Family ties: Skrill Gates releases ‘1607 83rd Ave’

by the People’s Minister of Information JR, Black New World Journalist Collective

A decade in the making, Skrill Gates has been polishing his skills as a rap artist for this very moment. On May 1, he dropped his much anticipated new release, “1607 83rd Ave,” which was the address of our late grandparents’ house in East Oakland. Skrill Gates, my real life cousin, got another one of our hood celebrity cousins, Damon “Hookerboy” Hooker, to film a number of the videos off of this new release. 

And most importantly the album sounds good and like mature Oakland, street, HipHop. If you are going “quarantine crazy” and need something else to listen to and look at besides Netflix, you might want to look up the videos and the music of this up and coming talent. Check out Skrill Gates as I interviewed him from his quarantine in Atlanta. 

M.O.I. JR: When did you decide that you wanted to make music? Who are the musicians that inspired that dream?

Skrill Gates: I decided to start actually making music as an artist about 10 years ago. I had been in music in many different aspects prior to that. 

Tony Toni Tone’ sparked my interest initially. My uncle was their manager when they first started. They used to practice at our house. I was about 7 or 8 at this time. Watching them go from practicing in the basement to being on the radio and tv, that was like “WHOA.” 

But I was more interested in taking someone and making them a star than I was in being one. Figuratively speaking. I never wanted to be “like Mike.” I aspired to be like the man who paid “Mike”. 

Too Short, Ice Cube, and Scarface are a few of the artists who I paid a lot of attention to early on. Too Short was hustling out the trunk, making the music he wanted to make and creating his own lane. 

Ice Cube was one and the same as far as that went. Ice Cube had that political aspect to his music that always intrigued me. And Scarface is just the GOAT. My favorite Hip Hop artist of all time, lyrically boding anyone with the content that makes you think … DOPE.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about your new album that you are set to release in May? What makes it different from your previous releases?

Skrill Gates: My new project came out May 1st; “1607 83rd Ave” goes crazy. It’s music for those who like content. I put my words together to paint a picture. I got a lot to say and figured out how to do it; that’s the dope part. I have several different sounds and styles also. 

I’m juiced. I’ve grown as an artist. With that, I’ve been expanding my range with the music. So that in itself makes this project different from others. 

But being honest, I don’t feel like anyone cares about projects in their entirety. I’m saying that from the artist side. The work ethic isn’t there from what I see. Artists just throw the music together. So you get out of it what you put in. That’s why I feel the fans don’t pay as much attention or care about projects in their entirety. 

Nevertheless, I take pride in everything I do. So when I put my brand on anything, I’m going give it 1,000 percent. Then I’m going to go back and look five more times just to make sure it’s everything! 

I got some dope ass music on this joint – a lot of motivation to get up and get out. Everyone has a story. If you lived life, there will be a song or three that you will feel on my project. And if you alive, you lived life. So everybody can listen and feel something on this project. Straight up!

M.O.I. JR: What made you do a song about the family house, at 1607 83rd Ave. in East Oakland? What did that house mean to you and the family?

Skrill Gates: The project itself is titled “1607 83rd Ave.” I named it that because it’s my viewpoint on things that I’ve seen from right there at that address. I’m talking from young, though. I went to elementary school at Webster, right there in the hood. It was dope walking around the corner and feeling like you’re in the safest place in the world, not to mention being at school knowing your big cousin is two minutes away if it’s trouble. LOL!

I’m blessed to be able to be a real father and raise my sons. So COVID-19 has provided the time for me to do those things.

That’s the address to a house where my grandparents lived for half a century. They had 14 kids. So my entire family grew up there, the “Hooker Boyz.” 

So “83rd and Holly” inspires a completely different type of pride. Not only is it the hood we come from, it’s our family that “put on for this hood.” You can’t really be from Oakland and not know “The Hooker Family.” So imagine being able to wear that badge. Suit up daily, and put them stripes on. 

