Category: features (page 1 of 2)

Nothing is Promised: An Interview with Billy Woods

Last month, I spoke with New York rapper Billy Woods: the Backwoodz Studioz mastermind responsible for some of the best solo hip-hop albums of the decade. Like Dour Candy (2013), like Today, I Wrote Nothing (2015), like Known Unknowns (2017). Woods is also part of the duo Armand Hammer, a group which includes rapper/producer Elucid. The two returned full force at the end of last year with their third album Rome. Then Elucid released a solo album. Then the duo released three music videos as well as a vinyl-only album Paraffin, which dropped in July. Fingers crossed for a digital version down the road. I spoke with the prolific MC about his creative process, his work space, his music rotations, and much more.

 

 

How’s 2018 been treating you so far right now?

Honestly? It’s been terrible. Hopefully some good writing comes out of it because 2018 has been an unmitigated disaster thus far from the moment I opened my eyes on January 1st.


You’ve released solo albums in 2013, 2015, and 2017. Given this two year pace, can we expect your next in 2019?

I never noticed that pattern before and that’s a good question. I have some stuff I’m excited about but currently waiting for some collaborators to clear their calendars, so it’s hard to say. And I hate stopping the middle of a project to work on a different one because I feel like each thing needs to be it’s own chamber, I get worried they will be too similar. Maybe that’s something I need to let go of, who knows.

Your solo and collaborative albums are incredibly consistent. Do you build them up slowly? Or do you create in bulk and trim down the tracks?

Thank you. That’s a complicated question to answer because every one of them was made a bit differently. History Will Absolve Me had lots of producers but also involved a lot of recording and winnowing out the best tracks. It was really about me and engineer/producer/consigliere Willie Green locking in and working in a bit of a vacuum. Dour Candy and Known Unknowns are basically one-producer records, there wasn’t a lot of extra fat to trim, because Blockhead (nor Aesop for that matter) isn’t giving me tons beats at a time and not everything I get is going to fit what I’m looking for. I do still have a couple joints that didn’t make it onto Known Unknowns though, and bizarrely all of them were collaborative songs. Today, I Wrote Nothing was the quickest album I ever made and was a project where form and concept dictated everything. I recorded most of that at ELUCID’s spot and it was intentionally a very un-fiddled with project. I wanted something visceral and unedited, I made songs as long as I felt in the moment, no longer, I rewrote nothing. As for Armand Hammer; collaboration necessitates entirely different processes.

 

 

You have one of the most unique, freeflowing voices in hip-hop. What’s your writing process like

Honestly, it really depends a lot on the project but usually I find a beat and see where it takes me. Sometimes I just down ideas or concept or just a line that I think might take me somewhere and then come back to that list if I am looking for inspiration. I sit at my desk and smoke and drink tea and write and yell at my cats.

What does the future of Backwoodz Studioz entail?

Nothing is promised. I hope we can continue to build, expand our reach, keep putting out records and artwork that I am proud of.


What’s your workspace/studio space look like? What are some studio essentials?

My workspace is a wooden desk I brought to my current hideout in a semi-abandoned building in Crown Heights, awaiting the gentrifiers wrecking ball. I first got this desk off the streets of Brooklyn in the early 2000s and it’s beyond scuffed, it’s probably fair to say “battered”. On top of that are three books: a dog-eared James Baldwin biography,  John Stockwell’s In Search of Enemies, and Homer’s Odyssey- which I have never actually read. There are haphazard piles of bills, random photos, a hard drive, a cup of tea, water, a watch Willie Green gave to me, a big thing full of pens, markers and scissors, some Harpers magazines, scraps of paper with notes on them and a notice from the gas company that I still owe them money from the old apartment. There is an ashtray with a spliff of that Uptown Haze in it. There is a small black cat looking out the window and an even smaller silver laptop. There is an Ironman CD in the case for Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In the Corner. I have no idea why it’s even out as I currently have no CD player. There is an untidy stack of more books and graphic novels and old comics all thrown together from the recent move that I should organize but haven’t. There is a document shredder and a Sunday edition of The New York Times from a week ago. There are two separate broken pairs of headphones.

