Friday, July 19, 2013


According to the Blat!Pack, that title is best read aloud--at least that's what I gathered when I attended their high-energy showcase this past Sunday at the Common Ground music festival in Lansing, Mich.

Aside from making funny noises into microphones, the hip hop group, Blat!Pack, actually makes pretty legit music. After their concert, I caught up with two of the group members, James Gardin and Yellokake for a little chat about their journey onto the music scene.

He has his own, with his face on them. I WANT ONE.

I first met James Gardin last year while I was doing a journalism piece on a Trayvon Martin rally that took place on the campus of my alma mater. At the time, I was running a campus/street style blog on my Tumblr and I approached him to snap some shots. I learned that he's a local rapper and given my current state of still-stuck-here, I would run into him from time to time after that initial meeting and always have to take some photos of his impeccable street style.

After connecting on Twitter, I learned that this guy is actually a pretty legit musician with a respectable hustle (you know, with production and whatnot instead of the usual going nowhere fast bullshit men who call themselves rappers are about). When I saw that he was going to perform at Common Ground I had to take the opportunity to finally see him live. The seasoned hip hopper said it was a crowning achievement in his career.

"It felt really amazing; this is something I've wanted to do for probably the last eight or nine years," Gardin said. "Getting to actually hit the stage and having a crowd that was here for us was easily one of the highlights of my life."

Gardin and fellow Blat!Packers gettin' down on stage

However, it's been a long journey up to that point; Gardin actually took the stage for the first time 10 years ago when a disc jockey named DJ Fresh gave him the spotlight at a local bar.

"No one was there, I think I got paid $11, that was my first show," he said. "But it's good that he was able to see this from where I started."  

Gardin is currently working on new material and said he plans on putting out an album in Japan and an EP with a bit of a fashion twist.

"The packaging will basically be a CD and a lookbook," he said. "I think that's going to be up next in the states."

She was just as fly back in high school.

I wish I'd asked her more, but honestly I think I was just dumbstruck at the fact that we graduated from the same high school and this girl that I'd known as Jasmine, a reserved personality with a golden voice only heard after vehement persuasion, had blossomed into Yellokake, the First Lady of the Blat!Pack and phenomenal jazz soul singer.

Yellokake and Jahshua Smith

Yellokake said she has been performing under her current moniker for about five years and similar to Gardin, she was introduced to the music game by fellow musicians.

"I jumped onto the hip hop scene when there used to be a monthly hip hop show called Respiration," she said. "They kind of brought me up and then I met these guys and we just clicked."

Yellokake expressed how she now looks at her fellow Blat!Packers as family.

"I've got a bunch of brothers here and one sister in the Blat!Pack," she said. "We have a good time and we go in."

All the AP classes in the world wouldn't have gotten me any closer to her fabulousness.

 Get the latest news and new music from the entire Blat!Pack HERE.

Day 80: waiting and dealing.

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