Torn between boom-bap breaks and distorted electric guitars, Gnotes brings together his diverse talents as a poet and musician for the new album Rhymes and Beats. Rooted in live instrumentation and progressive lyricism, Rhymes and Beats is a 21st century outernational hip-hop record with a tinge of nostalgia for 90s grunge and golden era rap.
With beats made of bangers&mash, Rhymes and Beats features ten riddims self-produced by Gnotes, plus four exceptional tracks contributed by J.Ferra, Organizer, Scroll and Boogie Cy. Content on either side of the blurry border between electronic and organic music, Gnotes pushes further the expanding boundaries of hip-hop, alongside similarly adventurous artists such as Mark Ronson, k-os, Gnarls Barkley, and Beck.
Deliberate like a judge, but funky like an ol' batcha collered shirts, Gnotes sharpened his fangs freestyling in the global cipher while touring abroad in Cuba, Italy, and Brazil. After being recruited to play college football in Boston, Gnotes refined his flow performing on-stage at live shows with Devin the Dude, Louis Logic, Glue, and CunninLynguists.
With rhymes like razor blades, Gnotes cuts to the point with a sincere passion and progressive political focus akin to MCs such as Immortal Technique, Sage Francis, and Brother Ali. This is hip-hop with a purpose: "Seeking a change in position / against the same evil forces that keep history in repetition." Featuring deft guest appearances from Afro DZ ak, Elemental Zazen, Kabir, DJ Special Blend, and Noni Kai (of the Eclectic Collective), Rhymes and Beats boasts a sharp, subtle lyricism that deserves to be read along with (*see lyrics below).
Shaped and designed by executive producer Canyon Cody, Rhymes and Beats is an impressive demonstration of Gnotes' broad range as an artist. Equally comfortable on bangers like "Throw Your Nickels Up" and sultry love songs like "We Can Roll", Gnotes has taken to heart the advice of John Cage: "Get yourself out of whatever cage you happen to be stuck in." Incorporating diverse aspects of jazz, grunge, grime, and global music, Rhymes and Beats is an
exciting fusion of avantgarde hip-hop, electronica, and indie-rock.
Following the 2004 release of his debut MC album Broken Spoke, Gnotes embarked on a creative detour from traditional hip-hop, recording a pair of concept albums in order to develop his art in preparation for Rhymes and Beats.
The first album, 2005's Flow From Above, was dedicated to rhymes, featuring Gnotes in a cipher of spoken-word poets, exploring issues related to global justice and social responsibility.
In contrast, Gnotes' next album was dedicated exclusively to beats. Composed as wordless dialogue between rappers, Inthrumental features Gnotes on the slide guitar and Afro DZ ak on the trumpet.
After dissecting hip-hop and studying its constitutive parts, Gnotes now brings it all together for the new album - as he puts it: "Disc number four / rhymes and beats grown mature."
The record release show will be on Thursday October 11 at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, featuring performances by Elemental Zazen, Kabir, Afro DZ ak, The Superpowers, and DJ Axel Foley.
In concert, Gnotes shines on the mic with a passionate delivery that flows naturally over his own organically produced beats. Since being recruited to play football at Boston College in 2001, Gnotes has been performing regularly throughout New England and around the world, including shows at the Havana Hip-Hop festival in Cuba in 2004, a 38-city national US tour with Seattle's NocOnWood Records in 2005, and a recent Pacific NorthWest tour with Devin the Dude in 2007.
Gnotes is currently producing Afro DZ ak's upcoming solo album and will be headed to Europe in 2008 to record a multi-lingual hip-hop album with rappers from Morocco and Spain.