Louis Picasso says that Hiiigher Minds is getting better every day. But that’s not a boast – it’s an overarching statement referring to several facets of making a lasting community of careers in creating music. Picasso (otherwise known as Louis Gholston), is the Ypsi-based emcee and producer leading a collective of artists, and many more, that share his diligent work ethic, each maintaining consistent output of new material and imaginatively revitalizing hip-hop with their own signature styles.
As he marks the four-year anniversary launching of Hiiigher Minds, Picasso told us he’s said farewell to depending on day-jobs and now works on music full time. He’s expanded the collective to link up with fellow producers Joey Sativa and Brooklyn Beats (of NatiiWAV) forming Hiiigher Wav Studios. “We’re perfecting the craft; we’re spending damn near 10 hours a day studying audio engineering, studying music theory, just trying to get better every single day.”
Picasso just finished a tour with Asaka the Renegade and will be dropping new music next month. Not just that, but Hiiigher Minds recently unveiled a new clothing line. There’s even more developing inside Picasso’s creative HQ, but he can’t reveal all the details yet. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be a busy year.
“The progression, looking back five years now, is mad-crazy,” said Picasso. “From where we started to now? It’s working! It’s actually working, the whole plan. We’ve been working on this for so long and to see it actually unfold into reality from a vision we had? It’s beautiful.”
Picasso has been working on his own music and lyrics since he was a teenager. He moved to Ypsi 12 years ago, started up Hiiigher Minds in 2014, and over the last few years, particularly, has established a reputation for high energy performances augmented by an ensemble of artists, musicians, dancers, all creating a frenetic harmony of music and movement on stages. The energy in the room is, without fail, elevated considerably.
“The band, The Gallery, they’re so in sync with me. We bounce back and form without even having to look at each other. we’re all always on the same point, sonically. The band is like family to me. We build that chemistry from rehearsing, but we also have a great friendship, this unique, exquisite chemistry!”
The band is an extension of Picasso’s inclination toward creating a community of collaborators. “You can’t do everything yourself,” he said. “You gotta have different minds, different creators, different ideas, you never know what might come out of it when you work as a collective and bring those styles into one circle.” And Hiiigher Minds takes that community-mindedness beyond their rehearsal space and also do volunteer work around town and with local students.
And now that he’s free to just work on music, he’s got more time not just to study production, but also to strategize. “I wanna do more. I wanna learn more. I wanna keep doing this. It’s the best lifestyle, to just get up and start creating. And it all started from just being in love with music. Creating and changing soundwaves.” He likens it to architecture. “Music is just building something that’s never been built before.”
Picasso put out an epic album in 2016 called Gold, kinetic in rhythm, but meditative in atmosphere, and spurred with his own social commentary delivered with impressive urgency. “There’s no watering down the lyrics, ever,” said Picasso. “But we do also need to have fun. There’s a lot of shit going on in the world right now, but we can’t get too soaked into it to where we lose our fun. We can’t lose that.” The stuff he’s going to be dropping soon might have more of a club vibe to it, but you can still anticipate intellectual, earnest assessments of a bigger picture threaded across the beats. “We’re still digging deep into what’s going on, but the fun still has to be there.”
A busy year lies ahead, as we said. But you’ll know more in a couple weeks, once the new track drops. In the meantime, you can ask Louis Picasso about it in person at the Blind Pig, Friday.
More info: https://www.hiiigherminds.com/