Jamal Gasol interview

Jamal Gasol interview: “Street talk is easy when you really been through it”

We reached out the Niagara Falls (a.k.a Dirty Waters) representative, Jamal Gasol, who told us how he is striving to put his city on the map, how he has been inspired by figures such as the black rebel Larry Davis and why, through his last project, he wanted to give credit to the Harlem gangster, Fritz.

Essential Projects
  • No Joy Without Pain
    2019
  • The World is a Piff 2
    2020
  • True Stories
    2018
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Peace Jamal, thank you for your time and availability. We are trying to put under the spotlight some of the best underground MCs of the US scene, also out here across the Ocean, through our platform. In the last couple of years, you have been working hard and showing off your skills set, releasing several fire projects. But when did you really start to take this rap shit seriously and when did you realize that there might have been some space to show your talent to a bigger audience?

I remember exactly when I took rap seriously: I paid for my LLC in 2016 and really “invested” into my career. Trust Gang ( 38 Spesh’s crew, hailing from Rochester, Ny) was already known on a level outside of Upstate New York and Westside Gunn was on the scene heavily with Griselda.

 

I wanted to be the face of my city more than ever, seeing them hold it down for Buffalo and Rochester. I felt like Niagara Falls belonged in that discussion and I have been determined since, so I worked on my lyricism more. If I was gonna be among the elite I had to match their work ethic on a music and business end.

You hail from Niagara Falls, NY, not far from Buffalo, Rochester and the Canada border…What kind of place is it? We heard it is a cold and poor city, is that true? What kind of relationship is there between Niagara Falls and your neighbors from Buffalo or Rochester and Canada? Are there the same influences or not? And in which way do you feel Niagara is different from them? And what about the Niagara Falls rap scene?

Cold and poor? Lol not really that cold as it used to be and maybe poverty is common, is a better way to express the word poor. It’s a small population and not much to offer besides a factory and medical field offering an income just above the middle class, based on the cycle I’ve seen over the years. Buffalo 20 minutes away. Rochester maybe an hour. Lockport 20 away. The border is right here so Canada is a hop, skip, and customs visit away lol.

Not really any REAL beef between the cities that were really remarkable to speak on, it’s more of a mutual respect for one another but we are the forgotten city when you mention upstate New York. They speak on the landmark more than the city, so people don’t really give us that love we deserve in my opinion.

As far as influences I’d say it’s a little bit of everything. There’s nothing new under the sun. The rap scene here as well. Everybody isn’t boombap. You got trap rap, mumble rap, still some r&b singers and kids who are influenced by the new youth generation of hip hop.

How old are you? And what kind of music did you grow up with? Who are the artists who inspired you the most?

I just turned 30 in December. I grew up on old blues music and hip hop. My grandma was a big Al Green fan. That was our soundtrack for all the road trips back and forth with her to Alabama. But my mom was always playing rap music when we got in the car. Keith Murray “Most beautiful” joint was my favorite song as a kid. I remember it clear as day playing while I’m in the back seat jamming. It was artists like 50 Cent, French Montana and Max B who inspired me tho. The authenticity they brought to hip hop drew me in more. Like there was some truth to this rap game before I found out it was like wrestling.

You recently came out with the dope “The Ghost of Fritz” project: What’s the meaning of the title and the concept of the album?

The Ghost of Fritz” was a title I came up with seeing Jim Jones “The Ghost of Rich Porter”. Rich (Rich Porter the drug dealer who inspired the Paid in Full movie – ed’s note) has got all the notoriety from “Paid In Full”, but after reading a Don Diva magazine (a notorious streetlife magazine, often widespread between inmates in prison) about Fritz (N.Y. gangster from whom Rich Porter actually supplied – ed’s note), I found out he was really the man.

The concept was giving credit where it was due. Not your average drug dealer, he was the big shot flashy type, he was a low key honorable standup and couldn’t tell based on the image he portrayed as I have seen from research. Think of him like a Robin Hood in the community. He did dirt but did right he took care of his people respectfully

In your opinion what are your most important projects and why?

My most important projects are No Joy Without Pain (2019), True Stories (2018) and It’s a Dirty Game (2018). All of these projects are autobiographical to an extent.I put my life into most of my music from past experiences and situations I went through. These 3 are deep.

The main ingredient of your music is the street lyricism, as you try to give some details of the Niagara streets dynamics : what inspires you when you rap about it and when you have to put the contents into your music?

It’s easy when you really have been through what you are talking about. I talk about a lifestyle that I lived and what I experienced in those times. And I go outside everyday for a reminder to not forget where I came from.

 

Riding through the town and seeing people still doing the same shit and some doing better is always an easy topic to find things to speak on. Making it come together for a track is sequential. I like structure, not just putting shit together. It gotta make sense.

In your lyrics you often mention Larry Davis as your role model, you also named some projects after him …Can you explain to us who he is? And in which way do you refer to him as your role model?

Larry Davis in a nutshell was a black rebellion who was framed but stood up for himself to corrupt policies. He is a role model to me because he fought for his innocence. Most people back down from authority, he took it head, on blow for blow, I respect that. Rest In Peace!

You often collaborated with some of the sharpest street “pens” of the underground scene: Benny The Butcher, 38 Spesh, Dark Lo, Estee Nack, Big Twins, Flee Lord and many others… With whom do you feel you have the best alchemy? And which rapper is still on your bucket list for a feature ? And with whom you would like to make an entire project? It might be a beatmaker too…

I would say my chemistry with Benny and Estee Nack always work out on a track. We may not have been in the same room making the songs but any track I’ve done with them usually gets great responses based on both parties involved. Styles P and Lloyd Banks are on my bucket list right now for features. One day…….and I’d like to do a whole project with Tuamie and August Fanon production wise. 38 Spesh too

 

What are the main goals you aim for? At what point of your career you would say “i made it out”? What can we expect from the next future and from your next projects?

To put my girl and kids in their own house fully paid for, cars with no car note, less bills and over 50 ms to flip off music. Then I’ll feel like I “made it out”. And expect more, a lot more, a whole lot more. It’s Piff…

 

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