Evan Gabriel

Posts Tagged ‘Hip Hop’

AUDIBLE: Don’t Sleep on the Kingdom

In Audible, Current on September 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm

A few months back I published an interview I did with Allan Kingdom and Franklin Bibiloni. Speaking with those cats was a lot of fun and I really believe in their philosophy. There’s no hiding the fact that Allan is blowing up right now. And he should be. Why? His new ep “Talk To Strangers” is catching mandatory rec. Check out the St. Paul native killing the game in his video for “UVAJE’D” directed by Checho Freire.

Reader Review: Eddie Huang Getting Fresh

In Current, Nonfiction on September 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm


“We don’t wear chef coats, we wear Nikes, and Dipset is the anthem.”

The release of Eddie Huang’s 2013 Fresh Off The Boat couldn’t be timed better, as the second season of his show by the same name is set to premiere September 30th. When it comes to digital media, call the internet viral, overrated, or just plain lazy, but Huang makes his idiosyncratic slang-based voice bleed through the pages as if you were speaking with him. This is the only book I’ve read that has epigraphs by Cam’ron, Jada and footnotes that include multiple hashtags. Huang unabashedly speaks his mind regarding race, 1st and 2nd generation Americans, his dad’s motto of “figuring it out,” and of course, food. Lots and lots of food. While you may know Huang for his hilarious and entertaining food/travel series, “Fresh Off the Boat,” he is a writer who completely grasps style and rules. Sure, some of the writing comes across as something you could be reading on the internet, but make no mistake about it, all of his quirky recollections and epiphanies about Jonathan Swift, hip-hop, love and basketball sit perfectly in the binding of this 276-page memoir. Image

This book is chalk-full of quotables. I’ve grabbed some to give you a taste:

  • “Chuck E. Cheese was for mouth breathers and kids with Velcro shoes. ‘I want to go where they have the best soup dumplings!’”
  • “Working in a law firm was not for me…While other associates competed on billable work trying to climb the ladder, I got high and took Major Abshed around the city.”
  • “Asians are funny; we can take anything and repackage it for your inner eight-year-old.”

And if Huang’s closing words aren’t the proof I don’t know what pudding you’re eating: “WEOUTCHEA” (272).

Does the future strikes fear in your heart? If so, leave Huang’s tales of FOBs making it in America at the door. This guy speaks the truth. Huang proves that in regards to success, parents don’t always matter as much as you.  It’s possible to make it in this world without the suit-and-tie job and Huang walks you through his story that eventually led to him opening his own restaurant, Baohaus in New York. This memoir is written for like-minded people interested in the progression of their passions, AKA dope shit. Read this book and make sure to check out the season two premiere of “Fresh Off The Boat!” Stay up Eddie, and dun, no bullshit, get me a job at VICE? Image

Throwback Thursday: Ode To “Aquemini”

In Audible on August 1, 2013 at 11:13 pm


April 20th, 2007 was a special day for me. By virtue of an unexpected day off from JV Baseball and with the stars aligning, I came to posses one of Hip-Hop’s most treasured gems of the 90’s.

While there was no good reason for practice being cancelled that day, nobody really argued: 4/20/07 was a beautifully sunny Friday. While lugging my Wilson bag home, I spontaneously stopped at a sidewalk sale to flip through a book of CD’s, which contained a collection of Everclear, Semisonic and Tool albums. Yet an intriguing, scratched-up disc with green and orange lettering proved impossible to pass on.

Outkast’s third album, 1998’s “Aquemini” is a collection of breezy, Southern flows and trunk-rattling drums, stripped of predictability and full of blues-inspired rhythms. Big Boi and Andre 3000’s album is as rich as a novella illustrated with chapter after chapter involving powers both good and evil, raw tales of the Dungeon Family (the Atlanta artist collective consisting of Organized Noise, Goodie Mob and of course Outkast), and tragic characters like “Da Art of Storytellin’ Part I’s” Shasha Thumper. Listening to the album, you can see Big Boi (the Aquarius) and Andre (the Gemini) sitting in their Cadillac, watching the galaxy pass as they construct riveting fables based off life experiences. Futuristic synthesizers, soul loops and funky horn sections cause you to wonder what’s exactly in Atlanta’s water. Then again, if we knew, we probably wouldn’t still be nodding our heads to the album’s countless classics.


