It’s been awhile now and you keep grilling that copper-toned brother five rows in front of you. You know dude is real with the bars, but you’re scratching your head at the way he plays the cut all low key. This can’t be the same cat who melts mics like glaciers under a globally warmed sky. Look at him in his dress vest and crispy clean Uptowns. He’s too cool for that.
The master of ceremony calls him up to the stage. He’s dapping up heads two and three at a time, and more than a few cute bitties hawk-eye him on his way up. But hold up. While all this is going on, he’s transforming, Voltron-style. The beat drops and dude clutches the mic. He starts to spit. That’s when you realize that you’ve just been Ginsu-knifed up by a quiet riot.
If ever there was an artist to stylishly straddle the line between pop and poetry, it’s most def Angelo. The nineteen-year old rapper can bounce from naughty to knowledge like a Porsche from 0 to 60. As he preps Hip-Hop for his debut EP Breakfast of a Champion, a mesh of fashionista beats and balladeer bars, the game would be hard-pressed to overlook this brewing of a perfect storm.
So where exactly is this cornrowed Romeo going? That’s easy: wherever the limelight takes him. After all, how many folks can say they rocked the stage at both Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden before their twentieth birthday? Not many. This young buccaneer has both the experience and the firm handshake to back it up.
Born October 9, 1991 to Jamaican and Italian parents, Angelo Pancrazio Gulotta grew up in Bloomington, California, a hop, skip, and a jump from the boardwalks and big screens of Hollywood. Angelo himself caught the acting bug at the tender age of four, sharing camera time with the likes of Chris Rock and Nicole Kidman. But Hip-Hop would ultimately snatch this young whipper-snapper away before his ninth birthday. From his early stages freestyling in front of the bathroom mirror, Angelo didn’t take long to become the main lyricist of local trio 3 Shades Deep while hosting his own radio show on the nationally syndicated X Radio Biz.
Yet, as much as Angelo was stepping his bar game, these forays were just quiet rumblings. What better place to unleash the riot than Brooklyn, the mecca of Hip-Hop? This is the planet where ACGs stomp drum machine rhythms and where during any given rush hour, someone is spitting a hot sixteen on a subway platform.
So, midway through high school, Angelo didn’t just move to Brooklyn, he proclaimed himself borough royalty. His freestyle, “Prince of Brooklyn”, laced over Mos Def’s “Oh No” instrumental, attracted a hive of believers. Among them was producer 88 Keys (Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Macy Gray, Musiq Soulchild), who hooked up with Angelo for the ever-prophetic track “Success”.
Anyone who has witnessed a riot is familiar with its preceding snowball effect. There might be a slight calm before things pop off, but you can pretty much see it coming like a stampede over the horizon. On each of the tracks on the Breakfast of a Champion EP is a young man, who despite breaking bread with the best of them, is still hungry. The epic “Colors of Love” brought him all the way down to Radio City Music Hall, where he performed for Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child at the Teen Idol Extravaganza. And, just when it seemed like a dream pinch was looming, Angelo was selected to film a Public Service Announcement commercial for Madison Square Garden’s Garden of Dreams Foundation, a commercial that still airs on MSG TV today. Everywhere his Nikes tread, opportunity does not lag far behind.
But the Breakfast of a Champion EP isn’t just about industry validation. That, Angelo already has plenty of. Grammy-winning producers Cool and Dre, for one, heard the EP’s first single “Carousel” and were smitten. As for the follow-up track “Boy Meets Girl” produced by Kajmire Royale (Bow Wow, Hell Rell, JR Writer), the 30,000 downloads and 60,000 youtube views speak for themselves. The EP even has a barn-burning track he did with Lincoln Height’s star Mishon, “Get It”, that has dj booth written all over it.
Plus, let’s not forget that poster boy allure of his. Though Angelo is highly aware of his magnetic pull with the females, he does not depend on it. His shit can thump from cookout to coffeehouse and not lose anything in between. That’s especially important in today’s climate where artists are either for the club or for the conscience. You don’t have to be a true fan to appreciate someone who could jump on Lloyd’s “Party Girl” Remix and use the poetic phrase “a temptress in a lustful cinema”. That’s the best of the both worlds. Angelo himself puts it best, "I want my music career to show listeners how diverse my musical taste is. My career is definitely representing diversity, in today's society everything has to fit a particular category and that's not how I want to create music. I do what I feel and what comes natural. To me, music does not have any boundaries, it's either accepted or not."
It’s a gradual grind, but trust, an industry shake-up is on the verge. While the radio regurgitates pop hits from sun up to sun down, Angelo spends his days quietly beefing up his portfolio in anticipation of that moment he can wreak havoc on the game. He’s sewing up the college market, having recently been featured on CUNY ASAP’s promotional video and on Christmas Eve, he opened up for Miguel at Club Oceania in Manhattan. He later went on to end the year with a smash, winning Middle Child Promotion’s Artist Under the Radar for 2010.
With all this gumbo stirring, 2011 teems with prospects galore. Beware, Cali. Watch out, NY. Angelo is in town and there’s a riot going on.