An Interview with $ean Wire + Gibson

By: Eden Bekele

Neither $ean Wire or Gibson (formerly known as Tropicana Bwoy) are strangers to the Boston music scene, as the pair have spent years cultivating their unique sound alongside numerous talents throughout the Boston area. Some may recognize Gibson for his multiple producer placements or even from his former days as a party thrower in his parents Allston garage, whilst others may recognize $ean from his deep discography and collaborations. No matter how it’s framed, it’s safe to say that the two are heavily involved in the local scene.

It’s already been an incredible year for the pair, with $ean having been nominated in multiple categories for this year’s Boston Music Awards, and for the both of them gaining major exposure with a Cousin Stizz placement. It’s without a doubt that they’re both on the path towards great accomplishments.

Possessing a unique and natural bond, it was only right to capture the duo together. I was lucky enough to sit down with these old friends of mine — huddled intimately in their home studio space — to talk about their process, intention, and outlook towards the future.


Where are you from?

$ean: I was born in Newton, and I moved to Dorchester when I was 2. I’ve been a Dorchester baby ever since. 

Gibson: The hospital was in Stoneham, but I’ve been in Allston all my life. 

How did the two of you meet?

$ean: I met you (Gib) through Najee.

Najee’s like the key to a lot of things. He linked a lot of people together.

Gib: It’s so weird how it all happened. I liked to wear — you know my collared shirts tucked into the khakis — you know that’s just what I did. That’s what I liked to do — with the stripes and the flowers and everything.  I’m in the bathroom at school and while I was p*ssing this guy is like “Hey I like your style” 

I turn around — I didn’t know him and it’s Najee and I’m like “Oh thank you man.” And he’s wearing a snapback and a hoodie. 

Then one whole year later he stops me at the bus stop and he’s like “Listen man can I just hug you. I gotta hug you man you’re great” and I was kinda shy but I was touched. No one told me that before. 

And then one day in the hallway he was like “I bet you make music” and I was like “Yeah I kinda do” and I showed him this really weird beat. I was trying to be like Hudson Mohawk at the time and I showed him this beat in that period and he was like “Yo this was the best beat I’ve ever heard” and I was like, “Okay, you’re crazy — that’s mad dramatic, but thank you.” and he asked me to come to his house and we just started hanging out. 

You know a few months later he went to Seans school. 

$ean: When you dapped me up your hand was mad wet. The dap you gave me was mad off. After that dap I was just like iight..you cool. I remember you had the Dark World hoodie on. That was like Super Saiyan 1 Gibby.

Gib: Yeah, and after that we were just coming here every week to make music. 

$ean: Yup, we would be here everyday. It would be hot as sh*t in here. No fan. We would just be going back to back to back. 

Gib: This is like 10th/11th grade and it really picked up senior year. 

I love how organic that is and it even leads into my next question about the music — how was it creating the DEAR project and how was the process similar to or different than working on HIM$?

$ean: The process with HIM$ was really fun. Like I said before, it was really just us having fun in the room. Making beats, jumping around, and acting a fool. Versus

DEAR was done in like two months. It was really like “let’s bang this out”. At the time I hadn’t released music in a while because I had been in a management situation where it was just like they wanted us to write and build. I spent some time ghostwriting and Gib was producing for some other artists.

DEAR was really a sweet process. I was going through a real dark time from 2017 into 2018. I feel like DEAR was the conclusion of a heavy mindset. I lost my uncle, I got hit by a car, I lost mad memory and was forgetting song lyrics. 

I met my girlfriend — well I knew her for a grip, but I got with her and she inspired a lot of the records too. It was just a lot of life changing moments in DEAR and in that whole process. I found out a lot about myself and I just expressed it as much as I could in the music. 

So the difference between HIM$ and DEAR is that HIM$ was just like me having fun versus DEAR I was having fun but I was also giving a real message of who I am to myself. 

Gib: There was a reason for making it. HIM$ was kind of like “huh we don’t have like an album yet”.

How was it being apart of the Stizz project, Trying To Find My Next Thrill?

$ean: That experience was so stressful but so fun. Let me give you the whole story.

Gib: You got the story?

$ean: I got the story. This is what happened. Sebastian Mikael had a tour date in New York at Baby’s All Right and I had to get to New York. At the time it was snowing like crazy and I had to record a Stizz verse and send it to Tim. 

