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:

A Reflection On Cousin Stizz’s ‘Suffolk County’ 3-Year Anniversary Show

By: Seamus Fay

Within the geographically-minded landscape of rap music, the weight behind a homecoming show consists of one central theme: loyalty. This encapsulates loyalty from the crowd, loyalty from the artist, and loyalty to a vision of success and “making it out” of one’s hometown which, amidst other manifestations of hard work, also translates into the ever-important power of pride. On June 6th, just last Sunday, Cousin Stizz crafted his own definition of both loyalty and pride by offering a live performance at the Paradise Rock Club in celebration of the anniversary of his critically-acclaimed debut mixtape, Suffolk County. The show sold out in 6 minutes.

At face value, the function of this performance was to make sure that those who missed Boston Calling would still receive the opportunity to see Stizz live while he was in the city. But looking back on the energy brought into the venue that night, the true function of the show was a reflection on the success that Stizz has seen since 2015 when he first released Suffolk County. The whole city came out, and just like that, the Dorchester native used this family affair to look back on the roots that brought him where he is today.

Personally, the reason that this project has remained a timeless collection of music in my ears is mostly due to the way that it brings Stizz’s lifestyle down to a listener-friendly level, complete with a certain degree of familiarity that only helps Boston fans to embrace its magic even more directly. Whether it be the triumphant, anthemic nature of “Dum Dope”, the unapologetically confident hooks of “Fresh Prince”, or the unfaltering honesty that comes through on “No Explanation”, Stizz tells it how it is on this project, and in doing so, listeners are doused in the emotional roller coaster of life in Fields Corner.

With this, Suffolk County is, in a nutshell, a uniquely comprehensive look of the triumphs and struggles that predated Stizz’s rap success. Life was certainly more simple, but times weren’t easy by any means, and the way that such intense pain and passion are communicated through ringing hooks that still resonate with people today, defines what it means to be a classic piece of music. And now, my Suffolk County importance rant is done, and we can delve into the show.


The first point of importance that surrounds such a legendary night was seen in Big Leano’s spot opening for Stizz. Any fan of Boston music might tell you that Stizz and Leano are close friends, but this brotherhood runs far deeper below the surface than that. In fact, Big Leano’s debut performance within the city’s rap community, after releasing just one song prior to the show (the ever-important “Muddy Sip”), was at Cousin Stizz’s first-ever headlining show in Boston at the Middle East. These two have been working towards the top since before rap was the plan, and to see them together even today, more strengthened in their bond than ever, is an immaculate sight.

From the mud all the way to fame, loyalty doesn’t budge.

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That being said, Leano’s undying energy and galvanizing set, which, of course, included the insanity of a “Lean For Sale” mosh pit, made way for a perfect transition into an unforgettable performance from Stizz. But before the headlining act graced the stage, he retreated into the dressing room of the Paradise Rock Club, where a number of close friends and acquaintances hung around in pure excitement for what was to come. Luckily enough, I was brought into the room by a friend of Stizz’s (shouts out to Juxi one time), and what I noticed most specifically was the way that the Fields Corner native gets into the zone before shows.

Just a few minutes prior to when the opening notes of “Ain’t Really Much” would play and Stizz would jump on stage, he wasn’t talking to anyone, messing around, or even communicating with the world in front of him. Instead, he slipped his headphones on, stared at the ground, and simply slipped into an isolated zone, marking the calm before the storm that was a sold-out, nearly 1,000-person performance in his hometown.

And then magic happened.

Stizz went through Suffolk County‘s dense tracklist of hits, one by one, garnering the attention and love of the crowd with every successive note of music. The show didn’t need anything extra to make it an incredible performance, but sure enough, when Jefe Replay gets involved, there’s no limit on what insanity might occur. He’s an undeniable rockstar, and rockstars do rockstar things. Like crowd-walking. Not crowd-diving, for those who may be confused. Crowd-walking.

The chilling melodies of “Talk” creeped into the venue’s sound systems, and after Stizz had unleashed his unforgettable verses, Replay took center stage for his monumental role in the song. But just when it looked as if he might dive into the crowd to deliver each line, he positioned his feet on the raised hands and starting to walk out into a sea of feverish fans. Showmanship aside, the fact that the crowd walk even happened was insane in and of itself, and I suppose it only adds to the long list of reasons why Jefe Replay is a star and why this show superseded the concept of what a rap show usually is.

