We interviewed George Gates, son of Ollie Gates, to get his take on Tech N9ne’s new “O.G.” music video from his upcoming collabos album The Gates Mixed Plate. The charming and gregarious barbeque boss relayed to us his opinion of the video and the light it could shine on Kansas City.
Strange Music Blog: First of all, I want to say what an honor it is to correspond with you guys. I’ve had Gates twice in the last week and the burnt ends on bun is to die for. I’m a huge fan so I just had to get that out of the way.
George Gates: (laughs) I’m glad, I’m glad–and I’m a huge fan of Strange Music.
SMB: No kidding?
George Gates: I am, I am–and it’s not because of the hip hop music so much. I’m fifty-three, almost fifty-four years old, so that’s a little different era from me, but at the same time it’s the integrity that Travis and Tech N9ne over there work and operate. That means more to me than anything else. The integrity and the type of operation you run that I’ve seen so far is deemed to be classed as first rate all the way. I appreciate that and I’m a big fan of the way you guys do things.
SMB: Thank you very much, that’s great to hear! I’m sure everyone will love to hear that. How did Travis and Tech initially approach Gates for making the video?
GG: [Tech] approached one of my managers at the time, Charles Johnson. He doesn’t work for us anymore, he has his own developing company. Big Scoob dated one of my ex-manager’s relatives. So I guess Tech gave the idea to Big Scoob and Big Scoob took it to him, and he took it to me, and I said “that’s fine, let’s sit down and see what he’s talking about!” Knowing some of the work that Tech N9ne has done as far as promoting Kansas City meant a lot to me because I’m a Kansas City fan–and that fan is an abbreviation for fanatic. I’m all for Kansas City and Tech seems to be the same way so that opened up the doors right there
SMB: Initially it sounds like your response was pretty positive upon request to shoot the video at Gates.
GG: It was pretty positive but I had to bring Tech and Travis down to get an idea for and a feel for the ideas and the concepts because again–I’m fifty-three. My father who’s in the record that’s saying his name is eighty, so now we got a big gap in here from twenty, to fifty-three, to eighty. I have to be careful about how Gates Bar BQ is associated with hip hop because I’m all for hip hop. I’m all for rap. I’m all for that era and I’m all for that generation because that generation is the generation is probably at the highest expendable income for retail–whether that be records or whether that be entertainment at home, and that means eating–so I don’t want to discourage that clientele. I want to embrace that clientele at the same time. I just want to make sure we do it in a right way. Gates Bar BQ has integrity also. We don’t want to be calling the girls, you know, everything but their names and we don’t want a whole lot of negative energy directed towards Gates Bar BQ or any other barbeque place. All the barbeque places in Kansas City are good, and they are good for Kansas City, but they’re different, and I just appreciate that Gates is the one that a lot of folks like!
GG: And that’s after sixty-seven years and four generations! We’re thinking long-term so I just wanted to make sure that we kept that image positive and at the same time I wanted to embrace that group from eighteen to thirty-five that I don’t want to lose. That is a big group in spending. Most of them don’t have a wife or husband, they don’t have a bunch of kids. A lot of them are staying at home or living on their own. A lot of concessions are negative towards that group and they don’t have to be. I saw the other night at the video–because I was there to make sure it was what I thought it should be–it was so quiet out there you couldn’t hear a pin drop. You know, I aint never heard of where you have a couple of hundred kids out there and yet you couldn’t hear them talk.
SMB: Yeah because of the neighbor situation.
GG: Oh the neighbors: they always complain about everything, okay? We’ve been at that location since 1976 and they’ve been complaining about something all the time. I know exactly who it is. It’s the same two women on the other side of the fence just north of us. They complain about everything, always. That’s just how they are. Anyways, ya’ll did it, and did it–I thought–with tremendous charisma.
SMB: So you were at the video shoot. Have you gotten to see a copy of the video?
