By Bob Waegner
Whether solo or as one half of the classic MC/DJ duo Blackalicious, mic master Gift of Gab has been serving suckers for two decades and remains at the top of his game. With a new album, Next Logical Progression, out soon and a new Blackalicious album in the works, 2012 looks to be a big year. Gab gifted Synthesis a little bit of his time to discuss his upcoming projects and whether or not 4th dimensional rocket ships will lift off like blazing arrows and help us all escape to Mars in 2012.
How’s the new album coming together?
The album is done. It will be out March 27th. The name of the album is Next Logical Progression. You can find the first leak off the album [on the website] 2dopeboys. It’s called “Protocol.” That’s out right now for free.
With your solo stuff, how do you go about picking a producer? Do you hear something and want to track the person down or do you stick with people you know?
Every time it’s happened by chance. When I did my first [solo] record [2004’s 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up], I was working with the guy who managed [producers] Jake One and Vitamin D at the time and he sent me some of their beats. With me, it’s all about a feeling. I know if I want to rhyme over something when I hear it. It’s nothing I can really describe in a technical sense. It’s something that gives me goose bumps when I hear it. It was the same thing with Dnae’s beats. My new album is produced by G-Koop. He’s a producer/musician who can play any instrument. This new album was a different approach. I’ve always heard music in my head that I wanted to rap over but I’m not a musician so I wasn’t able to play it. So I would carry a recorder around and I would record riffs, not with the instrument but with my voice. So when I got to G-Koop’s crib I just told him to play what I heard in my head and we basically built the foundations for the songs [that way]. Each experience [with each producer] has been completely different, which I like.
Is this the first time you’ve really weighed in on the music, the melodies themselves?
Definitely. Usually it’s just “give me the track” and I’ll write to it but this is the first time I had the opportunity to express myself musically, other than lyrically.
Do you see yourself doing more of that in the future?
Oh yeah. This is just the tip of the iceberg. For me, personally, this is a whole other way to create songs and it’s pretty limitless.
As an artist with album titles like 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up and Escape 2 Mars, with 2012 arriving do you think there’s about to be some crazy shit going on?
[Laughs] I don’t think any person can say that. The Internet is crazy. When somebody writes something, it’s a person’s opinion and for a lot of people it becomes truth. No one can [predict the future]. You got the whole Mayan thing but the Mayans just ran out of room to write. Nowhere in the Mayan calendar does it say that the end will be 2012; people just run with it and capitalize off it. Everything is about money. The whole 2012 thing is just like the Y2K or any other thing that’s here to capture people’s attention and maybe scare a couple people and generate some income off the idea. Or it could be true, but no one really knows and we can’t speak about things we don’t know.
When this new album drops are you going to be touring with it?
I’m already starting the tour. I got this West Coast run I’m doing this month. Next month I’m hitting the East Coast. In March, Blackalicious is going out. I’m trying to hit Europe this summer. I’m going to be touring big this year.
With Blackalicious hitting the road, what new Blackalicious stuff is in the pipeline?
We’re working on a new Blackalicious album as we speak. I was just in the studio with [producer Chief Xcell]. Now that my record is done the new Blackalicious album is the next focus. We’re really in deep creative mode with that record. We’re looking to have something out by the end of this year or at the latest, the beginning of next year. At the very least you’ll definitely be getting free leaks from Blackalicious by the end of the year.
Yeah. A lot of people have been waiting to here that.
You probably hear this a lot, but it’s been a long time since “Swan Lake.” What are your thoughts on having been successful for so long?
At this point, I feel extremely blessed to have been doing this for two decades and still be passionate about it and still feel like there is still more material that I have to create for myself as well as Blackalicious. I want to build an extensive body of work. With everything that’s happening, the industry crashing and the economy crashing, I feel blessed and lucky to be an underground artist, to be able to survive and to make a good living at what I love to do. I feel extremely blessed after all these years to consider myself someone who can compete with the mic right now. I don’t say that to brag, I say that to say I feel blessed. It’s time to use that blessing to the fullest, to not take it for granted. Artistically, I’m here for a purpose. Every day I’m supposed to be using my gift. It’s not a right, it’s a gift and it’s my responsibility to use it.