By Megan Lester |
The University of Portland is recognized for its women’s soccer team, its Fulbright successes and its commitment to service. What potential Pilots won’t find in the brochure, however, is UP’s dedication to rap music.
Freestyling may not actually be the most popular pastime on campus, but there is a surprising amount of hip-hop music being created by Pilots on and off The Bluff. Whether they are pursuing a musical career or just blowing off steam after class, several students turn to rap as a preferred medium of expression.
It’s the second quarter, the game is tied, and Alex Gatewood, a defender, may be found freestyling while waiting to go on the field.
“I freestyle on the bench sometimes when I’m not playing (soccer),” Gatewood said. “And at practice all the time.”
Gatewood even raps in the offense’s ears at practice, making his teammates laugh during a scrimmage.
A marketing major, Gatewood hopes to work in the music industry one day. Gatewood writes all his own lyrics, and with producer and senior Nate Harris, makes music under the name GIZ.
“My nickname always has just been GIZ … I play soccer here at school, that’s what they call me on the field,” Gatewood said. “It kind of just stuck and I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t go by that.”
Gatewood and Harris, an operations and technology management major, met last spring through their respective music.
“We linked up last spring when we formed the band Anachronda, which eventually led me to making his beats for GIZ,” Harris said. “We both realized that we could compliment each other musically and decided to give the rapper/producer duo a shot.”
Between soccer, E-scholars, class and music, it can be hard for Gatewood to find a balance.
“It’s hard to do school and play and also make music,” he said. “All my free time goes to balancing the student-athlete stuff and music.”
Gatewood expresses this sentiment in the first minute of his song “Chairmen Meow:” “They ask me how I do it, keep it balanced keep it tame, while I’m writing term papers rather fly a paper plane.”
Gatewood and Harris are working on a mixtape to be ready in mid-October and hope to have a concert around the time of the release.
“We’re going to try to get a space that a lot of people can come to. I want to get more students here. I just want people to know this kind of thing is going on (at UP). We’re a private, Catholic school and you can’t really see this kind of music coming out and I think it would be awesome if people knew that it was happening,” Gatewood said. “I think it would encourage more people to do it.”
“It’s just one man one chance trying to make some history sometimes young minds think that no one’s listening.”
“We’ll rise up to the top and get it where they get it done cuz you only live once so let’s get it while we’re young”
“I dibble I dabble I go upstream with no paddle who knew this lyrical power would come from winnin’ at scramble”
Ryan and Gina Garaventa
“Yo, G, I got a fat beat,” Ryan Garaventa called to his sister in their parents’ home in Salem, Ore. Gina Garaventa glanced at her brother tacitly.
It was almost Christmas, and the Garaventa siblings had joined forces, creating the rap duo known as The Baker’s Bunch.
“Rapping definitely helped us bond,” Ryan said. “We became really close over a two-day recording session (that December).”
The Baker’s Bunch’s muse is often food-related, singing about topics ranging from baking to French dip sandwiches. Their first collaboration, “PAM,” may be considered the anthem for non-stick sprays:
“I don’t bake much, but when I do it’s dope. My devil’s food cake would even please the Pope.”
The Garaventas don’t take their flow seriously but they are genuine in their love for one another and their happiness at being brought closer together through rap.
For months the siblings have been hard at work on a massive rap project, one that has extended to their entire family.
“We rap for our family. We’re working on a Christmas rap,” Ryan said. “There’s six of us total, six kids, and we each have a verse in it. It’s to a pumped-up beat of Jingle Bells.”
Ryan is also part of a band, Brette and Blake, which can be found of Spotify, Facebook, iTunes and Bandcamp. Their album “Hi-Five” is for sale for $5 on Bandcamp.com.
“I went out in the snow. I got my Christmas tree. Chop-Chop timber, this tree’s as big as me.”
“I dip it, I dunk it, I never woulda thunk it, this food be so good I’m movin’ my mouth just like a muppet.”