Humble G tha Fiddla
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Humble G tha Fiddla

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | SELF

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Cover Band

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"Violinist Humble G creating hip-hop music with a conscience"

Last weekend, I wrote about 30 lucky Cleveland schoolkids who are learning to play the violin through Rainey Institute's El Sistema program.
Who knows? Maybe there's a future star of the Cleveland Orchestra in there, as noted conductor Franz Welser-Most suggested when he saw them perform.
Or . . . maybe they could grow up to be like Humble G.
Who's Humble G? A sizzling Cleveland-grown violinist. A mostly self-taught musician who has done more than 500 performances. A 24-year-old upstart trying his best to bring some artistry and class to the rap game.
I saw him play his violin at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast in Cleveland in January, when he described himself as a "hip-hope" artist.
He sounded terrific and his message sounded bold. I wanted to know more, so I tracked him down.
I found a young philosopher-musician who is acutely aware that much of hip-hop music has swerved in a profane and self-destructive direction.
But unlike many of us who hate the trend but feel powerless to do anything about it, he's openly battling it -- by laying his stirring strings and innovative lyrics on top of explosive beats to send a more positive message.
Sitting in an unheated music studio in Maple Heights last Saturday, surrounded by the older musicians who brought him into the game, he explained his desire to put "positivity back into the art of music."
It's hip-hop with a conscience. Rap that's not about selling drugs or degrading women. He says he won't stoop to making that kind of music, even though it seems to sell best in today's market. "True success is success spiritually, mentally, physically and then financially," he insists.
Born Myles Alexander Keaton Smith, he oozed so much talent during his teen years that his mentors made a point to insert "humble" into his name because they didn't want him getting too full of himself. He's the total package, they quickly recognized: good looks, electrifying skills on the violin, and yes, he can sing and rap too.
As frontman for the group Humble G and the Afripeans, he adds his violin's European flavor to African drums to create a hybrid "Afripean" sound. They played at the 2011 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, opened for Barack Obama during a 2007 campaign rally and regularly perform at local churches, schools, colleges, clubs and bars.
Although Humble G has made a living on his gigs and CD sales for the past two years, it isn't easy being a change agent. There are barriers to climb.
"A lil frustrated with my city," he vented on Twitter recently. "Radio won't play my music at all or support." Still, Cleveland references are scattered proudly through his songs and he's optimistic that his upcoming solo CD, "Street Blues," will get some airplay.
Also in the works, he says, is a mix tape that features the humble one getting a little confrontational. He takes on today's rappers, whose songs have no purpose other than seeing who can sling "the bullcrap in the slickest way," he says.
"I'm about to put some pressure under their butts," he adds with a grin.
If not for his topsy-turvy teen years, spent in and out of different schools, he too might have blindly used his talents to promote the hip hop status quo.
But after he was expelled from Taylor Academy in Cleveland Heights for fighting, he earned a GED and began spending time with producer McKinley Tate III, known as Mic Beats. Impressed with the kid's talents, Tate introduced him to others in the music field including lyricist James Holder, or O.G. Shanksta.
He also met "Doc" Kwaku L.C. Woods, who exposed a young Humble G to African history and spirituality, and helped the youngster realize his responsibility to educate while entertaining.
Who you associate with determines who you'll be. My compliments to these mentors who emphasized mind, spirit and body health to him. Their influence can be seen in the charismatic young man they shaped.
And it also can be heard, in songs like "Run," a tune with a dazzlingly fas - Cleveland Plain Dealer


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Still working on that hot first release.

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