Sacramento has been seeing a lot more of the Unseen Heroes, an events agency responsible for turning an empty warehouse on Del Paso Boulevard into the now popular, Good Street Food and Design Market. Good packs a concentrated dose of Sacramento art and foodie culture, whether it’s artisan ice cream push pops delivered from a bicycle, or Tapigami, an artform created by a Sacramentan that combines tape with origami and everyday items, Good has been a hit since its opening this past June.
And they’ve extended their first season in Sacramento with a holiday edition this weekend, December 1 and 2, including holiday drink specials, a photo opp with Santa, and a special admission price: free.
But how does an empty warehouse magically become a once-a-month local attraction?
As Unseen Heroes co-founder Roshaun Davis sat in his office with Events Coordinator Sara Schoch and wife Maritza, co-founder of Unseen Heroes, Davis laughed at a question they often ask themselves, “How did we get here?”
"Dang, to think this all started from writing rhymes," he said. "If it wasn’t for hip hop, I wouldn’t be where I am today."
From 2002 to 2009, Davis was in a local hip hop group, Righteous Movement. The group won Sammies, toured the country with the Vans Warped tour, and their music was played on multiple F.M. radio stations.
Sacramento News and Review profiled Righteous Movement in 2008, describing the band as satisfying "more than just fans of good hip-hop, but connoisseurs of great music, with their balance of party jams, introspective verses and addictive beats."
Starting up an events agency was not what Davis initially had in mind. He was, however, doing a lot of things for Righteous Movement that would inevitably be applied to Unseen Heroes.
"People would always ask, ‘Who’s your manager, who’s doing all your publicity, booking, all that stuff,’" Davis said. "It was just me; I was the guy that kinda ran the group as far as the business side goes."
Davis, using the pseudonym, TAIS, booked all the shows, the tours, the rehearsals, and managed countless other necessities for the group.
After three years of self-promoting and booking gigs, Davis met a woman who would eventually be his best friend and lifelong business partner, Maritza Davis. Struggling to attend class while touring or recording, Davis often asked Maritza to take notes. She was hesitant until he told her about the band.
The two hit it off. Maritza’s interest and major in public relations became realized once Davis asked for help. She became the band’s manager in 2006, promoting shows and tours, and negotiating band revenue with various venues.
"Before Unseen Heroes promoted private businesses, we strictly focused on everyone in the creative sector because they were either being compensated unfairly or not being promoted effectively,” Maritza said. “For Righteous Movement, when I saw how much they were getting paid, I would call people back and make sure that this group of five young men, who all had big responsibilities, were being paid fairly.”
During this time, Davis was getting phone calls from an aspiring hip hop artist, looking for the kind of exposure that Righteous Movement was getting. Davis took on his first client after making the decision to quit his part-time job as a student assistant for the state office of general services, a job he describes in one word, "Boring."
Unseen Heroes officially became a partnership in 2008, but it wasn’t full time. It was just Maritza and Roshaun, working from home, promoting artists while they worked on the side.
Righteous Movement was also at a crossroads.
Maritza jokingly calls the relationship between her and Roshaun, the "John and Yoko" of the group. But many factors went into the steady descent of the band’s busy schedule.
"Time caught up with us," Davis said. "First we were just out there running, if we had to go on tour we’d just go on tour. If we had to do a show in S.F., we’d go. But then it became this thing where we had to check on our wives and kids. Life just caught up with us."
Retaining his pseudonym, TAIS, Davis has been doing solo work since 2009, collaborating with artists like Random Abiladeze and making music with the Tais Music Crew. The music has been on hiatus within the past year as Unseen Heroes has expanded.
After recounting his steps, Davis shared his acquired philosophy from being in a locally successful hip hop group — an outlook that he also attributes to the success of Unseen Heroes.
"What I learned and what has helped me progress, is letting go of my ego," he said. " It’s when you travel, when you go outside yourself or your city, that you begin to see how small your thinking really is."
Cramming into four-door cars and touring the country, being around the same four people who would become family — Davis was certainly not the Davis he is today, he was TAIS of Righteous Movement, and now he’s on another stage, one that works behind the curtain for artists and entrepreneurs like himself.
"We call ourselves Unseen Heroes because we’re like all those people you see thanked at awards shows, the many people that go into one person, one business," Davis said.
Righteous Movement may be on the back burner for now, but don’t be surprised to see a reunion in the near future. Unseen Heroes is considering hosting a show with Sacramento hip hop groups from the late 90s and early 2000s: a hip hop reunion in 2013. Many local groups who have either disbanded or have gone elsewhere, groups like The Cuff, Socialistics, and Righteous Movement, would be on the potential set list for a rebirth of Sacramento’s hip hop scene.