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My final point of importance, before this article takes the form of a novel, was seen in the simple barrage of “thank you’s” that Stizz proclaimed throughout the night. He paused his set at least 4 or 5 times after a variety of different songs, and looking out at the physical evidence of how far he has come as an artist, Stizz couldn’t help but show his appreciation for his supporters. And sure, obviously most performers would be saying thank you if they, too, sold out a show in six minutes, but coming from Stizz, with his home city leaning on every new syllable that came out of his mouth, this “thank you” went far below the surface.

The Suffolk County anniversary show was a step back in time to one of Boston’s most iconic mixtapes and the lifestyle that came with it. Time moves quite rapidly with no foreseeable slowing, but by revisiting this classic set of anthems with the same fans who have watched Stizz undergo both musical and personal growth since it’s 2015 release, life slowed down for a moment and all felt right. Stizz is one of Boston’s bonafide stars, and we couldn’t ask for any better artist to help play the role.

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Before I wrap this article up, however, it’s also important to note that the real magic of this night is only achieved when we take a step back and marvel at the inspirational sight of comradery as a city that it brought together. For the few, impactful hours that the show spanned, Suffolk County was suspended in its status as an eminent assemblage of reflective sound and thought, surrounded by an ethereal glow that reminds us, above all things, of one mixtape that united people from all different backgrounds and helped to offer us a common thread of pride in our city’s music scene that before then, had not been achieved in such an authentic, modern light.

Just one night of unwavering authenticity and prideful proclamations towards Boston granted me with an abundance of memories that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life, and for that, only two words capture the moment: thank you.

Thank you to Cousin Stizz, thank you to Tim Larew, thank you to Boston, and thank you to every person that made such a magnificent night possible. Suffolk County remains one of the best bodies of music that I have heard to date, and it set the stage for a bright future that even Stizz didn’t think was possible.

I guess there’s a reason he’s our favorite cousin.


Thank you to @gregisonfire for the photos used in this article.

LFOD Radio Discusses the State of New England Hip-Hop

By: Seamus Fay

Amidst immense growth in New England’s hip-hop scene and a number of artists making pushes on the national stage, conversations about the framework behind this surge of talent are of great importance. Locally, we may know about many of the names putting on for the region right now, but how do we expose these artists nationally? How do we push New England talent beyond New England and show the rest of the country what we have to offer?

Here enters LFOD Radio. Every year, they sit down and discuss the current state of NE hip-hop alongside a few of the most important behind-the-scenes figures in hopes of analyzing what happened throughout the year, where progress was made, and where progress still needs to be made. This year, they joined forces with Dart Adams, Bedlam, and Tim Larew for a conversation on these matters, and trust me when I say this one had an abundance of gems to learn from whether you’re an artist, manager, tastemaker, or just a fan.

I won’t spoil any of the lessons learned by listening to this podcast, but I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in New England’s budding hip-hop scene and where it’s headed. After taking the time to go through this one last night, I can genuinely say I’m excited for what’s to come and I feel better being informed of the full scope of things and where progress is needed. LFOD assisted us all in planning out 2018, so let’s take the many gems they offered us and have a productive, growth-filled year.

Click the link below to listen to the podcast:

http://lfodradio.libsyn.com/lfod-radio-ep-96-state-of-new-england-hip-hop 

A Reflection On Cousin Stizz’s House of Blues Homecoming Show

By: Seamus Fay

From a kid in Fields Corner to a star in the making. From basement shows to a sold-out House of Blues. From 301 out of 305 in his high school class to a national tour and a deal with RCA. From Dorchester to the world.

Since his beginnings as an artist, Cousin Stizz has proven time and time again to be destined for success, and now, years removed from these very beginnings, it has become clear that Boston has a hometown hero on our hands.

Here enters November 24, 2017. After moving to Los Angeles to work on what would become his critically acclaimed third mixtape, One Night Only, Stizz returned to the light with a vengeance this past summer (word to Big Leano) and turned a hell of a mixtape into a national tour. To end this tour, he played a sold-out homecoming show at the House of Blues – an incredible story in itself when you think about how far the Boston representative has come.

