Ordinary Peoples
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Ordinary Peoples

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"Ordinary Peoples, a hip-hop group from Ohio, plays at Legends tonight"

Friday night at Legends promises to be a night full of energy and spunk. The Ohio hip-hop trio Ordinary Peoples will perform a two-hour set beginning at 9 p.m. Ari "Scraps" Goldstein, the emcee of the group, Gerard Garrelts, who plays drums and dishes out samples, and Ben Levels, who plays the keyboard and does most of the vocals, make up the band Ordinary Peoples. A guitarist, Pat Edwards, recently joined Ordinary Peoples which the band hopes will add more flare to their style.

Scraps and Garrelts met in 1998 during their sophomore year at Ohio State University, coining the name Ordinary Peoples. In 2001, Scraps graduated with a degree in communications and Garrelts graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. The group needed a keyboard player for some shows after establishing themselves. Ben Levels was the resolution to this predicament. He joined the band prior to a large run of shows through Ohio and made his place with Ordinary Peoples.

"It was a learning process to find people to complete the sound we were going for," Scraps said. "We had a guy who played saxophone for O.A.R. and guitar for us, but he left after we decided what was best. We are all about the future."

Ordinary Peoples is based in Columbus, Ohio has traveled throughout much of the Eastern United States, playing various venues on and off college campuses, but their main audience remains mostly college students.

The trio has been hoping to play Notre Dame for a while. "Notre Dame always seemed like a great place to perform. It's a great thing to have the opportunity to do play there," Levels, who handles most of the public relations, said.

Levels has also contacted WVFI, the student-run Notre Dame radio station to see if they would play any Ordinary Peoples music.

Ordinary Peoples has three CDs out, but Scraps said, "Urban Sprawl, our most recent, is the best representation of us. We don't really sell the other two anymore."

The CD "Urban Sprawl" has a great sound with a lot of energy. Each track has a different feel for it, using many different instruments and methods in creating catchy music with potential.

"We are an urban band with a hip-hop feel," Levels said. "We use different elements of our background and our music rules as urban rockadelic. We have a big hip-hop, reggae rock influence."

The band uses both acoustic and electronic instruments to make their distinct sound.

"I play a combination of acoustic and electronic drums. With the mixture of acoustic and electronic drums, we have a lot of energy with a clear, crisp, banging sound," Garrelts said. "The computer runs live while running samples and loops to give our sound a lot more body. It helps to fatten up our sound a lot. I'm half-man, half-machine up there."

Ordinary Peoples finds inspiration from all over for their music. "It is really just random. Inspired by other music. We get inspiration from watching the news, watching everyday life," Scraps said. "My most recent purchase is the new OutKast album. But we also find inspiration from Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, the classics. Even Salt 'N' Pepa. (Note from OP -- The last one was supposed to be a joke but the quote was taken a little out of context!) The new thing is this emo hip-hop music."

The name of the band, Ordinary Peoples, explains the band's view on their music. "We're tying to appeal to the masses," Garrelts said. "Something they can latch onto. Ordinary Peoples means just for the people."

Ordinary Peoples is working hard to continue breaking out of the Midwest area. "We're getting a lot of national attention," Levels said. "We are on a soundtrack for a new movie coming out, 'Winter Break.'"

Scraps has performed with the reggae and roots-rock jam band O.A.R., also from Ohio, on a regular basis. O.A.R. has become national known with albums quickly selling and concerts highly populated. His most recent tour with them was on their Spike Tour.

Ordinary Peoples has been establishing relationships with all sorts of bands from all over to continue their venture into the mainstream music of young America. They are beginning to gain interest from various labels and companies, pushing them to become a larger scale band.

"It's a matter of deciding who we're going to go with," Scraps said. "We're trying to get on a national tour."

Their current record label is GAB records, their independent label. Ordinary Peoples writes and produces the album on their own. "We do all the stuff ourselves," Scraps said. "We always seem to do just as much, if not more, on our own. We go that extra length to get it done."

