• Cherry Popper

Seattle’s Hip Can Hop, Too: Allow The Physics to Explain

written by: on January 10, 2012

Who are The Physics? Today, they are one of Seattle’s best-kept secrets (The first secret is Seattle has a hip-hop scene—a fact unbeknownst to many.), but tomorrow the group will return to occupations that require college degrees: One works in finance, another in biotechnology research (your guess is as good as ours), and Gathigi “Thig” Gishuru punches the clock five days a week as a health care administrator. Not bad for someone who raps on the weekends about “candy kush.”

While Kanye West is busy “going gorillas,” The Physics bring things a little closer to earth; one doesn’t need to know about the latest Louis Vuitton fashion line to relate. On the recently released Love Is a Business, you’ll find them proudly repping their Seattle home from a park bench, Coronas in hand. Elsewhere, they can be heard reminiscing the difficulties of long-distance relationships. “A lot of songs on the album are about love and relationships,” Gishuru told Pop ‘stache. “That’s something I think people can relate to.”

It’s a refreshing, startlingly mature contrast to the cartoonish universes witnessed in mainstream hip-hop—a musical landscape where 24-year-olds swing $3 million dollar record deals, such as the case with A$AP Rocky, from “fucking bitches” and constantly name-checking their “swag.” Decidedly more in line with the aesthetics of A Tribe Called Quest, The Physics introduce much-needed lyrical depth and class to a scene that is often criticized for a lack of substance.

* * *

Pop ‘stache: I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that the words “Seattle” and “hip-hop” don’t usually end up in the same sentence.

Gathigi Gishuru: It’s funny. Earlier, I was reading a blog post from Macklemore. He’s one of the bigger [hip-hop] acts in Seattle right now.  He was talking about how six years ago in Seattle, hip-hop wasn’t a big deal. But now, the scene here has really grown. It’s really starting to take off. Seattle is sort of secluded geographically from the rest of the country. So a lot of people don’t know about Seattle. A lot of people don’t care about Seattle.

P ‘s: Listening to the Love Is a Business, I get a sense of the band grappling with being a hip-hop group living in Seattle. I remember a line where someone asks if there are black people in Seattle. Did that actually happen?

GG: Yeah. My brother [Monk Wordsmith] wrote that line. He went to college in Philadelphia. He would tell people that he was from Seattle, and people would go, “Do they even have black folks in Seattle?” because people don’t know that there are black people in Seattle. Truth be told, it’s a very white city, but it’s also a very diverse city.

P ‘s: How does your love of Seattle play into the music?

GG: We have a lot of pride about our city. For example, “Coronas on Madrona”—Madrona is a park in Seattle. You’ve probably never been to Seattle, have you?

P ‘s: No, sadly.

GG: It’s one of the most gorgeous cities in the country. We have these beautiful landscapes and parks and mountains and lakes. Madrona Park is located on Washington [Street]. Back in the day, we would go there and smoke and look at the water. Drink beer and just kind of hang out.


“Coronas on Madrona” is a song I wrote just kind of reflecting on that. We like to shout out our city a lot.

P ‘s: Why the title Love Is a Business? I understand each of you are busy working day jobs.

GG: Music is something that we love. We’ve been doing it since we were teenagers. It’s more than a hobby for us.

You can do what you love, but if you want to take it to the next level, you have to make it a business.

That’s what [The Physics] means for us at this point in our lives. It’s a business, but it’s love also.

P ‘s: You mentioned you’ve been playing music since your teens. When did The Physics come into the picture?

GG: We went to high school together. O’Dea High School, which is located in Seattle. It’s a private school. [Just D’Amato] and I, we were friends, so we always shared the same musical interests. We always liked the same groups. So I would borrow CDs from him, and vice-versa.

One day he came to class, and was like, “Yo Thig, let me spit this rap for you.” I guess he had written a rap. So I said, “Great. I’ll check it out.” So he spit me this rap, and I remember thinking, “That was tight! That was dope.” I was inspired. That same night, I went home and wrote a rap.

From there on, [Just and I] would just write raps. Eventually, he bought this tiny little machine—I think it’s called a Dr. Sample—a really small thing where he could sample loops and make little beats. So he got that and a cheap, little microphone. He had a little turntable and DJ set up in his room. We would go there to [his dad’s house] and write raps. He would make beats, and we would record on them.

Eventually, my brother Monk was interested in rapping. He started doing it, too, and we formed a group called The Metaphysics. At the time, Just was really into philosophy and existentialism. Two years later, we decided to cut that down and just call ourselves The Physics. That was the start, and from then on, it’s been a progression of us continuing to work on music.

P ‘s: How do you guys balance this and working full time?

GG: The majority of our shows are on weekends. Sometimes we do weeknights. We just try and fit it in; we just got off tour with Blue Scholars—and we would have loved to go on the whole tour with them—but there were certain dates that we couldn’t do because of our jobs. We do a lot of road-tripping; travel on the weekends.

P ‘s: Do you guys see yourself eventually quitting your day jobs and committing to music full time?

GG: Ideally, I want to do this full time. Music is my passion. Music is a passion for all of us. So, this is not just a hobby. This is something that we’re going hard at. Right now, we’re trying harder than ever to get out there and to get our music exposed to other people.

The Physics’ recently ‘stached single “The Recipe (ft. Craig G)” is available for download, and there’s more on their Bandcamp page.