Joy Buck$, Jocelyn Rosales, 24, South Central Los Angeles, Rapper, Chicana, she/hers.
Editor’s note: Joy Buck$ requested to be referred by her stage name through this article.
For eons Los Angeles has been a hot spot for musicians searching to polish their craft. And while the city has birthed many big-name rappers, the City of Angels also makes space for lesser known but talented rappers like Joy Buck$.
South Central LA breathes life into the music of the 23-year-old Joy Buck$. She says that she has been in the music industry
Her love for performing came from her father. When Joy Buck$ was younger, her father worked as a Sonidero, a type of Latino DJ popular for their charisma, engagement of crowds and the remixing of popular Cumbias.
“My dad would be a sonideros for quinceañeras or family parties and when I would accompany him, he would hand me the microphone and I’d start singing happy birthday for people, or any other song that came to mind,” Joy Buck$ said. “People would clap, and that’s when I fell in love with being behind a mic. As I grew older, I knew that rapping was more my style.”
Since 2020, the self-produced artist has released five songs and racked up approximately 20,000 replays on YouTube.
Her YouTube channel is home her music videos, one of them based on her song “Character.” In the video, she appears at the famous LA spot known as the Sixth Street Bridge, which connects the Arts District in Downtown LA with the Boyle Heights neighborhood. Joy Buck$ said that she likes to rap about what she calls the “beautiful struggle” that life can be. She channels memories of her younger self into her music. She filled her “Trouble on Central” music video with images of lowriders and LA vistas.
Joy Buck$ also details in her lyrics how life can be for a young Latina woman who, in her words, is “coming from the slums. Joy Buck$’s biggest muse is her own personal life.
She also credits the work behind creating her own music and rhymes as a vehicle that helped her get through difficult moments.
“I love South Central, but growing up here was tough, especially coming from a big family and living in a small home and having to make it all work,” she said. Growing up around gang violence, drugs and a hustler’s environment influenced her a lot.
She said that she began selling drugs while she was still in highschool in order to make ends meet, something that would put her in jail by age 18. “I realized how I was being around the wrong people,” she said.
Time in jail did not extinguish her passion for rap, in fact, it grew deeper, she said.
“In jail I wrote a lot of poems, a lot of lyrics,” she said. “I would give them to my cellmates and they would give them to their families. They would tell me how much they had liked it and they would ask me to write and create more.”
After three months in jail, Joy Buck$ began to focus more seriously on her music and rapping career and thought deeply about how she would go about telling her own story of South Central.
Joy Buck$’s response, so far, has been to write about a myriad of topics, including struggles, beauty, resiliency and the unity that she says exists within the Latino community.
Her most popular song, “Trouble On Central,” boasts the lyrics, “tough times only last a while.”
She adds: “In life I’ve taken a lot of L’s. But I realized that I can fall so many times but you will always see me get up.”
Joy Buck$ said that leaving jail pushed her to explore her talent and creativity. “Getting out of jail made me realize I had to change my focus. I wanted to be a better example for my siblings. That pushed me to want to do more positive things with my music.”
What she loves more than being in front of the microphones is the positive message that she can deliver and leave behind via rap verses. “In high school all of my friends would freestyle, that’s how we would vent to each other. We were a tough crowd, kids who wouldn’t like to show emotions,” Joy Buck$ said. “We would just bump a beat and rhyme our words with what we were going through.”
Leslie Murillo, 23, is another rapper from South Central, LA. She goes by the name Say-Le$.
She said that since 2014, she has watched Joy Buck$ mature as a musician and artist. They have become closer friends in that time, too.
“She’s really like family at this point,” said Say-Le$, one of the friends Joy Buck$ rapped with with in high school, during lunch breaks or after school. Say-Le$ said that she has watched Joy Buck$ transform from being a rough-edged freestyle street rapper to becoming her own producer, promoter and composer. The work ethic of her friend has inspired her. “I’m sure neither me or her would’ve thought she would be where she is now,” Say-Le$ said.
In her music, Joy Buck$ brought light to the killing of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old Salvadoran-American youth who was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy on June 18, 2020. Guardado attended school in South Central and was a close friend of Joy Buck$ at the time. “After his death, I was really in a dark place,” she said. “It made me feel that life was so unfair, because he was such a hardworking, good kid. I would stay up thinking about why something like that happens to someone so goodhearted like him.”
In December 2020, six months after Guardado’s death, Buck$ released “Character.”
The video features Say-Le$ and incorporates original audio recorded from one of the many protests in LA organized by Guardado’s family to demand
Joy Buck$ said that she hopes to inspire other young female artists to follow their dreams.
“If this makes you happy, you need to do it,” she said. “Give it a try and be fearless.”
She says that it is important for women to make their own path in a male-dominated industry. “Artists need to give themselves that chance or no one else will,” she said. “There’s people out there who might be going through what you are, so your art will definitely touch people.”
Final words from Say-Le$: “I know for a fact that Joy Buck$ is going to put on for the city of LA and show people that anything is possible, especially as a Brown girl coming from such a small city.”
Check out Joy Buck$’s muTo listen to more of Joy Buck$ music, you can visit her Youtube channel or SoundCloud and follow her on Ingstagran @_joybucks.sic on her Youtube channel orSoundCloud and follow her on Ingstagram @_joybucks.