 

 

If you were to empty your pockets, what would you find?

I have never had a wallet so, keys, cash, ID and bankcard, papers, loose change, some list of tasks written on a piece of paper and folded up in a back pocket a week ago.

 

Outside of your own music, what have you been listening to recently?

Last couple weeks?

Roc Marciano – RR2
Henry Canyons – The Cool Side
Count Bass D – Dwight Spitz
Diplomatic Immunity
stuff Kenny Segal sends me
Mach Hommy – various projects
That new Small Pro/Zilla Rocca
Serengeti – Friends & Family
Denmark Vessey guest verses – was actually thinking who has the best guest verses
Enjoyed the Pusha T record well enough but didn’t love it. Don’t think I’ll ever be able to dig the solo stuff like I did the Clipse.

Listened to that Tierra Whack album, definitely worth it.

 

 

Do you have any advice for artists/rappers working on their craft?

I’m not really sure I am in a position to advise without knowing what the person wants to get out of it.


Any final words / thoughts / shout-outs?

Check out the new Armand Hammer record, Paraffin, I think it’s an interesting project even thought it wasn’t made like your typical album.

 

Ben Niespodziany

Twitter: @neonpajamas

Lil Percy’s New Record ‘Revenge’ is OUT NOW

 

      On ‘Revenge’ this Virginian rapper’s latest, Lil Percy sounds like he just woke up, sparked up and couldn’t help but go off about the bullshit permeating his atmosphere and his M.O. is flexing. He rises above, dismissing all the obstacles in his way with exhales of legato flows, and Percy isn’t just blowing smoke. Take a ride on this very airy and dynamically punchy roller coaster of intoxicated confidence v.s. introspection, and don’t let the clouds get in your eye, Percy isn’t some old weed rapper, he’s got an energy that’s uniquely chill but far from a mumble.

It’s been said that the best form of Revenge is Success, and while nothing is guaranteed in this life, Percy is gonna get to the top at some point. Paralleled with the progression that the album takes as a whole is his idea of success in self expression and the ability he sees within himself to make his own way and not waste anymore time with fake love and friends or foes. He has his eyes on the prize and he’s locked in.

If “Revenge” were a hot sauce, and it definitely is some flames, it would be a “creeper” … starts off with plenty of flavor and insight into the tracks ahead but it definitely builds as it goes along, keeping you intrigued and feeling like you can’t get enough. With only 12 tracks averaging less than two and half minutes each, you reach the albums last song and aptly titled “Ending” before you know it. This is a great pre-game or after party soundtrack, not anything to sleep to but would suit you well if stuck in stand still traffic with a little time and angst on your hands and visions of achieving your wildest dreams or having the best possible time trying.

This single was featured three weeks ago by LOST APPEAL on their exclusive sound cloud page – you should definitely give them a follow.

They did a nice interview with Percy last year as well.

Go and get a copy of the limited CD release over at Blackhouse Records webstore or stream the album via any major streaming service now!

people to follow on twitter and otherwise;

Lil Percy : @vacantmayne

Holligan Records : @hooligan_world

Lost Appeal : @lost_appeal

Blackhouse Records : @blackhouse_recs

 

 

-Froze

Twitter; @candydrips

[Feature] Melancholic Rain Frown: Catching up with AJ Suede

Rapper/producer AJ Suede will go down as one of the most prolific underground rappers. Steadily releasing cohesive and bar-heavy projects, Suede has already delivered with three EPs in the last three months. Let’s get familiar.

Most recently, we received Rain Based, which came fully produced by cloud rap icon Keyboard Kid. Five songs in length, the EP is lost in the clouds, smooth as hell, and complete with features from BB Sun and BB Rob God. Although Suede is from the East Coast, this is most assuredly a Seattle affair.

