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Akron, Ohio, United States | SELF

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G-Blakk rapping with bold message

Akron hip-hop artist giving away download of debut album that both scolds, encourages

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal music writer

Published on Sunday, Mar 28, 2010

Being an independent hip-hop artist trying to get attention is tough. Arguably tougher than in other genres, such as indie rock, which had a pipeline to eager searching listeners through college radio and publications such as CMJ long before Internet outlets existed.

Add to it that many hip-hop fans (particularly young ones) are perfectly happy with the music fed to them on ''blazing hip-hop and R&B'' radio, plus the negative mentality that dictates local acts aren't worth paying attention to until they are validated by outside forces, and many an aspiring emcee finds himself banging his metaphorical head against a wall of uninterested listeners.

Akron rapper G-Blakk is trying to get his name and music out to the public the new-fashioned way, by giving his debut album/mixtape Blakk Planet away for free.

G-Blakk's debut is a throwback by default, simply because he has something on his mind and in his lyrics that doesn't involve booty, violence, drugs, material acquisitions or even his own lyrical badassedness.

Instead Blakk wants to fix his people, and he wants his people to want to fix themselves. The album's 10 tracks take aim at the usual suspects, namely The (mostly white) Man, The System and the self-destructive ways of the African-American community. The most obvious rapper references would be early Nas or mid-'90s Common, minus the Jesus complex of the former and lyrical diversity of the latter.

The download comes with no song credits (note to all Internet-savvy artists: credits are always a good idea) but with the infamous ''Willie Lynch letter,'' a speech allegedly made by a slave owner that suggests the best way to manage slaves is to pit them against each other. Though it's been identified by scholars and researchers as a hoax, the letter sets the tone for the album as Blakk alternately scolds his community and attempts to encourage it.

On Fool's Gold, over a smooth beat with a wordless vocal loop, he raps: ''It's obvious that we ain't learn from history, they took the shackles off but got us chained mentally, thinking it's gold just cuz it's glistening, but y'all ain't listening.''

Occasionally Blakk lapses into oversimplified finger-pointing, but tracks such as March, sporting a smooth old-school 1970s funk loop, allow his fluid flow and vivid imagery to detail his views well.

''Trying to show y'all everything I mean, about how we gotta speak in order to be seen, we gotta have action we been had dreams, gotta repair the fabric we ripped the seams, be prepared for action you're in the scene, we gotta march now for you to live the dream.''

With no credits, it's hard to say who did what (seriously, people, they're a good idea) but the beats are also a bit of a '90s throwback, with well-chosen samples and vocal loops. Those on Willie Lynch recall the early work of beloved beatmakers like J Dilla, and do a good job providing a head-nodding bed to help the serious verses of Blakk (and a few guests including the B.I.G-inspired Big Keyz and Dell Rico) sink into the ear smoothly.

G-Blakk probably won't hear himself on 107.9 WENZ or see any video he produces on BET's 106 & Park, but Blakk Planet should provide some food for thought for fans of hip-hop who miss the days when NWA and Public Enemy could be heard on the radio, and rapping about actual issues pertinent to one's community wasn't automatically considered ''preaching,'' and the genre was something more than catchy, inarticulate chants and hooks and superstar-dependent collabos.

Blakk Planet is available for free download at http://gblakk.com/


Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758.
- Akron Beacon Journal


Willie Lynch
Blakk Planet
Hello & Goodbye ft. Johnny Juliano & Big Keyz
Everyone's Lips ft. Smiggz & Big Keyz



G-Blakk, is a hip hop artist from Akron, Ohio. Blakk has been making music for nearly 9 years but really became serious about pursuing a music career about 3 years ago. He began making music with a group called K.O.B.K. that consisted of childhood friends Renaldo "Nardi Cool" Cogburn and Marcus "MT" Tate during their freshman year of high school. After high school MT relocated and was later replaced with Deadonte "Young Haze" Haywood and the group became known as G.M.N. GMN went on to create several local mixtapes but later disbanded. At this point G-Blakk began recording as a solo artist and over the past few years he's been honing his craft and has finally reached the point that he feels his music is ready to be presented to the world. He is currently in the process of creating and releasing a series of mixtapes entitled "Collection One", the first of which is "Blakk Planet" which was released in March of 2010. G-Blakk's music is often sited as being "conscious" rap due to the strong social messages and eclectic soundscapes that his music provides, but the second volume of this series is designed to showcase a different aspect of his personality and the wide variety of music he is capable of creating. His influences range from hip hop artists such as Nas, Tupac Shakur, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Common, Mos Def, Jay Electronica, Talib Kweli, The Roots, T.I., Lil Wayne and Eminem to Erykah Badu, Raheem DeVaugh, Gil Scot-Heron, Marvin Gaye, ect. Realizing the importance of music in today's society and the impact that it can have on affecting change, G-Blakk's music is meant to reflect the untold truths and motivate people to make change and make a difference. For too long music has been about profit margins rather than artistic expression, G-Blakk represents an end to that philosophy.