The Black Green Ranger Is Dope: The Gone Wallace Interview

Gone Wallace has graced the pages of the Greener Side of Hip Hop 10 times over the years. Yeah, he is that dude that IS lyrical and we appreciate that on our pages – but Gone Wallace has low key extraordinary creative concepts for days when it comes to his craft.

This hit me the other day when I was on Instagram and I came across a video clip for his track “Bobby Brown in the Don’t Be Cruel Video”. I’m a New Edition lover so instantly my brain was like “What a damn minute!!!” in the most enthusiastic and excited way possible. Gone Wallace has covered Lisa Bonet, Aretha Franklin, Monk’s Cafe (yes from the iconic Sienfield series), Dragonzord/The Green/The Green Black Power Ranger, and Jodeci. I might have fell head over heels over this man’s craft when Gone Wallace dropped his soulful “Love Jones” track. His EPs “Monk’s Too” and “[Haven]” are my two favorites, as I have always admired Gone Wallace’s ability to get you in a “room”, tell a story and entertain you with some dope relatable lyrics, while sliding in everyday things like mentioning a woman’s Fructis Garnier product in a lyric – I didn’t think men paid attention to small things like that (but we know Fructis Garnier smells real nice). Anyway, back to this man’s creativity. I started this conversation about his creative process on Instagram the other day and Gone Wallace was like “Interview me Sis”. Well, he did not say it exactly like that, but his energy spoke volumes and he knew that I did NOT know the timing was right, so lessgo!!!

Q: First off thanks for doing this interview which is actually long overdue considering you have been featured on the pages of The Greener Side of Hip Hop for a few years now. You are a Philly native, but please tell listeners a little about Gone Wallace and what inspired you to start rhyming?

A: Yea, this was way overdue. You’ve been down forever, but it happened when it was supposed to I’m sure. But I’m a simple dude. I absolutely love music, no matter the genre. I just have a passion for this phenomenon and it really started the first time I heard Jay-Z’s ‘The Black Album’. My mom bought it for me at Willow Grove Mall in the winter of 2003 and it completely changed my life. I was 13 years old at the time. That’s what really inspired my appreciation for music. From that day forward, I actually became a student of the game and started to pay attention not only to artists but producers and musical style in general. Shout out to Hov for that.

Q: I’ve always been curious about your name. How did you come up with the name Gone Wallace?

A: It’s a funny story. I was engaged in a private school rap beef during my senior year of high school haha! And during this time Facebook was in its prime, so we would record these rap videos and diss this other private school “Smack DVD style”, then we would upload them to Facebook and talk shit to each other in the comments. Not sure if I’m allowed to curse, but yea we would talk shit. Each video would have at least 1000 comments and this was before Facebook recorded video views, so if we did this today, we would have at least 100 thousand per video. But at the time, I was working with a dial up connection. The struggle was super real haha, so I would talk shit and then refresh and it would take like 10 minutes to see the responses. And they would think they got me with their rebuttals, so they would say “Where’s Sean? He disappeared. He’s Gone Wallace.” Which was pretty clever, but in the next video, I used it in a line. I said something like, “It’s no problem. Your mom said she was pregnant and I was out in a second. That’s why they call me Gone Wallace.” And everyone went crazy, so it just stuck after that.

Q: In today’s digital streaming music age what would you say is the greatest challenge that you face as an independent artist?

A: I would say is standing out amongst those that may do this as a hobby or those that are just trying to get paid so they adopt the trending sound. And not having the massive budget for marketing that a major would offer puts all of the marketing responsibilities on me, which is one of the dopest learning experiences for me. It forces me to be self-sustaining and I’m learning so much about what works and what doesn’t without having to sign my life away or conform to a style that I don’t necessary rock with. I just love learning about the business and right now streaming levels the playing field to where I can learn by doing. I feel as though, I’m in a position where if I were to go with a major, I wouldn’t rely on them as much to get my work out there. At the moment, I am my team, so I write everything, I mix and master everything, I shoot and edit everything and I get everything out there so all a label could offer me is the budget. I’m going to drop regardless.

