Harris.

"Corroded Utopia," released in June, opens with a song titled "Treadmill of Production," which refers to a sociological theorem Harris learned in class at Portland State University. He explained that the theorem states "corporations will only change up to the point where it affects their bottom line."

"In a way, it's kind of a fallacy," he says. "Sure, folks are going green, but not enough."

Harris and Taylor, who also DJs, write the raps. Beats are produced by Smoke of Old Dominion and created using Pro Tools and Reason software along with some live instrumentation.

Cover to the Eastern Sunz show at Tabu is $5. For more information, see www.easternsunz.com or call 541-482-3900.

Eastern Sunz' Aaron Harris (right) and Travis Taylor go by Courage and Travis T, respectively. - Photo by Ryan Lewis