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Real J & DNYKAY is an Alternative Hip Hop group comprised of rapper and poet Real J. Wallace and producer/Composer Daniel Koestner. The two gentlemen balance a juxtaposition that simultaneously presents power and vulnerability. Monsters is the first song Real J recorded after coming to the Grammys and Real J & DNYKAY have been working together ever since. Their music sounds like an oceanographer and a rapper walked into a bar, in fact, that’s exactly what it is.

Real J & DNYKAY’s single Monsters has been brought to life in a new music video/black surrealism about the transformation of Monsters as they navigate from childhood to adulthood. The Holyfield and Ghostohms Cinematic produced the short together written and directed by Omar De Leon, Real J and Daniel Koestner. The main character of the film is seen as a child and an adult played by Mahal Gilbert and her mother Bree Gilbert. The film also features various community members including the youth at ARTS (A Reason to Survive).

“Childhood leaves us all scarred. Some more than others. Real J explores some of the all-too-common “Monsters” many grow up with lurking in their closets, set to the upbeat children’s lullaby-vibed score provided by DNYKAY. The tempo of the music and the awkward joy with which Real J raps and sings sharply contrasts the actual content of the lyrics, creating the inner world of all humans – one in which we seek to make wholeness from brokenness. The producer/emcee duo, with the help of Ghostohms Cinematic, have essentially created a film-festival award-worthy short film and what a monstrous feat in a genre that can, at least at times, shun this type of vulnerability. Well done.” - Platform Collection

Daniel has done some custom composing work for various projects including a Target commercial in 2014 and more recently as the lead composer for the story-filled physics puzzle game, Donut County (Annapurna Interactive). His soundtrack for Donut County was nominated for Best Music Supervision in a Video Game at the 9th Annual Guild of Music Supervisors Awards.

As a PhD candidate in Oceanography with a focus on optics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Daniel Koestner exists between the worlds of science and art. His creative process with music can be characterized as methodological and uses technology as both an instrument and a tool. His music is often rich with layers of finger-picked nylon and metal strings coupled with organic percussive elements and field recordings. He would describe his music as “sonic collages” with a sound very unique to him. Others have referred to his music as dreamy, lush, joyful, oceanic, folk-hop, and experimental.


“Ramel Wallace, also known as Real J. Wallace, is a seasoned San Diego songwriter, spoken word poet and rapper. With credits that include albums with Blu and Soulection's Abjo, Wallace has been successfully spreading his love for lyricism and songwriting for years, including opening up his own recording studio in 2014 (The Holyfield)” - Andy Internets (TravelersClub)

In 2015 Real J. Wallace was selected by Delta Airlines as a Delta Innovation Class winner for his role in combining music and education in various platforms. He received a trip to the 57th Annual Grammy Awards with quadruple Grammy Awards winner Ryan Lewis as his mentor. After coming back from this life changing experience he was introduced to Daniel Koestner’s music. It was love at first sound and the challenge of crafting their own unique sound together began. Monsters is the first song Real J recorded after coming to the Grammys and Real J & DNYKAY have been working together ever since.


In 2017 Real J & DNYKAY released a short film called Spiritualized, directed by Chicano cinematographer Benjamin Huerta. Beginning in Barrio Logan, Real J contemplates the social engineering of his city as he visit's Coronado and Downtown San Diego. As a black man in Barrio Logan, his culture has already been gentrified and pushed into South East San Diego. Empathy and spirituality are tools that he uses to relate to the community of Barrio Logan which is in the mist of gentrification in 2017. Between 2017 and 2018 Benji and Real J & DNYKAY toured the film by hosting 10 screenings at various shows and nonprofit events in the Southern California area. Real J & DNYKAY’s unreleased music from their upcoming album plays as the score of Spiritualized. This short provides a glimpse into what Real J & DNYKAY look, feel and sound like and every showing was followed by a community conversation as well as Q&A. These performances centered around music, film, and community exemplify the framework in which Real J & DNYKAY hope to operate in.

Real J & DNYKAY, aka RJDK, plan to do a run of lectures and performances that dissect the personification of monsters in our day to day lives. They will discuss how this affects the human experience and the practice of turning monsters into masterpieces through creative and emotionally-intelligent engagement. They plan to curate a show including local artwork and tour it throughout San Diego. A call for artists to participate is expected in March 2019.

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Click HERE to read NBC’s Coverage of Real J & DNYKAY’s Monsters

Click HERE to read The Traveler’s Clubs article on Real J & DNYKAY’s Monsters