I never graduated high school. 1999 would have been my graduating year, but instead, i left Las Vegas (where i was attending school at the time) and moved back up to Seattle, WA. I met a crew of emcees at Westlake Center and that's where my higher education and journey with music really begins. We would meet up every single day to sharpen our freestyles, and everything i'm on now, can somehow be traced back to lessons learned and connections made when i used to freestyle on 4th & Pine every day. I wouldn't recommend this exact path to anyone coming up now... but it is what it is. Many mistakes were made, i hope you can learn from our past to not repeat it in the future.
This is not an album, this is not a mixtape... i call it a musical scrapbook.
Westlake: Class of 1999 was originally released in 2006, as a pre-cursor to the Lovework album. It is a collection of songs that i love, recorded between 2002-2006, that may not have ever seen the light of day unless i released a project like this. In many ways this project is more personal to me than any of my albums... as it documents my growth as an artist and human being, it features so much of my family from around the world, and it is a bit rough around the edges. This musical scrapbook features all original production by Moka Only, DJ Ian Head, Kitone, EarDrumz, DJ T-Bone Steak, Khazm, Jeff Spec and more. It also has guest vocals from Moka Only, Khingz, Toni Hill, SistaHailStorm, Xololanxinxo, Rise & Shine, Ishkan, Jeff Spec, Manik, Ndidi Cascade and much more. The songs were recorded in 3 cities that i call home (Seattle - Vancouver - Brooklyn) and i mastered it myself at The MAD Lab (which is also home). The new cover art features a photograph my cousin Meron took in 2007, it's a picture that represents a part of everyone that performed as "Gabriel Teodros" at the Bumbershoot Festival that year... and it's just a huge part of my musical family in one photo. Not all the faces from the cover are on the disc, not all the voices on the disc are on the cover, but i still feel like it was the most fitting cover as this project, my music, and my work has always been about something much bigger than one person. I have my community to thank for making me who i am... even at my best i'm still just a reflection of the people around me. A final sidenote: In the Ethiopian calendar, 2006 was 1999... which was another reason i chose the title. This is also about letting go of the past to make room for new beginnings.
I hope you enjoy the music as much as we did making it.
-- gabriel teodros