Author Topic: Gift Of Gab Interview  (Read 82 times)


  • Muthafuckin' Don!
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 926
  • Karma: 5
Gift Of Gab Interview
« on: June 30, 2002, 10:05:08 AM »
Gift Of Gab (of Blackalicious) interview from

Mikal Lee: Where did you get the name for Blackalicious?

Gift of Gab: Xcel came up with that name; it was probably about 90'. It represents the good black soul. From the soul and it's delicious.

Mikal Lee: You've been making music for a while; the late eighties, right?

Gift of Gab: mm hmmm, We met in 1987 in high school, in an economics class. It's been a minute.

Mikal Lee: Your music has spanned all through the nineties. How for you has it grown and changed in the times you've been listening to it, making it and doing your thing?

Gift of Gab: It's gone through a lot of different evolutional phases. When we got into it was just a different time. P.E., BDP, Eric B and Rakim, Jungle Brothers, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Audio 2. It was that whole era right there. IT just changed with the way everything else was going. It's very true that it's a reflection of life. It was ill. Where it was the whole NWA era that spawned on a whole other thing. Through the nineties it's gone in cycles, definitely gone in cycles. I feel like it's about to be a good time in hip-hop. Not to say it hasn't been a good time. There is a lot of renaissance music, like us, Common, Dilated Peoples, Mos Def, Jurassic 5. I feel like theres a whole renaissance happening right now. It's evolved as an art form. You can't really say that it's good or bad, it is what it is.

Mikal Lee: It just goes in cycles.

Gift of Gab: Exactly.

Mikal Lee: I definitely put PUTS in that category with y'all as well.

Mikal Lee: Where you cats from?

Gift of Gab: I live in Oakland; Xcel lives in Sacramento. We met in Sacramento.

Mikal Lee: You cats are down with Latryx, Shadow, the whole SoleSide crew?

Gift of Gab: That's our crew, we started a record label. That's how we all started making records. Us, Shadow, Latryx and Lyrics Born we all came together with the pool of talent here, while we were waiting to take our stuff to labels to put our stuff out. Why don't we put out our own music? We started a label back in '91 called Solesides, later changed to Quannum. It's Quannum projects now; we've been putting out records for a decade … over a decade now.

Mikal Lee: So what are the pros and cons now from independent to major label? I know that now you guys are signed to MCA.

Gift of Gab: Definitely, there are pros and cons to it all. The MCA experience has been a very good experience. They've allowed us to be ourselves; they haven't tried to make us be anything we're not. They've done everything they've said they were going to do thus far. With independent it's more up to you. You don't have any deadlines. Sometimes deadlines are good, you want to get stuff done. Pros and cons with both. The whole thing with us is to leave a legacy of music behind. What MCA has done has given us an opportunity to reach more people then we could have reached through our own means.

Mikal Lee: When I was listening to the album, I noticed a lot more mature growth going on with a lot of the music. The album had a very pronounced positive message. It seemed like you were trying to get a stronger theme across. If you could explain a little of what there was on Blazing Arrows.

Gift of Gab: Well let me ask you a question, what do you think that theme was, what did you get from it. Let's flip the script.

Mikal Lee: What I got from it was, the cut with Gil Scott heron; "sky is falling" green light: now begin and when you were rocking wit Rakaa on Passion. Just about doing your own thing and being positive, dealing wit adversity, and realizing your own power your own worth and going about making things happen for you. Also giving a warning to individuals that a lot of negative things in life can you pull you down.

Gift of Gab: Well that's it; I think that is it right there. To me, this is what I live everyday. It's not really a contrived thing, it's not like "I want to send a positive message I'm going to be a conscious rapper, I choose the conscious side as opposed to the gangster side." I don't even really like labels. Back in the day you had artists like Slick Rick, 2 Live Crew, Run DMC… and they didn't separate it and didn't call it different styles of raps just because each individual for being who they was.

Mikal Lee: It is what it is.

Gift of Gab: I guess that's the message. What I write about is where I'm at, and based upon my life experience, what I see, what I would like to see and how I feel.

Mikal Lee: What was it like working wit Ben Harper, Saul Williams… spoken word artists and poets. So many different collaborations and styles… Jaguar Wright. How was it meshing those different styles together on the album?

Gift of Gab: It was a growing experience, seeing artists and their different creative processes. Getting together and just vibing with different people's energies and just learning from them, and bringing our own energy to the table. Ben Harper, we toured with Ben Harper a few years ago, talked about working with him for a minute. How that song came together was really dope. Xcel and me flew down to L.A. It sort of all fell together, it was one of those songs where we did it in one session. And everything from the music to the lyrics, everything all kind of fell in place, one after another. It was definitely one of those types of songs. That was dope.

Saul is just a powerful energy. Kicking it with him on a personal level, he's got a good, positive incredible energy to him. It was always a growing experience whenever you kick it with Saul. When he got through kicking his verse (on Release), we were at Mario C's crib (in L.A.) and when he was done it was quiet, as a church mouse, everybody was just so moved, by what he just did Saul he has the ability to take words, words that were always inside you but you never really thought about bringing them out.

It was all around, working with ?uestlove, which was incredible-working with Gil Scott Heron, My god, I still can't believe I did a song with Gil Scott Heron!! It was just an all round and that was one of the things we were trying to do with this album, reach out to people we respect and get that kind of growth going on, artistically.

Mikal Lee: Do you have any advice you can give to emcees etc?

Gift of Gab: Believe in what you do. Believe in your vision. Do something everyday if you got that; you got to put the work in. Do something every day, even if it's something little. Do something everyday that's going to make that vision, move that vision towards being manifest physically. Learn about the industry, learn about how the machine works, Learn about what type of team you got to have. And try and do it yourself. I know that's a different statement than it was maybe a few years back, because there are so many independents; that's almost the same thing as shopping a demo tape now. But then at the same time it's not though, because you have total controls. Put your own stuff out and believe in your visions
"Without The Elements It's All Irrelevent" Jurassic 5

"This world better acknowledge me I'm over ambitious
Do almost anything to rob a genie for his wishes." 57th Dynasty

"We didn't give a toss about money, fame or stardom
Just about the culture, the music, slang and jargon." Blak Twang

"Freedom Is A Road Seldom Travelled By The Multitude" Public Enemy

"If Ignorance Is Bliss Then Knock The Smile Of My Face" Zach De La Rocha