The hip hop of Young Republicans
Meet the Young Republicans.
Connor Craven and Mike Lovaglio founded the “GYP” in 2011 and have gained a steady following on the SUNY Oneonta campus in the years since. But don’t let their name fool you. Rather than planning politicians’ visits to campus and writing policy proposals, this young duo has been planning underground hip-hop shows and writing rap lyrics.
Their first EP, Roger Ebert Raves!, released in November 2012 begins with Deep $pace $lime, which opens with the duo rapping over a smooth grove, “Accelerate mayhem in the rock n’ roll underground. Rolling through my hometown boomin’ like a thundercloud.” And later, “Intellectuals listen, intellectuals dismiss this. Theft of corporate power, how the Grinch stole Christmas. The Lorax is a thorax, plus a mustache and appendages. Rappers now identified by monetary hemorrhages.” Deep $pace $lime is followed up by a catchy, piano infused song where the duo sings “Camry, Kia, Civic. Camry, Kia, Civic. Life’s a sad affair for the twenty-something cynic. If you rollin’ with my people, we be munchin’ dollar menu. Mortal combat, three fatalities, ten seconds to continue.”
Roger Ebert Raves! was followed up by Young Republicans 2013 release of Weekend at Symer’s: The Rappening. This latest release includes songs Happy (prod. Krazy Fresh) and Buckeye (Prod. MF Doom) which features lyrics “Hindsight’s twenty-twenty when your future is blind.” Lovaglio described the writing process for Buckeye, another track off the latest EP, “We actually wrote it in an hour one day just chillin’ with friends smoking and drinking. We spit our verses to each other and were like damn this sounds pretty good. Connor told me to right a hook, I came up with one in 10 minutes. He looked at it and was like "nah more serious," five minutes later I had the hook that is used in the song written and we both knew we just made a cool song.”
While Lovaglio graduated with a degree in sociology last May, Craven is a senior elementary education major who is currently student teaching. Craven added, “We’re both home now and going stronger than ever and plan on continuing to do this as long as it’s fun and we both continue to improve in our craft.” Craven hales from Fort Montgomery in the Hudson Valley while Lovaglio is from East Northport, Long Island. “We both rep where we're from with great pride” said Craven.
When asked how the duo formed, Craven explained “I have to say Skim was one of the first people I ever met who really impressed me with his rhyme prowess and I was thinking to myself, 'I could listen to this guy go all day.' Mike (Skim) also happens to be one of the coolest people I've ever met. We almost immediately became friends so doing the music thing came really naturally.”
The origins of Lovaglio’s alias, Skim, reportedly date back to a seventh grade rap battle at a track meet. The EP’s second track, Venomous Omen (Prod. Upsidedown American Flag) has a dark, Tyler the Creator feel with lyrics “No blinkers on, blindfolds when the mini-vans switch lanes. Selling middle age drugs, propane and Rogaine. No game, cocaine. Wet dreams of Rosanne. You get bitches like Jerry Lee Lewis. It’s my hubris that do this. I’ll knock you out like Joe Lewis.”
When asked how he would describe their music, Craven said “I would say we make music that is a direct channel from our hearts so it covers the full spectrum of emotions, interests and mood swings. Looking at our entire body of work, it can seem a bit scattered, pushing schizophrenic.” Skim added, “Our music is the culmination of all of our random energies as well as the world’s random energies. We bring something different to the table but it is not forced, it's a genuine feel. Both of us agree that getting better is the goal but compromising our style is out of the question. We grow with our music, we went from drunk college kids to graduates and our music went from free-styling and house party shows to playing at actually venues.”
Craven detailed the groups’ writing process, “We do collaborate on lyrics together, the hooks and parts where we rap together are often written side by side as one unstoppable unit of rap-ness. We always write our own individual verses, though peer review is an essential aspect of any rap group/rapper. And the album writing process is just fun, beer, laughing, listening to beats over and over and over.... and over again, and other stuff too, I think.” We have a new song we haven't recorded yet but it is finished we call street fighter that took a route to get finished. For that song it took us a couple of weeks to have it all together. The whole point is to make it natural, sometimes you can bang out a verse in 25 minutes and it's dope, sometimes you need more time to let the right words settle in.”
Skim described the evolution of his own musical style saying, “Connor has honestly opened me up to a lot more aspects of music. From a hip hop standpoint I was always kind of a classic hip-hop-head, and would be annoyed by rappers that used lyrics I thought were pointless or just for shock value. But, I opened up my spectrum and realized sometimes you just have to laugh or listen to some funny bull**** type music to let go. Lil B (TYBG) is one rapper that brings this fun to the game with the way he mocks the game as he spits hilarious lyrics. My taste ranges from spiritual rap like the Underachievers and Ab-soul to more futuristic/lifestyle rap like the Cool Kids and Curren$y. I also enjoy that gritty **** like Freddie Gibbs and Action Bronson.”
According to the duo’s Manager, Alex Fredkin, the Young Republicans are currently in the writing process for their first full-length album, which they hope to release by the summer. “Hiring our manager, Alex Fredkin, or $tucco as we call him, has been such a blessing and has really played a huge part in us continuing to do what we're doing. We love that guy” said Craven. He later added, “Recently I think we've found our voice more consistently and producers who understand what we're trying to do, especially Palemen who is a frikkin genius producer.”
The Young Republican’s past EPs can be found on their Facebook and Bandcamp pages.