Belmont Patch's feature, "Meet Your Neighbors," is just that – discovering more about fellow residents who make this community a nice place to live.
Gabe Thompson of Belmont
Rapper, poet and college student
Ordinarily, Gabe Thompson is extremely private about his personal feelings.
Just 21 years old, the Belmont resident has had more than his share of heartache, soul-searching, periods of darkness and – these days – the buddings of joy.
But it’s difficult for Gabe to talk about what he experiences deep down in his heart. In fact, the only time he’s able to freely express his emotions is through music.
Gabe is a hip-hop artist, bearing his soul through rapping both on the stage and on YouTube where he is gaining a sizeable audience.
“I can say things with music that I can’t say on my own,” said the Emerson College student.
“I don’t feel comfortable exposing myself but have confidence when I’m rapping; it’s an alter ego.”
In addition to it being Gabe’s professional mode of expression, the art form of rapping is an outlet and an escape for him.
It’s all about telling stories and sharing them with others who may have similar life experiences and feelings about particular emotions.
And Gabe has recently been reaching a large number of listeners with the video “Redefinition (featuring Blizzy Wru)” – directed and edited by Hi-Lite Reel Boston – on YouTube.
After one week, the video had 5,000 viewers.
“This is just the beginning,” said Gabe. “We have more videos coming out on YouTube, one of which will be on Jan. 18.”
Working with Gabe as producers and marketing agents are several of his good friends since middle school including Nick Urciuolo and Phil Dumont, who graduated with Gabe from in 2008.
“It’s a team effort,” Gabe said about his friends’ emotional and technical support.
And they’re hard at work right now on another project – Gabe’s first official release for which they are looking for sponsors and planning a tour on the college circuit.
A poet since childhood
Gabe is quite serious about his rapping, always refining his skills and striving to make high-quality videos.
And the genre suits his personality and love for words.
Gabe has been drawn to writing and poetry for as long as he can remember.
When he was in first grade, he used to take books he liked and re-write them.
As an eight-year-old, Gabe started writing poetry with his parents, Tommy Thompson, director of Alexander Technique Center of Cambridge, and the late, much-loved Boston dancer and choreographer Julie Ince Thompson.
“Although I didn’t formally study dance, I was exposed to it a lot through my mother and danced in a few of her shows growing up which I think helped with my feeling for rhythm,” Gabe said.
Born and raised in Cambridge, Gabe moved with his family to Belmont in 1999 when he was nine years old.
He engulfed himself in hip-hop for years and, at age 13, started to put his own voice to it with his friends – sitting in a circle and free styling.
Story-telling with relentless flow
It’s an intense experience to improvise rhyming stories at the drop of a hat but Gabe said one gets better and better at it with practice.
“Free styling is at the roots of hip-hop whether it’s rhyming, graffiti or dance,
he said. “It’s a pivotal part of the art form.
“You get into a zone and cross over into a different threshold, just like being in a trance,” Gabe explained. “What I love about rapping is the relentless flow of it and the emphasis on story-telling.”
It helps, Gabe explained, that his studies at Emerson College keep him engulfed in reading and writing all the time.
With a major in writing, literature and publishing, he is focusing on fiction and the full-time immersion in the world of words is enhancing his rapping.
When he’s not studying, Gabe is in his recording studio that he and Nick built in Boston.
They used mattresses (many of which they found on the street), bed foam and cardboard drink holders for soundproofing and old pantyhose as a pop-screen for the mic they use to record.
“You don’t need to spend tons of money for a good product,” Nick said.
“People often think we recorded in a professional studio,” Gabe added.
Tales come from the heart
Although hip-hop originally started as an urban subculture, Gabe said the art form is open to all who have stories to share.
He has certainly suffered in his young life after losing his mother when he was 13 and then becoming an emotional hermit in high school, during which time he was so wounded that he just “checked out” and deserted friends.
So Gabe knows that there’s a broad enough demographic that can relate to what he’s talking about through rapping.
“As long as I’m honest with my lyrics, I’ll keep accumulating exposure,” he said.
Oddly enough, now that he’s feeling much happier, it’s not as easy to express those emotions through rapping.
“I don’t want my music to come across as morbid, but I’m trying to achieve a balance and, to do that, you can’t neglect the heavy stuff,” Gabe said about his story telling.
“It’s harder for me to rap about happiness because it’s not an emotion I feel the need to explore.”
His topics will likely change and expand, Gabe believes, as he grows older and hones his craft.
Gabe Thompson has three artist pages through which his fans can follow him: