Gerald G Explains How He Was Raised
Interview by Harvey Canal
Gerald G has for years held it down as Austin’s most voracious freestyler at local shows. Gerald’s latest live sets with singer Staci Russell prove him to be a well-nuanced performer and his still-underappreciated Mr. 512 mix cd channels a thunderstorm of intense, double-timed lyrical expression. Fresh off the release of his first video, Gerald sat down to discuss how he landed on his particular planet of frenetic rap style.
HC: So which artists inspired you to rap?
GG: Ice Cube, 2Pac, then I got into Twista. I liked the fast rap, I thought it was murder, just chopping up all those words. Then I got into Bone and then my people put me onto Screw.
HC: Was that a weird change for you to go from fast rap to the slowed down style?
GG: I didn’t like it at first, but after I start hearing it for a minute I was like ‘yeah, that’s it’. You just had to get used to it. You know everybody likes to turn down something when they first hear something different.
HC: So was it that you were originally from Compton, California that had you digging on West Coast rap?
GG: I’m pretty sure that’s why I knew about all of them before I even knew about Screw and all of that, because that’s where I came from. And all the soul music we were listening to was just glorious on that California radio. I can’t remember a whole lot of things I when I was little, but I can remember those songs and the melodies. I remember just riding listening to the radio. And my mom was a tourist, especially in Cali. We’d shoot to San Francisco and then to Oakland and back to LA. Then my kinfolk worked for Universal Studio, so we were into entertainment at way little.
HC: On your mix cd, you mention being a young teen running around rapping with a karaoke machine. Is that when you started formulating your style?
GG: When I first started, I was just rapping like everyone else really because I didn’t know where to start from. We were probably rapping just like Houston. I know we were coming down for a minute. When that came around, we got into that and we was coming down. But that wasn’t our roots so we didn’t hold onto it like most people. So I eventually went back to regular, you know, what I think. You got to be original. You can’t be coming down way in Austin. You got to be Keke to be coming down.
HC: When you speak of we, who are you talking about?
GG: Everybody I made listen to music with me. I was already walking up to everybody saying ‘listen to this, man’ and trying to rap to them. That’s back when I wasn’t really making any rhyming words together. They were like ‘ah no, shut up’. Way back then when I first started I was just rapping anything. We were just saying anything, probably didn’t make sense or go together. We were just rapping, happy and crunk, trying to put people on our tapes, when they were probably just garbage. I wish I could find one.
Anyway, when you live music, you become music. Eventually my style formed and I got my swag. You just start punching wild for a couple of years, you’re gonna wind up learning how to throw a combo. So as soon as I got hold of that combo, and then know how I was throwing that combo, then you can start throwing extra punches with the combo. You got your main combo there, and then you start throwing extra combos. You throw another hook in there, throw a left blow. So it just grooves, that’s how I figured it out. And you see how other people punch too. Watch Pac, watch Twista, check their format, see how they throw their blows. You don’t just copy their blows but you can use something. You can use something from everybody because that’s where everybody comes from anyway, everybody. They’re either just more developed or they just tweaked a style that somebody else had and now its an original style, or it’s a little bit better than the style before it, or its worse. But everybody’s style is off somebody’s style. It doesn’t matter where it’s from, somebody was saying it like that before.
HC: And how did the church come into play for your music?
GG: The church choirs were always off the chain, especially going to my kinda churches. They be going live, like they doing cd’s in the church. That was always good music. My roots is from the church, we were always in the church. So no matter where I go in life, I’m going to end up going to the church, going back to home. It’s already in me. There were a couple of times that I performed in the church, was in the choir and all that kinda stuff. I still really like that kinda stuff. Most people might think that’s kinda crazy, but shit...all I know is God.