The Sunset Kid is Stoak Burns. 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, 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. What else was he supposed to do?? 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 exagerrating 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?” It should go without saying that The Stoaker was also heavily influenced by his fellow up and coming rappers making moves on the local hip hop scene in Sunset Park. In his early years as an aspiring emcee, Stoak spent time chilling and/or working with and learning from fellow artists from Sunset Park such as Lenny Blancs (Mister Sinister), Krin Marcello, Jae Brinks, Roach RGN, Frozen Inside (Dese & Trez), Mad Infinite, and Bishop. In the early 1990s, he observed how a local rap trio known as Roughneck Soldiers (Destruction [now Charlie Hustle of Merciless Entertainment], Disaster, and Big Dee) made strides in the rap game. Of course, there is also DJ Kenny Dope Gonzalez. The Stoaker also lived right up the block and around the corner from Christian rapper Infinite Automatik, who at the time was building with another local emceee known as Ras. Together they formed a team called Kingz County. Ras himself would go on to found Extravagangsta Radio (EG Radio) in the mid 2000s and helped run that operation for several years. Another turning point for The Stoaker came in early 1995, when he was introduced to rapper/producer Icon, the first person he’d ever met personally who, when he spit raps, sounded like he’d been on the radio before. 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.