G Koop & O-man is an effort to capture the creative process of hip-hop collaboration in a simple, streamlined, and public way. This project, broadcast on YouTube from an unassuming studio in Oakland, provides a weekly push to produce new music and invite guest artists into the fray as they welcome the world to experience this process through the magic of technology. Graham Richards and Rob Mandell first connected at Berklee College of Music in ’98. The kindred wits began collaborating on several bands and hosted a regular jam session at a Boston tavern under names like Shivery Delicious , Teen Chat Room, The Pirates of Relaxation, and, of course Busty Nutsack.
The pair eventually found their way to the Bay Area where they quickly became a part of the artistic community, spending much of the time in a little jazz club bouncing between piano and bar. Graham and Rob were heavily influenced under the mentorship of legendary jazz drummer, Donald “Duck” Bailey.
“Duck taught us how to play, how to listen, how to treat ourselves and other musicians with respect.” Graham said. “He told first-hand stories of a by-gone era, gave us insight into how things really went down in the jazz clubs back in the day. He played music with us and never judged us by our technical facility; rather by our willingness to let go of ego and preconception and just play music with him. It was kind of a boot camp that Rob and I went through together.”
This history is important in understanding the evolution of G Koop & O-man. Graham returned to school to receive a Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas’ legendary Jazz program and wrote a groundbreaking piano method book, Piano, Yeah! Meanwhile, Rob spent ten years in an intense hip-hop tutelage working with great producers such as Jake One and Easki.
“We each have our own trip, and we have always been 100% supportive of each others’ creative endeavors.” Graham said.” Rob is one of the most prolific artists I have ever met; his discography is legendary and growing every day.”
“Working with a musician of Graham’s caliber is like holding a musically loaded weapon;” said Rob. “His skill knows no boundaries, and his openness to follow the creativity wherever it may go is unparalleled.”
“My job is to make the language we use more universal,” said Rob. “Less is more.”
Their unique collaborations are reminiscent of individual style augmented by trusted teamwork. The team takes impassioned ideas and filters them into a product palatable for a wider audience, often taking live gig inspiration and transforming it into a worthy beat. They work together, trading off on the driver’s seat based on the stronger musical vision at hand while the other offers guidance and suggestion. When strong ideas strike simultaneously, Graham and Rob explore both ideas, thus revealing the duality of G Koop and O-man
“Because of our history, we trust each others’ ears completely.” Graham said.
The trust is what makes our thing work so well; “Rob adds, “We’ve been doing this so long that we know neither would lead the other astray.”