Gibson: No no no you started too late. 

So I was in Atlanta working for Jeezy — I was hanging out with Jeezy and some of his people & making music. 

$ean: Let em know!

Gibson: I was there for 14 days, and I felt I wasn’t meeting a lot of people. I felt like I could get more — so I took a chance. 

I had heard of this guy Tim, Tim Larew, who manages Stizz and I reached out to him just off the cuff completely.  I was like maybe he can help me out I want to meet people. So I DM’d him like “Yo who do you know in Atlanta that I could f*ck with — I’m here for a little while and I’m tryna make it happen”. And he was like “Yo I love you and Sean’s music so much — Stizz is working on an album, please send anything that has an open verse thats you and Sean. Please send it right now.” That was the end of the DM, nothing to do with Atlanta. I was like word I got you. And then like right then I sent him ($ean) a few beats, I told him what it was and he was like okay let’s go. 

$ean: He sent me like three or four beats. I was kind of stressed out because I was having like the illest writers block and that is the worst thing when it’s crunch time and an opportunity comes. Still, I was in my room and I wrote at least eight verses. 

Gib: What?!

$ean: You know how I be. 

Gib: There was a deleted verse for Soso?

$ean: Plenty. So I did that & Gib came back and we recorded it with Christian Yoon. and the next day I had to go to New York. 

Gib: It happened mad organic. 

$ean: Tim and Stizz are just cool and genuine dudes and they’re about the culture, making good music, having fun with it and being smart with your decisions. 

How does it feel being in Boston — in your hometown, after putting out two full projects and having this Stizz placement?

$ean: It feels good. It’s definitely a boost of confidence. It was so many days we would be in here like what are we doing. We would get frustrated. 

Gibson: I was frustrated,  but I would fake try to hype you up. 

$ean: We’ve had multiple conversations where its just like damn sh*ts not moving cuz Gib was in school at McGill and I don’t blame you because shit wasn’t moving and we weren’t getting exposure like that.

So that’s really the difference now.  It’s a lot of love, people are seeing the growth in the music and me as a person and Gib as a person. It just feels more welcoming — the love is immaculate. 

Gib: Everyone says congratulations. I’m mad humbled. I get emotional. A stranger will be like “Ohh you’re gib I heard you got that shit on Stizz’s album.”

$ean: My cheekbones are hurting. 

It was dope for me to see really. I saw Stizz’s story and there was a billboard in my neighborhood. Me and my boy Nick went to go see it. So being part of that has just been an amazing experience. 

Have y’all been doing music full time or are you planning on it?

$ean: I’ve been doing music full time since 2016. I’ve only had two jobs in my whole life. 

I was really trying to force myself to be great at what I do. I didn’t want to come in second place, I don’t want to ask for handouts — I just wanted my work to speak for itself. If I walk in any door and they ask me to play them three songs, I know I have three songs they could f*ck with. And I never want to be a miss, ever, ever, ever. That’s definitely the mission.

Gib: I’m not in school anymore — I left, but I do some teaching and lecturing at the ICA for music, and some catering. 

The lecturing is fun, and teaching. It’s just like these free classes for the teens who want to learn music, and want to make beats. It’s pretty fun. Teenagers are hard to engage but I think I might’ve got it. You know you can learn sh*t from anybody and I learned sh*t from these kids. 

So whats next? It’s already been disclosed to me that yall are working on a new album is that safe to share?

$ean: I’m so proud of this upcoming project. I’ve never channeled this much energy into a tape before. It’s just great, great music. I’m very confident about this one. Both the delivery and timing are perfect. Now we’re just trying to get some videos out and get shit going. It’s an exciting chapter right now.

What impact are yall looking to leave? If any?

$ean: My whole end goal is to inspire the world — not even just the city but the world. I want to reach as many people as possible and for them to be like “Remember when Sean and Gib did that?”  I just want to inspire because there’s a cycle of love in that. 

Gib: I want to inspire people too.

If I can leave an impact I would say… patience is boring, but if you’re not thinking about it being boring — it’s fun. 


Stream $ean Wire’s music and Gibson’s production below:

Ronny Llama – ‘Give It A Year’

By: Eden Bekele

Making his Graduation Music debut is rapper/producer, Ronny Llama, who recently graced listeners with his first official project, Give It a Year. The project was Llamas second release of 2018, following his first single titled, “Hueman”. 

