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Gettin' Prophetic with Diz Gibran

By Ninoy Brownfeatures
Jun 8, 2009 - 11:55 PM








With the recent release of his free download album, Soon You’ll Understand, LA rapper/business man, Diz Gibran, is making marks as more than a hyped up rapper in the “New West” movement. His calm and simple yet introspective rhymes paints a man more complex than a rapper capable of reciting the Periodic Table of Elements in his lyrics. Using the internet as an equalizer, he's built a buzz from out of the ether. His YouTube clips, Vimby features, blog shout outs and recent appearance on the late great J Dilla's Jay Stay Paid album amounts to over 20 pages of meaningful content when you Google his name. Not bad for a man who has kept a low public profile for years. In this interview with 24karat Milkcrate x Oh Dang!, Diz unwinds and talks about his free album, networking through the fashion industry, and another Khalil Gibran. Read on.


Listen to "Exactly"

Listen to "Stereo"

DOWNLOAD: Diz Gibran and Moonshine - Soon You'll Understand (free LP)


Oh Dang!: Why is LA poppin’ off right now?

Diz Gibran:The music coming out of LA right now is music we’ve been making for a long time, but it’s been overshadowed by the bigger names that have been coming out of LA. It’s never really been that many people that make it out of LA. But since the internet and the blogs have made it easier to get your music out there, a lot of MCs that have come out of LA that have been making music for a long time are finally getting recognition. For the most part, all of us up and coming cats are friends and support each other, which hasn’t gone on for a long time in LA. Even though the majority of us aren’t gang banging, there’s always been a separation. Everybody’s seeing that there’s power in numbers and that we can help each other out to create a scene.

OD!: How did you start rapping?

DG: Music has always been a huge part of my life. I started off rapping in late elementary school for fun, on some freestyle shit. High school was when I started taking it serious. There were a lot of cats in my high school that were getting some recognition, and we were coming up under them. Rhyming on the battle circuit, we had a little crew and we’d battle crews from other schools. It was still fun. I got into the studio shortly after high school and started changing what I was doing, taking it more serious. Hip-Hop has been in my life since elementary school.

OD!: The first time I heard of you was on the Bleu Collar mixtape from around 2002 or so. What’s your relationship to Basik and Reese 1?

DG: Those are my brothers. Reese and I have known each other since high school. He was two years younger than me and was part of a crew we had called The Family Tree. He tells me all the time that I gave him a different way to rhyme. Back then everybody was trying to be super complex, but I took a more simple approach. He saw that from me and started saying that we didn’t have to be all crazy with the words. We’ve always been good friends. Basik, I met him while I was in college. I went to school in Florida, and [Basik] went to school in Atlanta. We had a bunch of mutual friends so we were always hearing each other’s names. Now, that’s one of my best friends.

OD!: What high school did you guys go to?

DG: I went to Palisades. Reese went there for 9th and 10th until he got kicked out and went to Westchester.

OD!: From my understanding, you were named after the Lebanese writer, Khalil Gibran. Have you ever read The Prophet or any of his other works?

DG: I have a lot of his books. My mom has given me a lot of different Khalil Gibran writings. My first name is Khalil. Khalil Gibran was and is my mom’s favorite poet. When she was in college was when she first read The Prophet, and she loved the name and the writing. She said that if she ever had a son, she would name him Khalil. I grew up reading Khalil Gibran. Diz was always a nick name of mine, like Dizzy cause I used to smoke a lot of weed and be dazed a lot of the time. People gave me the name Dizzy, and I shortened that to Diz. It was only right that since I was doing a form of poetry that I took on Gibran as a part of my MC name.

OD!: Have you taken from his writing as influence for your music?

DG: I haven’t done it literally, taking his writings and putting it into my rhymes, but I know that his writings have had a lot of influence on me. Because of his outlook, approach, and philosophy to life is something that I have connected with. In a way his writings have come through me to the way I talk about life, experiences, dreams, hopes, joy, and pain. I’ve always taken life as it comes and try not to overanalyze things. I don’t believe in coincidences or accidents but believe that things were meant to happen.

OD!: What has the reception been regarding Soon You’ll Understand?

DG: It’s been incredible. It’s been one of those things that as we continue on our journey with this music, everything has unfolded organically. If I had a choice, this would be the way it would go. I want my music to grow through word of mouth and grassroots rather than having a strategic marketing plan. Fans become our biggest promoter cause they tell people about it. Since we’ve dropped Soon You’ll Understand it’s been a great word of mouth thing that continues to grow. We built up leaking songs on the internet, getting great responses. It’s a foundation for us.

OD!: What made you decide to drop that as a free download?

DG: I put out a mixtape in 2005 and planned on releasing more after, but I got caught up in life. This time around it felt like me starting all over again. In these financially strained times I’d never expect anybody who didn’t know who I am to put in hard earned money for it. I’d rather build it up and give it away for free, letting people getting into it so that next time around if I am charging, people know what to expect and know it’s quality music. We wanted as many people to get their hands on it without having to think about it. If they wanted to give it a chance, they can give it a chance without taking a risk. It seems like that’s the way it’s going. People are finding any way to download things for free. It’s going back to putting out music for free and making money other ways. There was never a question to selling it for me.

OD!: Is there a song on the album that represents something close to you?

DG: Fifty percent of that album was very personal with the others on some MC shit. The song that I identify closely with is “The Hardest Word;” its probably the most personal because I’m talking to three people in my life that I am apologizing for. It’s all true stories.

OD!: How did you connect with Moonshine for that project?

DG: Me and Moon met in Vegas in early ’06 at the Magic Convention. We both work fashion and had mutual friends. We exchanged numbers and cards, and hit him up cause he was a buyer out in Queens. When I went to New York I would always check him, and we’d go out and party, being friends before music came up. One time I came out to his store [and] he was playing his music. I was like, “No shit!” From there I spit over a few beats in the store. We figured out that we needed to work together. A year later, he moved out to LA and we hit the studio.

OD!: Who in this “Freshman” Hip-Hop class do you think will make it to graduation?

DG: There’s a lot of cats doing their thing, but at the same time, there’s a lot that still need to hone their craft. I feel like I should be in that category. Besides that, there’s Pacific Division, Blu, Dom Kennedy, Bleu Collar… Shawn Jackson is really dope, but he doesn’t get a lot of buzz. My boy Scheme is coming up. He’s young, has a lot of room for growth but is ready to be out there. With the internet, just because you have music that are on popular blogs doesn’t mean you’re ready to blow yet. OD!: What’s the future of street wear? DG: Even before the recession, we’ve been saying for a long time that there were too many brands. Like rap, anybody can do it. Street wear was getting saturated with “Mr. Me Too” brands. Because of this recession, a lot of these brands are falling by the way side. All those who were taking it seriously, expanding their lines and making it a real clothing line were the ones that survived. All of that colorful shit is out the door. People want a cleaner look. It’s going a little more mature and slimmer. All of us grew up rocking these high end and classic brands. We’re trying to be regarded as real clothing lines. You can’t be a real clothing line with just t-shirts. It’s jeans, slacks, shoes, and all that stuff.

Catch Diz Gibran with Jake One and Keelay & Zaire in San Francisco on June 25 at Sutra Lounge. $5 with RSVP. For more info, visit 24karat Milkcrate.

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Ninoy Brown is a pseudonym for one of the most Hip-Hop school counselors you'll meet. You can peep his other stuff at FOBBDeep and WireTap.



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