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With three albums of material archiving Indianapolis music and pop culture, J. Brookinz will close the books on his Gateway series on April 20.
The project began three years ago when Brookinz distributed beats to friends via email and asked them to return the tracks with recorded verses. What resulted was eight tracks and 27 minutes worth of rhymes about smoking weed featuring Naptown heavy weights like alpha.live, Com.Dot, Grey Granite, Oreo Jones, Rusty Redenbacher, The Night Riders and Yeti-One. The album was released at now-defunct Locals Only, billed as "Gateway -- The Musical," and presented the songs and accompanying skits from a mock setup of Brookinz's foggy living room.
Upping the ante in 2011, Brookinz enlisted the assistance of fellow Heavy Gunner Grey Granite to help develop the concept for Gateway 2 a lock in. The duo secured a house with a DIY recording studio in the basement, cleared their calendars for a weekend in early April, and sent out mass texts inviting the who's who of Indianapolis hip-hop to swing through at their convenience to write and record a verse on the spot. The spontaneity of the premise yielded 42 minutes and ten tracks -- 11, if we count Young Carolyn's hilarious opening skit -- of synergistic music that was less about weed and more about Naptown culture.
Last year's followup to the lock-in created less of a stir than the original and drew from a slightly smaller pool of talent, but produced an equally engaging, Southern rock-inspired album titled GAT3WAY: Rebel Music. A new class of Indy emcees joined Gateway's roster of hip-hop veterans; the spotlight on new favorites like Sirius Blvck, Dorsh, Agene tha GOD, Boss L and Chief Green.
All good things must come to an end, though. Brookinz has decided against hosting another lock-in for 2013. He also recently announced he's pulling the plug on what's become an April tradition in the local music scene. He cites personal sanity as one of the key reasons he's laying the Gateway project to rest.
"I don't know if everybody understands how insane the process of making these albums are," he says. "It's an organized clusterfuck. Getting 20 or 30 people to do anything in life is hard. Trying to get 20 or 30 rappers to come together and make an album in a couple weeks takes an act of sheer will power so powerful it could move a mountain."
Fortunately, moving mountains is the only thing that thrills Brookinz, and he's not quitting Gateway to rest on his laurels. Expect to see Brookinz and the Heavy Gun crew exploring new ideas and pushing more boundaries in the coming months including a solo album of instrumentals from Brookinz; new albums from Grey Granite, Freddie Bunz and Boss L; and the possibility of a Ghost Town Gang and Heavy Gun collaborative project.
Even though he's not releasing a new Gateway album this year, Brookinz isn't about to let April 20 slide by without a party. Join him and the rest of the Heavy Gun crew at Sabbatical this Saturday night to celebrate the notorious stoner holiday and to salute Brookinz on a job well done.
"I'm not going to miss the stress," he says, of the Gateway project's conclusion. "But I want everybody to know I appreciate everybody whom I've ever had the pleasure of making and sharing music with during this crazy process."