Q: So, now that you have learned to be the CEO of your own platform is one of your goals to run your own major label some day?

A: Yea, that’s an objective for down the road. I want to either run a boutique label or be an executive for a major. I don’t plan to rap forever so I’d rather sign the checks than cash them.

Now let’s talk about Gone Wallace’s magic…

Q: First off, how do you separate yourself from other artists?

A: I just try my hardest to make shit that they would never play on radio. I love funk music so if I’m making a song, it has to have some type of funk element. And even if I have a beat that’s funky but has a pop element to it, I try to be as vulgar and raw as possible or just talk how I usually talk so people don’t get it twisted for some mainstream shit. If you turn on the radio, they neglect the funk so much. It’s all trap and party music, so I just make shit for the cookouts or the family reunions or the nightcaps. I want people to listen to my shit when they’re sippin’ as opposed to when they’re throwing back shots. I’m just an old soul haha!

Q: Your music projects and visuals always have great creative concepts which include known and lesser known pop culture themes or tend to focus on a specific celebrity or a slice of a celebrity’s life. Are you a superfan first of the muses that you use for your concepts or are you inspired at some random moment by something that you have seen or heard? For example, I know your “Lisa Bonet” and the follow up “LISA2” tracks were fan favorites, as you solidified what most young men, well men period think about the beauty that is Lisa Bonet. How do your concepts go from a thing, to being a muse for Gone Wallace, to a Gone Wallace track?

A: Damn. I’m a superfan first and foremost. A lot of these concepts are just nostalgic moments that are triggered by a beat or an image that is associated with a beat. Every situation is slightly different.

With “Lisa Bonet” for instance, I had the beat for some time but I was working on other things and just saved it because I knew I really fucked with it. Shout out to ENG Creation who produced both Lisa tracks. He’s a genius, but I digress. So I was on Tumblr one day and I saw this post that was shouting out Lisa Bonet for her birthday and it had a collage of her different stages in life and my brain exploded. I don’t remember if I went straight to that beat or if I looked through the vault a little first but I somehow got to that beat and it was a wrap. The beautiful thing about ENG’s production is that his songs write themselves. I actually recorded that whole song that same night without writing anything down. It maybe took me 4 hours to finish front to back. I can’t big him up enough for his talent because he makes it so easy for me. I recorded “Tree of Might” the same way, just recorded what I was thinking at the time. He just makes the process effortless.

The concepts for the “Black Green Ranger” was similar. I stumbled upon this beat tape compilation put together by this Russian producer named Lowranger. And the tape itself featured other Russian producers like aalon$e and Akeedro and sonically it was like nothing I’ve ever heard in hip hop. That’s was the first time I’d ever heard these producers, so this was my introduction to the overseas Vaporwave Movement that I’ve adopted since then. The beat tape had a picture of the original Yellow Ranger as the artwork and that sparked the nostalgia in me. Without that beat tape there would be no “DRAGONZORD” or “Black Green Ranger”. From that tape, I picked 4 tracks and wrote, recorded, mixed and put out “Angel Grove Nights”, the first installment in the series, in 3 days. I actually had to call in sick that Monday because I spent the entire weekend staring at my laptop screen to the point where I had a crazy migraine haha! So I spent that entire Monday doing promo for it. Shout out to Lowranger for the direction because at that point, I was not sure what my next steps were.

Q: What is the Vaporwave Movement that you mentioned ? On what tracks of yours can a listener hear the vaporwave style?

A: Vaporwave is that sound that incorporates funk and disco from the 70s and 80s into modern rap so that the records sound like they’re being played on vinyl or cassette. It’s really big in Europe and Japan right now. It just provides a nostalgic sound.

