Posted On 29 Nov 2018
Get to know the NY-based group called The Lesson GK! They’re a live hip hop, dub and improv funk group that’s composed of some of the biggest names in Hip Hop when it comes to backing musicians, whose live show has been garnering more and more buzz around NYC. Their lineup is composed of members of the touring bands for Reggie Watts, SZA, Lupe Fiasco, Run DMC and many more.
Seven years ago, band founder Lenny Reece, lacked musical fulfillment and organized a project that he felt would feed his soul with the goal of shedding the social stigmas that surrounded him, such as homophobia and toxic masculinity. In 2015, The Lesson GK, moved their hyper-local weekly event to Arlene’s Grocery emerging as something much bigger without losing it’s local feel. The band has performed to an energetic packed house every Thursday since. Now this weekly residency at Arlene’s Grocery have been selling out pretty much every week for the past four years. These residencies have attracted big names who attend regularly including Common, Joey Bada$$, Sway and DJ Premiere.
The Lesson GK’s seamless blend of experimental hip-hop, jazz, R&B, funk and progressive soul has manifested as a powerful live performance finely tuned over their 400 shows since its foundation. What started as a collaborative weekly jam session has grown into a cornerstone of the NYC underground music scene.
Check out their music videos here:
Learn more about The Lesson GK in the following All Access interview with their founder, Lenny “The Ox” Reece:
Since we are now at the back-end of 2018, how has this year treated this band? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year? How close are you to reaching it?
This year has been amazing in that we’ve finally figured out all of the moving parts and understand now more than ever what we want to do as a group. One goal this year was to partner with Zildjian to release a video filmed at their factory which had never been done before. With much support from Emily Smith and Sarah Hagan, we were able to accomplish that goal. The video is out now – check it out on YouTube!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
Yeah – from the moment we all met. For me personally, it felt like we had been lifelong friends and band-mates in that instant. No – we all shared the same vision that is in the name. It came naturally.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
New York is a very liberal city whose infrastructure helped shape hip hop, and we grew up in that deep hip hop sound. It’s the core of what we do because we were raised here. You can’t separate the city from the sound or ourselves.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
The good thing is that we’ve all dabbled in different sounds and types of music. Those experiences allow us to bend the core of our style which helps us create progressive soul.
Let’s talk about your weekly residency at Arlene’s Grocery on Thursday nights in New York. How has this show changed over the 4 years that you have been doing it? What is it like having this regular gig every week? What can people expect from one of these shows there?
Well, they say every establishment is a reflection of the leadership, and I feel that we’ve really grown into ourselves over these four years. The core is the same, but as we’ve grown as individuals and a group, the event has grown with us. It’s uplifting, invigorating and exhausting. We put out so much love and energy, something people have come to expect of the event, but we also have the opportunity to grow through our music and receive that energy right back. People can expect therapy, light, love, intensity, charisma, finesse, release, and good music.
Do you have plans to put a full album soon? Is “Damn Right” the start of much more new music to come from you guys?
Yes – we’re hoping to release a full length project sometime in 2019.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Whatever we’re doing and where ever we are, we’re happiest when we’re together. We’re family.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
We’ve all been lucky enough to have a lot of experiences and relationships with some major artists and well respected musicians – we may phone in a few favors. Some day 1 influences are Super Easy, DJ Premiere, Dilla, MadLib, Stevie Wonder, The Knife, Hot Chip, A Tribe Called Quest.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
A lot of our music themes on these common struggles we all face in our daily lives. We hope that our music is cathartic and healing – that people experience raw happiness when they listen to it and take away a lesson in how to find that within themselves moving forward.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
We have a lot of exciting projects under way with some great brands and collaborators coming out in 2019. We’re on all platforms, but follow us on IG at @thelessonGK to stay the most up to date with what we have going on. The Zildjian project is just the beginning for us and we’re so stoked to share what we’ve been working on with everyone beyond the regular show at Arlene’s.