Courtesy of the artist

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, $10. All ages. 8 p.m. Thurs., June 23.

More in Music

Capitol Hill Block Party Artist Panel Series 2019

The Capitol Hill Block Party Artist Panel Series 2019 is free (no… Continue reading

Golden Idols will hold their “Uneasy” EP release party at 9 p.m. June 29 at Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. NW, Seattle. Tickets are $10. Courtesy photo
Golden Idols will release new EP

Seattle quartet returns with ‘Uneasy’

Ian Terry / The Herald Kevin Morby performs at the Historic Everett Theatre as part of the Fisherman’s Village Music Festival in downtown Everett on Saturday, March 31. Photo taken on 03312018
Travis Thompson, Wolf Parade headline Fisherman’s Village fest

The Everett Music Initiative festival, May 16-18 in Everett, will showcase more than 50 acts.

TacocaT got you a new song for Valentine’s Day. Photo by Helen Moga
TacocaT Returns to Dance With Its Seattle Drag Pals in the “Grains of Salt” Video

The Seattle rock quartet’s new album ‘This Mess Is a Place’ comes out May 3 on Sub Pop.

Brandi Carlile needs more mantel space after taking winning three Grammys on Sunday night.
Seattle Cleans Up at the Grammys

Brandi Carlile, the Seattle Symphony, and Chris Cornell combine to take home six awards.

Pickwick’s Galen Disston stars as Drew in 5th Ave’s ‘Rock of Ages.’ Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Pickwick’s Galen Disston Takes the Stage in ‘Rock of Ages’

The local rocker steps outside his comfort zone for 5th Avenue Theatre’s ’80s hair metal jukebox musical.

Caroline Shaw. Photo by Kait Moreno
Caroline Shaw’s Classical Music Fan Fiction

Seattle Symphony premieres the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer’s postmodern take on Beethoven.

Quadrant and Iris performing at Le Bikini nightclub in France. Photo by Thomas Feugas
Seattle’s First Family of Drum and Bass

Leigh and Karen Caplan (Quadrant and Iris) are key producers in Seattle thriving underground electronic music scene.

On Being Trans: J Mase III Creates a Space to Feel Welcome

The Seattle artist hosts a three-day event at Gay City.

All Star Opera. Photo by Rachel Koll
All Star Opera Embarks on a World Tour of Seattle

The hip-hop/soul band’s second annual tour of the city’s venues with local artists raises money for homeless women and children.

Top 10 Albums of 2018

The best music of the year.

Travis Thompson’s Ride From Burien to the “Corner Store” and Beyond

The local hip-hop up-and-comer and Macklemore protege readies to headline The Showbox.