Released this past December, Rapper Gaine$’s Native Sun reintroduces the rising lyricist as a man celebrating his maturity. The 5 track EP, sheds a unique light on the rapper’s personal growth. Spitting knowledge as tender advice and harsh truths, Gaine$ uses his experiences to lead with confident reflections. Applying an intensely artistic approach to his recent effort, the Buffalo native is emerging as not only a standout talent but a trusted voice in the local Hip-Hop scene.
“There was a point and time where I was a better artist than I was a man…I could rap my ass off, but I ain’t have a dollar in my pocket…Really over the years balancing and molding myself into the person I’ve become and then being able to display that, that’s really the ultimate…purpose,” explained Gaine$.
Since he started rapping in 2005, Gaine$’s lyrical agility has always been evident, but his presence was elusive at times. Among many roster changes in his rap group Koolie High (which later re-branded as Ooze Gang) and maneuvering through life as a young adult, the rising rapper floated in the undercurrent of the local music community. Putting out a handful of posse cuts, projects, and singles under both phases of the rap collective, Gaine$ gradual growth as an artist is a testament to his effort.
Even at times when life came before his art, he always “still had a foot in the music.” Continuously recording his own music, contributing to Ooze Gang, and experiencing adulthood, Gaine$ kept his momentum going. Releasing a few solo projects since 2013, Native Sun signifies a new turning point for the rapper and his capabilities.
“I wanna display my talents, but I also wanna show natural growth. Native Sun kind of ties those two together,” mentioned Gaine$
Ushering the project in with bars like “Fuck rapping, I rather handle matters/ Daddy’s Home, that’s cuz’ family matters” or “I major moved up, they hate advancement/ I take chances, Niggas made matter” Gaine$ tenacious delivery spites his shortcomings by bravely sharing dynamic moments in his life. Recounting project living, romantic interests, and late-night enlightenments, the rising lyricist elevates his experiences with perspective.
Specifically, on Track 4 or “ACT III (Bigger Dreams)”, Gaine$ digs deeper into his identity – sharing his thoughts on success (Fuck the fame, get your money man, get your dough), racism (This is understanding, not underestimation/ Even a Nigga with a Grammy gets investigated), and mental health (This Nigga crazy, you should leave the room/ I got amazing through these leaking wounds/ Bitches love em,’ they say ‘he’s a mood’/ Until he gets into his evil mood/ Just some shot I guess he can’t improve), the rising rapper’s transparency gives a genuine appeal to his sound.
“I had to dig for the truth in this project and create a palette that was relatable to people,” explained Gaine$.
As lyrically dense as it is, Native Sun also has just as rich of a production value. Hand-selected by Gaine$, producers Thomas Swaggard, Kage Durden, and Program created majority of the beats for the EP. From ambient bells to grand jazzy strings, the timeless feel of Native Sun is a pleasant dynamic the rising rapper reiterates was very intentional and appreciated.
“Those 3 guys make this project make sense. They’re style and choice, how they make beats, classic samples, classic Hip-Hop samples. I look for that in producers,” mentioned Gaine$.
Another major contributor to Native Sun is Jordan Hood Koolie. Fellow rapper, creative, and member of Ooze Gang, Jordan’s control over the track-listing for the project plays a huge part in the listener’s experience. Arranged as play acts, many of the tracks contain 2-3 songs, and Jordan was focused on making sure Gaine$’s artistic choices were as smooth as the beat transitions in every act. Referring to him as “the brain,” Gaine$ utilizing Jordan as the Executive Producer over “Native Sun” gave necessary balance to the project.
“He’s the other side to what I create, so I may make 10 songs and he’ll come in and say ‘Ooo this one should go first,'” recounted Gaine$.
Gaine$ stronger embrace or perhaps more visible relationships with the music community is a sign of his rise as a power player in the Hip-Hop scene. Particularly his longtime work with Ooze Gang’s central hub Slime Shack, which has housed and contributed to many of Buffalo’s most promising artists was preparation for the rapper’s present shift. Gaine$ along with well-known rapper and Ooze Gang member Skate Cobain and a few others played major roles in establishing Slime Shack as a creative space. Shooting music videos, partying, performing, and selling music out of the hub, kept the rappers’ relevant, networking and forming conglomerates.
“Putting that energy into the crib, just turning into a whole other thing…the brand started to make sense. This needs to be a label. This is it. This is our umbrella,” explained Gaine$.
Considering the clear impact of Slime Shack and its well-connectedness, Gaine$’s work with Native Sun took influences and collaborations from artists all around the Queen City. A significant collaborative effort was the process of creating the album art. Made by visual and tattoo artist Jessica Saddleston, the resulting masterpiece is both a surrealist and direct interpretation of the rising rapper’s theme for the project. After a full listen to the EP, well crafted thematic quote “I found myself in a war on my path to self-discovery,” and an explanation of what Gaine$ envisioned as “tears turning into a river,” Jessica created the album art the next day from inspired images from that conversation in her dreams. Transcending different forms of art, Native Sun‘s culmination of great music and great work is an aspect Gaine$ followed intimately.
“The project came together so organically. Everybody that had a hand on it was actually people that I know, people that I’m comfortable with,” explained Gaine$.
Intending to push his project for the rest of this year, Gaine$ is hoping to establish the entrepreneurial side of his music. With Native Sun exclusively on Bandcamp, the rising lyricist is rolling out visuals, hard copies, and merch packs. Maximizing exposure especially during the current Covid Pandemic, Gaine$ is also expecting collaborative projects to keep him busy. With a hefty catalog of music in the vault, Gaine$ is ready to release some compilation work, Ooze Gang projects, and solo singles to keep the energy going.
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BANDCAMP LINK: https://gaines.bandcamp.com/album/native-sun
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