The Many Faces of Capsoul, Vol VI: G-Range

Published on April 23rd, 2012

G-Range is one half of the dynamic and multi-faceted production duo Franklin Ave.,  which is essentially the creative brain trust behind today’s Capsoul Records.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with G-Range in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, home to The Ohio State University and met for lunch at one of his favorite spots, Morton’s Steakhouse (I’m assuming because the staff all knew him).  Shout out to Capsoul Records for footing the bill!

Against the backdrop of the somewhat stuffy ambiance of our upscale set for the hour, G-Range is a slightly intimidating presence at about 6′ 3″ and approaching 245 lbs., but when we sat down for our interview he was accommodating and quite humble.  Dressed comfortably in jeans, a white tee and button-down polo, he looks the part of a man who should be sitting behind the boards in any studio in the country.  Besides the coiffed dreadlocks, some might even say – unassuming.  Don’t get it twisted though, it’s clear from our time with him that there’s plenty roughness bubbling beneath the  calm surface.  Check out the first-ever published interview with G-Range below:

Capsoul Records (CR):  First off, thanks for sitting down with us.

G-Range (GR):  Oh, no doubt, thanks for the opportunity!

CR: I must admit, I’m sorta tripping that we’re at a Steakhouse and you barely have any meat on your plate.  Are you trying to become vegan, or something?  You’re a big dude.

GR: Haha, nah, nothing like that.  I just flew in from ATL this morning and I had to grab a late snack on my way over here, so at least I’d be able to think.  I think I ate too much.

CR:  So you won’t be mad at me for mashin’ on this Filet Mignon?

GR:  Nah, by all means, enjoy yourself.

CR:  Thanks. (I managed to take 2 bites during the entire lunch – thank God for to-go-boxes, even if offered reluctantly by this establishment) So for those who don’t know and let’s assume that’s everyone reading this, where are you from?

GR:  Columbus [Ohio].  The East side if you’re asking and  Franklin Ave. to be specific.

CR:  So it’s pretty safe to say then that that’s where the name of your production team came from?

GR:  Yes.

CR: Besides growing up on Franklin Ave. was there something specific that made you and D. Rockswell (the other half of the duo) choose that name for your production partnership?

GR:  Our sound is Franklin Ave., 100%.  Franklin Ave. represents a kind of duality and it’s like our music.  You had the M.D.s, PhDs and intellectuals heading East up the block from us and headed West down the block, there was a point in time where you had 25 cats trappin’ on Miller Ave.  at any given point of the day, or night.  Me and Rocks[well’s] cribs were smack dab in the middle of both extremes, so our music and perspectives have evolved out of this convergence of culture and influences.  Our street gave us most of the tools we use today to navigate through life.  Franklin Ave., boom!  It’s basically a huge part of the way our team grew up.

CR:  OK!  Could you tell us a little about your family?

GR:   My mom was the main parental influence in my life and me and my brother share a unique bond from being the sole siblings raised in a loving, yet single parent home.  I remember getting my first musical instrument from my father at a very young age.  He was a drummer and most of my memories of him are music-related.  A good part of my family is made up of musicians and vocalists, influenced by many different genres of music.

CR:  Someone told me that your mom looked exactly like Shari Belafonte?  Have you heard that before?

GR: Yes, as a matter of fact, that’s what Rockswell used to call her growing up.  His father puts some people in the mind of Harry Belafonte, so it’s sorta weird now that I think about it.

CR:  You mentioned there were musical influences in your family, we were bound to get to it because you’re a producer and people are going to want to know what influenced your sound.  Can you tell us a little about that?

GR:  Well, yes, there were influences in my family, but I remember during a difficult period in my family’s life, I spent time in a foster home.  It was a situation where I had to make the best of it.  So while I was there I came across this old turntable and would attempt to scratch on old records, as well as absorb the multiple influences of the records made available to me at the home.  The wax was that hard kinda wax that you could break easily, so I had to be extra gentle.  It helped mold my style.  I remember a lot of Motown, The Jacksons – before Michael Jackson went solo, at least I think so, I’m not 100 [% sure]…Smokey Robinson, country, rock, blues, jazz…everything!  My Uncle Gino was a singer too and I always say he could have gone far.

