“I wouldn’t say that Hip-Hop is completely dead, but currently the Hip-Hop that we are primarily exposed to in the mainstream is garbage. It is this garbage that is pushed on the masses of the people. You have many artists perpetrating a fraud to the many people that purchase their music and in turn those people are influenced by lies. Even the artists that are not lying but glamorize a negative lifestyle, are not aware that their promotion of misogyny, drug use and drug sales, violence, materialism is detrimental to the advancement of society. These things lead us to being mentally, morally, and spiritually dead. It is this genre of Hip-Hop that is perpetually pushed by “the machine” that is why I say that it is in a “brain dead” state. I believe that it is by design. That kind of Hip Hop is being used like a kind of a lullaby … Rocking the masses of the people to sleep, while wickedly wise people rule the world. I feel that I am the solution. Me along with other artists like myself. Truth is the solution, but Truth has to be told by bold people who don’t mind being different. Who don’t mind being scrutinized and ridiculed for taking a stand. We are the balance and we are the resistance.” – Gat Turner (On The Current State Of Hip-Hop) / Gat Turner is a well known emcee/activist here in Milwaukee. He stands out above the rest due to his dedication to his beliefs and his craft. He makes music with a bold message and is not afraid to stand behind it. He took time to chop it up with The Illixer about everything from his plans to help save Hip-Hop to his ties to the Nation Of Islam. Peep all the details after the jump.
The Illixer: You call yourself the “Gun of Allah.” What does that mean?
Gat Turner: I call myself Gat Turner, the self proclaimed Gun of Allah because I feel that I am an instrument for the Creator. I don’t call myself this because I advocate the use of guns. I call myself Gat because I am a Gun. I feel that I am an instrument that propels Truth and the immutable principals that Allah (God) founded the Universe and the whole of His Creation on.
TI: How did you first get involved with Hip-Hop?
GT: It was inevitable that I got involved with Hip-Hop because it has always been a part of me. There were deejays and beat makers in my family. There were dancers, graffiti artists & other lyricists in my neighborhood. This culture and that flavor have always been around me and I embraced it. When I was coming up, it was new, and fresh, and rebellious, and it pulled me in. I loved it & submitted to it. When I began to make a name for myself as an emcee, it was a wrap! I was totally immersed in its majesty.
TI: What three words would you say best describes your music and why?
GT: Black, Truth, Soul / Black, because Black is the essence from which all colors come from. Black is original. Black is first, and Black is universal. It is the beginning and the ending it is also the state that you can best see light. Truth, because everything was created in Truth. Truth is reality. Truth is fact & Truth is mathematics. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that the mind was created to think on Truth, & when one lies or operates on the basis of a lie, it is like going against the grain in the brain. So I try to always represent that which is true in my music. Soul because the Soul is one’s self, one’s inner being, and one’s spirit & this is what I put into everything that I do.
TI: Explain the motivation behind your single “Killwaukee” with fellow local Milwaukee emcee Viva Fidel.
GT: Fidel and I are good friends. He’s my Brother in the struggle. We are very “like minded” & I respect his “gangsta.” Our paths have always crossed in the areas of activism, and in the areas of Hip-Hop. We had always bounced around the idea of doing a mixtape together in passing for a couple of years. But recently with the state of Black Milwaukee in particular and also the State of America in general: ie. Wars, violence, poverty, racial tension, joblessness, & situations like Trayvon Martin, so much is going on now that it seemed like an idea whose time had come. When we got together and knocked out the “Killwaukee” joint, the feedback that we received was so overwhelmingly positive that we knew that this project was needed and that it could be big.
TI: Give a brief background of your company ReZurrection Records Inc.
GT: ReZurrection Records, Inc. is a company that I started to be used as a vehicle for artists such as myself. It was created to house & cultivate sincere Hip-Hop/Soul artists. For the majority of my career I have done shows, workshops, conferences, plays and anything else for free. I just did it for the “love.” Well doing it for the love does garner you a lot of respect in the field, but it will also allow you to be taken advantage of. In 2007, I decided that I needed to legitimize myself, and document my movement … thus ReZurrection Records, Inc. was born.
