Stay Lyrical; An interview with Gift of Gab

Gift of Gab the wordsmith, the rapper, the creator has been a part of the music business since the early 90s. With his beginnings as part of the duo known as Blackalicious, to his solo and other affiliated projects he has maintained true to his tenet in creating music – a belief he feels will resonate to all of his fans and to new listeners.
He has toured the world and has opened for big-name acts like Jay-Z, N.E.R.D just to name a few but he keeps it humble as he represents something more grounded in hip-hop. He represents the essence of hip-hop, the lyrical aspect that seems to have lost its position in music.
Staying busy and putting out new work is a constant for him. For this latest project, he did not look to a label for its release but to his fans. Creating a Patreon campaign he has been able to align himself on a more intimate level with his fans. Gearing up for some touring later this year, another EP release early next year, which he refers to as being an interactive EP, and the release of a new Blackalicious album in 2018, it’s no wonder Gift of Gab is here to make listeners rejoice!
You could have easily done a full-length project, but you decided to go with an EP. Tell me about the EP, Rejoice! Rappers Are Rapping Again!!
Here’s the thing, the EP is going to lead up to an album. I’m also dropping another EP, another Gift of Gab album in April where the physical copies are going to be limited to the people that donated to my Patreon campaign. If you donate five dollars a month they get their names on the back in the thank you section. If they donated ten dollars a month, they get their faces on the record. It’s actually going to be an interactive album. People can send their pictures in to get on the record. I’m even going to have certain people do little shout-outs on the record like little interludes. Have fans talking on the interludes. It’s what I call an interactive album and I’m doing this strictly through Patreon. I’m not using a label or anything so this is kind of like the first time I’m doing something like this.
It’s definitely a good experience, it’s a learning curve as well. I have about two hundred fifty patrons right now and it’s growing every day. This EP, Rejoice! Rappers Are Rapping Again!! Is something I’m really proud of. It’s for the heads that want that lyrical stuff. The heads that miss those days when emcees really tried to raise the bar. That’s what I’m on with this EP.

Latyrx Indy SF

The album title is suggestive to where music is lyrically right now especially in hip-hop. In your opinion, what would be some of the factors that led some of the younger generations and even the older heads from being messengers and being lyrical?
Hip-hop has always been counter-culture! If somebody whack came out, say like Vanilla Ice or somebody like that, he was basically chased by hip-hop because we’re counterculture. We’re not about being pop! We’re about being creative!
At some point, and I don’t know where exactly, that became “hating”. It turned in to like, where hip-hop always called out the whack shit and the commercial shit to where you’re a hater for doing that. I don’t know where it transitioned but that happened.
So now, we’re letting a lot of artists get away with shit that they couldn’t have gotten away with back in the day. I mean even in the 90’s or the early 2000’s, it’s like anybody could come in and nobody is checking them. Nobody is checking the bar and as a result, the bar has lowered and you have a whole new generation who don’t even understand those principles.
I’m not even saying that what people are doing is not valuable but there were just certain standards that were held before that I feel right now there are no standards. And if you speak on anybody not being up to par then you’re a hater. This is the mentality of this new generation and not that I’m trying to sound old.
Nah man, I get it! I have three teenagers and as much Wu, Tribe or whatever that I play they’re still going to listen to whatever their friends and their generation are listening to.
It goes in cycles! Music goes in cycles, it’s already begun Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, J-Cole those are talented young artist that you can tell are actually students. That’s another thing you can tell that Kendrick is a student, you can tell Chance is a student of the craft. I think a lot of these cats they might not even know the history and that’s a problem too! When cats don’t really study, who came before them. We all became artists because we were fans first! We were such big fans that it drove us to do this shit!
How important is to you to create a body of work, be it an EP or full length or any of the projects you’re involved with, that can be considered uplifting or inspirational?
That’s basically what I do, I create bodies of work! That’s part of the reason I’m here, that’s part of my purpose. I can’t create. At this point, I don’t feel right if I’m not creating. Whether it’s a song or whatever project I’m working on. I’ve already come to a conclusion that my ideas are going to outlive me because I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life. I’m always going to be formulating some kind of idea or putting together some kind of album or song. This is my passion, this is what I do, I’m an emcee, I’m a rapper, I’m a songwriter!
That’s what keeps it alive man, heads that are still doing it and still look to put out quality work in their craft, so I applaud you!
It’s never going to die! It’s always going to be here. Even if it’s just a lane in hip-hop. Like right now I feel lyricism is a lane, but It will always be here. There are a group of people worldwide, who want to hear the lyrical. I look at it like jazz artists. You have jazz artists like Maceo Parker that are still touring the world and are still able to get out there. Even though I know lyricism and what I do is considered a lane right now I’m still able to tour the world. Especially Europe! Europe is probably better than America of a certain mind state right now. It will always be here! You have Kendrick, you have Chance you have young people that let you know these dudes really understand the craft and are students of it. So, it will always be here. In the future, it may be like jazz, where you have a cat like myself or R.A. the Rugged Man, cats that are really lyrical that are still touring the world. We were never mainstream anyway, we were always counter-culture anyways. It’s just that the mainstream shit is so massive right now that the outsider or the person that doesn’t know about hip-hop is introduced to hip-hop this what they’re given and this is what they think it is. They’re not really exposed to what it actually really is!
Speaking of younger cats in the game, on the EP you have a track with the super lyrical A-F-R-O, who is a beast!
That’s what I’m saying! It’s never going anywhere! Real lyricism is always going to exist. It’s always going to be here. Even if it’s just a minority of people over a majority of people that just want to make some money or whatever and to them obviously, what they’re doing they love because millions of people are drawn to it. Who am I to say anything about it. I just know the type of shit that I like and the type of shit that I want hear and I want to create!

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