New Music: J. Brookinz “#GAT3WAY: Rebel Music"
by Jon Rogers on May 4, 2012
So maybe you don’t really know about local hip hop. I mean, sure, you’re cool: you’ve got some good old school hip hop vinyl, you blast Wu-Tang on your iPod or Spotify or whatever, and you like the “real shit” that doesn’t get played on the radio. Hey, you even saw the Mudkids play that one time. But let’s say you just don’t know how to go deeper into the world of local hip hop - that’s okay! As I have lately begun exploring any local hip hop that comes my way and hungrily seeking out more, I can assure you there are probably a million entry points to the scene, almost all of which are worth pursuing.
But without hesitation I can recommend the work of J. Brookinz and his Heavy Gun cohort (including Oreo Jones, Grey Granite, Freddie Bunz, Dorsh, and more) to just about anyone looking to learn about local hip hop music. And J. Brookinz’ Gateway series, recorded each year as a “weed tribute album” and released on April 20, is as good a starting point as any to hear some of the most talented artists in the local scene today, all rubbing elbows and spitting verses side by side. Maybe every good rapper in Indy isn’t on this album, but a pretty damn big bunch of them are. And this is part of what makes this project so special: for new listeners, it introduces the wider world of Indiana’s underground rap scene, and for more seasoned fans, it gives us some favorites all tangled and packed together in a short explosion of hot beats and choice rhymes.
Here’s how it works: J. Brookinz and the Heavy Gun fellas invite all their musically-inclined friends and emcees to join in on a 48-hour recording-and-smoke-session/lock-in at a buddy’s local home studio. Plenty of recreational substances are consumed to get everybody in the right state of mind, and Brookinz makes the beats while the other collaborators brainstorm and write verses. It’s a chaotic approach; I can’t imagine what it’s like to be there, but my guess is that it would be entertaining, euphoric, stressful, inspiring, competitive, and genial all at the same time. Regardless of the process, the results have been stunning every time, and in my opinion, the Gateway albums just keep getting better each year. While there are still plenty of herbal references and an understandably hazy atmosphere to the recordings, Brookinz is clearly breaking out of the “weed rap” mold he set for himself to glorify an even more universal recreational activity: having fun and making art with your friends.....
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