Logjam Presents is pleased to welcome Azizi Gibson: Backward Books 2 Tour for a live concert performance at the Top Hat on October 25, 2018.
Additional ticketing and venue information can be found here.
About Azizi Gibson: Backward Books 2 Tour
“I probably was trash, I was young trash. But it was going somewhere. It’s like damn you’re putting those words together already? You’re kind of nice, you suck, but you don’t suck. You know, we’ll see where this goes” says rapper Azizi Gibson on his first recorded track over a cousin’s beat sampled from the Kill Bill film soundtrack. While the 12 year old Gibson, at the time, wasn’t the rapper’s shining moment musically, the rapper recognizes that he had burgeoning potential even at a young age.
Born on October 5, 1990 in Frankfurt, Germany, Gibson moved between Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand until finally settling in Maryland with his family from age 11 to 20. The youngest out of 4 children and the only one to have spent his childhood traveling globally, Gibson was exposed to the hip hop and R&B his siblings grew up listening to, but found it to be sparse in the various countries he lived in. It was the combination of this rarity and his father’s musical background (his father grew up in Harlem and had his own band) and exposure that led to Gibson’s ultimate passion for rap. “Rap was just so cool to me because living in Thailand, they didn’t have BET. So, the rap that they played was maybe 30 minutes a day—it was a rap segment so it was extra cool, it was people who looked like me, who were me, who related to me. I was like, damn, I really want to rap.”
Gibson cites musicians like Eminem, OutKast, Linkin Park, and the Gorillaz as his favorites growing up. The rapper grew up listening to a variety of genres and attributes it to his exposure to various cultures. “Growing up, I could never put myself in a box. Even though I love hip hop, there’s no way I’m not going to experiment with other styles as far as rock or whatever I’m interested in. [Which is] whatever I hear, even genres I don’t even know the damn name to, [but] it’s just so damn catchy—one time in the car and you’re like oh, woah that just opened my mind. I mean growing up overseas I realized you can just be whoever you wanted to be and the color of my skin or the people I was around didn’t dictate what type of music I needed to make.” It wasn’t until he moved back to the states when he realized that many people weren’t as open with their musical tastes: “I didn’t think it was weird to be black and like Linkin Park until [we] moved to America.”
He began to gain local fame through putting out music on social network Myspace and was known in both high school and college in Maryland. The rapper then decided to drop out of college and seriously pursue his music in Los Angeles at the young age of 20. In Los Angeles, Gibson had a couple chance meetings with Flying Lotus and was subsequently signed to the Brainfeeder label for nearly a year before leaving to pursue music independently outside of major labels. Under Brainfeeder, Gibson released his 2013 mixtape, Ghost in the Shell to much acclaim. He subsequently released Backwards Books EP, his first full-length album Prehistoric Till Death in 2015 and A New Life in 2016. He has opened for or been featured with several prominent artists including Waka Flocka Flame, THEY., and Chance the Rapper.
At one point, the rapper notes with a laugh, “Down that line, Waka [Flocka Flame] claimed he signed me but he never did, he was just doing it to see what would happen.” The rapper, does, however, sign everything he works on with the preHistoric imprint. preHistoric, as he puts it himself, “[is] just my label, my collective, my whatever I represent.” The collective began prior to the rapper’s career when he was first making beats with friends. His loyalty to his collective and community is indicative of Gibson’s humbleness and faithfulness. Major symbols associated with the artist are grim reapers and dinosaurs, the latter being representative of pH, or preHistoric.
A star in the alternative hip hop community, he is also widely known for his love for video games and anime (and women) through his lyrics, but continues to deliver them in such a way that reclaims the nerd image into something more hard and effortlessly cool. Witty and sharp, yet playful, Azizi Gibson’s tight flows match and mirror his personality. The rapper’s latest album, Xenophile, is named after the idea of passion for foreign cultures and activities. Gibson identifies himself as a xenophile and sought to teach his fans with the new album: “I’m just trying to teach my fans xenophile. You should be attracted to different types of culture [and] learn about the culture even if you don’t understand everything.” The 11-track album includes past singles “Rihanna” and a feature by DJ Paul.
Regarding his creative process, the rapper keeps it authentic: “It just happens! Everyone asks me that and I’m like, I don’t have a cool answer for you. It’s so embedded in my genes, I just do that shit now. Maybe a friend was telling me a story, maybe I was going through some shit with a shawty [sic]—if it’s something I’ve been through, I make music about [it] and if it’s not something I’ve been through, it’s something I 100% totally see myself going through.”
An autobiography, a portrait of the artist and, yet, at the same time, and the reason why he has so many devotional and loyal fans, “And some of it is just f******* rap.”
At the core of it, and what makes Gibson’s sound so authentic and downright good, is the fact that it is indeed just rap.