US and Canadian Underground Hip Hop coverage including Rap plus Soul - exclusive interviews, reviews, articles
G.Riot - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman  


October 2005

MVRemix: What would you say are your strong points as a producer?

G.Riot: Range. I think I give you a lot of looks. I also think I get something unique out of the artists I work with. Green is just as dope with other producers (he sounds great over Dug Infinite beats), but I try and bring something else to the table as well as allow the reverse to happen. So, for instance, Iíve come with concepts and hooks at times, but Iím also open to input on the musical side. Itís to the degree that Green ďco-producedĒ a lot G-Strings. I try real hard at making artists feel comfortable being artists. We can try shit and fail and do it again and again until we get something that works.

MVRemix: What has been the biggest headache you had have to deal with in this Hip Hop game?

G.Riot: Lots of headaches, for sure. The lack of openness is really troublesome to me. A lot of good records donít get made or arenít released because of the general lack of creativity, and thatís really affected how the mass audience listens. Its infectious. I donít want to knock anybodyís hustle, but it really affects the chances people take. When I was coming up, music to me represented a place that you could escape to let your mind run free. You might say it was a magical place in many ways. Now if you use live musicians thatís considered this radical step. All types of obvious connections have been erased.

An example of this is southern rap. Iím just not convinced that I make a type of music thatís completely divorced from southern rap. Donít get me wrong, Iím not southern, but my mother and father are from the south, Iíve visited countless times and I feel very connected to the south. But who would ever think to listen to G-Strings with that context in mind, let alone a southern DJ play that record? Itís just easy to ignore its relevance which when you really think about it is obvious. I also think the reverse is true. Southern hip-hop, west coast hip-hop, whether you like it or not, has a relevance that I think should not be ignored, but music is marketed in a way that actually closes peopleís minds to the art of the music.

MVRemix: Do rappers who create these overblown images and characters of themselves make it harder for emcees who are "average guys" and don't have a gimmick?

G.Riot: It makes it harder for the average guy to sell records, yes. But for those that do break out of the clichťs I think its much easier to stand out and thereís less competition. As I was saying before, the audience has been trained to expect certain clichťs and tropes that can easily be broken by a creative writer. I think you have to be careful though, its entertainment, so most folks, even underground heads, arenít entertained by ďthe regular guyĒ rhyming. Its escapism, but I think there are ways to achieve that without being outrageous and mercenary. Thereís a novelist whose work I love, David Foster Wallace, and Iíve read him say that this is an exciting time to be an artist precisely because it so hard to stand out and I tend to agree. It sucks, but the situation demands that you be dope. Just be dope and for me being dope requires not just being nice on the boards and the mic, but handling your business overall.

MVRemix: Do you think the media is to blame for the lack of education these youngsters have on the history of Hip Hop?

G.Riot: No, when was the media, particularly mainstream media anointed the guardian of hip-hop history and the education of the youth. We just have to take responsibility. My name is G.Riot, as in griot, or storyteller. Taking that name was an acknowledgement of that responsibility, but thatís just me. Iím a scholar and a teacher so if thereís any lack of education, its my job to correct that and I canít pass the buck. Now I donít take responsibility for being put in this place in the first place, but it certainly is my responsibility to help us through it.

MVRemix: Corporate America has basically taken over Hip Hop and brainwashed the public to think what you hear on the radio and TV is real Hip Hop. What do we have to do to change that, or can we change that? Because it seems as if there is no hope in the fight against the corporate manipulation of Hip Hop?

G.Riot: I think we definitely need media literacy in college and preferably in high school. Every American and probably every one in the West needs to really understand how they get information and thatís probably too much for most teenagers. For instance, when I see Ciara, I understand that sheís plugged into certain channels. It doesnít mean that sheís wack or a bad person. It just means that some people with money and connections within the media industry have decided that she can make them some money. I donít even have to pay attention if I donít want to. The problem is albums like ours are easy to not pay attention to because people are trained to lend relevance to what they see that has money behind it. I actually believe the political system has the same problem. Like you can be a total idiot, but you have a commercial running on every network and youíre rich so people somehow believe you should be paid some attention.

This is why I believe digging for records is so important. What you find constantly reinforces that good ideas are often very obscure. Thereís no natural law that says the cream rises. Therefore, to change the status quo we have to continually innovate better ideas and perhaps we can push ahead of those that wish to maintain things as they are. I donít know if we can change things and I definitely donít think everyone who has a good idea will benefit from those ideas, but I think ultimately that some of the innovators of sound ideas have and will continue to prevail. Look at the Roots, for example. These cats are on Def Jam after laboring for a decade and a half through some pretty wack situations. For real change to happen we just have to innovate on a wider scale. Iím befuddled just like anybody else, but I do believe we can innovate on that wider scale if we become inspired to do so.

MVRemix: Tell us your overall vision for the future?

G.Riot: It donít look good. Iím trying to make sure I can make it happen next week, for real. Hopefully the current trend of thugism and materialism will experience a backlash and people will be ready for something different.

MVRemix: Any last words, shout outs or plugs?

G.Riot: Life Crew, ManeRok, Gunther B, A-What!!!!, Daily Plannet (ainít hollered in a minute, what up fam?!!!), Tone B., Family Tree, Ill Son, Mud Buddha, Brzowski (new album coming this month MaryShellyOverdrive), my man Cliff, Prime Meridian, Eulorhythmics, Pacifics, and gotta shout my guy Ponch Pi (Eclipse), Selector Sam, Dr. D, and the Denver massive. If I forgot anyone, then get me some more interviews. Holla---G@Riot

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"I believe digging for records is so important. What you find constantly reinforces that good ideas are often very obscure. Thereís no natural law that says the cream rises."