As hometown to rock acts like Staind, All That Remains and Shadows Fall, Springfield has long had a reputation as a headbanger's haven.
However, the "City of Homes" also has ties to a growing underground rap and hip-hop scene. As part of that scene, J. Sanchez (aka Nitemare) has been making music in the birthplace of basketball for most of his life.
"I always had a love for music," he says. "But I didn't take a liking to making music myself until I was about 12 or maybe 13 years old. That's when I started writing and producing my own material. I didn't start recording until I was about 16. I started as a solo artist. Then eventually I branched off to a group—Rebellious Family.
"I stayed with them for a while, from 1997 to 2005," Nitemare continues. "That's when, because of disagreements and other personal reasons, we decided to part ways. But unlike most members of the group, I still had a passion and drive for music. So I decided to keep writing and recording new material. I kept reinventing myself as an artist, and five albums later, not including mix-tape projects, here I am, still going strong."
Nitemare's first EP, Blood Before Dishonor, was a personal project. Filled with gritty subject matter, hard-hitting tracks like the title cut show a darker undercurrent that still flows beneath even the rapper's new party-themed material.
He says, "When I recorded Blood Before Dishonor, I did it for me. That album was very dear to my heart. So I really didn't care what the people thought. I felt I needed to do that one particular project. But after I recorded that album, I knew I had to get back to what the fans loved. So I did just that with the release of the Envy Me mix-tape."
Utilizing a songwriting process that starts with the selection of a beat based on mood, Nitemare often listens to a track relentlessly before attempting to put together sounds for a record. And, while a full album of new material is currently in the works, the rapper also promises the release of a few special mix-tape projects.
"I'm currently working on my sixth solo project, titled The Final Chapter. And also I have a few mix-tape projects on the way, including one specific project I'm working on with my dude Doons Day. That album is going to be crazy. So look for that in the near future," he says.
Even though creating new music is his focus, Nitemare also declares that the message behind his work is what's most important.
"Hip-hop is a culture. It's the voice of the people. It's a beautiful form of self-expression and should be utilized in a positive way," he says. "So, with that being said, be consciously aware of who you are influencing with your music before you put out records that can be misguiding to the youth."