GG: Yes. Travis brought me the video to look at Monday because I want to see and hear everything before it gets out there, okay? I want to hear it and see it because I think: if I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it! I don’t want it to put Gates Bar BQ, my family, in a frame that you don’t feel comfortable with–but it didn’t. It didn’t. So at the beginning they came with the idea so I said “okay, let’s go with it.” Then they let me listen to the CD and I said “okay, let’s go with it.” Then they did the video at the store and that didn’t seem bad. Then they show me the video and the booklet, pictures, and paraphenelia that the CD is going to be packaged with, and all of it was done with class. It was professional. It just reeks with the smell of class.
SMB: Two Kansas City icons in Gates Bar BQ and Tech N9ne joined forces to make this happen. Do you think this will shine some light on Kansas City on the national airwaves?
GG: Absolutely. Even without Tech and us, Kansas City is known for barbeque.
SMB: Oh yeah.
GG: So, this is just putting a stamp on it and solidifying: “yeah, it is.” Down here, our hometown guy who made it big in his industry, is talking about Kansas City barbeque. That’s just going to promote Kansas City and promote barbeque at home. As long as they’re promoting barbeque, Gates Bar BQ is going to get some residual from that. As long as they keep eating barbeque that’s going to happen, and with this song that’s what they’re going to do!
SMB: Do you think this video will add a relevance to the young generation for Gates Bar BQ?
GG: Absolutely! That’s the reason why I even entertained the thought. I don’t want to lose that crowd! You go to restaurants and you see the little hobby horse that you put a quarter in and the gumball machine that you put a quarter in, that’s not for you as an adult, that’s for the kids to relate to. They can say “ah, we’re going to Gates, I can ride the horse.” You gotta go all the way down the line, and that includes the high-schoolers and the young generation. You know if they taste it, they’re going to like it. This hip hop generation that everybody’s afraid of–no, I’m not afraid of them. I want to embrace them. If you treat people like people then they will act like people. If you treat people like animals, they will act like animals. You won’t go to any one of my restaurants and see a window in front of my cashiers. That gives the connotation of “wait, you’re safe, but what about me?” We’ve been working in the community and the inner-city for close to seven years. We think we know how to work in different types of environments. You know you have to treat people correctly to get the correct response from them. Again, that video was showing the correct response and gives those folks the kind of relationship that we want with that generation.
SMB: Have you been getting a lot of references to the song from customers? Has there been a noticable increased selling of the mixed plate?
GG: We’ve been getting a lot of references from friends, relatives, and strangers in and out of the restaurant. As far as increase in sales, I don’t know. Someone might have gotten a mixed plate but their friend might have gotten a beef on bun because that’s all they could afford at the time. As long as we’re talking about barbeque, as long as Tech N9ne is talking about Gates Bar BQ and Ollie Gates, I guarantee you we will be getting some type of residual effect.
SMB: So are you excited for the video to be on MTVu.com?
GG: Yeah! I’m excited about it because it’s about Kansas City. I’m excited about it because it puts Gates Bar BQ out there to where people can see it, hear it…do everything but taste it. I like it because it put our little Global Man icon out there and made him real.
SMB: The guy with the hat?
GG: Yeah the guy with the hat. He’s dancing in the video. He comes right up off the tray and starts dancing! People now can relate to that similar to a Ronald McDonald or a Wendy’s girl. That’s fulfilling to me to be able to get a message out there to people, not only in the area where people know you and you’re strong but all over. That’s absolutely great.
SMB: Any favorite moments in the video?
GG: When the little “Struttin’ Man” was dancing and ya’ll brought him to life. That’s my favorite.
SMB: Well Mr. Gates this was a great interview and I really appreciate you taking the time. I still have to try the ribs I hear they’re awesome.
GG: They are, they are. Next time you come in, get a mixed plate and get yourself a little bit of everything. And when you get the mixed plate, tell them to hold either the beef, or the turkey, and tell them you want burnt ends instead. That way you’ll get the burnt ends that you love, you’ll get the ribs, and you’ll get your other sliced meat, and your fries, okay?
SMB: Nice! Good tip! Well thanks a lot Mr. Gates I appreciate it, have a good one.
GG: Alright then, you too.