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L.A. Rapper Gavlyn Comes to BackBar SoFa

In Music
FEMALE GAZE: Gavlyn  bridges 20 years of hip-hop history with skill and swag.

FEMALE GAZE: Gavlyn bridges 20 years of hip-hop history with skill and swag.

Strong feminine voices in hip-hop have been few and far between, but where they have popped up they’ve elevated the genre. “Let Me Watch,” MF DOOM’s greatest bout of storytelling across his entire career succeeds because the events are fleshed out by Apani B breaking it off with him and telling her side of things. And Lauryn Hill doubled as the Fugees’ resident crooner while also proving she could rap circles around either of her groupmates.

L.A. rapper Gavlyn isn’t concerned with finding a place for a female emcee in today’s rap landscape. Despite a sound that recalls East Coast lady rappers, which rose to prominence near the end of rap’s golden age in the late ’90s, she’s proven she won’t be boxed in by it.

The way Joey Bada$$ reconstructed the sound of an era in rap he didn’t live through with his breakout project 1999, Gavlyn adapts some of the tropes from hip-hop’s prime, while creating a niche that might not have existed without her.

Listening through Gavlyn’s catalog from the past five years reveals her trajectory as an artist.

Her 2013 single “Guilty Pleasure” is a perfect example of her early aesthetic, where songs double as time capsules.

Pressing play launches a haze of chopped up trumpets that seem to hang in the air above the verse and a boom-bap beat that runs deep underneath.

When she moves away from old school beats, as she does on her current single, this year’s “Calling,” she doesn’t sound out of place.

She rides DJ Hoppa’s lush production with a laid back cadence that speeds and slows as the song progresses. Colorful keys and misplaced blips sound off in the background as she switches flows and chants the chorus over a bed of trap snares.

The two songs sound like they could have been recorded 20 years apart but both styles are represented on her newest project, last year’s Why Wait. On it, Gavlyn oscillates between straight up gritty ’90s New York and the more melodic sound that began taking hold of the genre in the early 2000’s with ease.

The emcee comes to San Jose next week as part of the Slap Frost Summer Vacation Tour where she’ll perform material from the new album.

Gavlyn
Jul 12, 9pm, $10
BackBar SoFa, San Jose

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