Prior to Rain Based, AJ Suede released the five song EP System of a Frown II. It came fully produced by Nedarb (just like the first volume). As a result, it’s dark, it’s haunted, it’s full of hi hats. Suede really shines on the track “Made a Difference”, which demands a quality sound system.

Before these two executively produced EPs, Suede dropped the six song Melancholy Trill II. Recorded in Seattle, it’s a unique release as it features a different producer on every track. With familiar names like BB Sun, Wolftone, and JPEGMAFIA, the project goes down as a quality first release of Suede’s 2018. With three already in the ring, we can certainly expect more as the year progresses.

Ben Niespodziany
Twitter: @neonpajamas

KevinTheCreep; Double Feature; Marble Eternity / Marble Eternity: Synchronization

‘I am no longer making “memphis revival” “phonk” “buck shit” that all gets boring after a while and it will only place me in a boxed genre, I must continue on my sonic quest to create the hottest loops a man could possibly produce. for the sake of TRUE art.’ – Kevin The Creep

Took this excerpt from the linear notes on these albums because it shows growth, not assimilation. Imagine being in a nascent subgenre movement, born out of love for a 20+ year old subgenre, surrounded by half assed attempts, fake reverence and annoying fans unwilling to think outside all boxes on their own and his statement is almost palatable. Everything is becoming so memetic, breaking away is absolutely good for your mental, spiritual and physical well being, and I personally love the sound, from its original period which I was all about, back then, to the handful of young artists breathing life into it now. There is a line though and its getting trampled.

On 4/20/2018, the S.I.C records owner and certified slap creator (having extensively produced for underground greats like Stone Dogg, Lil Kaine, DMT Demons, Five Finger Posse, Tyris White, Mista Frost etc) dropped a Double album, both 50 tracks strong (!) called MARBLE ETERNITY and MARBLE ETERNITY: SYNCHRONIZATION, respectively. They each equally play like lo-fi gauntlets thrown down to distance the artist from a mistaken bunching in with a particuliar wave and it WORKS. Proudly displaying his DJ Screw influence (having already released multiple tributes to the late, great Robert Earl Davis Jr) that blends seamlessly with vaporwave, g funk and that warped cassette sound that only tapeheads can grow to love are found slathered all over both these 50 track strong releases.

One great thing is the sample collecting skills of Kevin The Creep. With 100 short junts, you’d expect to recognize many loops but this cat is in a zone with these obscure cuts right here. Now naturally, there are samples you will catch (not giving any away, you need to enjoy them ya damned selves) but they are reconceptualized, slurred and blurred which gives them a new strut through your headspace. It’s so smoove I don’t feel the need to zoom in on any single cut, the double album works as proper mood music. I dig it all, its like DVD loading screen music for the grooviest, filthiest tagbanging video series that was never released, until now.

Out now via S.I.C Records in limited edition vinyl, cassette and digital format. Check out the shop for this and a WHOLE LOT of other gems, digital and physical!

Thanks to Blam for the write up!

-CECIL BLAM DEMENTED
Twitter: @BLAMLORD

Rap trio is back in rare form with their new single “Pre Season.” After a brief hiatus, the Birmingham group hone in on their patented flows, their strong ear for production, and their unabashed lyrics. Both aggressive and energetic, this drum-laden track (produced by Anthem Beats) is the definition of the talent of K.L.U.B. Monsta. It acts as their manifesto, a testament, an appetizer. With KENXL (one of the best directors in the Southeast) behind the lens, K.L.U.B. Monsta delivers a cryptic but prime view of how they run the city in the visual for “PRE SEASON”. Shot near some of the alleys and railways of Birmingham, KENXL captures the energy of the chase as K.L.U.B. Monsta mobs through the city unknown if they are the hunted or the hunter. “PRE SEASON” is the first visual off K.L.U.B. Monsta’s upcoming debut album When Gawd Ready. This is simply a taste of whats to come for the talented Birmingham group.

