Austin is the capitol of Texas, the center of the Lone Star State and ‘The Live Music Capital of the World. In springtime, thousands flock to the metropolitan for SXSW with aspirations of showcasing their music and expanding their fan base. Hundreds of bands, film makers and dozens of audiences, alike, clamor at venues to celebrate music, film and art. Well-known as a city where legends are born, Austin is the beacon of light that continues to shine brightly.
Shining amongst that light is EAST 35. A lyrically surprising duo of emcees, Bigg John and Young Gift emerge from the eastside of Austin, Texas dissected by the interstate of I-35. An area plagued by violence, drugs and crime for decades. A by-product of the eastside, John and Gift honed their skills as rappers and created a blend of soul, wordplay and rhyme rhythm. Austin’s underbelly, by no mistake, is represented heavily in the music of EAST 35; as well as, a comprehensive and insightful viewpoint of the 21st century’s youth.
It’s longstanding knowledge that Texas has bred great hip hop icons over the decades. Following in those footsteps is EAST 35. John and Gift, as young emcees, were raised on the music of their predecessors. Gift recalls, ‘ We all as kids listened to the Geto Boys, Scarface, Eightball & MJG, Z-RO… that music and its significance left a lasting impression on us as artists. I met John at Lyndon B. Johnson High School my junior year; actually from battling each other in the hallways. We talked further afterwards and found we had a lot in common: music naturally was the main component. He liked the same type of music as me and we formed a bond immediately.’ Bigg John added, ‘Ever since, we got together, it’s been great. We can listen to an instrumental separately, write our verses and meet later and still be on the same page. I never have to worry about being out of sync with him or vice versa.’
Gift explains, ‘Our goal, at the end of the day, is to be respected as one of the greatest groups, ever. We have the talent to achieve that goal. We also have to set the bar as high; not just for our fans but for ourselves. Coming out of Texas, there’s an expectation of what music is supposed be. And representing Austin, that expectation is multiplied times 10.’ John continues, ‘We have a responsibility to leave an undeniable legacy. We’ve been making music for a few years, now and each song we continue to get better and better… with each album, we continue to get better and better. The best part about our craft is the different styles we use from song to song. It’s rare if we walk into a studio with a narrow mind or a closed conscience.’
Nowadays, the career of EAST 35 is firmly set in stone. The new album, ‘SOUL, SIN and SWISHERS, is a testament to the lives led by Gift and John. The lead singles, JUST LIKE CANDY and BLOCKSTAR, are the examples of the maturation process of two gifted emcees.