Shit hit a little different for me. I wasn’t born into the family. It’s people in the family that probably don’t know that I’m not a natural born Hooker. My little sister daddy is Gregory Hooker; that’s how I ended up at 1607 83rd Ave. So to be able to grow up as a “Hooker Boy” and have a forever home and family, words can’t really convey what that house means to me personally. Holly Block for life. Hooker Boy forever …

M.O.I. JR: How has the Covid 19 quarantine affected your creativity as an artist? Has it been good or bad for you? Why?

Skrill Gates: “The Rona” has been a blessing to me. I’ve been able to, first of all, spend some real quality time with my kids. With me being back and forth from Atlanta to Oakland so much, it’s hard to spend the time I would love to spend with my children. That’s my biggest sacrifice, balancing what a lot of people call my “crazy life.” 

But as an artist, I’ve been going crazy, crazier than my life, LOL. I’ve knocked out 80 percent of my next project. Shot a couple videos. I tapped in with all types of people via internet due to everybody being in. I’ve been able to get a lot done that I’ve been needing to do. Time is always an issue. I’m constantly on the go. 

I have to make sure that my kids are good. Oh, I didn’t mention, my three sons live with me in Atlanta. I’m a single father, because it’s just me and my boys in the house. Their mothers are very much still mothers. My situation is just unique. 

I’m blessed to be able to be a real father and raise my sons. So COVID-19 has provided the time for me to do those things. 

In time of disaster, you better find an opportunity to come out on top, whatever the top means for you. I’m on top of building bonds with my kids. I’m on top of my business. I’m on top of my health. And I’m on top of constantly being a better man. That will make me a better artist. 

M.O.I. JR: Why have you always doused your rhymes with a little bit of consciousness?

Skrill Gates: I’ve lived a whole lot of life in my time here. I’ve succeeded beyond what was expected statistically of me, due to my circumstances growing up. You know the story. I never met my father. Mom was doing her, not drugs, she just lived her life. 

Yet and still, I’ve done well for myself. And I’m not talking in monetary terms. I mean family. I have people who love and care for me. I’m a wealthy man. So with that being said, I have a duty to give the knowledge I have to anyone who wants it. 

My life experiences are so that I can help someone come out of, get through, and/or to avoid whatever it may be. In the music, I’m able to give it to them artistically, aesthetically and musically. 

Skrill Gates

So that’s why in most of my songs, you’ll hear me drop that type of motivation, but with raw lyrics. Sugar coating the sh*t ain’t gone change the fact that its sh*t. Even when I do ratchet songs. I’ve figured out a way to give the people something. I’m going to always figure out a way to be me and fulfill my duty, so to say.

M.O.I. JR: How has being a father affected your career as an artist?

Skrill Gates: Being a father is the best thing to happen to my life. So in everything I do, it’s to further the future of my children. My children literally saved my life. I wasn’t never just wild or nothing like that. My mentality was all messed up though. My thought process was ripped apart due to my upbringing, and what I saw around me in the community. 

I fly like a pilot. I live by the rule stay F.L.Y. Everyone should First Love Yourself.

When I had my first child, I was shot the night of my baby shower. I was laying in the hospital for six days thinking about nothing but how I was glad to be alive. I was glad that I would be here to be able to raise my child. 

My mentality had already changed, even before the baby got here. My life was still the same though. It was a cold game, but that’s what got me through, Look at how life is cold though. That baby ended up not even being mine. I didn’t find out until the baby was 10 months old. 

That’s a whole different story though, and it has hella turns within it. Anyway, I’m able to capture it all and give it out in the music. And with music, doors have and will open for me to do other things, in areas in which I can grow. My kids are going to be good. I will give them as much knowledge, and as many tools as I can give them. But it’s bigger than that; I’m giving it to the masses as they seek it. In the end, if nothing else, it will be here to reference back to. 

