“My father’s a bass player, so I was always around music. I’m one of the few funk/jazz/hip-hop/gospel musicians that didn’t come up from a really early age. I’ve always been musically minded, but I didn’t really start playing until I was 15 or 16. There’s been a lot of falling in love with music later in life, when you’re a lot more mature. I’m able to keep some distance from the music and look at it from a contrarian perspective. I’m much more even-keeled because I didn’t get into it early enough to be indoctrinated.
THE GRïD is a band I wanted to start because I was hearing bands playing hip-hop music live and it sounded like they hadn’t ever listened to the record before they were told they were going to play it. There are not really a lot of bands that delve into what the record sounds like and are able to recreate what the samples sound like. When you’re playing hip-hop that’s pre-2009, you’re dealing with samples and weird sounds. I wanted to get a band together who were really in tune to that.
For those who don’t think of hip-hop music as being musical, you don’t have to feel alienated. I’m a white kid who was born in the suburbs. I’m not exactly the poster child for understanding hip-hop music. Take all the glorification of drug culture and street culture off the table. We’ve all watched Goodfellas and The Godfather. People glorify when Sidney Bechet pulled a gun on somebody but, ‘Oh, this rap music is bad.’ Take all that off the table, and it really is just storytelling at its finest. With Nas in particular, it’s imagery. For those who don’t understand hip-hop, you’re talking about songwriting like Leonard Cohen. Nas has that ability to hit you with words and you immediately see a 3D image in your mind’s eye.
There’s moments on hip-hop records that don’t translate well to your musician brain, because we’re all trained and thinking of all this technical stuff that has to do with just our instruments. We get away from what the thing sounds like and feels like.
For the show on February 16, I’ve been trying to calculate how to get into that first downbeat in Nas’ ‘New York State of Mind’—because that’s the most important thing that’s going to happen in New Orleans that night.”
6th Dilla Day NOLA with THE GRiD feat. Nigel Hall and special guests, hosted by Slangston Hughes
Produced by SoundCLASH and Pont:Productions
Thursday, February 7, 9 p.m.
Three Keys. Tickets available here.
N.O. State of Mind: A Tribute to Nas feat. Elzhi the Elmatic MC and THE GRïD
Saturday, February 16, 11 p.m. at Blue Nile.
Tickets available here.