I walked outside of a hip hop showcase for the crisis in Flint, Michigan and walked into what felt like 1989; where emcees would flood the streets of their city selling their rhymes, outside the back of their car or backpack. I saw the hustle, dedication and passion in all of it and dropped $10.
I didn’t even get the chance to drive off before I popped the disc inside of my car, began bopping my head to the beat and my speakers blared, “Something about a peace of mind, I made the sh** a habit to always keep a rhyme…”
And months later I’m sitting face-to-face with the one and only, Gene One.
For many emcees like Gene, a pen and paper was all that was necessary to discover hip hop was implanted in their DNA. At eight years old he began noticing the ingenuity in rhymes in artists like Eminem, 50 Cent, MF Doom and others. It wasn’t until he got older and traveled to New York that he found himself absolutely captivated with not just the beats and rhymes but the endless canvasses drawn on random street corners, alley ways and rooftops, inciting his curiosity and imagination about hip hop culture.
It was from this that his stage name, Gene One originated from, as a signature and identity to his graffiti pieces.
Gene began contributing to graffiti very organically. With some guidance, a Sketchie marker and his headphones blaring MF Doom or RZA, his hands just started designing different shapes, letters and characters similar to the art he found on the streets of NY.
Gene’s rhyme structure and how he handles the beat is extremely animated; he comes at the beat however the beat comes at him making his bars, verses and flow ‘swing’ from one part to the next.
It’s his ability to intertwine with these fundamental elements as an emcee that grabs the listener’s attention.
“The overall message in my music is simply about freedom- freedom to rhyme, freedom to flow and freedom for my listeners to create their own personal interpretations,” says Gene.
Hip hop has always managed to help those struggling or longing to make a dream come true, strive for more. This can be used to describe Gene’s dedication, which has presented him with opportunities to connect with some big names in the industry.
Gene has already appeared on Sway Radio during their All Star segment in Toronto, opened for Chris Rivers (the late Big Pun’s son) and most recently, French Montana and Pusha T at Toronto’s 6Fest.
“My music for me is just the foundation to other dreams that will take me higher. The goal for me is to leave something behind bigger than just the music, something where other things can sprout from,” says Gene.
The greatest piece of advice he took from these experiences came straight from Sway when he looked at him and said, ‘Leave Toronto!’ Words that were already echoing through his head as he witnessed Toronto’s wave in hip hop, which is either heavily dominated by ‘radio hit’ or grimy/gangster artists and music.
Gene has found much inspiration in a selection of artists but one that has pushed the envelope for him to be original and different has been MF Doom. His masks, abstract punch lines and his non ‘cookie cutter’ flow, is what Gene found stimulating and why he would love the opportunity to collaborate with the abstract emcee in the near future.
Currently, there is a lack of substance, variety, and abstract storytelling in hip hop music. We have artists sounding the same, recycling the same themes and topics, and lacking creativity, with the exception of a few. It’s a mockery of a creative culture and its collage of experiences, music, instruments and perspectives, which some of us hold dear and true.
Artists like Gene bring hip hop back to the basics and to its core, where listeners can develop ideas, inspiration and logic through clever rhyme structures, metaphors, style and ingenious word play. He offers individuality and that’s refreshing in a world that tells you, ‘be yourself … oh no, not like that!’
Gene finish this sentence for me, ‘I fell in love with hip hop when I heard …’
“Jedi mind tricks!”
For booking inquiries or further information on Gene One follow him directly: