Gene Takes Us Inside His Lyrical Mind And The Demonic Themes Of “Gorgeous”

A couple of weeks back, we premiered the music video for “Gorgeous,” a heartfelt track from Harlem hip hop artist Gene. Then, we got a fresh track from him when he dropped “Enough Winter.”

Moved by his raw performance, in which he bares his deepest demons, we wanted to learn more about the rapper and dig into the circumstances and tastes that led him to the intense persona that comes across in his music.

We spoke with Gene about his upbringing, his lyrical content, and some of inspirations that continue to lead him on his path.

Where did you grow up? What inspired you to start rapping?

Being born and raised in a place like Harlem, you’re constantly surrounded by so much hip-hop culture, and that made my passion for it grow and grow. I went to schools that influenced me to listen to music. It was always “cool” to listen to hip-hop as it was always around me. Walking down the street, walking to the corner-store, walking to school, were everyday things that I did that showed me I was surrounded by the hip-hop and urban culture which led me to start making music on a serious level when I got to high school.

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Still from the “Gorgeous” shoot

Tell us a bit about your rise and your approach to music. 

Having all this urban and hip-hop culture around me allowed me to grow up and develop a passion for music, from the production to the melodies to the different types of sounds and samples out there. Once I got to middle school/high school, it made me realize that music was one thing that I wanted to do on a serious level.

Though I’m not a professional, I believe in making music to share with my friends and family as well as the world, which the internet makes easier on all of us. To me, making music is a learning process just like everything else. Anything in life is a learning process. You start off in Kindergarten and, when you least expect it, you’re already a senior in high school. You listen to the music you made early on and you might think “I really sounded childish.” You learn from your mistakes and you finally say to yourself, “I’m better than that.”

How do your style of vocals and your style of production fit together?

I strive to make music that people will enjoy listening to, not because they want to know how I sound but because they already like how I sound. I’m learning that one of the most important things to a song is its melody. I feel people are way more attached to a song when it has a nice melody than a song that just has real fire bars. I like to make music that has a more melodic and artistic feel to it. It’s something that has changed throughout my music. If you hear my old tape, it’s more storytelling. In my new work, all the elements come together around a melodic sound. It’s more then just a lyrical tape.

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Still from the “Gorgeous” shoot

Your upcoming mixtape is called DMNS. What inspired the title? What has your process been for writing songs for the tape?
The title DMNS I’ve had since shortly after I dropped my first mixtape a couple of years ago. I was around 17 or 18, and at the time, I was still just a kid in high school. I thought I was cool, writing tracks, going the studio, and I soon realized I had the vestiges of a buzz, led by a the music video I released. Though it was a bright start for me, it also led to a lot of negativity from people who didn’t get it. Being young, I didn’t know how to take that negative energy the right way because I was still innocent. The title DMNS goes toward representing anything negative that comes your way. Anything can be a demon, whether it’s money, your girlfriend, drugs, a friend talking shit behind your back.

After everything that went down with my first tape, I had to address my demons and prove that I am good at what I do and that I do it passionately. “Gorgeous” is me expressing the demons that we all face in our everyday life. I wrote it when I was in a dark place, thinking that the only way people would end up listening to me is if I died. People get appreciated when they die and we all know that. We don’t get that appreciation when we’re alive. It’s the sad truth and that’s one of the main reasons I made “Gorgeous.”

You picked a pretty interesting location for the Gorgeous video. How does that relate to the concept of the song?
When we shot the video, the vision that I had along with Abe was to have  place which would be one of the darkest darkest places you could ever think of and one that is most common is prison. People die in prison, probably see some of the worst things you ever could in there. It just fits, it just fits the concept of the song. In the video I walk in and I see a masked person. I don’t know who they are but I simply want to take out all my anger out in that person. I start punching that person but after I pull the mask, I realized that I was hurting myself all along. I feel like we, with the help with Abe and his whole crew got the vision I had in my mind and that the outcome of the video came out great.

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Still from the “Gorgeous” shoot

If you had to say you’re a combination of three artists, which three would you pick?
I’m a big fan of all types of music, and from one year to the next my influences change. Just like clothing–as time passes, you think, “Why was I even wearing that?” My music is definitely inspired by who I’m listening to. If I had to pick three artists that inspried me, I would say Justin Vernon, who influenced my melodies. Another would definitely be Kid Cudi, who I would love to one day work with. And finally, Travi$ Scott. I definitely feel a studio session and collaboration with him would produce something great.

Pick up these fresh Converses that Gene has on in his video. 

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