Girl Talk has been creating a lot of noise, from headlining one of the stages at last year’s Rock The Bells Festival to performing at this year’s Coachella. As a producer who has sampled everything from here to the next cosmos, Girl Talk (real name Gregg Michael Gillis) has spawned a career in his hometown of Pittsburgh by mixing and mashing various songs and vocals from several eras in creating seamless albums for the past decade. His latest, Broken Ankles, is a collaborative EP with Philadelphia rapper Freeway and it is a follow-up to Gillis’ 2010 All Day.
Broken Ankles is a grand departure from Gillis’ usual works. Primarily known for creating endless tracks that blend from one song to the next, this time he’s created a complete rap album with a focus on traditional song structure. He also has a featured artist to work alongside with and who better to work with than fellow Pennsylvanian and veteran rapper Freeway?
Girl Talk’s soulful sampling is perfected here and it very well complements Freeway’s ﬂow. The beats on this album hit hard and the style is reminiscent to sometime early 2000s. It’s hard to dismiss the inﬂuential sounds of Just Blaze and Kanye West.
Freeway’s aggression on the mic hasn’t turned down a notch since his days at Roc-A-Fella. On the ﬁrst single, “Tolerated,” the message is clear that he has “tolerated all the haters” he could stand. With Girl Talk demonstrating his expertise in hip-hop production, Freeway lets loose with his pride and experience in the rap game addressing to all listeners, “You talk this, I live this. I walk this, I breathe this.”
Now, everything Girl Talk is doing has already been done before. DJ Shadow’s unforgettable debut album, Endtroducing, layered various eclectic samples creating a musical mosaic that helped develop and introduce to the world “instrumental hip-hop.” The Dust Brothers left their mark in hip-hop history by producing the landmark album, Paul’s Boutique, sampling absolutely everything (well, almost) that was ever put on wax. World class DJ and producer Z-Trip has pioneered the mashup movement. What makes Girl Talk a headline act today (besides the fact it’s a new generation) is his approach to the music industry.
Equipped with the knowledge of keeping things playful, Gillis has created a stage name for himself that will be talked about from one stage to the next. Describing what he does is simple. It’s the name that will entrance new listeners before pressing play.There’s no doubt in his ability to produce quality beats. There’s no doubt in Freeway’s ability to rap as he reminds us all again that he was once Jay Z’s protege.
Broken Ankles is a small sampling to Girl Talk’s experimental side. While many hip-hop fans may be unfamiliar with him and turn away just off his stage name, the fact he’s a producer with a master craft in sampling, mixing and mashing all genres is worth taking the risk. The question is – will the core fans appreciate his latest effort? Will Gillis start working with other rappers? Whatever the answer may be, he has paved the way for his own success and everything seems to be paying off. Girl Talk will always be Girl Talk.—Andrew Lee