interview: gift of gab (of blackalicious) gives up the dirt on his new solo disc

March 12, 2012

If you know your backpacker/indie hip-hop then you have heard of the rap duo Blackalicious. MC Gift of Gab is the tongue twisting, lyrical gymnast of Blackalicious and he is about to drop a solo disc entitled “Next Logical Progression”. As he gears up for a tour to support his new record, The Gift of Gab (aka Tim Parker) chatted with me about his latest musical offering.

Interview by David Carr

David Carr: What was the impetus for you to do a solo record?
Gift of Gab: This is actually my third solo disc.  I have been with Chief Xcel since ’89.  We have been doing this basically since high school.  When it came time for me to do my first solo disc I told him that I thought it would be healthy for us to work with other artists and he agreed.

David Carr: Who handles production on this disc?
Gift of Gab: G. Koop is responsible for production on this record.  He has been known to take music that has already been sampled and sample it again to make it sound better.  I was able to come up with the melodies, guitar lines and bass lines on my own.  I would them take them to G. Koop and just hum my ideas to him and he would come up with the samples.
David Carr: Why is it important for you to make solo music away from Blackalicious?
Gift of Gab: I look at it like traveling. You may live in a great city but it’s important to see other cities, other parts of the country and other parts of the world. It helps to build perspective.
David Carr: Back in the early 90’s the Bay Area had a vibrant hip-hop scene.  Is that the case today?
Gift of Gab: Yeah!   It’s still going on. We have everybody here from The Coup, to Conscious Daughters to Hieroglyphics and the list goes on and on. The Bay still has a very diverse, powerful scene.
David Carr: How can the indie scene become mainstream?  How can indie hip-hop infiltrate the mainstream hip-hop scene?
Gift of Gab: We have been doing this for over 20 years. The way I see it, I have been able to make music and I want to keep on making music. That’s the goal. The goal isn’t necessarily to go mainstream.  The goal is to make music for the fans.

David Carr: Oakland California has been in the news quite a bit over the last three years and much of the news has not been positive.  Give me your take on Oakland California. What do you like about the city?
Gift of Gab: It really has its own vibe and a lot of culture.  Other places you go to you can tell that, “Oh that city is trying to be this or trying to be that”.  Oakland has its own vibe and scene.  It’s original and culturally it is amazing.
David Carr: Have you been able to check out any of the Occupy Oakland movement?
Gift of Gab: I have been able to check it out.  I am a supporter and I support those folks who are knee deep in it!  Thanks to the power of the internet everyone is now in tune with what is happening in Oakland and in America.  We have to remember that this all started in Tunisia!  Tunisia showed us all that when you have enough people who can come together, you can create change.
David Carr:  What do you say to the critics of the movement who say that in the beginning this had meaning, but now the anarchists have taken it over and reduced it to throwing a chair through a Starbucks window in order to get a point across?
Gift of Gab: It’s like anything else in life.  Whether it’s a piece of music, art or a movement like this; you are going to have people who embrace it and you are also going to have your critics.  When you put something out like this to the world via the internet you are gonna have “bad reviews”.  
David Carr: Will you be touring to support your latest disc?
Gift of Gab: Definitely!  I will be hitting South by Southwest next month.  I will also be doing shows in Arizona and New Mexico and then I will be on tour with Blackalicious and Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest.
David Carr: So you will tour with Blackalicous?  Does that mean we can expect some new music from Blackalicious in the near future?
Gift of Gab: That’s correct!  Chief Xcel and I are seven songs deep into the new Blackalicious disc.  My disc will drop in March and the new Blackalicious disc will follow soon after that.
You next logical move is to check out some forward thinking hip-hop when the Gift of Gab’s solo effort “Next Logical Progression” drops March 27th .