El Gant announced himself on the New York City underground scene in the early aughts. The emcee’s latest track, “The Three Amigos,” sees him joining lyrical forces with Ill Bill and Chris Webby over a perky, guitar-laden Jack Of All Trades production. You can stream the track exclusively below — and read on to hear El Gant plotting to update the ’80s comedy of the same name, paying tribute to his new verbal cohorts, and reminiscing over Uncle Howie.
What sort of vibe were you going for with “The Three Amigos”?
To me, the track is about two artists I respect on different levels: There’s Ill Bill who’s a legend from Brooklyn and then you have Chris Webby who’s like an up and comer. To get them both on the track is phenomenal, both as a fan and a fellow artist. The track itself is some aggressive boom-bappery, like some real aggressive drums. I wanted to take elements about what was great from the golden era and evolve them into something new and keep hip-hop moving.
What do Ill Bill and Chris Webby bring to the track?
Well Bill is just a legendary wordsmith. Every one of his verses, if you listen to them in depth, every single word is important and there’s no fluff in his verses. It’s just real Brooklyn! As far as Chris Webby, he’s taken from the past and he’s on a whole other level right now — he’s known as a commercial artist but he has a lot of respect for hip-hop in general. His flow is completely different to Bill and me and I think that’s what really makes the track.
When did you first meet Ill Bill?
The first time was in 2005, back-stage through a mutual friend at a show in Poughkeepsie. We talked for a while and not just about hip-hop but also he has a love for thrash and metal music and we had a common denominator through that. We became friends from there and I had the pleasure of hanging out with Uncle Howie before he passed away.
What’s your fondest memory of Uncle Howie?
It would be a session that we did for a song called “Metal Music” that was on Bill’s mixtape I’m A Goon. We recorded it in Queens and I got to spend a day with him; I picked him and Bill up in Brooklyn, drove them to the studio, had a couple of drinks and just got to hang out and talk to them. People don’t know Howie had a lot more going on in his head than they think — he was a real interesting dude. I got to spend like six hours with him just hearing him telling old stories about Brooklyn and whatnot.
Is “The Three Amigos” song named after the movie?
Oh, yeah, I’m a huge comedy fan, especially of those ’80s comedies. We were joking around about the track and I knew it was only a matter of time I knew I wanted to call something “The Three Amigos” and this seemed to fit perfectly.
If you could update the movie and have it starring Bill, Chris and yourself, where would you set it?
I’d do an urban version. I’d do something ridiculous like have it in Brooklyn, like go back to the ’70s Brooklyn after the white flight and right around the time when The Warriors came out. I think that would be hilarious.
Finally, what can people expect from your upcoming Beast Academy album?
Basically, it’s a tight-knit package ’cause it’s only eight tracks. It’s about introducing myself back as an artist and I’m paying homage to the golden era, boom-bap style of music I grew up on while also showing that, artistically, I’m continuing to evolve as an artist and an emcee. The album just kinda sets everything up for me to start releasing a barrage of music. A lot of people say they’re upset with the current style of hip-hop but I think it’s something we need to embrace — we need to learn from the past and move to the future.