Ali & Gipp: Kindred Spirits

A li, the elder statesman of the St. Lunatics has done something that has some in Hip-Hop furling their eyebrows. He’s lent his Pop Star notoriety to the lyrical and eclectic flows of Big Gipp of Goodie Mob fame. Hip-Hop evolving the way it has it seems only right for the two artists to try […]

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li, the elder statesman of the St. Lunatics has done something that has some in Hip-Hop furling their eyebrows. He’s lent his Pop Star notoriety to the lyrical and eclectic flows of Big Gipp of Goodie Mob fame. Hip-Hop evolving the way it has it seems only right for the two artists to try their hand at The Best of Both Worlds. “To be honest we both need the other side” says Ali when speaking about the union.

Though different in their approach and entrance into Hip-Hop, they promise a great album noting their Kin Folk debut can be seen as a goulash or gumbo of sorts. As odd as the match-up may seem, to outsiders looking in both Ali and Gipp agree there aren’t that many differences between the two. Ali having the presidential mindset as the head of Derrty ENT paired up with Gipp’s industry awareness the two make a match made in Midwest, Dirty South heaven.

In the current political climate it will be interesting to listen to Gipp have a little fun. Hell, he was the first with his mouth bright white; he deserves to take a break from being an influence and see how the other side lives. His conscious rapper counterparts know what it’s like to till the land trying to preserve the foundation of Hip-Hop and not receive any monetary gain. Maybe there is something to be said about tippin on four-fours, robbing the jewelry store and getting a grill and getting your soul fed all at the same time. To older Hip-Hop head, this union would seem a little odd, how did you all come together?

Gipp: It was really the industry always running into each other at events or doing shows, we were both in LA, and Ali was recording the Sweat Suit album, and I came up to the house and we started recording songs. It was not a forced issue, it was real organic and we have more in common then people think. We have the respect of our fans coming from our respective groups, I’m the oldest in Goodie Mob and he’s the oldest in the St. Lunatics. I think it was an easy process for us because we both come from a collective. All of the above even made our song selection process easier and on a personal note even our upbringing is almost the same. The things we believe in and the things we are trying to accomplish in life and in music are very similar that’s why the name of the album Kin Folk is so fitting. Have you officially come together and formed a group named Kin Folk?

Ali: No, it’s just the name of the album. There is so much of the Kin Folk name out in the streets, we didn’t want to get into all that so we just went with Ali and Gipp. Both of you are no strangers to success when it comes to the big stage, but your audience is more blonde hair, blue eyed, Paris Hilton-esque. Do you think your fans will be receptive to an artist like Gipp whose message has primarily been about getting “The Man’s” foot off your neck if you will?

Ali: I think that it’s all in the music you make. If you make good music, you make good music. To be honest, we both need the other side. I need less of the Paris Hiltons and more of the headwraps [or] “get the man’s foot off your neck” audience and Gipp needs more of the mainstream attention, so we are just balancing it all out. If this all works out we will be the first to bring together a party of the Paris Hiltons and the headwraps. [laughing] Before, depending on the setting, it was one or the other of our fan bases hollering our names, now a year and half year later when we are out we get the same attention from the older heads and the young teenagers. Hollering that’s Ali and Gipp! It’s meshing together now and we giving each other what we both need. Gipp, how do you plan on responding to your fans that may be a little hesitant because you’re with the Pop star rap dude and they’re still waiting for the Goodie Mob reunion album?

Ali: We have songs on the album that cater to both of our fans and songs that will bring them together. We have Big Rube on the album, and we did a song titled “God.” On this album you’re going to hear the maturity but I am not pressing it on like I did when I was with Goodie Mob. When I speak about my maturation, it’s the evolvement of me as an artist; I can’t just be one way. You know the strength we have right now is not the strength we had back then. We have so many offspring; you have the T.I.s, you have everything that you need. It’s like St. Louis, they have Chicago’s help now, so you don’t have to be so over bearing about what you believe and have fun. Ali has really taught me how to go in and be an everyday person and not just express one side to the music. In the days of you coming up, you had to have lyrical skill, not so much metaphors and punchlines but you had to say something inline with the revolutionary movement of Hip-Hop’s original purpose—which was to show the world black folks are out of work, dying and hungry. Now Hip-Hop is a billion dollar commodity with people getting in the game off a hot 16. Gipp you had to work for your longevity… even with you learning to have fun, do you feel a way about that or are you cool with it?