After going platinum in November of 1998, “Aquemini” quickly outdid itself, hitting double platinum only a year later in ‘99. What makes the album unique is not only the infamous guest spots by Big Gip and Cee-Lo Green of Goodie Mob, George Clinton, Sleepy Brown and Erykah Badu, but the esoteric notion of time and place that comes with every listen of “Aquemini.” Unlike New York or Los Angeles in the late nineties, the South hadn’t made its mark in Hip-Hop and the slang was still local. Not to mention, few people knew what to make of Andrea 3000’s wild fashion sense. “What’s up with Andre/is he into coke?/ is he on drugs?/ gay?/ when ya’ll gonna’ break up?/ when ya’ll gonna wake up?” Andre vents his frustrations regarding rumors on “Return of the G.”

Who could have guessed that just a few years later, at the turn of the century, Atlanta would become synonymous with rap thanks to its countless legends like Cee-Lo, Ludacris, Lil Jon, T.I., Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy? The list continues today. But one thing is for certain: many of these acts owe credit to the album that put grits, grills and 4/4 beats in the living rooms of millions of people all over the world. Be it the seven minutes of laid back, spoken-word laced “SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” or the vivacious guitar riffs on “Chonkyfire,” Big Boi and Andrea set a new standard for rap in 1998. “Aquemini” showed the world the South could hold its own and would be telling stories for years to come.


this post was originally published on http://eyesandedge.com.


In Audible, Current on July 18, 2013 at 11:11 pm

In recent weeks at the Incorporated Factory, aka the lab, with nothing more than a few ideas floating around and our piles of music, digital and vinyl, Mark McGinnis and I decided it was time to put together a mix that would sum up not only our tastes in music, but create a new listening experience. I like to think of our “Beats and Palaces” compilation as more than a couple “mashups,” a term that was coined by notorious the laptop DJ, Girltalk. Instead, I think of these blends as handcrafted selections with a degree of authenticity based on what breaks we used and why we paired certain artists with others. There is a rhyme and reason to all. Don’t let anybody tell you differently. Thanks for the patience. Now sit back and indulge in that fact that while your workday passes by, this is the state of music in the streets.

AUDIBLE: A-Trak’s Boiler Room Set

In Audible on July 9, 2013 at 12:53 am

Standing among the sea of sweat in Portland’s Wonder Ballroom last summer, glumness crept over me as the club’s lights came back on.

Why? Wasn’t seeing Nosaj Thing, Flying Lotus, and A-Trak plus the flask of rum in my pocket enough to guarantee a good night? For some, maybe. For me, I just couldn’t help but wish A-Trak would let lose and dig into his legendary beatjuggles, rather than bang dance songs for candy-eyed hipsters.

As an 11-year-old DJing in battles around the Twin Cities, it didn’t take long for older cats to put me onto A-Trak, who started in Montreal before quickly excelling on an international level and becoming the youngest DJ ever to win a Disco Mix Club (DMC) title in Japan at the ripe age of 16.

Although the DMCs went bankrupt before I could get myself to Tokyo, I kept battling, kept looking up to Canadian kid. At 16 years old, I bought “Sunglasses Is A Must,” A-Trak’s self-produced documentary, and continued to be astounded by his skills. Weather catching praise from the likes of Ice T, Prince Paul, Red Alert or Kanye West, whom he began DJing for circa 2006, everyone can appreciate a guy with a cool jacket who produces bangers. But A-Trak is more than just that.

In the graffiti world there are kings. Djing has its Grand Masters. And even though the brother of Chromeo’s David “Dave 1” Macklovitch is no longer solely considered a turntablist, (Danny Brown is signed to his Fool’s Gold record label) but rather headed towards the EDM sunset, it’s safe to say A-Trak will soon approach the DJ Hall of Fame.