Stash Marina Opens Up On The Introspective And Fucking Powerful Xposed

It is so great to hear new music from Stash Marina! The wildly talented rapper, singer’s and all-around-awesome person’s latest Xposed is absolutely her best work yet. The whole EP feels like a sort of personal essay or poem. Really Stash describes Xposed the best on the Ep’s Intro. Over a new age slow jam of a beat, Stash sets things up for us: “I like to keep it upbeat, happy. But that’s not the reality of things. There’s a time to show people they can have fun, but still express how I feel about shit.”  And Stash truly is expressing how she feels. She totally bares her soul on Xposed. The Ep is a mediation on relationships, The good, bad and ugly. And, how they go from good to bad to ugly.

One of the standout tracks later on Xposed, is the dark, wavy R&B of “Swoop’d.” Stash tells the story of a relationship starting out with infatuation: “everything about you I had never seen before/pants, shoes, attitude.” But, as the song goes on we see things fall apart: “you just making shit up to a twisted reality/you don’t want me and/you sabotage it again and again and again.” At this point Stash is angry sad, maybe confused, but then we get to the aftermath when she sings “Yeah I got my heart broke/I don’t give a fuck/because at least I got to try this shit out” Stash’s music has always been self aware and insightful, but Xposed is really next level. Those lines at the end of “Swoop’d” are an important theme throughout the whole project. Stash is right there in the moment feeling these powerful emotions, but at the same time she is taking a step back and reflecting on everything she has been through.

Right after “Swoop’d” is the the EP’s saddest moment, “lovelost.” Stash opens the track the very heavy and very real statement “This is a sad one. It was the only one that actually mattered.” And, she goes on to rap about reconciling memories of an ex who she has feelings for– “visualizing your face thinking of you as nothing but that gold,” –but who she knows has hurt her and will do it again: “you still didn’t hear me/tore me up to watch it/you knew me too well/and you still jumped out of pocket.”

I know I described Stash as a “rapper and singer,” but really her music is unique a hybrid of both.  On one of the Ep’s more playful moments, the excellently named “you betta be muh fuckin jesus,” she raps for the most part, but sings her adlibs in the background effortlessly.  Stash has always mixed singing and rapping in her music, but her vocals on Xposed are the strongest they have ever been.

The production also is a perfect fit for Stash’s balance of emotional depth and introspection, but also just her downright grooviness and swag.  Over its 8 tracks, Xposed features a diverse batch of soulful and complex production with contributions from many of her frequent collaborators. Feathermeal, Don D, Froze and Blown (of Candy Drips fame!) and Stony Willis all have beats on the project. The production ranges from the ethereal reggae of “RosyHips” to the lo fi jazz rap of “you betta be muh fuckin jesus” to the  bass heavy funk of “muerte del amour.” Not to mention that unique synth anthem for the aforementioned “XPOSEDintro”, and the solemn, minimal sounds on “Lovelost.”

Even though she is being very open and vulnerable on these songs, we should  in no way take that as sign of weakness. As Stash points out in the intro: one side of Xposed is exposing her feelings and experiences, the other is about exposing folks who have wronged her. “fuk boi” has got to be one of the most beautiful R&B songs calling out shitty men. And, the more songs calling out shitty men the better. The whole song is full of great lines, but one of my favorites is: “And you bragging to your boys how your money game specific/but you show up to my crib with a beer/asking can we split it/oh you ballin now.”

The righteous anger continues on the triumphant “free.” Stash once again goes in on people who are her way: “excuse me? Do I need to go get my peeps and kick your bitch ass on Canal Street?” It’s a hilarious line, and it’s clear Stash is not taking anyone’s shit. But,  Even though this track is much more aggressive than other moments on Xposed , Stash still keeps things positive: “stop hating on us get your shit up with us.” Having “free” as the EP’s final track is a brilliant way to sum up the project. Stash has gone through a lot. But, in the end she is  moving forward with her head up, handling her shit. She’s free.

