G(riot) is a Chicago born producer, writer and educator. A graduate of Chicago State University and the Art Institute of Chicago, he is now a student at the University of Denver where he will complete studies on a Ph.D in Creative Writing in the spring of 2005. G(riot)'s work has appeared on a number of Family Tree/All Nat Inc. releases including "The Future is Now" and "Uncle Sam" from Second Nature and "Coming Back" from Iomos Marad's album, "Deep Rooted." Described by some as All Natural Inc.'s dark horse producer, G(riot)'s current projects include a book of poetry entitled "Vanishing Point," and an album of music with Mr. Greenweedz entitled "G-Strings." A member of the Denver area collective Life, G(riot) has also published his writing in a number of journals and magazines among them Warpland and African-American Review. (Bio taken from http://allnaturalhiphop.com/)
MVRemix: I just want to start off with some background questions so our readers can get to know you beyond the music. So, where were both of you born and raised? What was it like growing up there for you?
G.Riot: I was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, in the neighborhood around Stony Island Park (now its called Jesse Owens Park). Same neighborhood Common grew up in. It was cool, the neighborhood was, up until the ’68 riots, a Jewish enclave that rapidly changed into a Black one. It was pretty close knit. Lots of sports and music.
MVRemix: In what ways do you think your environment or surroundings helped shaped you into the man you are today?
G.Riot: I had a lot of friends that DJ’d so I was introduced to it pretty early, like 81 or 82. Of course, house music dominated, but what a lot of people don’t know is “house” was a really wide range of music so I’ve always been pretty open to different types of music, plus you saw people flexing and blending those different genres with one another and I think that’s why hip-hop always made sense to me. It allowed me to make use of that musical range.
In addition my mom always encouraged me to read, travel and exposed me to different experiences. My neighborhood was black, but she was always taking us all over Chicago. Chi is very segregated, so I feel very fortunate to have grown up somewhat familiar with and very curious as to what was beyond my immediate surroundings and over time I got a wide range of experiences to draw from.
MVRemix: What is your first memory of Hip Hop?
G.Riot: Wow, I’m going to really date myself with this one. One of the first records I owned was Rapper’s Delight. Don’t remember much more as far as hip-hop after that until “Planet Rock” came out. I couldn’t get enough of that record.
MVRemix: What was the one album you listened to growing up?
G.Riot: You stumping with this one. Can’t really name just one album. I wore out a cassette of NWA’s Straight Outta Compton in high school. Sting’s Nothing Like the Sun came out of nowhere for me. Jungle Brothers Done by the Forces of Nature. BDP Criminal Minded. Robert Owens (Mr. Fingers) and lots of house mixtapes. I’ve been a music head since like 10 years old.
MVRemix: How did you and Mr. Greenweedz first meet and eventually connect to do this album - G Strings?
G.Riot: I met Green in December of ’94. I met Tone B. while he was working at Haki Madhubuti’s bookstore and he introduced me to Cap D. Tone and Cap invited me to a show at the Elbo Room where I met Green. Actually I saw Green perform before I met him and was real impressed. Dude just has a ton of charisma. We became fast friends and we did a lot of songs together over the years.
In 2001, I moved to Denver to attend school and Green started touring with Liquid Soul so he’d be coming through every few months and record a song or two. My music took a distinct turn after in being in Denver for a while and to be real Green and my crew (Life Crew) in Denver were the only ones feeling it. If somebody else was, I don’t know about it because there are a lot of tracks on G-Strings that had no takers before Green got ‘em. I figured at some point I’d rhyme on them myself or just not worry about putting stuff out at all and I was cool with that. I just got tired of bumping my head against a wall. After recording about half the album, Tone came with the idea of taking what Green and I had done so far, adding a few more touches and making an album.
MVRemix: Tell us about G-Strings. What types of songs, concepts and issues can fans expect to hear?
G.Riot: Fans can expect the unexpected. It’s an album of songs in the John Lennon or Prince vein sense. You won’t get the formula and I don’t think that’s forced. A lot of people have said that we took chances with this album and I think they mean that as a compliment, but on the real, that wasn’t my goal nor do I think it was Green’s. We’ve been listening to hip-hop for a long time and we have a vision for what we’re trying to do and this album is our attempt at executing that vision. We know we sound different and have even marketed the album with that in mind, but we didn’t set out to make an “alternative.” I mean, I love Premier and Pete Rock, but I took the whole point to be that you’re supposed to sound and be different. Premier inspired me to be different from everyone else, not be a really good imitator. I also think this is a really personal album. There’s politics, domestic violence, shit for your whip cuts. I believe it’s a really well executed album.
MVRemix: What do you want people to come away after listening to this album?
G.Riot: That hip-hop’s not dead. I read a lot of people complaining about hip-hop and most of the time I don’t necessarily disagree. But I think this album shows how you can do traditional hip-hop and still move forward.
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"Chi is very segregated, so I feel very fortunate to have grown up somewhat familiar with and very curious as to what was beyond my immediate surroundings and over time I got a wide range of experiences to draw from."