Ali: It’s exactly what you just said, “Do you feel a way about that?” that would be Gipp and being cool with it would be Ali. Hip-Hop has changed and that’s the way it is right now people are having fun and partying. Eventually it will come back around to people speaking about something. When it’s going one way in Hip-Hop, that’s Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop is not one certain way [laughing] you just hop on what’s hip. The party is always going to go on and Hip-Hop started with a party. Don’t get me wrong, I understand what you are saying but it was a different time back then and Hip-Hop wasn’t as big as it is now. The audience is bigger and the people want “It’s going down”— you got Lupe Fiasco he’s trying to bring back that old feeling. Gipp, how have you gleaned from Ali about the new wave of Hip-Hop?

Gipp: I’ve learned from Ali how to express myself in other ways through the music; if you look at my crew you can see, [Andre 3000]… you can see what Cee-Lo is doing. They used to say y’all can’t rap, y’all can’t rap now I am left to ask if we got Grammy and Source awards you still think we can’t rap? Now you turn it around and they say we not rapping we singing but if you look back over our first records we’ve always been singing.

You got to understand this: when the Fugees came out that was New York, now you don’t see that no more in New York. To a certain extent that’s what [Andre 3000] and Cee-Lo is doing. If you think about it Nelly does so many records with so many people and that’s a great and that is Hip-Hop. Once you start saying, “this is my Hip-Hop and your Hip-Hop don’t matter,” then I feel like you start losing the realness of the culture. But to get back to your question I’m just learning from [Ali] how to do better records that encompasses everyone not just one group of people. You know the Gnarls Barkley comparisons are coming and critics are going to try and put you guys in a box. Gipp like Cee-Lo is an eclectic Hip-Hop artist and Danger Mouse is a Pop figure overseas like Ali is here in the states. What do you say to those critics?

Ali: They can only criticize what they see from the outside, but there is only an element of truth to that because of the music that we put out. Yes [St. Lunatics] have put out music that is more fun/pop. We have songs about grills and shoes. While Gipp coming from Goodie Mob is known more for his eclectic approach to the music but they only see what we allow them to see. When they make a judgment like that, it’s pre-Kin Folk album.

Gipp: Cee-Lo with Gnarls Barkley is giving you Goodie Mob, if you looking for something different, he’s doing that. Andre 3000 is giving you that if you looking for that. Gipp, despite the label woes you’ve experienced, your fame has been kept afloat because of your personal life i.e. your marriage, the dissolution if your marriage and your recent ties to a certain actress. You came into the entertainment business simply to make music, are grateful your name remained out there, even if it was at the expense of your personal life?

Gipp: It’s really just a part of it but at the same time it’s growth. The one thing about this life is everyday is different and the music is what really keeps you alive to the people who love you. I’m not moved by it, coming into the game when I did, I’m used to it. I went from being told I can’t rap and they can’t understand what I’m saying to the media exposing my personal life. Like I said, the music keeps you alive, I have people who come up to me and thank me, tell me they are inspired by my music and tell me “Gipp, I still got Soul Food.” The critics don’t really matter to me and as far as my marriage goes that’s life but the baby that was born out of that was made out of love. As long as I can make this music and take care of her then it’s all worth it. As far as her mom and me we’ll always have that relationship. To some it would seem Universal Records is taking a big risk putting out an album of two artists who seemed to be complete opposite. How were you all able to bypass coming out on Koch with this new album?

Ali: Being the President on Derrty ENT we have our own budget and we didn’t have to go through the process of trying to get a deal. Having our own budget gives us the freedom to decide what we want to do with our budget. We did have some back and forth with Koch because of Gipp’s prior commitment with them. My personal relationship with the people at Universal kept me from going into situations where I would be talking with some random guy behind a desk. Sitting down with Kevin Law, presenting our vision to him was not a problem. Nelly was at the house when we started, he was the first person we presented it to and he said let’s roll with it.