You can listen to Xposed, and all of Stash’s music on her bandcamp

-Nicholas Vogt
Twitter: @nicholasvogt

Blue Bottle Tequila & a Nation-Wide Tour: A Candy Drips Interview with Nedarb

L.A.-based producer and musician Nedarb has one hell of a discography. Not including production features, Ned has released over 100 songs on his own SoundCloud, including tracks with artists like Slug Christ, Yung Bruh, Eric Dingus, Cat Soup, Little Pain, Lil Peep, Wifigawd, and countless others. Now, as he prepares to tour through November with Ghostemane, Wavy Jone$, and Chxpo, as well as planning a few more releases before 2018, we decided to reach out to Nedarb and talk about his process, his drink of choice, and the influence of cloud rap. 

Candy Drips: Hey man, how’s it going? Care to introduce yourself to the reader?

Nedarb: Yerrr. I’m Nedarb or Ned or just plain old Braden. I’m 24, live in Los Angeles and am primarily a producer among other things.

Candy Drips: You’re closing out the year with a month long tour. Are you all ready to go?

Nedarb: Yes I’m going on tour with Ghostemane, Wavy Jone$ and Chxpo! I’m as ready as I can be. We’re buying some props and shit so it’ll be fun.

Candy Drips: What can audiences expect from your sets?

Nedarb: Honestly every act including myself on this lineup has crazy lit sets. Tons of mosh pits, crowd interaction, intimacy but mainly blood, sweat and tears.

Candy Drips: The tour goes from Minneapolis to Chicago and passes right through your home state. Are you salty you don’t get to play back home? When’s the last time you were in Wisconsin?

Nedarb: Wisconsin actually isn’t my home state. I grew up in Alberta, Canada throughout my elementary years then mainly grew up in New Hampshire. I’d say NH is my home state. I moved to WI in 2010 cuz of my dad’s job/me going to college there. But nah, I’m not too salty tbh. I have a handful of people I’d like to see but I get to see them enough in other cities so it’s not too bad. I haven’t been to Wisconsin since maybe winter of 2015.

Candy Drips: You’re one of the more eclectic producers in the game, with ties to names like Ghostemane but also Milo and even with a side project known as The Cigs. Are you open to all kinds of music? Does it just depend on the day?

Nedarb: Yes, I listen to all sorts of music which is why I make all sorts of music. I don’t like to stick to one genre. I think more artists should be braver and try out different shit. But at the same time sometimes that ends up being corny. I just make what I wanna hear. Obviously I’m mainly involved in rap music right now but I grew up playing in emo bands and even making techno music on Garageband in high school. But yeah, shout out Ghoste that’s my bro and Milo is a day one homie I’ve known since 2010 where we met in college. More The Cigs stuff in the works too, shout out Cortex.

Candy Drips: Can we expect to see a Nedarb blues album down the road?

Nedarb: Ehhh maybe not Blues, I’m not a good enough musician to play Blues music [laughs].

Candy Drips: Candy Drips is dominantly a cassette label. Do you think tapes will always have a market?

Nedarb: Yes, I highly believe in and support cassettes and any physical copies of music because someday the internet could get wiped like who knows, and all of the digital music would be lost. Physicals are like fossils that people will find hundreds of years from now.

Candy Drips: We chatted for a while after James Laurence from Friendzone passed earlier this year. Can you speak a bit on the duo’s influence on your music, and the cloud rap movement in general?

Nedarb: Cloud rap was definitely the coolest shit to me in terms of rap music in the past 10 years. I love ambient music, emotional stuff, trap, melodic shit, etc. etc. and it was just a perfect mix of all of that.

I’d say Clams Casino and Friendzone are my top 2 production influences for sure. They just made beats that could make me cry. I’d never felt that way about other production before.