TI: Where is your favorite place to perform in Milwaukee and why?
GT: I have rocked everywhere from U Dub (UWM), the Summerfest Grounds, The Rave, a few east side spots, rallies, block parties, mosques, churches, etc. But I would have to say that my favorite place to rock is in the schools. I love to go into the schools because I feel that if I can reach this generation of youth, then I can reach anyone. This generation is a hard atom to crack, so when I see that I am reaching them with the Truth, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I also enjoy doing Poetry Unplugged, because I know that they have an intelligent audience of listeners and thinkers.
TI: What is it about the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan that made you want to help carry out their mission?
GT: The message of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad is a life-giving message. Not only did it change and influence me but it also gave birth to giants like Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. I first got intrigued with the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad after reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X, but I was greatly touched and inspired to be in the movement after my attendance at the Million Man March in 1995 called by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The march was so “real” and monumental that it absolutely changed my life. Just to be a witness of over a million black men standing shoulder to shoulder for over 12 hours without incident was remarkable. It was so peaceful and so powerful that I remember thinking that it was a glimpse into heaven. Every demographic of the Black community was represented. I met Crips, Bloods, Christians, Muslims, Hebrews, Rastas, 5 Percenters, Kappas, Q-Dogs, Masons, Gays, Republicans, Democrats, College Graduates, Homeless, Elders, Youth; you name him and he was there. All of us in unity. The theme was “Atonement, Reconciliation, and Responsibility.” I remember thinking that this was a special day & that if the day was special then the man that made the call had to be special for the men to respond to him. I decided that day to live my life for something bigger than myself. I have been walking with him ever since.
TI: Music with a message or a cause can tend to be off putting to listeners who may not share the same ideals, beliefs, etc. How do you package your music so that it appeals to people of all kinds?
GT: Well I know that my music may not appeal to everyone & it doesn’t have to. Hip-Hop has a whole plethora of artists, but nowadays we only seem to be exposed to a particular kind. I basically just try to be myself and tell the Truth in a professional and clever way. I figure if I put my heart and soul into my music, then I will touch the hearts and souls of others. So far this formula has worked for me. My fan base is Black, White, Latino, Muslim, Christian, students, thugs, a lil bit of everybody. Whoever is not feeling it, then I just reconcile within myself that it is not meant for them & that’s cool too. Everything ain’t for everybody.
TI: I read that you plan to resurrect Hip-Hop via your music. Can you elaborate on said plan and share how you are carrying it out?
GT: Well I am a lot like Morpheus or Neo in The Matrix. I get much of my work through the internet. I get a lot of exposure and sales through the internet & word of mouth. The “game” has changed and I recognize that I am a different kind of artist. I have a website currently under construction gatturner.com. I am on iTunes. I work my Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels. I am not the type of artist that will get a lot of radio play, if any. So I don’t seek it. I just use the net and stay in the trenches and try to reach the people one show, one song, and one verse at a time.
TI: Do you have any upcoming projects or events that you would like to discuss?
GT: I just finished The Matrix Mixtape: Gat Turner Unplugged. I mentioned the upcoming collaboration that I am currently working on with Viva Fidel. I just finished a video for “Killwaukee” for that project. I am presently working on a video for “Poison.” I have a project in the works, “The Death of Gat Turner.” I am aiming to be complete with that by October. I will be going to Atlanta for a show April 28th. I’ll be doing Poetry Unplugged as a musical guest, & I am also working on my own show, Gat Turner & Friends, that I plan to put on locally, and those dates will be forthcoming.
**My Two Cents: This is definitely going on my favorite interviews list. Gat Turner has a great and intellectual way of putting things and his music is dope. And I love the fact that he is not just someone who talks about improving/changing things but is really out here trying to make a difference. Much love to Gat for the interview! Check out a fan made video for his song “Poison” below. -MinM