J. Brookinz runs the show at The Gateway 3 studio lock-in.
SUNDAY, 3:00 p.m. I had the luxury of going to sleep Saturday night once my eyelids became too heavy to hold up, but it appears that the Saturday night recording bout ran into the wee hours of the morning while I was in my bed resting. This has been confirmed in an interview with A.C.E. O.N.E. and by a photo of Cool Hand Lex time stamped for 6:00 a.m.
Grey Granite, who slept for a short while this morning by lying across three chairs pushed together in the basement, rubs away a kink in his neck as he gives me an update on the current state of affairs. Apparently, so many people came through to record last night that they ran out of beats.
“Brookinz is in the basement producing tracks right now,” Granite tells me.
I step into the basement to say hello. Sure enough, Brookinz is hard at work on his computer racing to build more beats before Sunday’s artists start dropping in to record. But rather than fret over what this could mean for the second day of the lock-in, I start to look at it as a silver lining. Upstairs, Grey Granite & Young Carolyn explain to me that these moments of high pressure are often when Brookinz does his best work.
“Gateway happens because it has to happen. Otherwsie, Brookinz would never make music.” Carolyn stresses.
“He has to have deadlines,” Granite adds.
Carolyn nods in agreement, “That’s his process of making music. He has to have a theme, a reason, a deadline. And he always has to have people around!” she laughs.
6:30 p.m. I return later in the day to find Sirius Black in the booth to record.
Meanwhile, another artist is frantically looking for a phone charger to power up his dead device that holds the notes to his verse. Mr. Kinetik, realizing this as a new-age problem, comments on the evolution of the craft and the impact of technology. “It used to be you just didn’t have your shit with you,” he laughs half-jokingly.
6:48 p.m. My interview with Mr. Kinetik concludes and we discuss the local media’s coverage of Naptown hip hop. He calmly states “Not enough people realize that members of the press don’t always have the freedom to pick whatever they want to cover. Some people get so angry about that, but a lot of it is out the reporter’s control.”
The porch door creaks open and J. Brookinz walks outside. Kinetik looks over his shoulder and says, “Wait a second. If you’re out here, that means there’s nothing going on in there.”
“They’re writing,” Brookinz justifies his break as he takes a seat on the banister.
A small group has assembled on the porch and discussion turns to the sour topic of chopping verses or cutting people from the album altogether. The treasure chest of material created by all of the emcees over the weekend is the equivalent of a videographer recording a three-hour event; you can’t possibly use every second of every clip in the final product. Simply put, cuts have to happen somewhere.
“I don’t want to show anybody in a bad light,” Brookinz says as he evaluates some of the questionable contributions.
7:20 p.m. Back in the basement, another silent moment falls upon Helter Shelter. Attendance levels have dropped significantly, but there is still a solid group of six or eight people hanging out. Everyone who’s still planning to drop a verse is bobbing their head and mouthing their words in practice as the beat continues to loop outloud.
8:34 p.m. Listening from outside the recording booth, I hear Ajene tha.God (a.k.a. Swoop) warn that “it’s gonna get a little explicit.” He’s been practicing in the corner for a noticeably long time and, after several tries, he tells Grey Granite (who temporarily sits in Brookinz place at the control center) that he’s still not feeling that last attempt. “That’s okay. Somebody farted out here anyways,” Granite says as he attempts to keep the vibes light and happy, despite everyone’s growing exhaustion from the long weekend.
10:36 p.m. The Gateway 3 Lock-In officially concludes. We listen to a few rough tracks, reflect on the weekend, and pack up the recroding gear to close the books on another Gateway lock-in.
The completed album officially drops on Friday April 20th on Heavy Gun Blog, but J. Brookinz and the Heavy Gun crew are celebrating the completion of Gateway 3 (and starting the official countdown to 4/20) on Thursday April 19th at The Rock Lobster.