Candy Drips: Do you make music every day or does it come in waves?

Nedarb: It comes in waves. I’ll go weeks without making music but everyday I try to do something productive in terms of my career. Life gets hella busy tho, I really have to make time to make shit, but at the same time I never like to force anything. when I was visiting home in NH last week I made the most shit I made in the past few months, mainly because I felt refreshed and peaceful at home. Also whenever anyways says, “Come to the studio” or “Let’s work right now” I never want to [laughs] I just do shit on my own time and send it out.

Candy Drips: What can we expect from you as we close out 2017 and enter in 2018?

Nedarb: I’m TRYING to wrap up an album featuring production from myself with all my homies on the vocals. That’s gonna take a while though. The only shit I have planned aside from random singles produced by me here and there is a collab tape w/ TRiPPJONES dropping around Halloween and a collab EP w/ lil zubin sometime this winter. Oh, and also I’m pretty sure i’m gonna be doing some shit with Chynna, which I’m most excited about. Also just more GBC shit of course.

Candy Drips: What bottle of liquor are you grabbing from the corner store?

Nedarb: Lately I’ve been drinking tequila. I forget what the one I get is called but it’s like hella tall and the bottle is dark blue [laughs].

Candy Drips: What’s your favorite album of the year?

Nedarb: Prolly the new Corbin album.

Candy Drips: Any words of wisdom / final thoughts?

Nedarb: Yeah, don’t let girls break your heart.

Ben Niespodziany
Twitter: @neonpajamas

NATTYMARI ALL KILL NO FILL

 

TOO LATE DONT READ by NATTYMARI
blamblamfever:

Go ‘head Nattymari. I’d really love to see him live with a few projection screens, fog machines and promethazine. He is the beast in the house of witch just melodically plodding through, one uncategorizable thump at a time.

I wrote this seven years ago and it still rings true. The uncategorizable thump connoisseur Nattymari returns with a new album out now on the equally underground Clan Destine Records. Both stalwarts in the witchhouse scene but known for so much more than that labeling, Natty and Carl Clan Destine have pushed real vibes, championing DJ Screw, obscure southern rap, house, techno, minimal synth, LoFi and basically all things experimental. Much like this label Candy Drips, and its creators. It comes from a crystal clear love of rap and electronic music, all its filthy aspects, a desire to explore them, cultivate them, contaminate the mainstream from fissures in the depths while never engaging much with it, except to maybe snatch a sample, illegally. Which brings me back around to that wanting to see him live bit, it wasn’t meant to be, Nattymari is a ghost in the machine, a recluse, transmitting from a self commited exile.

I don’t want things to go back to any Golden Era in music, I just want progression through experimentation and Nattymari has never let me down. Through tracks and visuals he has been throwing down the gauntlet for over a decade. And this album, Too Late Dont Read is no slouch in the throwed department.

From the jump,  its already a journey.  Gypsy Woman is a mellow, warped percolator that begins to jack like a raver dragging themself from the floor once the ecstasy high has burned off a little. The bass on His Masters Whisper is ominous and Nattymari utilizes hi-hats like the Legendary Traxster did in the 90s, he weaponizes them.  I’ve Seen The Greatest Minds Of My Generation Destroyed By Meme Music gives me chills,  a fully layered jaunt that reminds you, if you were fortunate enough to see them, of the videos he has created to accompany his sonic mutations.  Its that fleshed out. Speaking of flesh (trade) And Super Creep sounds like a sex droid malfunctioning, humping the floor, crawling spider-like towards its horrified client (soon to be victim) while it’s insides violently bleep glitched music snippets as sparks shoot from its orifices. On If This Was Seven Years Ago All You Rappers Would Be Juggalos, a monster synth line is accompanied by a hilariously angry diatribe.