Levels admits that the band draws inspiration from all sorts of genres of music. "We are all into The Roots and Black-Eyed Peas. We also draw from Bob Marley," Levels said. "Those were the initial things. I also like listening to a lot of classic rock like Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Simon and Garfunkel, The Doors and Peter Frampton. I'm drawing from the rock of the '60s - By Sarah Vabulas

"The Daily Athenaeum"

When listening to Ordinary Peoples it's hard not to make comparisons. It's all there. The old school influence, the new school feel, the underground. At times you might think of Jurassic 5 or Tribe Called Quest. In the end though, Ordinary Peoples have a definitive style that overshadows any comparisons that could be drawn to any other hip hop act out there past or present.
The trio is also just as lyrically centric as it is musically centric. Scraps, whose delivery is reminiscent of Milkbone, tackles a variety of themes in his rhymes including going home, being broke and rising above adversity.
On "A World Without Money," Scraps demonstrates witty cadences as he rhymes, "No stress no more you see / No punks on MTV / No heat, no jealousy / No more reason for rivalry."
Minimalism drives much of Urban Sprawl, making the Ordinary Peoples' sound laid back and loose.
In the end this works to the group's advantage, making many tracks, from the go-go flavored "Feel My Pain" to the 1-2 bounciness of "The Saddle," spacious and not overwhelmed by electronic layering.
Ordinary Peoples has headlined a number of WVU fraternity events in the past. Tonight they will be playing with 2nd Naycha at 123 Pleasant St. Doors open at 8 p.m. - Jenn Young

"With its roots in soul, R&B, hip-hop band set to blossom"

http://www.ordinarypeoples.com/images/columbusdispatch.htm - The Columbus Dispatch, Aaron Beck

"Inventive hip-hop band builds local following"

By Ashley Luther
Athens NEWS Camus Reporter
Thursday, January 26th, 2006

The innovative and ever-popular hip-hop trio, Ordinary Peoples, is bringing its eclectic sound and energy back to Athens tonight at the Blue Gator.

"Athens has always been a good market for us," says OP's lyricist Ari Goldstein, aka Scraps. "It seems like everyone always likes to have a good time, and the kids are always responsive to the sound we give."

With the band playing privately for some Ohio University fraternities, both One and Two Fests, the notorious Palmer Fest, and numerous gigs at the Blue Gator, Ordinary Peoples has reached a wide variety of fans and created a buzz around Athens with the members' unique hip-hop/alternative sound. Originally from Columbus, Scraps, Ben Levels and Gerard Garrelts play a mixture of what their biography calls "northern-underground, East coast grit, West coast g-funk, and Southern gospel."

Their varied style has allowed OP to share the stage with some big-name acts including the always ground-breaking Kanye West, G. Love and Special Sauce, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Wyclef Jean and fellow Ohio native, O.A.R. According to a press release, Ordinary Peoples' long time friendship and business relationship with the members of O.A.R. has allowed the band to spread its name, and OP has even taken its sound to the East coast.

In November the band performed at New York City's Lion's Den, where the show reportedly was a hit with the support of OP's grassroots following. "Half the crowd was Ohio natives," confirmed Scraps. "The audience reacted really well, and we were excited to have a great show in NYC."

Recently, the band has been turning some very important heads. Scraps said both Atlantic and Warner Brothers Records have shown interest in OP. "We're trying to show them exactly what we do... It's a little different than the stuff that's out there now," he said.

The "difference" is what attracts so many students to this trio. Sophomore marine biology major Matt Frires was introduced to Ordinary Peoples at a private show in Colorado for the OU Snowcats.

"The band was amazing," he recalled. "The singer/piano player had a great backup voice, and the drummer had a great funky, hip-hop feel. It was great to see a 'Rap Band' as opposed to listening to a recording and one guy up there just reading his lyrics." Frires said their improvisation on stage made OP's live show a great experience.

