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The CU hip hop scene is especially vibrant these days, taking its cue from the punk rock days of old and building the community up from the underground. Every week we have a new showcase, a new artist, a new release, new headlines, etc.

One of the hardest-hitting of these new releases comes from Gatson. His newest work, “Draft Day” is a collection of fluid beats and a strong sense of urgency and vitality. The glittering instrumentals juxtaposed with the aggressive and challenging (but still hopeful) lyrics is an interesting stylistic choice, and keeps the listener on their toes.

In Gatson’s own words regarding this newest work: “I just want you to know this is not just another project. These are thoughts that I use to battle on a daily basis, of me feeling like my homie’s death could have been prevented if I would’ve got a deal when I was younger. Knowing that they believed in me more than I did, knowing that I didn’t see my own potential. But I always felt I could’ve prevented it, so ‘Draft Day’ symbolizes me beating my demons and finally understanding my purpose and that is me telling my stories, hoping I change someone else’s life.”

As one might imagine from the above description, the music here is intensely personal and deals with a wide range of subjects: tragedy, mental illness, and regret are on full, searing display. That being said, the overall tone of the album is one of hope, that things can only go up from here, and that life might try and keep you down, but you have to keep struggling. There is an authenticity to Gatson’s words here that is enthralling, his voice cracking with emotion as he lays it all out on the line.

Frankly, breaking this down lyrically would do it a disservice. This is a work of love, blood, sweat, tears, pain, and redemption. A turbulent piece of music that shines with talent, a diverse array of head-bobbing beats, and a whirlwind of different moods and subjects all touched on with grace and heaviness in equal measure.

As “Draft Day” isn't dropping until October 4th, you'll want to stay tuned. This is not an album to miss.

Booking information, music, and more can be found at Gatson’s website:

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Andrew Howie lives in Champaign and hides his pretentious music taste behind self-deprecating humor. If you seek radio hits, this is not the column you're looking for. Come here to find the acquired tastes, the obscure albums, the innovative and bizarre.