Ghetto Chilldren is: Vitamin D (Derrick Brown) B-Self (Bill Rider)
Their sound is jazzy and smooth, laid over strong beats and intelligent lyrics; "ghettoriffick vibrations" is how they describe it. Both Brown, 18, and Rider, 20, rap and produce, and they share the same taste in the old school: Ramsey Lewis, John Coltrane, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Cold Crush Brothers.
They rap about poverty, growing up, wanting to be successful. In "Odd Ball Sindrome," they rap about being strong to yourself:
Never contemplate the placement in the social ladder/'Cause it really doesn't matter/You die an early death trying to play the mad hatter.
And in "Questions," they sample De La Soul and a lecture on slavery before segueing into:
Understand I'm a black man with frustrations/In a world of troubles and no explanations.
Brown formed the group in 1991 while at Garfield High School with Rider. Over the years, the group has gone through some changes, but Brown and Rider have always been the musical core. Brown grew up listening to his father play jazz guitar, and Rider took classes in piano, French horn, and trombone.
Recently, Rider took some time off from his job in a Mount Baker cafe, and he and Brown chatted about the music.
What do you like about performing?
Rider: The energy you get from seeing something you wrote in the basement being performed live.
Also, what makes us different is that we take a more laid-back approach to our audience. We don't ask that much. We're not like other groups who have to get the crowd going and dancing.
Brown: Yeah, jumping and twirling.
Rider: Do all kinds of leaping.
Brown: All we ask is that you listen to the music, kick back and relax.
Rider: And gyrate, if you want.
What's the hip-hop scene like?
Rider: The scene is extremely undernurtured. People think that a hip-hop show is going to be violent . . . but you can go to the Langston Hughes (Cultural Arts Center) and see some quality hip hop and there won't be any violence.
A lot of hip hop is thought of as controversial, it's a lot of gangsta type, shoot 'em up. But it's a double-edged sword. If you're not shoot-'em-up like, people say, "They're not real." But other people are glad that you sound different, it's like a breath of fresh air.
We want to introduce a new avenue for hip hop. There's Mix-a-Lot, obviously, and his clan, and what we're interested in is bringing a new type of flavor here.
Brown: Exposing a new type of sound.
Rider: Hey, can I say hi to some people? I want to say peace to Blind Council, Phat Mob and Sincimilla.
Brown: I want to say hi to Sugar Shadow, and RMF, and CPS, and to Sol. And Six in the Clip.
We have to say hi to everyone, because we're getting interviewed by The Seattle Times and not everyone can be, so we might as well get them in here, too.
Where to hear them: Ghetto Chilldren will play RCKCNDY Jan. 21.