It's their live performance that seems to be the icing on the cake for these musicians. "You can expect massive amounts of energy and crowd participation," said Scraps. To prove themselves worthy to the fans, he added, the trio has the audience send up individual words on pieces of paper to the stage, and using them, Scraps makes up a freestyle rhyme right then and there. "It creates a fun and interactive atmosphere," he said.

Not only does OP deliver an impressive live show, their energy transfers onto their recorded albums. Their most recent release, "Cause and Effect," is more personal, and collaborative.

Their politically charged lyrics give some substance to what they do, contrary to the trivial and/or materialistic world of typical rap music.

"Cause and Effect," along with their previous album "Urban Sprawl," can be downloaded from the iTunes music store, as well as at www.myspace.com/ordinarypeoples. Thursday's show is 18 and over. - The Athens News

"614HipHop Review"

One of Columbus' Best Moving On

One of Columbus' Best Hip Hop
groups, Ordinary Peoples, is moving on to bigger and better things in New York. After playing shows in the Central Ohio area for years, O.P. has finally gotten their chance to move up to the next level, and we at 614HipHop.com wish them nothing but luck. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend their farewell show in Columbus at the Newport Music Hall.
If you have never seen the Ordinary Peoples play, you will have to wait a while for your chance. After working their way up to becoming one of the most popular hip hop groups in Columbus, O.P. has moved on the New York City to record a new album. On Saturday, May 27th I had the pleasure of attending their farewell show at the Newport.
As always, the show was incredible from beginning to end. It is a real pleasure to watch a veteran group like O.P. play, they know exactly what they want to do and do it perfectly. Scraps, the MC, has a stage presence and control of the crowd that is absolute. Few MC's possess that mystical ability to hold an audience the way that he does. He brings a laid back energy to the stage which permeates into the crowd by the end of the first song. When O.P. plays it is all love, and no-one helps to set that mood better than Ben Levels, the keyboardist and singer of the group. With an amazing voice and one of the most unique vocal deliveries I've ever heard, he single-handedly sets O.P. apart from every other group out there. The drummer, DoubleG, is more of a mystery to me. Although in every performance he is brilliant and his part is perfectly executed, he remains an enigma, I suspect that he may be the diabolical mastermind behind the whole affair that is Ordinary Peoples.
The show was great, there was an overwhelming turnout, they packed the Newport, which is a large venue. At the show I had the pleasure to hear O.P. perform some of their new material, and wow. Wow. The song "Ruin Me", wow. What a poignant expression of the struggle with one's self over a love. Jerry DePizzo of the group O.A.R. showed up and helped out with some guitar licks on the track, and once again... wow. Goosebumps. I had them. You would have too. You should have been there... now they're gone.
For more 614 Hip Hop go to:
Check out www.myspace.com/614hiphop
- 614Hip-Hop

"Hip-Hop, You Don't Stop"

Hip-hop, You Don't Stop

by Brooke Williams

Ordinary Peoples might not be that ordinary for much longer. Lately, a healthy assortment of producers and record labels have been calling, luring the local hip-hop trio to New York City.

While the band's tour schedule is still largely Midwest-centric, they've just returned from a successful set at Manhattan's all-too-hip Crash Mansion. They've also opened for the likes of Kanye West, the Roots and Wyclef Jean.

Tomorrow, May 12, Ordinary Peoples' name will top the marquee at the Newport, with local support from Scotty Boombox and the Ocean Ghosts, Stretch Lefty and Bottom Brick. For O.P. emcee/lyricist Scraps, keyboardist/vocalist/bassist Ben Levels and drummer DoubleG, it will be a sort of farewell to Columbus.

The Big Apple still stands as the Ellis Island for emerging artists, welcoming the sleep-deprived, tousled hopefuls to its shores every day. Most musicians take the New York plunge on pure wishful thinking, with only the dimmest of connections or real knowledge of how to take their music to the next level.