CR:  I happen to know that many of the best producers were at one time gadget freaks or electronics wizards.  Can you relate at all?

GR:  Wow you did your research!  I was a mini-electrician as a kid.  A lot of shit got burnt up (laughs)!  I used to try to fix things because my family didn’t have a lot of money and I wasn’t the type of kid to ask for a lot of stuff, so…I fixed it.  Rigging home stereo speakers to receivers, gutting one piece of audio equipment and salvaging stuff to use to fix another, a lot of that type of ish.  It was almost always music-related, or audio-related to be specific.  In school I learned about frequencies and capacitors and stuff.  My first boom box was from my grandparents who at the time I was meeting for the first time.  Music was a place where I expressed myself.  I didn’t have to interact and converse with people much as a kid, so my language skills suffered a little, mostly because my older brother often did my talking for me.  The boom box was by Emerson.  My step-dad got me my first turntable.  My FIRST turntable was a TECHNICS!  That’s also who got me into appreciating fine art, as well as music as an art form and means of expression.  He calmed me down enough to look at certain things in a closer way.  My mom was always crazy expressive with decor and design, as well as etiquette and all that stuff.  My mom used to sing, model and dance, all professionally.  But yes, I was into electronics.  I used to hang out with Rockswell’s big brother and he was way advanced in that shi* but we spoke the same basic language, so my age didn’t really matter.

CR:  What about your pops?

GR:  My dad was a James Brown impersonator at one point.  That was one of the things that he did.  He’s still a good drummer.  I don’t diss my father for things I feel I may have missed out on in my youth.  My mom would tell me sometimes “You’re just like your daddy”.  So I always in my heart had that to sorta hold onto while he wasn’t around.  And then, him “being” James Brown and all that was pretty funky too (laughs).

CR:  When did you start taking music seriously?

GR:  I got into music professionally in Columbus, spinning at house parties and doing little gigs.  I had some of my own equipment and another local DJ named DJ Phaze One let me use some of his.  Plus, I was an ILL ass dancer and people respected me CRAZY off that.  We had the breakin’ crew and I was DJing at the same time.  It was retarded!

CR:  What was your city like?

GR:  In one city there are often several different distinct cultures.  Columbus had a mix, so I had to adjust to it all, Black, White, Christian, Muslim whatever…  I learned from everybody.  If you pay attention to those differences in culture, it can really help you out a lot.  Otherwise, it’s like lots of [other] cities.

 

“You don’t learn to fight from a nerd

and you don’t learn to break dance

from no old man.”

 

CR:  Who were some of your role models?

GR:  Sometimes, role models were not people I saw all the time.  Sometimes they were just people I’d pass along my way.  Someone greeting you in a nice way in public can be a role model.  Sometimes that person you may call a “role model” may not even have the time to talk to you.  Everyone in our society is really a role model in a different way.  You don’t learn to fight from a nerd and you don’t learn to break dance from no old man.  School was always in session for me.  I didn’t have many standard role models like that, not consistently.

CR:  How do you think that affected you back then?

GR:  School was a difficult experience.  If you don’t have balance at home, or regular role models as a young man especially, it’s hard in school because in school you have to act a certain way and almost pretend like nothing’s going on outside of those walls and almost act, and not show that weakness.  I felt like school wasn’t really me, because I couldn’t really be myself, or share what I was going through on the inside.  Then, the adults in school that I wanted to respect as role models had already type-cast me as trouble, even though I was always respectful, so I never really got a fair shake.  I was challenged by so-called tough kids in school a lot and I never backed down from a challenge, so that got me in altercations.  Then the staff just lumped me in with the trouble makers, even though I’ve never been that type at all.  I was blessed with good hands too, so that made all the wanna-be thugs cling to me and anoint me as their leader, when I’m lookin at these cats like “go read a book, or do something constructive”.  It’s sorta like I didn’t have the right adults standing in the gap for me at critical times.  Someone to say, “wait a minute, look, this kid’s smart, respectful and talented.  He needs to be tracked into gifted and talented programs instead of suspension and expulsion”.  When I realized that that was not going to happen, I began to withdraw.  It sorta took away my innocence and the view that adults and teachers, etc. are supposed to help kids.  I think that’s why I hear many people today tell me that they never knew about my talents, or gifts, because not many people bothered to stop and ask me.  So school got a shell of me and I got the same from school.  That’s part of the reason it was important for me to be involved with Capsoul because Bill Moss (Capsoul’s founder) always appreciated and fought for kids like me.  That’s family right there.