The Dorchester native is no stranger to the Boston scene, and his project even starts with a promise to put on for the city. Give It a Year sits at 9 tracks — with each being full of pure introspection, lyricism and a proper amount of humor. Llama mixes his lyrical prowess with nostalgic and eery beats throughout, which assist in making even the most emotionless listener feel deeply. From “Ñac Ñac”, where his production and humming is reminiscent of a young Kid Cudi, to “Days I Think of You”, where a heartbroken lover leaves a chilling voicemail — Llama captivates listeners and leaves us wanting more. 

In the two months following the release of the project, Llama has dropped three singles, “What I Do”, “Passive Aggressive”, and “Goodbye”, which collectively make it known that this isn’t the artist to sleep on. His 2019 has been incredibly bright up through this point in time, and we look forward to hearing more from Ronny Llama as he continues his journey towards success. 

Listen to Ronny Llama’s debut album ‘Give It A Year’ below:

CLICK HERE TO STREAM VIA SPOTIFY

An Interview with CHI

By: Eden Bekele

While authenticity in an industry that is seemingly over saturated with disingenuous players is a novelty these days, no one stands more true to themselves in the Boston scene, as CHI. She is an artist, DJ and creative from the city who is a great example of how realness will only elevate your work and spirit.

It has been half a year since CHI dropped her LP titled B.O.M.B. short for “Back On My Bullsh*t”, and listeners have been fiending for more content since. The project was a successful 11 tracks, filled with an all-star roster of Boston artists, all contributing to the power that is B.O.M.B. Prior to releasing her LP, CHI had collaborated with Gin Mason and SuperSmashBroz, to release their joint project Code Name: Girls Next Door,  which included the catchy Girls Night single, as well as releasing her own series of singles and DJ mixes.

We had the privilege to sit down and speak candidly with CHI on being a veteran in the Boston scene, her creative influences, and what the future holds.


Where are you from?

I’m from Dorchester by ways of Nigeria. If I wanna be real specific I’m a young Igbo person- woman.

So you’re Nigerian, and you’re Igbo, how does that influence you?

That’s like my whole origin right there. I’m big on origins, I’m big on my roots. I grew up in a household that was very African, like very African. Something my dad used to say when I was growing up, he would be like: “When you come into my house, you’re not in America anymore, you’re in Owerri. So treat it like that.” My dad used to say that to me all the time, so that’s how I grew up.

Who or what are your biggest musical influences?

Sh*t, I was talking to somebody about this the other day. I have a lot of influences, because I listen to a lot of music and I grew up in a very musical house. Off the rip- singing wise, I get a lot of my influences from falceto males, like D’Angelo, Maxwell, Prince, that’s where I learned how to riff, Rudy Currence, sh*t like that. Obviously Lauryn Hill is a big influence on me. I don’t like to say her immediately though, because i feel like people assume that’s my main influence and its actually not. People always givin’ me the Lauryn and the Tracy Chapman, another one of my influences is Brandy, notice how I haven’t named any rappers. Before, KRS was one of my main rappers, but before I was really into rap I was into RnB, I was into Jazz. I was into a lot of African music growing up. Dancehall. I wasn’t really into rap music until I rediscovered 90s rap on my own, when I was about 11/12. I was kinda like ‘yeah i like rap music’.

Going back to Lauryn Hill, she talks a lot about the Israelites how do you see yourself fitting into that narrative because I know you have a song (titled Israelite: God Bless Amerikkka) about it as well?

I know that that’s my truth and that’s my history, even though growing up as black people we don’t learn too much about our true history. I think for me I fit into that because it’s like a coming of age- more like a going back home.

People think life is about turning into a new person, but it’s really about turning into your actual self. So when I think about being an israelite and being part of like a lost group of people, I see myself fitting into that- I see all of us fit into that though. I think the difference is some people own it and some people don’t.

So getting into the music, Boston and your home, how do you feel like the scene has changed since you’ve been coming up?

You know what’s funny about that? I grew up in Boston, like actually, actually. We are in my neighborhood where I went to school. I feel like automatically, off the rip, I have a whole different view of the scene than everyone else does. Because before the scene, there was the young ethnic community in Boston. I wasn’t really one of those kids going downtown and doing all the crazy stuff, but I was family friends with people who were doing that- or like I had history with people who were doing that. And you know I was never really like that going downtown to go jerk and stuff, I wasn’t like that, but those people are pioneers of the scene.