Check this video of Trizzy absolutely killing his Boiler Room set and making me wish I had saved up some cash to make the haj to Los Angeles.

Favorites: the Mannie Fresh/Lil Wayne “Go DJ” beatjuggle @8:00. Oh yeah, and the J Dilla drops at the end are aiight.


Speaking from The Middle: Ebro Darden, August Wilson and Cultural Identity

In Current, Nonfiction on May 30, 2013 at 3:32 am


How does someone compare Hot 97’s Program Director Ebro Darden with the late playwright August Wilson? And more so, why?

I recently saw an interview that New York radio station Hot 97 did with Hip-Hop’s Riff Raff, or that dude with a 16 on Harry Fraud’s “Bird On A Wire” who’s gaudy style and antics are ridiculous enough for us to question whether he is for real or not. And this question is exactly what Ebro asks Jody Highroller on Hot 97. After mumbling through his grill about custom diamonds and tattoos, which as he explains, “ain’t stickers,” Riff Raff eventually lets everybody know that despite his clothes and fucking rowdy custom jewelry, the man underneath the purple lenses is as serious as cancer.

Although I’ve read that under the direction of Harmony Korin, James Franco embarked on a character study of Riff Raff, along with this Florida cat called Dangeruss, for Korine’s new film Spring Breakers, I didn’t know much else about Raffy. Yet what I was struck by most during the morning interview was the way Ebro, who’s father was black and mother white, gasses Riff Raff on his demeanor and how it perpetuates negative black stereotypes. Through his calculated manner and pertinent points, Ebro reminded me of a modern August Wilson—who’s mother was black and father white—because he was so well spoken about the issue of identity based on race and how labels of black and white are easily dictated through popular media.

If you don’t know about August Wilson, I will refrain from diving into anything too didactic and just write a few sentence fragments: mixed playwright who grew up broke in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, dropped out of school in 10th grade after being accused of plagiarizing a paper on Napoleon, autodidact from the Pittsburgh Public Library and wrote The Century Cycle: 10 plays detailing African-American life at different intervals of the twentieth century. Oh yeah, and he won two Pulitzer prizes and a Tony Award.

In speaking about issues black and white, Ebro and Wilson are very similar in their viewpoints because they have lived the life first hand and seen the effects of what it means to “act” or “speak” black in comparison to the typical white vernacular. In his interview with Bill Moyers, Wilson breaks down his experience understanding the differences between African-Americans and other cultures. Ultimately Wilson states that black folk are specific, as any race or ethnicity is specific, based on the circumstances of upbringing. On the other hand, Ebro accuses Riff Raff of “reinforcing materialism in Hip-Hop [while] being white,” which, as he states, is wrong because he’s not from that world.

Ebro stresses that it’s unacceptable to be white in Hip Hop while perpetuating materialism in the same manner that was made fashionable by “predominately black men” who “came from an environment where they had shit, and the only way they could make themselves feel better was to overcompensate by spending money on jewelry and clothes.” In this quote, Ebro distinctly conveys, much to Cipha Sounds dismay, that due to Riff Raffs upbringing and circumstances as a white dude from Houston, he’s not merited in his rap persona.

During the Hot 97 interview, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Wilson’s elegant description of the black experience in America along with it’s subtle nuances. Where does that leave us? Is it cool, or more importantly, culturally acceptable, to be white and get your shit rowed with beads, rock an MTV and BET tattoo while being regarded as the influence behind James Franco’s gangster character in Spring Breakers?

Despite what color your skin is it comes down to this: If Riff Raff was as nice on the Mic as Eminem, Eyedea, Quel, Action Bronson or any other white rappers, then yes Raff, swerve on. If Riff Raff was, as Wilson says, raised in the circumstances that necessarily dictate one’s speech, public demeanor and cultural standing, then yes. Yet in the Hip Hop world today it boils down to skills and how much someone can pack into a flow, and this Riff Raff definitely did not bring at his Hot 97 morning session. Hell, the dude sounds like any other human who just steamed a morning L and downed three Coronas.

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