Q: Now let’s talk about the “Bobby Brown In The Don’t Be Cruel Video”. You already know I love the track! The video snippet of this track is what sparked this interview and piqued my curiosity about your creative process. What inspired you to come up with a track based on this one specific moment in this RnB legend’s musical career? And please define what exactly is the “hard press” in regards to your reference to it on the Bobby Brown track? I am pretty sure I know, but I need the Gone Wallace answer….

A: Let me start by saying, I’m a huge Bobby Brown fan. He’s my favorite member of NE so I play his “Don’t Be Cruel” album damn near every day. I just appreciate what he was able to do after breaking away from one of the biggest groups in history and still being able to set the world on fire. He was Ice Cube before Ice Cube, so when I got the beat, I automatically associated it with the “Don’t Be Cruel” video. Sonically, it doesn’t sound like that song but it just fits the video so perfectly. When I was writing it, I would play the beat with the video with the sound off and that helped me write it. This is actually one of my favorite tracks from “DRAGONZORD 2”. I have to hear it at least once during my day just to get me ready to kill shit haha! Shout out to the producer, Akeedro for inadvertently capturing the essence of Bobby at that time. And in terms of that period of his career, that was Bob in his prime. He ruled the world at that point, so it seemed only right to pay homage to that version of Bobby.

And the “hard press” is definitely a sexual reference involving the thrusting of the pelvis haha! The series of lines is a metaphor that compares dance moves and choreography to sex moves and positions. The next line is, “You’re in between a rock and hard place” so it’s a reference that could mean a dance move, an act or even a body part haha!

Q: What is your favorite Gone Wallace track and why?

A: That’s a tough one because it changes frequently, but at this moment and time I would have to say either Bobby Brown or “Blockbuster Video” because I produced it and that song has such a progression – I feel like I was really able to impose my will and my style on that track specifically. And it’s like the second song I’ve ever produced and released so I’m extremely proud of it. It’s just something that I can picture a pimp playing while he’s riding around to collect haha! Like the song itself won’t play unless it’s in a Cadillac. I really had fun making that track in general, plus the ending to me is one of the greatest things ever haha! I want to do a clean version soon so people can actually play it at a cookout because I feel like it’s perfect for that sonically.

I have one first and last random question…

Q: When it comes to the ladies are you more of the Black Green Power Ranger or a Bobby Brown?

A: I’m definitely not on Bobby’s level yet haha! Bobby was really out here at one point. But I would say I resonate more with the green ranger because I stay low-key by design. And I feel like I have to lead a double life between, being a citizen and then having this alter ego that people do not necessarily associate with Sean. I feel like the Green Ranger also feels the most alive when he’s the alter ego as well so the connection there is stronger.

And I have a few of the usual questions…

Q: Who has been the most influential person in your life?

A: The most influential person in my life has to be moms. She’s the one person I can say for sure has been down since day 0. I’m not even sure she knows I rap but she supports the hell out of whatever I’m doing as long as I’m happy and not moving dope. She’s just taught me so much about strength and perseverance, arguably the two most important things to being an independent artist. She’s just always stayed down and is constantly throwing gems of wisdom my way. I don’t know where I’d be without her.

Q: You mentioned that you didn’t know if your mom knows if you rap. Has she had the opportunity to hear any of your music?

A: I’m sure she has haha! I promote a lot on social media so I’m sure she’s heard something and just not mentioned it. I’ve just never sat down and played something for her. She knows I have shows and things of that nature, but maybe she just doesn’t know the magnitude of it. I talk about some crazy things in the music sometimes so I’m in no real hurry to have that convo haha!

Q: Which rappers inspire you or have inspired you the most?

A: I would have to say Jay-Z was my main influence early on in my life. I always aspired to be that mix between the popular artist and the lyrical MC that he epitomized. But Childish Gambino really inspired me to make music seriously. I’ve always listened to his early mixtapes and EP’s but the first time I heard Camp in 2011, I knew I wanted to be a musician. He let me know it was possible to be an artist and talk about all the nerdy shit I enjoy. Before that, I assumed, you had to talk about street shit to be considered as a legitimate rap artist. He was just unapologetically himself all the time and that was an inspiration to me seeing as though we have so many similarities in terms of upbringing and adversity we face being young black males that enjoy being geeks or nerds. Jay-Z inspired the fan and the student in me while Gambino inspired the artist. I’m also a direct dependent of Charles Hamilton and what he did for the game.

