March 27, 2008

Gnotes @ WERS 88.9 FM

Gnotes, Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, Jake the Snake, and Big Shug were selected to represent Boston hip-hip as part of WERS 88.9 FM's Live Local Music Week. Listen to Gnotes perform "Tower of Babylon" and "Sun Don't Chill" live on-the-air, with appearances from Afro DZ ak and Kabir.

Gnotes - "Live @ WERS" (mp3 download)

In The Studio : Gnotes

By Jessica O’Byrne

Sean Dwyer, a.k.a gNotes, has come a long way since his adolescence spent playing sports and grunge music. Since then the Seattle native has taken on the East coast in a big way, being recruited to play Division I football at Boston College and—even more impressively—establishing himself one of the most promising up-and-coming emcees in Boston. Dwyer, whose demeanor is simultaneously confident and unassuming, arrived at WERS accompanied by fellow Gnawledge Records musicians Afro DZ ack and Kabir, respectively contributing trumpet and vocals to the mix. In between performances, Dwyer discussed his hands-on approach to music (he contributes instrumentals to nearly every track on his recently-released Rhyme and Beats), an upcoming trip to Granada, Spain (where he will spend the next few months creating a global hip-hop record along with Gnawledge Records co-owner Canyon Cody—to the tune of a $20,000 Fulbright musicology scholarship), and records that Gnawledge intends to put out in the near future.

When asked about the occupational hazards inherent in switching coasts, Dwyer responded, “In a lot of ways Boston is where I’ve really cut my teeth, because it’s been the more developmental years…but Seattle’s just a much more accepting environment to art and music in general. I feel like more heads come out to support shows—not that they don’t in Boston—but I feel like it’s just a more open environment.” Nonetheless, for better or for worse, Boston has become Dwyers’ home as he develops his unique sound while simultaneously working alongside Canyon Cody at establishing Gnawledge.

From the first measure of “Tower of Babylon”, which opened the live mix set and can be found on Rhymes and Beats, two things were immediately clear: first, that these tracks are light years away from the ‘bitches-n-hos’ anthems that clog so much of contemporary radio rap; second, that the three men in the studio are talented musicians with a very serious—but not somber—message. Instead of the negativity that has so unfortunately characterized much rap music, gNotes’ songs are of the more hopeful variety. This message is translated into the obvious passion with which Dwyer performs his music.

This passion was even more evident in the raw, heartfelt manner in which he sang the opening of his second track, “Sun Don’t Chill.” Although the music is positive, it is far from heavy-handed—“Sun Don’t Chill” is kept interesting by the unexpected shifts in the beat and clever jabs at popular culture: at one point in the song, Dwyer sings “Dollas dollas kill, y’all,” obviously referencing—and perhaps criticizing—a similar line that appears in a Wu-Tang Clan song.

Dwyer will be out of the country recording and touring Europe for the next few months, which is all the more reason to check out Rhymes and Beats, along with other upcoming Gnawledge releases (for those who are interested, all of said releases—and some sweet preview tracks—can be found at ).