Lawrence resident up for a Boston Music Award
By Jill Diver
Never heard of folk-hop before? You’re not alone.
But that could change if the genre’s pioneer, Lawrence’s Andres “DraMatik” Gonzalez, is named Hip Hop Act of the Year at the 22nd annual Boston Music Awards on Dec. 2 at the Liberty Hotel in Boston.
Gonzalez, 35, grew up in the projects of New Jersey and Philadelphia before moving to Lawrence, where he started rapping with poetry. “I grew up in the golden age of hip-hop,” he said. “Hip-hop back then was more conscience, it was more fun-loving, it was more food for thought for your soul, as opposed to the hip-hop nowadays.”
After he was shot at a young age and later did community service, Gonzalez joined the group Missing Elements, which gave him his first exposure to professional recording, getting in a booth and having a beat, instead of real instruments.
“I never took rapping seriously until 2000,” he said. “I came up on the wrong side of the streets and doing community service, which was instrumental for me because I learned how to organize.”
After Missing Elements disbanded, Gonzalez signed with the W.O.L.V.E.S. and stepped into the arena of hip-hop and started to learn his voice.
“Some people rap and never find their voice. I found my voice,” he said. Hip-hop is a culture that appreciates its youth and where age is shunned,” Gonzalez said.
He believes that growing up when he did kept his hip-hop pure; it wasn’t filled with the commercialism of today’s hip-hop. The creation of folk-hop came to him after he saw the movie “Once” and listened to the soundtrack by “The Swell Season.”
“The music was incredible. It moved me and touched me,” Gonzalez said. “I reached out to (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova — the artists behind “The Swell Season”), remixed all their songs, put my hip-hop to them and put some funky music behind their folk music.”
Gonzalez’s new project is call the “The Swell Season Hip Hop” — a fusion of hip-hop and folk music — and the crossing of genres is a huge deal to Gonzalez.
“I want people to respect the kind of hip-hop that I make, which is folk-hop; it’s never been made before,” he said. “The lyrics are thought provoking and profound. I can sit here and definitely say that I created a new kind of hip-hop. You have your gangsta rap, street rap, conscience rap, and I just invented folk-hop.”
As an artist who invents new genres, Gonzalez gears his sound toward all people who love music. “I fancy myself an artist now; I have transformed over the years,” he said. “Infusing folk with hip-hop, I get people who listen to folk saying ‘This is pretty good stuff. I don’t really listen to hip-hop, but I’ll listen to this.'”
Earlier this year, Hansard and Irglova came to the Berklee Performance Center in Boston and met with Gonzalez. “We made a video together, they got my autograph; it was a dream come true for me, because I really admire them now,” he said. “And you gotta know where you come from to know where you’re going.”
This story ran in the Dec. 2, 2009 issue of The Eagle-Tribune Newspaper