Q: Now this is an emcee whose name has obviously alluded me. Enlighten me and elaborate more about you being a “direct dependent” on what he did for the rap game?

A: Charles Hamilton is one of the first artists to make it big through the internet. He would produce all of his records and put out a mixtape like every few days. He has a catalogue that is so big that it’s nearly impossible to download it all. He has at least 300-400 mixtapes to date and I’ve always wanted to release music with that type of consistency and still have that heavy demand from my fans. I just respected his work ethic. And he was another artist that made it cool to just be yourself and enjoy nerdy subject matter.

Okay, I am embarrassed that I have not heard of him, but I just got my first introduction to Charles Hamilton. Thank you!

A: Who are your Top Five emcees, indie or mainstream or indie mainstream?

Q: Top 5?? Damn. That’s a list that changes a lot but at the moment I would have to say Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Curren$y, Action Bronson and Kid Cudi. That’s just at the moment, so no one kill me haha.

And lastly…

Q: What’s next for Gone Wallace?

A: As far as what’s next, I’m always working on multiple projects at once. Right now I’m working on a self-produced project that has a working title but I’m not sure I’m going to stick with it. But I’m definitely hooked to this whole producing thing since learning that I’m not absolutely trash at it. I’m in the process of making “DRAGONZORD 2” into a visual album with visuals for each song. I’m up to 11 visuals at the moment and they’re out now. I’ll be periodically dropping new ones for the next few weeks.

I’m also working on a Free EP that ties into the Black Green Ranger Saga, called “Angel Grove High”. At the moment, it’s a prequel that takes place in the 80’s so the sound will reflect that. I’m messing with the usual suspects like Akeedro, aalon$e and ENG, etc. for that one. And lastly, I’m laying the groundwork for a collaborative project with the homie Xavier Benjamin, that we’re going to start recording this weekend. Oh! AND we’re working on the official video for “Blockbuster Video” too, so look out for that. It’s a lot going on haha!

Okay, I will be on the lookout for ALL of it Mr. Wallace as I am intrigued by what you are doing once again!

Q: Oh yeah… on one of your tracks you mentioned the “West Side of Oakland” Did you mean THE West Oakland, CA?

A: I’m not sure what song you mean. I probably did mean THE West Oakland though haha!

Ahh, okay we may have “Oakland” in common then. I will follow up in another interview about that answer.

Edit: Gone Wallace cleared this up. He was referring to the West side of “Oak Lane” a section in Philly where he grew up. We both had a good laugh about what I thought he said!

Gratitude…

Q: Aside from your Mama, who would you like to give a shout out to or thank? Let’s put them on The Greener Side of Hip Hop too…

A: First and foremost, I would like to shout you out for being down for so long and being one of the first sites to ever fuck with my music or big me up in a major way. I appreciate you taking the time out to give a shit about anything I’ve made even though it may not be the most popular thing in the world at the time. It was fun to get a little introspective for a moment. I also want to shout out the producers that make me look so good, ENG Creation, Akeedro, aalon$e, AKTR, eggglub, tajima hal. Also, shout out to Lyn Chimera and King Key for being the only features on the album and blessing it the way they did. And last but not least, I want to big up anyone who’s ever pressed play on anything I’ve created. It means the world that people even listen to me, especially in this trap era. I appreciate you for even taking a chance on me. Much love!

And again, thank you for blessing our ears and pages with your creative talent and this long overdue interview. It has been a pleasure learning more about Gone Wallace. Can’t wait for the next interview!

Alright, ya’ll have been introduced to almost everything Gone Wallace, so please take the time out to listen to his latest creative project “Dragonzord 2 (Deluxe)” below. Enjoy!

By: MSDFQN

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