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Just few weeks after the release of his debut LP Live From The First, Blackout Hip Hop had the pleasure to catch up with Pearl Gates.

The album itself is a journey through Washington Heights, Manhattan, where Pearl Gates comes from. An amazing story-teller Pearl also perfectly blends his singing into the rapping scheme. The album just sounds incomplete skipping a track and it’s a guarantee that you’ll be replaying it more than once.

Check out the full interview after a jump (continue reading).

Following 2 EPs (Diamond Mind & Play This), you have just released your debut LP Live From The First, all of them via Below System Records. Were the EPs a ramp up for the complete project or just a part of the label deal?

I secured a release for Diamond Mind with Below System Records right after my very first show in Europe (Berlin), as they happened to be in the building that night and caught the live experience. As we built on the success of that EP, I had begun working on my album but also had this EP concept with the bro and super dope rapper Syll which turned out to be Play This. The label was excited about it and the rest was history. So ultimately both EPs were ideas I had brewing and wanted to get out so that people got familiar with the sound and concept styles before Live From The First hit the streets

The title of Live From The First refers to a street in Washington Heights, Manhattan. The video for the leading single Rocks Right Now took us to the street corners, too. There are skits on the album completely in Spanish. To me listening to the album from the beginning till the end is like strolling through the Washington Heights streets. Was this your idea when you started working on the project?

Definitely! This album is a journey through not only my life, but my neighborhood as well. The skits, conversations and storylines all came together to intentionally draw the listener into my world, and Washington Heights plays a big role in it. There’s just so much raw culture here, a lot of it has shaped who I am today and its great to be able to share it all through the music.

Torae, Geechi Suede & Cassidy are some of the features on the album. How did you hook up with them and decide to include them?

Cassidy was at Hot 97 radio station in New York when a mutual friend hit me and told me he wanted to come to the studio. When he came through, I played the beat which would become “Up Again” and the magic ensued. I was able to link with Geechi Suede through Sal Guod, who’s done a lot of production for him and also produced “Live Long” which Geechi jumped on and bodied. As far as Torae, Masta Ace linked us up and it was amazing to get him on “Weapon” and bless the record with a powerful verse.

We don’t see any eMC features on Live From The First?

Didn’t have any eMC features on this one but we still do a lot of work together. Aside from being on his most recent “Our World Today” album, definitely got something dope brewing with Wordsworth in the near future, me and Stricklin got some records in the cut as well. I was also on Ace’s last album “The Falling Season” so check those out and be on the lookout for more.

Your father was a singer and we can feel the influence with many hooks in the tracks. How do you manage the blend between rapping and singing?

My father was a merengue singer in the 80’s so naturally I grew up in a musical environment. Although I’ve always rapped since I started creating music, singing is definitely in my blood. I think I manage to put both sides together tastefully because of how important both sounds are to my overall process. I enjoy pushing the envelope, putting different styles in the pot and cheffin’ up the blends as uniquely as possible.

What’s the next step? Are you planning on a second video promoting the LP or scheduling a promo tour in Europe?

I’ll be out in Europe in November with Masta Ace and Juice Crew, going to be promoting the album and building out there. Another video has been in the works and will be released soon! In between time it’ll be more living, more creating and blackin’ out with this Hip Hop!

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