A lot of people came up like that. So when I think about the scene I don’t really think of it- like not to say there isn’t a scene, because there is, but my place in the scene is a little different because I have real roots in the scene.

So having said that last part do you feel people are just entering the scene to fit in?

Absolutely, I think some people see it as a way to get internet famous. And Im like n*gga whats your talent though? What are you doing to progress the scene? Confuses me.

So I see that you have a lot of relationships like you said and I’ve noticed you have some hits with SuperSmashBroz and Gin Mason, what are those relationships like and how was putting together ‘Girls Night’?

Everybody loves that song. That song is great. It’s just what I was just saying, those are my friends. I been friends with Gin before music and the reason why those songs came out was because it was really authentic. We friends, we vibe, we understand that we wanted to make a certain thing so we executed it.

That’s just the homies getting together, but a lot of my music is like. If were homies and you want to make music, or if we click on a level outside of music, it just makes me want to collab even more.

What motivates you?

D*mn, I don’t like thinking about big questions sometimes. I talk a lot.

I’m motivated by seemingly being an underdog. Definitely feel like a lot of people in the city sleep on me. Is it not true? I’m saying in general, sometimes when I see certain things and I wont see my name there, I’m like “hm.”

I also just feel like I wasn’t always as proud of the music, now I’m a lot more confident. I believe in myself. That’s another one of my motivations. I’m motivated by me, not my ego, I’m motivated by my real self.

That reminds me of your song Vanity, I like the message of that song, can you talk about what feelings brought that song on? Did you always love yourself this much? Or is this something that you’ve more recently been like “Oh okay, I’m owning my sh*t”?

Good question. Vanity, is, well in all of my music I like irony, and I like satire and I like contradictions because it plays into irony.

I believe life is about duality and dichotomy. So when I think about saying something that leaves an impression on people, I think about kind of confusing them. So when I made Vanity I was like n*gga Im so happy that I’m all of these bad things- d*mn, that makes me extremely vain. It’s more like when you realize that you’re happy about doing things that don’t serve you, you kinda have to step back and think about “hm why am I happy about that?” I think that’s what BOMB is really about. Being back on your bullsh*t is about having to destroy pieces of yourself now so that you can actually be free and be who you really are.

How do you feel about the difference between lyrical rap and other kinds of rap that’s being put out? Do you think you’ll continue going this route?

I think it goes back to being an underdog. I’m doing a lot that people in Boston aren’t doing right now. The reason that Lyrical rap will always stand out is because that is the foundation of Hip-Hop and that’s the foundation of music in general, lyrics are profound. I remember when i was a kid I used to listen to Jill Scott interviews and she used to say “It doesn’t matter how you said it, it matters what you said. You could say it however you want, but if you didn’t say anything worth saying then- what are you saying?” You know that made so much sense to me. I like to carry that into my music.  

So if you had to pick a top 3 in the game today, who would you pick?

Kendrick Lamar. Hmm who’s as good as K.Dot? Honestly, y’all are going to hate me but… Drake. Drake is different. You know who I’m lowkey throwing in there? Saba. I’m like d*mn why am I throwing Saba up there? But Care For Me is like my favorite album that’s come out in the last 5 years.

What do you have planned for the future?

I got a project coming out in the colder months, it’s called Clairvoyance. I’m working on getting some women in Boston on that thang. I’m going to have my producer debut on that. I recently just started mixing and mastering. I’m going to start going in-cognegro as a producer. Get ready I’m about to run these placements up, look out.

So I’m working on that and I’m working on some visuals for B.O.M.B. I’m directing my videos these videos as well, y’all will be seeing a lot of my ideas come through. Probably by mid summer all of them will be out.


Connect with CHI on:

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

SOUNDCLOUD

SPOTIFY

APPLE MUSIC

Graduation Music Presents: For the Ladies Playlist

By: Eden Bekele

Now y’all didn’t think we were going to let Women’s History Month just pass us by, did you now? Introducing Graduation Music’s first-ever curated females only playlist. The 8 track playlist will be updated on a monthly basis, with the aim to shed some overdue light on our local female talent. We encourage you all to listen and support these wonderful and deserving women!

Check out the first installment of our For the Ladies Playlist below:

GRADUATION MUSIC PRESENTS: FOR THE LADIES (SOUNDCLOUD LINK)