The B side starts with the slow burn of Her Smell and the Impact of Evil then immediately revs up next with Hose, an off kilter beat with uptempo club touches and the title track, T.L.D.R has that post footwork urgency too.  Next up, Cubby Ting is a dubby ting, a King Tubby ting, skanking along at a real rude pace.  Slowing it down even more, Fuck Everybody hits that boulevard cruising speed and plays like a DJ Screw grey tape that has been warped in the heat of a Cadillac glove compartment. Complementing the chaotic flow of this album Bama Ghost is the only feature on the next track, Got All That Somethin with a delivery like a based Brotha Lynch Hung or more accurately, a Houston freestyle like my personal favorites, Big Wen from Beltway 8 or Al D from S.U.C. Kaybar closes it all out with a ghetto tech and breaks adventure clocking in at a minute and a half. Its not just some beat tape. It’s different. It’s Nattymari


-CECIL BLAM DEMENTED
Twitter: @BLAMLORD

Piloting a Cloudd Body Spaceship: An Interview with MondreM.A.N

Cloud Rap is still alive in the eyes of Bay Area legend MondreM.A.N. The influential visionary has been active for over half a decade (with solo work and projects as part of Main Attrakionz) and recently gave us a batch of new material to bump. Not only did he announce a partnership with Jungle Strut music, but he also released a music video and single for the track “Helen Keller” (included above). Produced by Rav Mojo, the bass-heavy track showcases Mondre in his element. I spoke with 1/2 of the Best Duo Over over email and chatted about his future plans, the tragic loss of Friendzone member James Laurence, and the impact Monre has already made on the rap game.

Candy Drips: Hey man, how’s it going? Care to introduce yourself to the reader?

MondreMAN: yerrrp wats hannnin dis Mondre Mathafukin M.A.N, salamalkim hope eybody str8 & maintainin out dere.

Candy Drips: You just announced a deal along with releasing a single and a video. Was it a loose track or part of a bigger project?

MondreMAN: i recorded dat project in LA lyk a year or 2 bak. shout out jungle strut music, “i want tha world” will be comin out soon be onda lookout for alot comin frum dat project. bt it was kinda like a few otha projects in the past. i pretty much had da music done and then a support system came and wanted to help/be apart of this so we made it happen. shout out Greg & Rav Mojo for eythang.

Candy Drips: What can we expect from Mondre as we close out 2017 and enter into 2018?

MondreMAN: i cant tell da future so just stay ready so yall ain gotta git ready haha. but im writin sum films rii now an im puttin da finishin tuches on my next project that i feel iz my best rii now! dat shit slap so hard aha bt ima hav ta doa notha 1 of these wit yall an let ya kno wats da deal with that. alot i wana say bout this new shit comin bt ima hold back.

Candy Drips: MAz is such a dynasty and an influential powerhouse. Has it been difficult promoting yourself as a solo artist?

MondreMAN: umm not really cause i ain really git ta pushin how it shud be done yet. i js ben gettin to da Big Bag of Chips ya feel me.

Candy Drips: When y’all started releasing music like crazy back in 2011/2012, did you think it would be as historic and groundbreaking five years later? How do you look back on those times?

MondreMAN: we came in dis game doin wat we loved & wanted ta do & we are actually Dope & ill at dis so it did wat it did as yall can see. i love watchin all da old videos an pics ect smh lol

Candy Drips: Do you think cloud rap is still alive?

MondreMAN: all ima say rii now iz that it neva died. Gahdamm Gahdamm lol ima gitta VVS CLOUDD piece real soon inshallah an a bust down Mishka watch on mamas aha. dis Cloudd shit bigger den rap to ME an yall will see an understand real soon. im js focus on dem blue chicken strips rii now.

Candy Drips: It’s tragic that James Laurence passed earlier this year, and I’ve found myself revisiting the Friendzone songs over the last few months. Care you to speak on Friendzone and the legacy they left behind?