Yet Ordinary Peoples have always counted on more than just beats to set them apart from the fray. They've landed sponsorship deals with Four energy beverage and Glaceau Vitamin Water. They're also the first and only independent act to be signed by Variety Artists International, a booking agency that represents artists like 311, Incubus and Medeski, Martin and Wood.

Scraps explained, "Right now, we're sort of the biggest band you've never heard of, so we're moving to New York in early June. It's our attempt to take the next step."

Ordinary Peoples

Where:Newport Music Hall, Campus

When:Friday, May 12

Web: ordinarypeoples.com

He added, "We've been talking to different people...labels, A&R guys, even relatives. My uncle Gil Goldstein is a Grammy-winning jazz musician and arranger.

"Right now, we're at the stage where the industry guys are asking us to send them every new song as it's completed, so we're hoping the timing will be just right somewhere to be signed, either at a major or a big independent label."

Some strategic line-up changes a few years ago transformed the band from a seven-piece organic funk outfit to an electro-friendly hip-hop trio.

"A lot of people started becoming too concerned with getting paid," Scraps said of the original line-up. "Writing songs became next to impossible—we'd come out with something with crazy instrumentation that was nowhere close to hip-hop! The drummer and I, who were essentially the original members, sent out an e-mail one day saying, 'Don't bother driving in. See ya.' Then we got to work on simplifying the sound, making hip-hop music."

Looping and sampling took a primary role in developing the group's sound, and Ben Levels came to the forefront, adding vocals to his band duties.

Their most recent LP, Cause and Effect, features guest appearances by O.A.R. guitarist Jerry DiPizzo and rapper Toothpick, and their single "Ruin Me" is getting airplay on WNCI. With recording slated for summer and touring planned for fall, Ordinary Peoples is hoping all the elbow-rubbing will pay off.

May 11, 2006

Copyright © 2006 Columbus Alive, Inc. All rights reserved.
- The Columbus Alive


Ordinary Peoples continues to evolve into one of the most distinctive hip-hop voices to originate from the mid-west scene. On their 4th LP, “Cause and Effect”, the band refines the styles absorbed from time spent in their centric location to take the listener through a series of musical foundations. Northern-underground, east coast grit, west coast g-funk, and southern gospel are all represented, giving the album variety while still remaining cohesive. OP produces in the studio the same blend between live instruments and rhymes that they've generated for years on stage, but couldn’t fully capture on tape.



Following 2003’s “Urban Sprawl”, “Cause and Effect” is more mature and personal; many of the songs depict experiences, thoughts, and occurrences that are obviously part of the band’s daily lives. The group is not afraid to reveal their inner thoughts and struggles, ranging from the state of the world and hip-hop to girl trouble. On “How It’s Goin’ Down” and “Cause and Effect”, Scraps shows off his ability for creative wordplay by rattling off scenarios that unfold the song’s overall concept. “Brainwashed” and “Gas for Free” are more thought-provoking politically charged tracks which inspect and magnify current events.

The album features several guest appearances: guitar work by long-time collaborator Jerry DePizzo (O.A.R.) provides depth while layers of turntables and horns spice up the beats further. The band passes the mic to acoustic baritone rhymer “Toothpick” (formerly of Bad Ronald) on the radio-friendly “Change My Luck”, a song about hitting the reset button on a relationship. On “Nasty Girl” OP details sexcapade fantasies, passing the mic on a verse to the playful flow of Columbus emcee B. Yonest.

Breaking down from a 7-piece organic funk outfit to an electronically driven trio in 2002, “…really helped focus our songwriting and let us get into other areas we wanted to explore like sampling and loops,” says drummer/producer Gerard Garrelts. Another result of the change was to bring Ben Levels to the forefront, highlighting his talents on the keyboard (playing bass and Rhodes/piano lines simultaneously) as well as his soulful vocal style. The band’s successful live show has put them on stage with hip-hop notables Kanye West, Talib Kweli, The Pharcyde, Wyclef Jean, and The Roots.