CR:  So how did you end up with the drive and desire to succeed and on top of that raise such beautiful kids?  I met your kids and they’re all talented, intelligent, well-mannered and happy.  How does that happen?

GR:   A lot of persistence, love and dedication to living.  This industry is very judgmental.  Unfortunately everyone won’t make it, but your persistence and dedication serve as their own reward outside of music.  That hard work turns into other opportunities not necessarily music-related and I feel I’ve benefited from that in many ways.

CR:  How did you become involved with Capsoul?  You said that you grew up next door to D. Rockswell?  Have you guys been planning this takeover for years!?

GR:

CR:  How would you describe the Franklin Ave. sound?

GR:  Like I said before, it’s duality.  It’s soul in it’s purest form, with the edginess  that an urban environment demands.  In the case of Rockswell, who I’ll say epitomizes the Franklin Ave. sound, it’s all about strong, soulful songwriting and strong, driving rhythms.  Our sound could be Hip-Hop, or soul depending on the day, but always soulful.  I think we have the perfect balance in D. Rockswell and he’s built to carry soul in a much needed new direction.  People have been confusing Soul for R&B for years now.  Sam & Dave were not R&B.  James Brown was not R&B and Luther Vandross was not Soul – at least as I see it.  Most of it has to do with content and Rocks{well’s] not afraid to touch on any subject.  He is as much Hip Hop as he is soul and people will feel that in his delivery immediately. Many will say Neo-Soul, but I’m probably the last person even using that classification now that it’s played itself out.  But, Neo-Soul was simply “message music” making a return to the forefront and true Soul had been gone for so long that people renamed it “Neo-Soul”.

CR:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years in the game?

GR:  Hopefully I go pretty far and am able to continue to take care of my family.  That’s the goal.  I always see myself as conquering my situation.  I love music so much so I don’t know where I’ll stop.  I definitely want to use my life experiences to help others avoid, or who may be in similar circumstances.  Outside of that, I always look for the positive in situations, so I could say I want to be a Millionaire, etc… but I don’t know, that’s a good question.  Let me put it like this:  I’ve thought about it so many ways that I don’t know.  If that makes sense?

CR:  It does.  What motivates you?

GR:  This is all I have.  My knowledge and creativity, problem solving and of course my family and music.  I can’t really say just music though because I do music as well as video and other creative or technical things.  I could always go out here and work at a warehouse, or as a tech. of some kind, but I’ve always been involved in music in some way.  Even if I had to get a regular studio job as an engineer, this is what I do.  I want to get to the point where I can focus a lot more on the music and the industry than I have in the past.  That is, focus more on my talents.  I’ve dealt with lots of different people in this industry and in most of those relationships, the benefit was one sided.  I want to find a way of benefiting from these relationships more and become a better person at the same time.  I need to see a certain level of success from my efforts in the game at this point in my life.

 

Top 10 Rappers:

Slick Rick

Big Daddy Kane

Kool G Rap

K Solo

Redman

Method Man

Busta Rhymes

Mobb  Deep

Dame Lee

LL Cool J

 

Honorable Mention:

Eric Sermon

Keith Murray

Tracie Lee

 

Groups:

Tribe Called Quest

Illegal

Heavy D & The Boyz

EPMD

DAS EFX

The Roots

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