Artist Of The Week – Hired Gun
A hired gun. A third party. Both ideas go against the norms of American society. Maybe that’s what makes them so appropriate for this week’s Artist Of The Week. Hired Gun formed his first band at the age of 15 and been making music ever since. The list of artists he’s worked with includes Breez Evahflowin, Fatlip, The Demigodz and Wordsworth and right now he’s making noise with his current group, 3rd Party. 3rd Party has released two albums, Pressed for Time, and their 2006 release Separation of Powers. Hired Gun is an educated Hip-Hop head who's never gone about things in the traditional way.
Adam Bernard: You're a member of the group 3rd Party. With a name like that do you envision yourselves as some kind of alternative to the other forms of rap?
Hired Gun: Truth be told, it’s a play on words. It has many connotations and meanings. We came together because of our diverse styles and how they blended together, so we offer an alternative to the status quo, much like a 3rd Party. We all, by nature, are socially aware, political and conscious beings who in our own ways have put thought to action, again a 3rd Party. Obviously we form a triad and we rock, it just hit us in a lot of ways. I wouldn't say we're an alternative to other forms of rap, though, what we are is a representation of diverse skills and styles. Alternative to some degree implies that we're outside of Hip-Hop, but we're more a part of it then many cats getting shine right now.
Adam Bernard: Your own name is also very interesting. In what ways are you a hired gun?
Hired Gun: This continues to get me in trouble, ha. My name reflects the experiences of me being called upon to rock where others couldn't or never thought possible. It really describes my mentality. It reflects the standpoint that you call on someone outside the bounds to get a job done. Someone multi-skilled, faceted and who’s generally called upon to do a job others can't or won't. As an emcee, because of my background and the somewhat fragmented Hip-Hop environment I had, I was forced to improvise. My first group didn't consist of two turntables and a mic, it was an upright bass, guitar and drums. As I moved on to college, and found a family and crew in the traditional sense, I became a part of the electronic music culture, specifically hardcore techno and house. I got involved in dancing and later began emceeing over drum n bass. For a brief period I fronted an all electronic hardcore noise group named Dead Sector. Also when I was in upstate NY around 96-99 I became a part of a drum n bass outfit that I still rep for, Black Opz which consists of the Prayin Mantis and MC Aero. In all these instances it was me rhyming to rhythms, breakbeats, synths, live music, arhythmic, atonal. In a lot of places they had never seen a brother before performing rhymes over some of this stuff and in some places they had just never seen a brother (laughs). Growing up in the part of New Jersey I did, I was used to that.
Adam Bernard: 3rd Party consists of a Mexican, a black man and a Jewish guy. How'd that happen?
Hired Gun: We are the united colors of Benetton (laughs). It actually happened by accident, it wasn't intentional. Honestly, I think it’s something that is very unique and just more of a reflection of how diverse Hip-Hop has become. The funny thing is despite our cultural heritages being different we had many similarities growing up, like how we were raised, the environments we were raised in. It’s just another aspect of our group that reflects our uniqueness. It’s been a strength, one that we still haven't fully manifested. You get multiple perspectives that are so layered just from a song we do! Even if it isn't always up front, we bring those differences of culture in our postures, our mannerisms, our styles, our own personal rhythms. I firmly believe that our different heritages, but shared experiences, are the reasons why we've been blessed to be at the point we are together.
Adam Bernard: Your group also has some fairly intense lyrics, tell me what you feel is important that you get across in your music.
Hired Gun: Me personally? The truth as I see it, the experiences that I've lived, and the questions that I want answered. My goal is to share what I know, and begin conversations, spark thought. I loved Gangstarr because albums like Daily Operation, and Hard To Earn made me think. KRS ONE, he gave me things to chew on. The list goes on, Brand Nubian, Brother J, De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers, they exposed me to worlds and ideas I didn't know about. I want to follow in those veins, showing people that black men all do not fit in a box, dismantling those stereotypes and exposing the racism that still exists. That's my main aims. As a group I think 3rd Party is groove music, but it’s music that will make you think at the same time. It’s become so clichéd at this point but we do have that native tongue type of vibe. You're going to nod your head, you're going to listen to the words and not get too lost in the message or the meaning, but you're going to walk away with a good feeling and a little understanding. That's good music in my opinion.
Adam Bernard: What do you feel you can do as a Hip-Hop artist to influence the causes you believe in?
Hired Gun: Open the lines of communication. It’s funny an older gentleman that I just recently met told me, "If you can touch ten peoples lives that have listened to your music you've done something." I'm a griot, my role is to relay the history, heritage and goings on of the day. One of my pseudonyms to Hired Gun is HG, which is the chemical symbol for Mercury. Mercury is also the roman god who was a messenger and purveyor of the arts. I hope my influence is that people hear my music and they question the world around them. I deliver and relay information in a medium that you can absorb, is organic, and you can feel. I think that is the power any true artist has, to be the catalyst for change. That is something amazing.
Websites: freeradicalzmusic.com, saywordentertainment.com & koncepshun.org
MySpace Pages: myspace.com/frequencyactivism, myspace.com/mistamayday & myspace.com/espemcess
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