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Gifted Gab Takes R&B and G-Funk Back to Its Roots on ‘Gab the Most High’

“I like to sing about love. Not just trying to hit it.”

Gab is so classic. Sitting at a table in the PDA Lounge in Belltown, her natural curls bounce with the breeze as she greets everyone who enters and exits. She nonchalantly crumbles fresh herbs into a cigar while sending quick head-nods and giving the occasional dap to acquaintances and customers. She explains why a lot of contemporary singers’ music doesn’t count as true R&B. “What they call R&B now just breaks my heart,” she says. “I like to sing about love. Not just trying to hit it. It’s so vulgar now. I just can’t rock with it.”

With her new record Gab the Most High, Gabrielle Kadushin, aka Gifted Gab, the official first lady of Seattle’s Moor Gang, captures a sound reminiscent of hip-hop’s golden age. With tunes like “Gettin’ Smokay,” which samples the classic D.O.C. jam “It’s Funky Enough,” Kadushin’s record blends the herbal essence of her Seattle sound with G-Funk rhythms.

Kadushin’s disdain for overly sexualized R&B cuts was the catalyst for her approach to the genre. With “Show You Right,” which she admits is one of her favorites, she maintains the theme of love throughout as she seamlessly transitions back and forth from MC to vocalist. “I wish more people now made R&B songs like that,” she says. “There was some rapping, but it still had harmonies and bridges. It’s more than just chorus-verse-chorus.”

The record possesses a yin/yang quality, ricocheting between sensual and edgy music while conserving a balance that keeps the project cohesive. She goes from “Lil’ Side Piece,” a catchy track where she raps about keeping a secret lover in his place, to “Change Your Mind,” a jazzy ballad where she serenades a lover ensuring him that her love is superior to any he’s ever had. These different perspectives give a full-circle view into the layers of Kadushin.

The record’s R&B tracks are refreshing, but Kadushin is at her best when she enters full MC mode. She teamed with legendary Seattle producer Vitamin D to create a West Coast anthem on “Lit.” The chorus sounds like AutoTune, but Kadushin explains that she used the talk box. “It was the original that Zapp and Roger [Troutman] used,” she says. “It’s a tube connected to a base with a keyboard. I put the tube in my mouth and my producer played the keyboard. A lot of spit was involved, and you look really ridiculous but it sounds so filthy.”

The extra mile Kadushin goes for authenticity’s sake shows in her work. Her record is a legitimately fresh rendition of classic ’90s hip-hop—not just in style, but in substance. Gab the Most High album release show. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618, thecrocodile.com. $10. All ages. 8 p.m. Thurs., June 23.

music@seattleweekly.com

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