M.O.I. JR: Being that you live in the Bay and in Atlanta, have both metropolises had an effect on your career? How?

Skrill Gates: Living back and forth for the last 10 years between Atlanta and Oakland has been interesting to say the least. I fly like a pilot. I live by the rule stay F.L.Y. Everyone should First Love Yourself. 

Back to the question. I got to see the culture of the South and have the game from The Town. It’s a beautiful look. Atlanta has arguably run the HipHop music scene for the last 10 years, so I am able to get a close up look and actually be a part of the culture. Being different helps in the grand scheme of things when it comes to making the music, as far as soundwise. That’s one of the main factors in me exploring my range musically. 

Now being from Oakland gives me an edge that I don’t know if anyone could obtain from anywhere else on the planet. It’s a different kind of seasoning in Oakland. For the city to be so tiny, the impact that it has had on the culture is huge, and that in turn affected the world. 

It can’t be mistaken for just anywhere by anyone; Oakland is from Felix Mitchell to the Black Panthers and everything on the spectrum in between. Oakland has gone crazy! So I’ve been able to use all of that to my advantage. Now it’s time to show the world what I and those around me already see and know. I’m him.

M.O.I. JR: What is your creative process like when you are trying to finish a project?

Skrill Gates: Keeping it a hundred, I don’t have a process. I just knock out music. When I’m in the lab, I make the music based off of what feelings the sounds evoke. “Turn it on.” “Turn it up.” “Play them beats.” Or “How we feeling today?” “What vibe are we on?” These are some of the things I’m saying in the studio. 

My goal is to make timeless music, music that captures a feeling. When that happens, it doesn’t matter who you are. When you feel it, you feel it. Like my song “Push to Shove.” I recorded that song seven or eight years ago. Now go listen to it and tell me it sounds like it. 

Had I not told y’all, only the people who know would believe it. (The video is out now) Hell, some of y’all still might not. So putting the project together, I’ll piece the songs together that mesh as one for a project when it’s “go time”!

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little but about how the album was concocted? What kind of production were you looking for? Do you have any features?

Skrill Gates: So I put the music on the project together, like I said, after all the music was made. I came up with the title based on the songs I put together as a compilation, to make it a project. I had a certain feeling that I was looking for when I was picking through songs. 

I got a lot of music. I don’t have to record at all for at least three more projects. So that’s the hardest part – picking the songs to go on one project and how many to paint the exact picture. This is all art at the end of the day, production wise; the sound is a feeling. It’s all a vibe. 

There is no particular sound that I’m looking for. For me, it’s all about the feeling. So the story of the project as a whole is what gels it. Ironically, the music gels as well, or should I say, “organically.” But as I said, it’s all a vibe; that’s why I’m able to go crazy on anything. 

I rap, rhyme, spit, sing, write or whatever I’m doing on any track that I can feel. Seriously, though, yeah I got a few features on that thang, but y’all gone have to check it out to see who..

M.O.I. JR: How could people purchase the album?

Skrill Gates: The project will be released on all digital platforms: iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Tidel etc. I wasn’t going to press up any actual cd’s, but I’ve been told a couple times out here in the South to do that. So 

I’m going to have hard copies. 

The people can tap in with me or hit the local moms and pops for a hard copy. I’ll have flash drives for DJ’s and people of importance to my movement. Other than that, I’ll be doing some giveaways and some contests. I’m really generating that mouth to mouth core fan base. This is not for play play.

M.O.I. JR: How could people keep up with you online?

Skrill Gates: My IG is Iceking_G8z. Youtube @Skrillvision. Skrillgates on every other platform Type in Skrill Gates; you should be able to find me. Look for the G8Z. I’m rebranding due to an imposter! I had or have some sucka from another city and state posing as me. Running around using my brand to excel. This is cold. I’ve had to have his music taken down several times. So I’m rebranding to just G8Z pronounced GATES. But those are all of my direct connects. Tap in.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. Visit www.blockreportradio.com.