To know that another world is possible, and bring it to life through music; this has always been the mission of emcee, educator and community organizer Gabriel Teodros. He made a mark with groups Abyssinian Creole and Air 2 A Bird, and reached an international audience with his critically-acclaimed solo debut Lovework, setting stages on fire all across the US, Canada, Mexico and Ethiopia.
As a curly-haired mixed kid raised in Seattle’s South End and Central District, Teodros carved his identity with and between Black music and old-school activists, Mexican and Southeast Asian gangs, First Nations community, a group of Filipino poets, a Chinese landlord and an Ethiopian family he met one by one at the airport as they first emigrated to the United States. This is the 98118, as reported in the 2010 census, the most ethnically diverse zip code in the country. Teodros calls it “a berbere, tapatio and wasabi mix… we’re making injera, and there’s some kim-chee in the fridge.”
A reflection of this neighborhood, Teodros has never been content with one style, genre or label. His music is rooted in a quest to become his idea of a whole human, embracing every vulnerable, complicated, aspect of what makes us strong. His newest offering, Colored People’s Time Machine is another step closer; a personal and honest look at issues facing millions of people today. Recalling thoughts of suicide, homelessness and a home life sprinkled with alienation, loss, addictions and domestic abuse, Teodros manages to turn this pain into medicine, with grace, conviction, and a style all his own.
A major musical undertaking, Colored People’s Time Machine took over 2 years to complete, and is remarkably cohesive considering it involved over 20 musicians as aesthetically diverse as the 98118. Featured guests include Meklit Hadero, Bocafloja, Sabreena Da Witch and SKIM, along with Teodros’ long-time musical partners, Khingz and Amos Miller. Producers include BeanOne, Budo, JustD’amato (of The Physics), EarDr.Umz the MetroGnome and WD4D. Languages include English, Arabic, Spanish, Tagalog and a little Amharic… it’s something like a bus ride through the South End, complete with valleys and hills.
As an organizer, Teodros was a founding member of Hidmo, a community center cleverly disguised as an Eritrean restaurant in Seattle’s Central District. There, he provided artistic direction, youth mentorship, events production, coffee, injera rolls and more. As a teaching artist Teodros worked with Youth Speaks Seattle and WAPI Community Services where he developed curriculum and taught regular classes in Language Arts, songwriting, performance, Hip Hop history, studio recording and mixing. Today, he takes workshops with him on the road, and has led discussions on Hip Hop as a tool for liberation all across the US & Canada.
Colored People’s Time Machine releases January 19, 2012 on Fresh Chopped Beats/MADK Productions. Early 2012 will also debut a new collaboration; CopperWire’s Earthbound on Porto Franco Records, a Space Opera of a Hip Hop ride Teodros recorded with fellow Ethiopian-American artists Meklit Hadero and Burntface. The three toured Ethiopia in May of 2011 as a part of The Arba Minch Collective, and there is a documentary in the works of their journey together. With so much on the horizon, stay tuned for all of Gabriel Teodros’ updates at www.gabrielteodros.com