Akron Rapper Releases New Album, “Blakkamania!” Inspired by His Wrestling Heroes
by Brittany Nader
Akron hip-hop artist Geronimo Blakk, or G-Blakk, debuted his new album, Blakkamania!, in October. The seven-track release is the second installment in his conceptual Trakk Season Series. Blakkamania! was inspired by the rapper’s days growing up watching professional wrestling and wrestling’s influence on an entire generation.
Brittany Nader: You released your new album, Blakkamania!, last month. It’s also the second album you dropped this year. What was it like putting together two releases in that span of time, and how does this material differ from the first installment of your Trakk Season series?
Geronimo Blakk: It wasn’t as difficult as it may seem. I’ve written and recorded quite a bit of material, and the first installment of Trakk Season is a sort of compilation of some of the best tracks that didn’t make it onto [my upcoming album] The Soundtrakk. The second installment, Blakkamania!, is a project I made last winter as an exercise in having fun making music again. So, if anything, I’d say the biggest difference between the two is Blakkamania! was something I literally just made for fun.
BN: I read that the concept of Blakkamania! revolves around your dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. Why was wrestling so important to you?
GB: For me, wrestling was a safe haven, somewhere I could escape a world that didn’t understand me. I was never one of those people who got upset to find out wrestling was fake. I was more intrigued by the fact there existed a place where the rules didn’t apply and everyone was extraordinary.
BN: How did it inspire the material on this record?
GB: The concept of this album came about when me and some friends were watching old WWF reruns and reminiscing on how some of our best memories revolved around wrestling. Around this time, I was looking for inspiration to finish The Soundtrakk, and my friend-slash-manager Stroke did a freestyle and said a line about “blakkamaniacs,” playing off Hulk Hogan’s name for his fan base, [Hulkamaniacs].
I really liked it, so I asked him if I could put a verse on it, and that became the second song on the album, “Super Heavyweights.” I enjoyed that record so much [that] from there, I just implemented a more freestyle approach to my writing and made a few more songs that fit the wrestling motif.
BN: You’ve been making music since you were 15. Can you tell me a little about how being in a kid in Akron influenced your rap style and what influences have shaped your sound today?
GB: One of the benefits of growing up in the Midwest, I think, is that we kind of have access to all of the various regional “sounds,” and our sound is a sort of amalgamation of them all. For someone like me who grew up in a very musically eclectic household, having that inherent freedom to pull from various sounds, I believe really helped my development as an artist. Ice Cube was my first favorite rapper, and Nas was the first emcee to make me feel like that’s what I want to do. So, I think that’s where my penchant for “conscious” rap comes from, but sonically I think Kanye West and Jay-Z probably influence my sound the most.
BN: How do you feel about the rap/hip-hop scene in Akron and your influence on it?
GB: I think the Akron music scene right now is stronger that I’ve ever seen, personally, from talent to the level of interest in general. It’s exciting because we’ve always had a lot talent with no platforms, and now we have some legitimate platforms being built to help artists showcase their talent.
BN: You collaborated with several local artists on this release, including Floco Torres and Nardi Cool. Have you contributed to other projects for performers in the area?
GB: I did a verse on Lokii 2 Eyes’ last album, Take Flight. I have a verse on BL’s upcoming project, and I have a couple verses on Nardi Cool’s new album. I’m also looking forward to collaborating a lot more in the future. One of my goals is to do a record with Red Rose Panic.
BN: While listening to your album, I felt that “Million Dollar Man” could be a clear radio hit. Can you talk a little about the process of writing and putting that track together?
GB: I was actually really depressed at the time, so I was listening to beats because when I’m down, I vent through my music. As I’m listening, I get to this one [beat], and when it started, it just felt like a dark cloud setting in, just this really heavy wave coming. And then, all of a sudden, the beat drops, and it’s like the sky clears up and the sun is shining brighter than it ever has.
At first I didn’t intend on making a song to it. I just really enjoyed hearing it, until I realized that the joy this beat made me feel caused me to totally forget how bad I felt to begin with. And then it clicked: I had to make this song because the same thing I was going through, someone else is too. If I can help facilitate that level of joy to somebody who needs it, then it’s my responsibility to.
BN: Are you working on new material?
GB: I’m currently in the studio recording my third album, The Soundtrakk, which is the culmination of seven years of work, and I’m very proud of the album it turned out to be. It’s so layered and sonically rich, while being very vulnerable and open lyrically.
Full disclosure: Floco Torres, who appears on Blakkamania!, is The Devil Strip’s community development director.
Blakkamania! is available to stream or purchase at g-blakk.bandcamp.com.
Brittany Nader has been a professional writer and marketer in Akron for the last five years.
(featured photo courtesy of Josh Land, LSquared Photos)