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Harry Potter and the Blackalicious factor

Rapper Gift of Gab talks about a new album and fan Daniel Radcliffe ahead of Whistler show



So, Harry Potter knows how to throw one of your rhymes..."

Gift of Gab, the lyrical half of Californian rap duo Blackalicious, laughs.

In October, Daniel Radcliffe performed the group's tongue-twisting song "Alphabet Aerobics," complete with American accent, on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

The YouTube clip has over 33 million hits so far.

"I loved it, I loved it," says Gab (a.k.a. Timothy Parker). "The fact that it was Harry Potter? He did a really good job. The thing is, now there are millions of people aware that there is a group called Blackalicious. That was definitely not the case before."

He notes that you can't pay for promotion like that.

"It's definitely been a blessing," he says, adding that he hasn't spoken to the British actor.

And it turns out that it has gone a bit viral, with a Texas TV reporter trying "Alphabet Aerobics" out and others, too.

So now Blackalicious is planning an "Alphabet Aerobics" competition on their website in the next month or so. Make a video and visit blackalicious.com to post it or watch the efforts of others.

In the meantime, the real rapper, Gab, and his other half, Chief Xcel, are performing at the Garibaldi Lift Company in Whistler on Thursday, Jan. 15. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the first 100, $20 after that and are available at the GLC or at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/blackalicious.

They were last here in the summer, performing at the last Two Acre Shaker.

"We love it. From Whistler, to Edmonton, to Vancouver, to Toronto, we love coming to Canada. We get a lot of love out there," Gab says.

The finishing touches are going into their latest album, Emoni, which comes out in April. The title means "faith" in Swahili.

Blackalicious' last album came out in 2007 and both Gab and Xcel worked on solo projects and other collaborations.

"We're really excited about this body of work. It's definitely a progression from what we've done. We've definitely grown as artists."

What does it feel like to test your skills with all sorts of new partnerships and then bring what you've learned back to Xcel, who has been a friend since high school?

Gab says: "It's like travelling, you know? I love my city, I love the Bay Area, but I love Canada and Paris and Brazil. You always learn, as an artist, when you work with different people, because you start to see what their process is and how it may differ from yours or the other person you work with. It helps you to grow."

Gab says Emoni "is definitely a Blackalicious record," but added that the musicality, concepts and rhymes will show that growth.

"To me, if it's not the best it is one of our best bodies of work," he says.

They expect to have their first single from the album out in February.

As well, Gab has been on a waiting list for a new kidney since 2012 and this has impacted the style of the album, he says. He currently gets dialysis several times a week.

"That is why the album means 'faith.' At first I wondered if I would still be able to do music. But as my body adjusted to it and I learned the right way to live, it has gotten a lot better. To the point where we've just finished a three-week tour of America," he says.


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