Gilles finds groove being a "Righteous Ratchet"
MC's storytelling shines through on latest project
Like any artist, Gilles has his quirks. To be fair, they're more like hobbies or random points of interest. For instance, when you walk into the Buckhead high-rise that the full-time lawyer and rapper calls home, he's quick to show you his collection of assorted buttons, and the portraits of famous women including Eartha Kitt, Pam Grier, and Sophia Loren, that form a collage on his living room wall.
Almost as if he's aware of how his eccentricity might catch a stranger off guard, the Brooklyn-born, Atlanta-raised MC jokes that "ain't nothing normal about a rapping lawyer."
Unlike most up-and-coming MCs with clandestine side hustles, Gilles' day job as an entertainment, real estate, and civil litigation attorney gives him the luxury of the steady income needed to get an independent music career off the ground. The 29-year-old's first notable solo foray after graduating from Howard University's law school is his 2013 debut Successfully Lost. The project was a mixed bag of rhymes centered on an artist with one foot in the studio and the other in the courtroom. Successfully Lost, coupled with Gilles legal background, earned him a feature on Black Enterprise. Even with national recognition, the sense was that the music was decent, but the selling point was the dichotomy of Gilles being an artist whose quantity of musical content might be surpassed only by the amount business casual articles of clothing in his closet. Thankfully for Gilles, who has drawn comparisons to Childish Gambino, B.o.B, and Wale, his latest offering, Super., out Nov. 18, is a step in the right direction toward branching out from being just a lawyer who happens to rap.
For the past year, Gilles has been tinkering with the project — adding songs, scrapping some tracks altogether, switching the order around, etc. The end result is Gilles' most cohesive release yet. At 12 tracks (with two bonus cuts), where Super. succeeds is in its storytelling. Raised in a single-parent household with his older brother, Gilles says conceptually he's "very middle of the road."
"I talk about conversations, I talk about relationships, I talk about ambition, I talk about debt," Gilles says. "Artistically, that's when I really let my quirks shine through."
True to that last sentiment, standout cuts such as "Windows Down, Tinted Out" tell the story of a kid who grew up on free lunch in elementary school, and later would "ride two trains listening to 2 Chainz — Playaz Circle era." On "Future 4 Wii," Gilles taps into his vulnerability in regard to his dealings with the opposite sex. When he says "I'm a lawyer, still don't speak to police," on the Kid Cannibal-produced "Straight Like That," it's hard not to laugh at Gilles' everyman honesty, which complements the absurdity of such lines as "Got some tear drops tatted on my condoms" in "Bodies." Whereas most rappers would appear to be lyrical schizophrenics when jumping from nice guy to cold-blooded asshole (I'm looking at you, T.I. vs. T.I.P.), Gilles' music thrives when he skips between the two personalities, hence the title of his most recent single, "The Righteous Ratchet."
It's obvious from spending time with the MC — who doesn't drink or smoke — that he's more than comfortable embracing his oddball personality, and that carries over into the music. And Gilles' response to being compared to other young rappers with a mean bow tie collection and a conscience? Like his lyrics, the rebuttal is quick-witted.
"Anyone that is moderately articulate and has respected at least one woman in their life, people are going to say I'm them," he says. "As long as they ain't wack — I'll take it."