Mr. Garth-Culti-Vader releases new LP “Original Dankster”: Humboldt hip-hop scene growing like a weed
Myles Cochrane/Tri-City Weeklytimes-standard.com/
Posted: 05/08/2012 02:57:06 AM Album Review of Mr.Garth-Culti-Vader "ORIGINAL DANKSTER"
With his SUV parked outside of a monstrous greenhouse deep in the hills of Humboldt County, Garth might be found on any typical day seated inside his planthouse with a pen and a pad, a shotgun to his side. But the man is more complicated than one may assume at first sight.
Also known as Mr. Garth-Culti-Vader, the local rapper's creative contribution to the area runs deeper than a struggle to protect his medical marijuana. He's a fearless figure taking a firm stance with his First Amendment rights to make an musical statement that -- while the legality of something may be contested -- he has the right to share and stand up for his beliefs.
While each of Humboldt's most creative hip-hop artists bring their own unique audio-aspect to the table, it's no surprise that the successful breakouts all seem to have this common interest. Something to do with a triangle -- and not the steel percussion instrument. The unofficially coined “Emerald Triangle” that includes Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties and the area's claim-to-fame for some of the greatest and most potent cannabis has affected local popular and music culture to the point where one of the area's most successful musical acts is called “Potluck.”
Garth even joins Potluck and Absolute On End in a local hip-hop super-collective called Dank Alumni. After a year-and-a-half in the making, 'Vader's new LP “Original Dankster” is now out for Humboldt's listening
pleasure.”It's about being out in the hills, growing medical marijuana as a lifestyle and this underground culture that very few know about,” Hudson said. “It was a lot of work and dedication for something that you can lose your life and freedom over. My music tells the story of struggle of the hustle behind this modern-day prohibition.”
With the interior of a lush, pot-filled greenhouse as the album cover's backdrop, the centerpiece is an attractive cartoon-version of a purple-bikini-clad Humboldt weedstress caressing a firearm. But the audio on the disc is also attractive -- maybe even addictive -- to protagonists supporting an herbal-oriented alternative lifestyle.
The album's lead and title track boasts a catchy chorus that sets the tone for the record from the record's germinating stage: “I'm in the hills with a shotgun, f*** around with my plants and catch a hot one. I'll be here the whole season 'til the crops done. OD: Original Dankster.”
On the LP's third track, the psychedelic-beat backed “Start the Party,” Hudson delivers the album's first feature, and it's a big one: Bay Area star Mistah F.A.B. The track is one of the LP's best.
”Last October I went on a headlining nationwide tour with Potluck,” Garth said. “We played 35 shows in 28 states and our opening acts were Glasses Malone, Mistah F.A.B., Sunspot Jonz of Living Legends fame and Jornay. We all lived together on our tour bus for almost two months and we all became family after that.”
Others featured on the record include Vallejo's Celly Cel on the funky and horn-laced “Not a Player,” Jamaican reggae vocalist Stevie Culture on the fast-paced “Chronic King,” local reggae standout Ishi Dube and collective Dank Alumni on the dark and synth-centered on “To the Top” -- hands down the album's most catchy and addictive single, Jamaica reggae great Prezident Brown and Dube again on the acoustic-guitar rap-ballad “Champion,” local rapper-singer James Boy and Dank Alumni on the soulful “Floatin' Away,” Eureka rapper Hiway on the trip-hop groove “The Reason” and, finally, Sunspot Jonz of Living Legends and many more on the record's finale, “It Doesn't Matter.” The track concludes the LP with a bit of honest wisdom. “At the end of the day we could all be holding a sign that says: Help a brother out.”
For anyone looking for the perfect LP to provide the soundtrack to the life and times of a modern-day ganja-guerilla, look no further -- “Original Dankster” is an emerald in the rough.
Garth is a veteran of the Humboldt hip-hop game. In addition to the cast of well-known characters on his new LP, the rapper has also collaborated with Tech N9ne on occasion -- a big star out of Missouri who recently came back to town. Their song “Keep It Hott” (sic) is a club-banger that finds the two stars on fire creatively.
”Potluck used to tour with Tech about six years ago before he was as big as he is now,” Hudson said. “I wanted to do a song with him back then because I loved the way he used his words and knew he was going to be the next big thing in years to come and...I was right. Tech N9ne is the No. 1 independent artist in the world right now.”
Mr.Garth-Culti-Vader has also performed with the likes of Kid Rock, Cypress Hill and many others. East Coast rapper Redman can even be seen giving 'Vader a shout-out in a trailer for his new album. But the rapper's 15-year-and-counting career hasn't all been a smooth-running highlight reel of euphoric, star-studded moments. What many in Humboldt don't know is that he was in a major car accident in 2008.
”I have a song and music video out called 'Work It Out' that tells you the story of what happened,” Garth said. “I suffered from traumatic brain injury and it made it harder to write my music and even finish a sentence. I still have a hard time to this day putting a lot of things together and making sense of it all, but that's what builds me stronger everyday.”
It's that sort of perseverance and passion that many, despite their views on our local marijuana culture, can rally behind and support.
”Original Dankster” can be found in Eureka at The Works, Humboldt Clothing, Stuff 'N Thing, Banzai Surf-N-Skate, Humboldt Republic, S.T.I.L. and North Coast Role Playing, in Arcata at People's Records, D.T.A., Pacific Paradise, Humboldt Clothing and The Pleasure Center, in Garberville at Hemp Connection and online at diamondbackpresents.com.
Garth concluded with this last bit of advice for young and aspiring Humboldt rappers: “Be yourself, share your life and thoughts without a worry of what anybody else thinks and do it because you love to do it and not because you want to be a star.”