Inside D.C. entertainment

The Five One on reworking Wiz Khalifa and Semisonic

February 3, 2011 - 03:00 PM
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Area group The Five One is influenced by many different styles, but progressive/experimental hip-hop is probably the best label for the music created by Virginia friends Red, Green, Blue, and Gold. The color monikers are part of a concept created by the band called "revalulion," which is "the action of personifying oneself as a color."

"For us, everything revolves around revalulion, which is about self-actualization, discovering who you are," group member Gold says. "People tell us, 'Oh, people have done this color thing before,' but I don't know what a 'color thing' is. This is who we are as people—we are colors. It's not something we do on stage." 

But even without completely grasping the revalulion concept, listeners should be able to enjoy the crew's clever remixes (including "Stuntin' Like Mufasa," which examines father/son relationships by referencing Mufasa and Simba of The Lion King and Baby and Lil Wayne) and originals. The band will be playing a little bit of both at its show at the Black Cat mainstage on Feb. 11, along with Violet Says 5 and the Mighty Heard.

In advance of the Black Cat show, Gold talks about three of the group's recent tracks, all of which could possibly make an appearance on the setlist—a cover of Wiz Khalifa's 'Never Been' set to a bossa nova-ish track, a remake of '90s group Semisonic's 'Closing Time," and 'Mandatory,' an original that pays homage to the group members' family and friends.

"Never Been"

"We were in the studio, listening to random beats that me and Green made….one was this really smooth instrumental," Gold says. "We were listening to it, thinking what to write—we were gonna make it an original song. Then Red just says  'Say she never been,' just like the Wiz song. We laughed at first then were like, ‘You know what? I actually kind of like that.’ We think the guy’s a character."

"All in all, we've been happy with the response," Gold continues. "Wiz fans like it a lot. Basically, since it came out, Wiz fans have been hitting us up, saying ‘I like his original, but I definitely kind of like this—it’s not something I normally listen to, but I appreciate and respect it.'”


"'Mandatory' is basically a song where we show love to all our family and friends, and thank them for understanding us and sticking with us and supporting us," Gold says. "We get a lot of questions and grief from people who don’t understand who we are, what we represent, but we just are who we are."

"Red's mom is in the video, Green's mom, my mom, we have a friend singing the hook—the song just has a powerful message and vibe," Gold continues. "It’s like a mixture of Postal Service and Bob Marley, it's eclectic in that sense. It's great to sometimes just hear a beat, and put a random song on top of it. It's refreshing and, as an artist, you're challenging yourself." 

"Closing Time"

"I’ve been a fan of that song since it came out," Gold says. "I remember the summer it came out, I was at summer camp in Reston, where we’re all from. Around that time, everyone was still making cassette tapes—plugging in a cassette deck, recording your favorite songs from the radio. 'Closing Time' was a song everybody liked. It was a song we’d play in the car, and then thought, It would be great to play that song live. It’s awesome."

"Green was on the computer, engineering, and put in a breakbeat, Red took the reggae part, Blue and Green knocked verses out quickly, and I sang the hook," Gold continues. "We like it—it really represents us. Like ‘Stuntin’ Like Mufasa’ or, anything in that realm, it’s positive, and it’s progressive for hip-hop. And all of these kids are talking about how we gave Semisonic’s ‘Closing Time’ a 21st century sound, so that response is something to be proud of right now."

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