We don't want to begrudge the winners of music prizes at this year's Indiana Cannabis Awards: Rich Hardesty for best record (Culturally Insane) The Gitmos for best song ("I Wanna Grow Weed"), Andy Salge as solo performer of the year, Arlin Trout as musician/activist of the year. They're all fine musicians and stalwart foot soldiers in the fightfor re-legalization.
But it's an oversight to exclude J. Brookinz from the awards. The local producer, one of the creative minds behind Heavy Gun Recordings, lives and breathes pot.
Take last year's The Gateway Drug: THC, a local star-studded, pot-themed comp that inspired a "theatrical" adaptation at Locals Only (more of a revue, it featured performances by most of the album's special guests, all of whom happened to visit Brookinz at his home during the course of a couple hours to smoke a blunt and deter him from calling a lady friend).
Or witness to his work in the weed-related industries: Brookinz is an employee at the Broad Ripple head shop 20 Past 4 and More, another Indiana Cannabis Award winner, in the Community Service category.
And he's still working at it: I reached Brookinz at his job this Monday, the day of the release of Gateway2, his follow-up to last year's The Gateway Drug: THC.The new 11-track collection, recorded during a 48 hour span at a practice space belonging to the indie rock band The Kemps, features 28 special guests, including a who's-who of local emcees: Ace One, Andy D, Oreo Jones, Rusty Redenbacher, Mic Sol, Yeti-One, alpha.live and others I won't mention for reasons of space, not talent.
Built on psych rock guitar riffs and peppered with phone messages — including a plea by one of Brookinz's friends, Young Carolyn, to remove Brookinz's smelly crew from her house — Gateway2 isn't solely concerned with pot: There's plenty of high-spirited japery concerning "honey badgers," "future ninjas" and the importance of family, perhaps because the family that smokes together, stays together.
But a cloud of smoke hovers over the whole record, which is relaxed, non-combative and packed with fun rhymes. And there are plenty double- or single-entendre tunes concerning Brookinz's object of infatuation: the dreamy "Stuck" ("don't wanna move / not coming down till the mother ship comes around"), the Little Shop of Horrors-inspired "Food (Feed Me)" ("Seymour, I need more / Seymour, feed me").
It all sounds like fun, and Brookinz says it was: "I recorded people I'd never even seen before. It was just that type of atmosphere. People would come in and listen to beats, vibe with other artists, smoke, drink, record, then disappear into the madness." According to Brookinz, one guy completely disappeared: Tag, an emcee in the group MSK, who took an "infamous weed nap," passing out on a couch for roughly 15 hours after being laid low by a vaporizer.
Still, Brookinz emphasizes the challenges he gave himself when creating the new album. First there was his collaborator: the first record was ostensibly a solo effort, while Grey Granite, one of Brookinz's partners in crime at Heavy Gun Recordings, joined in for its sequel. "He's super-creative, he pushes me to be a more creative producer — plus, he puts up with my bullshit," Brookinz said of Granite.
And he had to look deeper into his own record collection for this latest project: "On the first Gateway, I sampled all Midwest soul and funk records. That was easy. I can sample funk and soul in my sleep. I've only sampled psych a couple of times and I wanted to dive deeper into that style of rock. Plus it adds a sense of uniformity to the project as a whole."
Brookinz and his cohorts will hold a Gateway2 release show April 20 at Rock Lobster (from 9 p.m, $3 cover). Expect plenty of special guests and turntable work by Old Soul's DJ Sapp.
While we recommend checking out the Gateway2 party, The 4.20 Tent Party at The Mousetrap (3 p.m.-3 a.m., $5) is the day's can't-miss show, featuring 20 performers on two stages (the indoor one you know and love as well as the titular outdoor tent). The lineup thus far: Twin Cats, Rich Hardesty Band, Slater Hogan, Midwest Hype, Jackola, Psynapse vs. Hollowpoint, Rudy Kizer, Steady B, Max Allen Band, Ike & Rory, Mike B & OhBeOne, Brian Summers, Justin House & Andrew, Kyu-Bik, Bassiq, Wesley Clay, Kid K.
Also of note is the ReLegalize Indiana Awareness Show (9 p.m., $5), a showcase at the Melody Inn hosted by the same people who brought you April 19's Cannabis Awards, with entertainment by Blackfoot Gypsies, Astro Nixon and Cosmic Laughter.