Today, I’m here reflect on the importance of the show and shed some light on a few moments that I found to be most impactful when you think about the rich history behind them.

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Within Friday’s historic concert, two moments in particular spoke out to me as a testaments to the growth that fans have seen since the Suffolk County days: one being the presence of Guillermo Antonini and Tim Larew at the show and watching them interact at the end of the night, and the other being Stizz’s performance of “Talk” with Jefe Replay.

When reflecting on the journey of how Cousin Stizz’s success came to be, one specific freestyle event called “12 For 12” cannot be missed. Initially helping to introduce the ambitious Dorchester rapper’s lyrical prowess, BU students (at the time), Tim Larew and Guillermo Antonini were two of the head figures responsible for organizing the “12 For 12” Freestyle events – a series of cypher sessions focused on uniting Boston artists and building working and personal relationships as the city came together and showcased its underappreciated and often times relatively unknown skills.

In a full-circle moment that not everyone may have caught eyes on or understood, right near the end of Stizz’s show this past Friday, I watched Guillermo dap up Tim near the back right corner of the stage. A simple handshake and a nod of approval and gratitude couldn’t have meant more. When seemingly no one was paying attention, these two saw the potential and talent in their city and went above and beyond themselves to make sure it was recognized. Pair that with some truly honorable work ethics and sharp ears for talent, and you’ve got the basis for a story that will never again be imitated in such an incredible manner.

That one handshake meant the world for me to see, and I can only imagine what Stizz, Tim, and Guillermo alike would have said back then if you had told them that their story would eventually lead to a sold out, 2700-person show at the House of Blues. What a sight to see.

Okay, so I sort of went on a rant with that one. Sorry. But now we can revisit the second impactful moment I mentioned: Cousin Stizz’s performance of the Suffolk County cut, “Talk” featuring Jefe Replay.

This song has always been one of my favorites from the tape even before I understood Stizz’s history with Replay. By utilizing an ominous atmosphere to paint the unforgiving images of life in the city, both artists are at their finest on this track in their lyricism as well as their stone-cold deliveries. Slow-paced but chilling in its nature, this is one of those songs that comes around every once in a while and sets the tone for an undeniable classic.

Taking a step back, before Cousin Stizz was “Cousin Stizz”, he was in a group by the name of Pilot Nation alongside fellow Boston artists Nick Gray (who also performed on Friday) and Jefe Replay. Almost reflecting on these humble beginnings when the three talents first began to establish their names as acts to watch out for locally, Stizz’s performance of “Talk” at the HOBs was another full-circle moment for Boston.

His well-documented chemistry with Replay has been impressive from the jump, and to see two artists who have remained among the most promising talents in Boston still performing together today is nothing less than historic. Hearing the lines of “I hear whispers of death come from many men/ But I still walk through my city, man” and the ever-important outro from Stizz, saying, “Still on that same shit, that never change shit, you know/ Stick with it, you gon’ get it, I promise”, acted as nostalgic reminders of the progress that has been made as well as reminders of the the sky-high potential that still exists – both of which rang out in the importance behind the handshake that Replay and Stizz shared at the end of the song with the instrumental playing in the background.

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Boston’s music scene has seen quite a few changes since the 2012 days, yet the one staple that has remained consistent throughout and has personally been my favorite element to watch has been the unrivaled loyalty. Whether it’s observed best in Stizz bringing Replay out for “Talk”, Stizz’s come up with Big Leano, or something else, there’s no denying that the love still remains among some of the pioneers of Boston’s resurgence in rap.

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I could go on and on about the importance of this past Friday, but it’s probably best to leave it there. Let some things live in legend, you know? To end this article off, I first want to say thank you to Cousin Stizz, Tim Larew, Guillermo Antonini, and everyone involved in such an inspirational journey. Seeing those 2012 dreams come to fruition has been motivation for all of Boston, me included, and I can’t wait for the success that the future holds.

Here’s to a night that that will go down in history as the day a Boston rapper, or better yet, a hometown hero sold out the House of Blues. The story continues.

Thank you to @photokohli  and @Perspec7ive  for the photos used in this article.