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On the Upbeat: The Hub Profiles Gengis Don

If you’ve ever seen Lyndon Harewood quietly bent over his laptop, you likely wouldn’t think he’s mechanically crafting beats under the moniker Gengis Don.

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“I’m the type of person that if you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to prove you wrong,” he said. “I’m not going to stop at just ‘[I] proved you wrong.’ I’m going to keep going.”

But for him, it’s not the desire to outshine or be the big headily glowing fish in a small pond; it’s love for the art that drives him.

The Hub sat down with Lyndon to discuss his recent musical project, and what he plans to do with it.

An Accounting major with a minor in Music—he wants to be practical with his career—Lyndon wants to bring music a more transparent part of the culture at Emmanuel.

For the better part of his life, Lyndon has held a fascination for legacy, especially the rule of the arguably most powerful person in history, Genghis Khan.

Eagerly, he speaks about the his artist name’s etymology. Khan was the official title given to Mongolian rulers—Lyndon elected to substitute the title with his own forename’s latter half.

And yes, it’s also a mafia pun.

Gengis Don is the incarnation of a yearlong devotion to serious production. After learning the craft, and as the clock passed into the first moments of 2016, Lyndon made a resolution to himself to achieve his longstanding need to professionally involve himself with music.

https://soundcloud.com/gengisdon/funky-flute

Though this one project is still in its beginning stage, Lyndon is a lifelong musician, beginning at age six when he picked up the steelpan, a chromatically-pitched percussion instrument native to Barbados, his birthplace.

This natural, percussive trajectory led him to take up the drum kit his freshman year of high school and now to producing hip-hop beats. An imprint of Brooklyn’s iconic hip-hop scene, Lyndon admits “the music always fascinated me more than the lyrics.”

“Everyone there is a rapper. Everyone wants to spit the bars. But coming from a musical background, I just like to make the music itself,” he said.

For his inspiration, Lyndon holds eclectic, lesser-known producers like Sango, a part of Seattle’s collective Soulection, or the very pillars of hip-hop production like J Dilla and Kanye West, all in the same high regards. His drum teacher, a retired funk musician from the 70’s, influenced his method of chopping beats. His beats are often skeletally based around soul music.

“I think that was the best time, musically,” he declares of the R&B and soul eras of the mid twentieth century.

So far, Lyndon has only released one official single, the rest of the material on his Soundcloud account is made up of snippets of his constantly churning drive. They’re often less than a minute in length, enough to momentarily appease the appetite before he delivers the full EP.

Though brief, the pieces reveal an attention to timbre and an ability to create a cohesive whole out of almost-contrastive, interplaying sounds.

“Too be honest, I don’t really have a mood,” he says of his process of brewing a beat. “It’s wherever the track takes me.”

“If I’ve heard a song before, I don’t really like to listen to it again. Whenever I listen to a song, I always think ‘How can I rework that?’ ”

Lyndon usually begins with a singular loop, and builds upon it, trying to emulate what he knows a song can be capable of.

“When [I] find it, it’s clockwork,” he says.

And he has been working with a steady machination. He planned to work as hard as he was able to release an EP, originally to be released as Finally… Damn! at the end of January, but was dramatically set back when his computer died and he lost everything.

“I had to do everything over from scratch,” he says, but calls it “a blessing in disguise.”

“I got to listen to more music and make more music that I thought was better than what I was going to put out initially.”

https://soundcloud.com/gengisdon/cantar-para-snippet

The newer, sleeker EP, now titled About Time, is scheduled for release on March 28 for free on Bandcamp. According to Lyndon, the new name better reflects his pride for his work.

“If you like good music, then I think you’ll like my album,” he cooly states.

Lyndon is an independent artist. Right now he has no contract, no corporate backing, and yet the work ethic he brings to his music rivals, if not surpasses, the hardest working people his age. He sets his own work regimen—one that often starts at four or five in the morning—forcing himself to meet his heavy demands.

“If I didn’t set a deadline, who knows when I would have released it.” He claims that focusing on his music has made him more diligent in life.

Trying to reach out to other local artists in the area to collaborate, Lyndon has been jamming in a jazz/neo-soul group, and trying to invite or collaborate with alongside more musicians from Emmanuel. The group is called Park Drive; they have their first show at Boston University on April 2.

“There’s a lot [of musicians at Emmanuel], but you wouldn’t know because people aren’t very open about it,” he says of the scene at the school.

Lyndon played drums in the COF jazz band once, but had to give that up to focus on other aspects of his academic, athletic, and social lives. That kind of decision making is a thing of the past for him now.

He has recently quit basketball team to focus on his music, calling the decision a difficult one for him.

“I feel like if I wanted to take music seriously I had to make some sacrifices,” he says, one of the biggest being “hours and hours of sleep.” He has also severed ties with a few friends that doubted his perseverance.

https://soundcloud.com/gengisdon/more-than-friends

His dorm room on the Notre Dame Campus contains a drum set that he swears he tries to constantly practice on with consideration to his neighbors’ sanity.

This precise push he has made to his goal has already been paying off. Lyndon has already sold some of his beats to artists—he dreams of one day collaborating with local hip-hop leaders like Michael Christmas or Lotus Taylor.

“If you see somebody working, you gotta’ work too… Every little bit of support helps. I don’t take anything for granted.”

About Time will be self-released on March 28 for free on Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Tidal.

Seth Garcia is a Staff Writer for The Hub. He can be contacted at garcias@emmanuel.edu.

Photo credits: Sam Farquharson ’17. Sam Farquharson is a Staff Writer for The Hub and can be contacted at farquharsons@emmanuel.edu.

Posted by on February 28, 2016. Filed under Around Campus,Music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.