Geno Five has a wide smile.
That’s the first thing I noticed when I met him at a performance. It was the type of smile that seemed to invite others to follow suit, and those around him often did. In the calm before the storm, he watched the stage with intent. While other acts performed he was bobbing his head, intent on hearing what the rappers were saying, not caught up in the spectacle of what they were doing.
His music parallels they way he viewed the show, not caught up in the moment. Geno's insistence on vibing can be heard on many of his songs. Making sure the vibe he gets from the beat is condensed and communicated correctly, Geno is clearly focused. That level of intent is what makes him a stellar lyricist, and the years of practice lend a little help too.
Geno is a 22-year-old Englewood, New Jersey native, and has always been an intentional listener, trying to pick up habits from artists of all genres. When you hear him flow it’s evident that he’s been keeping notes on inflection. He can go into attack mode, with a harsh tone containing a slight rasp or he can ease up and go the smoother route. Geno gets conversational, delivering practical knowledge or a polished punchline. Basically, he’s versatile and not afraid to try new things.
When he performs there’s no doubt on display, and he traverses tongue twisters with confidence and comfort. With stellar breath control and enough intensity to engage an audience, there was no choice but to pay attention.
Geno's most recent project Golden EP is a collection of four polished tracks, windows into his world.
The Intangible caught up with Geno to discuss his music, motivation, and what he’s looking forward to.
The Intangible: The first thing that caught my ear when I was listening to your music was that you said you were from a family of performers, could you explain that a little bit?
Geno Five: The thing is, I have a lot of siblings. I have seven sisters and one brother, and four out of the seven sisters have done things in the arts. Whether it be theater or singing really well or dance, any of the performing stuff. My grandmother was also a singer, so I don’t know, that was really it.
TI: Is that what pushed you to do music, just seeing everyone else doing it?
G5: No actually, not at all. That didn’t have any contribution, it just so happens that it was that way.
TI: So when did you realize you wanted to make music?
G5: When I first made a song on this little mic in my friend’s living room. It was terrible though, it came out really bad. It sounded like I recorded it on a calculator [laughs] to be honest. But after that, despite the quality and how terrible it was, I tried to promote it. I thought it was cool, and it was fun making it. I got really good feedback, and I was like “alright, say if I make a song like this” or “say if I tried to make a song a little better”. The I kinda went in a cycle, and next thing you know I’m releasing mixtapes and EPs.
TI: So how long have you been rapping? When was that first song, the calculator song?
G5: This is maybe like...six years ago.
TI: So you’ve been at it for a good six years, what do you look for in a beat? I’ve heard a lot of variety in the instrumentals you pick.
G5: Yeah there is, and that’s the thing. I don’t have a direct search, I’m not looking for something specific most of the time. Anything can kinda catch my ear, you know anybody can get it. That’s how it is honestly. Good quality of course, but I’m sort of into everything. I experiment a lot.
TI: You rapped that “talent don’t get you signed nowadays”, that was another thing that caught my ear. What do you think A&Rs and executives are looking for if not talent?
G5: Uh, I know a lot of labels are just looking for people with fanbases already, that may be there for the trend. So they can kind of like, milk certain artists. There’s a lot of artists like that, you know, that’s why we have one hit wonders and shit like that.
TI: For real?
G5: Yeah I’ve seen a lot of people, including myself, get blackballed or you know, screwed over when they were more qualified for a situation, but it was given to someone else.
TI: So one word that pops up in your music a lot is “vibe”. It’s a commonly used phrase, but does it mean anything special to you? Do you think you’ve placed a special connotation to it?
G5: Yeah actually I have, I wrote this song called “Vibrations”. What it means to me honestly is just...feel it. When I’m saying it in an adlib or in a song I mean just rock with me real quick. See where I’m coming from, walk in my shoes.
TI: Which hip-hop artists have had a great impact or influence on you?
G5: That’s a hard question...ah shit. I mean Kendrick has, a lot. I’ve had a lot of artists as I was growing up really have an impact on me. So in high school, you know that’s when Odd Future was popping, so that was Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, stuff like that. Wiz Khalifa...who else?
TI: His mixtape run was special...
G5: Yeah, like Flight School, Burn After Rolling, I would bump all of those. Shit, I have a lot of influences. Max B also, believe it or not, free him. What else, am I missing someone? Oh Sir Michael Rocks, The Cool Kids, yeah they got me through high school.
TI: So what artists that aren’t rappers have influenced you a lot?
G5: Hmm...The Internet, yeah. I like Syd’s melodies. So them, Xavier Omär. Their melodies are really cool and sometimes I’m like “damn I wish I could sing like that, how could I do something melodic and not sound trash”, you know? So they definitely inspire me to be more melodic in my music.
TI: Is there any type of music that you really like that you don’t think people would expect you to?
TI: Let me put it like this, what’s the stuff that you would never show people in the whip, that you would never put on the aux?
G5: [Laughs] Yo, uh...shit. Some Janet Jackson songs, that I don’t like telling people about. I don’t want them to think I’m sweet out here, but nah seriously, definitely some Janet Jackson. There are definitely song heavy metal songs that I like, I can’t remember the name right now, but it’s some shit that I can really rock with. I don’t put that on unless I’m by myself though.
TI: Is The Feels LP is your first full-length project?
G5: Yeah, the first one that I’m taking extremely seriously. I started doing EPs and stuff, but when I first started I did like a mixtape with like 16 tracks. And it was like...bullshit, it was bullshit honestly, but it was my first mixtape. The Feels LP will definitely be my first full-length project.
TI: Dope, is it a concept project?
G5: Yeah, it’s very very conceptual. A variety of feels, it kind of...not so much tells a story but you can kind of get where I’m coming from. People are gonna relate, definitely.
TI: That’s gonna be in April or May?
G5: May probably, I don’t wanna rush it. No content is better than rushed content, so I’d rather have everything complete and to my liking.
TI: Anything else you want to say to the people?
G5: Stay black, uhh...Geno Five, we gon’ vibe. That’s that.