Blackalicious (Gift of Gab) conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Blackalicious Interview

March 2004

These are the transcipts of an interview with Gift Of Gab. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on March 31st, 2004.

As the emcee for Blackalicious, Gift Of Gab has received worldwide praise and accolades for his emceeing abilities within the duo. On May 11th, Gift of Gab releases his debut solo release "4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up" on Quannum Projects. The album is entirely produced by Jake One and Vitamin D.

MVRemix: What attracted you to Hip Hop?

Gift of Gab: For me, the first time that I heard "Rappers Delight," I was pretty much hooked. The first time I ever came into contact with it was through that record. I was just drawn to it. My older sister's boyfriend had the record. I would go over to their house and just play it and play it. Just the energy. The energy, the storytelling. Musically, even though I was really young (I was 11 years old), it was something new. It was something I'd never felt before.

MVRemix: With that, what was it that made you decide you should "Go for broke" with a career in Hip Hop?

Gift of Gab: [chuckling] I guess tours started picking up and I had to make sure it was safe to do that. Thanks to the creator, I was able to make money at it. I was able to make bigger chunks of money at it and it's my passion. So, at one point I decided that this is what I really want to do so I may as well just throw myself into it.

MVRemix: What are your thoughts on the "cease and desist" order given to Dangermouse with regards to the "Grey album"?

Gift of Gab: It's unfortunate because it's a really good album. I think that some people don't understand a lot of aspects of Hip Hop; of rap music. What it is... it's not necessarily stealing. It's taking pieces of music from the past and using those pieces to create new music. That's a whole part of the creative force within this culture. I think that a lot of people don't have a proper understanding of that.

MVRemix: Tell me about "4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up," and in particular, why the title choice?

Gift of Gab: "4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up," to me is kind of personal. The definition of the title just means living in the spirit. Trying to just not live in your head so much. Trying to understand that we're all people, we've all been put here and we all have a mission to accomplish. Yet, everyday there's a lot of things that draw you away from that. "4th Dimensional Rocketships" is really about the pursuit of trying to live in that dimension where you're out of your head and really experiencing the moment.

MVRemix: What about with regards to guests and such?

Gift of Gab: Well the whole album was produced by Vitamin D and Jake One out of Seattle, Washington. To me, two diamonds in the rough as far as producers go. I got a beat tape from both of them and started writing to the music. Went out with them, built a relationship with them. Then the record was born. With us, right now (Quannum), it's really about going outside and working with other people. I think that's one of the best ways you can grow as an artist; through collaborations. Kind of vibe off of other people's creative process as well.

MVRemix: What's the current Status with Blackalicious' future material?

Gift of Gab: Right now we're about seven songs into our next album. The album's called "The Craft" and it will be released Winter/Spring 2005.

MVRemix: Murs recently collaborated with members of Digital Underground. Could you see yourself with any Oakland artists which have a different persona to yourself?

Gift of Gab: Definitely! I'm a fan of a lot of groups. From E-40 to Hiero. We've actually done songs with Hiero before. There are a lot of artists that I like to work with.

MVRemix: Is sarcasm the lowest form of wit or highest?

Gift of Gab: It depends on how you use it. If you're using it from a place of just strictly humour, just to make people laugh, then I think it's good. If you're coming from a place with your own insecurity and your own fear and you're using it to strike out against somebody, I think it's bad.

MVRemix: By now, MP3's are as big as they're going to get. What's your stance on the severity of their effect on the industry?

Gift of Gab: I don't know. It's hard to call. I definitely think that they're making an effect. My whole thing with being an artist is that if you're going to download an album, then you should go out and buy it because this is how artists make their living. So in a way, it's kind of like you're stealing, like you have keys to a store...

MVRemix: In relationships, are head-games necessary or even worth the time?

Gift of Gab: Male-Female relationships?

MVRemix: Yeah...

Gift of Gab: I think it's all part of it. Ultimately a relationship is all about trust. That's something you have to build. It's very hard, I'd say it's pretty much impossible unless you're a human being that has no vulnerability's at all and it's just free of your ego. It's part of the game because nobody wants to get hurt and you want to protect yourself. You play these games until you build up enough trust until you can let go and be who you are. Even if you feel you've fucked up some days and be with that other person.

MVRemix: Which movies helped shape you?

Gift of Gab: "Do The Right Thing," "Mo Betta Blues," "Malcolm X." All Spike Lee's movies are at the top. John Singleton's movies; "Boyz N The Hood." "Menace 2 Society." I like "A Beautiful Mind" a lot. I get something from everything.

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club", if you could fight any celebrity who would you fight?

Gift of Gab: [emphatic laughter] Somebody's ass I could whoop! I wouldn't want to look bad in the public eye.

MVRemix: I asked Lyrics Born that question last week, and he said "Arnold." Although he doesn't actually think he could win the fight...

Gift of Gab: I would have to be able to win... Gary Coleman! Haha.

MVRemix: If you lost that fight, that'd be really sad.

Gift of Gab: I don't think I could lose that one.

MVRemix: Coke or Pepsi?

Gift of Gab: I think they're both unhealthy. Don't get me wrong, I drink them every now and then but I think they're both unhealthy.

MVRemix: 2004 US election.

Gift of Gab: Kerry, just because I tend to lean away from the whole Bush thing. I really think it's a big show. I really believe there are powers that be that know what's going to happen. Only thing that we see is what we're shown. I don't think that they show what's really going on to the public. I think there's a whole other game being played behind closed doors.

MVRemix: Could you die today saying you'd lived?

Gift of Gab: Yes! Yes. I've seen a lot. I've traveled the world. I've done a lot. There are still things I want to do, but I've lived a blessed life. I've been able to live my dream. To be able to have a dream as a child and be able to live it. To be able to see the world and make a living at it - I give thanks every day.

MVRemix: What inspires your creativity?

Gift of Gab: Everything! Other artists. Other music. Other genres. People - just studying conversations and interactions. How they are... how the world is...

MVRemix: Do you have any non-musical aspirations?

Gift of Gab: I would like to write a script for movies. I would like to write a book of poetry at some point. I'd like to retire and become a fisherman. Haha. Someday I'd like to have a boat. Just go out and be able to fish...

MVRemix: Any last words for your fans or potential fans?

Gift of Gab: Blackalicious - "The Craft" will be out 2005. Gift of Gab - "4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up" - May 11th. Engrain that in your memories. May 11th! Go and buy it, it's a good record!

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