Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano and can spit molten lava at any given moment. When it goes off all you can do is… Gasp.
8,525 miles away sits the 50th US State of Hawaii. A seemingly idyllic paradise.
Flip the coin and you have the poverty-stricken streets.
Our next featured artist has seen both sides of the coin but admits he comes from the latter…
Where are you from and what brought you to Malta?
I’m from the Honolulu, Hawaii. I lived many places, but I’ve always came back to Hawaii, that’s where I call home and that’s where my mother lives. They show mad love to me and it’s a great place to grow up.
As for what brought me to Malta… good question! Well I was already in Europe out in Macedonia for the last few years with my lady and her fam and working as a freelance Motion graphic designer and Video Editor when I got an opportunity to work for one of the top igaming companies in Malta. They flew me out and the rest was history.
Where does the name Gasp come from?
Gasp came from when I started writing graffiti and doing battle raps back around ’08. It fit my style, so I ran with it.
3. How old were you when you first started rapping?
My first rap I wrote was at 14, it was lit but I really didn’t like recording for the longest time. I used to be a pure freestyle artist. I loved coming up with fly shit off the top and creating something that no one would be able to hear again. It’s kind of like how a Tibetan monk feels about creating those sand mandala’s out of sand only to destroy it once it’s finished. Times change and so has my approach to music.
It wasn’t ’til I linked up with my boy Noah Neeves in 2010 and recorded my first joint. Looking back that shit was trash but at the time I thought it was hot shit! No joke, lol
2012 I recorded Raw Sushi mix tape with my boy Loco Kidd which you can find on my soundcloud.
How would you describe your musical style?
Man, my style depends on my mood and right now on some raw and rugged shit. This comes from all the crazy shit I’ve been through and lived. I draw all my material from real life experiences, shit that I’ve seen, people I’ve met while on the street shit that I’ve done. I make shit that I want to hear and that’s it. I wouldn’t be so quick to put me in a box because you might be shocked with what I dropped next…
On that note also have a project I’m working on with a really dope producer Mav Black who usually makes dark techno vibes, but we are cooking up a sound of our own with a side project we’re doing, and I also have some work with another U.S. artist ROB VADER coming soon as well.
5.What was your life like growing up in Hawaii and what made you leave?
Man, it’s a trip. Hawaii is a beautiful island with amazing weather and people. That being said there really is another side to the coin. To live in Hawaii is to live in the struggle. Its one of the most expensive states in the nation with high rates of homelessness, drug abuse and crime. People can’t afford the high cost of living because jobs don’t pay enough. People either get three jobs to live, do drugs to cope or resort to crime to get what they want. When my mom got evicted from her flat, I ended up on the streets at a pretty young age. I was doing all kinds of crazy stuff just to make bread and take care of myself. Everything from slanging pills, racking clothes from the mall to stay fresh and painting walls around the city every night and sleeping in the beach park. We had a whole community of grimy street kids back then and we all just went on missions everyday hustling and making money in the day then celebrating our spoils in the night time getting smashed.
Eventually you want more out of life and you either stay doing the same or you change. One day an opportunity came for me to get out of that life, so I took it and never looked back. I still got love for the islands and I’ll be back in the future.
Do you have an alter ego when performing?
I guess you can say that. As far as my demeanor is I’m pretty laidback now a days but as I said the lyrics are 100% real. Listen and you can feel the pain and truth in every word.
Hawaii is of course a small island although larger in size compared to Malta. Do you think there are any similarities in the hip-hop scene in Hawaii vs Malta? For Example, something that’s within the lyrics or even a beat that would stand out to you and tell you that an artist is from a small island rather than the mainland?
In Hawaii we have people who are using hip hop as a means of activism against oppression, then you got some making trap, boom bap, cloud rap and then you got some making radio hits. Its all diverse back home a lot of my friends are doing big things for the scene and I feel its only a matter of time before it gets recognized. I think being from an island you are isolated from the rest of world, so you tend to see that the scene’s both here and in Malta become diverse with people pulling influences from all over the world. Hawaii and Malta share similar problems with construction taking over rising rents so I can see rappers talking about the same problems.
Give us a tip on an artist to keep an eye on coming from Hawaii?
A tip on a Maltese artist to look out for and why?
Is there anything you look for when seeing an artist perform live? Energy
Any dream collaborations?
Datkid, Blabbermouf, or Tha YNOE I fux with them heavy.
What’s next for Gasp?
I’m trying to play festivals and tour Europe eventually. As for now I’m going to keep grinding and putting out content.
Any closing words?
Much love to Malta and to all the artists here. Get up and stay up! Oh and follow me on Spotify
Words by: Ian Hinksman