Hip-hop is dead, long live hip-hop

Sacramento hip-hop artist Aerial and producer Freekwenzy discuss the art of making heartfelt, family-friendly vibes

“Your move, my friend.”

“Your move, my friend.”

photo by darin smith

Catch Aerial on Monday, September 8 at 8 p.m. at Sol Collective, 2574 21st Street. The cover is $5. Learn more about the artist at www.facebook.com/Aerial09.

Avery Geter’s 11-year-old nephew knew all the words to A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems.” Every other phrase is made up of cuss words or offensive, misogynistic language. Usually both.

Geter, who goes by his rap name Aerial, acknowledges that his nephew had no idea what the lyrics meant, but thinks they probably have some subconscious effect on the kid.

“I didn’t get mad at him,” Geter says. “I got mad at hip-hop as a whole. Rappers don’t realize they’re role models. They don’t take responsibility.”

Hence Geter’s whole rap philosophy: “I don’t wanna make music I can’t show my nephews, or I can’t show my mother,” he says.

With his debut full-length Revivolution, which drops Monday, September 8 at Sol Collective, Geter has 15 recorded songs he can show his family.

The album art depicts Geter as a doctor and producer Vincent Brown, a.k.a. Freekwenzy, as Frankenstein with a boombox for a head. It’s a metaphor. And the title is wordplay: Revivolution is about Geter and Brown working to “revive” and “evolve” the art of hip-hop.

Radio listeners might say hip-hop is dead. Geter and Brown say it’s back and better than ever—if you know where to listen. For Geter, the core of great hip-hop is honesty. It’s storytelling. Geter has lots of stories.

“Everything on my album is personal—something I’ve gone through, something important to me,” he says. “I only write about things that come from the heart.”

His opener “Legend” stems from that moment watching his 11-year-old nephew’s recital of “Fuckin’ Problems.” “Agony” is Geter’s personal favorite, partially because it let him unload all his feelings about a bad relationship. Meanwhile his first single, “Check My Resume,” is about not being taken seriously as an artist. Geter says a lot of rappers assumed he had familial help—his older brother is TAIS from Righteous Movement—when he’s worked hard on his craft for years.

That said, he was first exposed to hip-hop because of his brother. Geter would go to Righteous Movement gigs and scribble song title ideas in a little notebook to show his brother later. In middle school, he started writing poetry, hoping crushes would read his rhymes on MySpace. Poems evolved into lyrics in high school. Sophomore year while attending Inderkum High School, Geter met Brown, who was already on his own beat-making journey.

“Music is my way to vent— I just wanna touch everybody, hit every emotion,” Brown says.

The two became close friends, then music partners. They recorded a mixtape in 2012 but laugh about it now. Since then, Geter’s elevated his writing and Brown became a certified audio engineer. Now the collaboration is effortless.

“[Geter] can pick up on whatever mood is in my beat and flows to it perfectly,” Brown says.

The two don’t perform side-by-side onstage—yet, anyway. Brown’s soundscapes are all original, but he’s never played them live. A year ago, Geter was nervously performing in front of audiences for the first time. With mentors in the local hip-hop community, he’s quickly honed his confidence and stage presence.

“People come up to me a lot, ’You’ve been doing this a long time, huh?’ I’m like, ’Since October,’” he says, laughing. “I think it’s a compliment.”