MondreMAN: i got love fo dem an dey shud kno that. i miss yu jigga james an yu too dylan, holla at me yerrrrp. i find that subject hard to talk about publicly. FriendZone 4eva tho beleeve dat.

Candy Drips: Candy Drips is dominantly a cassette label. Do you think tapes will always have a market?

MondreMAN: shid i think so. just need ta come out wit sum upgraded tape players. i ain seen 1 in hella long ta be real wit cha aha.

Candy Drips: What bottle of liquor are you grabbing from the corner store? Joints, blunts, spliffs, bongs, or bowls?

MondreMAN: lol Henny raws an dutches an wateva else i wana put in my tank haha Cloudd Body! yerrrp

Candy Drips: Outside of your own music, what have you been listening to recently?

MondreMAN: tha carter 1, lil suzy frum bak nda 80s i think an whole lotta old tunes it feel lyk now aha. bt im feelin dat girl rico nasty tho aha she kinda bussin i ain neva herd a chick lyk dat. she gotta song wit trappinbenny who i wana beat frum that slap lyk ike did tina yu herd aha an shit a lot of mafuggas dat ain got no music recorded or kno anything bout da internet/music game bt got Gas tho onda real. hopefully da world will hear dem soon.

Candy Drips: Any words of wisdom / final thoughts?

MondreMAN: Boss ya Life UP! rip doughboy roc. yall be smooth out dere yo, 1love yerrrrp

Ben Niespodziany
Twitter: @neonpajamas

Never Uninspired: An Interview With Keyboard Kid

Like his frequent collaborator Lil B, Keyboard Kid is a prolific and uniquely talented artist. He produces for folks across the board, has a pretty vast discography of instrumental albums, and he raps, too! And, Keyboard is also one of the most positive dudes ever. He’s super insightful, forward-thinking and well…Based. His newest release, the instrumental collection Based In The Rain 4 is out now (you can get it on cassette now from Candy Drips!) Recently Keyboard Kid and I chatted about his career in music, Limewire, what it means to be truly be “Based,” his hometown, videogame soundtracks,  and much, much more…

Nick: The first thing I wanted to ask was how did you get your start in music? What made you wanna get into making beats?

Keyboard Kid: I always was into music growing up. I was very musical and kinda just did it as a hobby. I’d write songs. I went to church when I was younger, so I was in love with instruments. One of the first things I did as a kid when I was probably like 7 or so was I started playing the trumpet. I played that for about a year and I ended up breaking my hand playing football.

Nick: Oh damn.

Keyboard Kid: Yeah, and then I never picked the trumpet back up, but I always had the love for music. The next thing I wanted to learn how to play was the drums, but, I grew up in an apartment, a five kid household; so there wasn’t really no room for no drums. But (I) used to write songs. I used to download instrumentals by the time I got to be in highschool. I was probably like 15 or so. On Napster or Limewire. I forget which one. It was probably Limewire at the time. I would search for instrumentals. I was really into the Roc-A-Fella records sound, the soul sound, at the time. Like Just Blaze and Kanye. And I remember I downloaded some leaked Kanye. It was the “Through The Wire” instrumental. That was before I really had even heard the song. And, I fell in love with it.

I used to write my own rhymes to Kanye’s songs. Over the beat and shit. And, one day I was like “I wanna make my own beats. I wanna make something like Kanye. Something dope!” So, then I just started downloading software. And, I had some cheap ass “E-DJ” or something like that. Just a couple of break loops. But it was really by chance. I was trying to find something that I could make beats on. And my homeboy, one of my older friends, had Reason. I went to his house and he showed me Reason. It was real dope, but it looked a little complicated as someone that didn’t know music technically.

So, I was like “yo, I don’t know if that’s gonna work.” I went home and just tried to find out what was out there. I was fairly new to the software game. Because back then everybody was on MPCs. If you didn’t have have an MPC you wasn’t doing nothing. So, I was like “Do I wanna by a $2000 MPC or do I wanna buy this little car?” I was like 16, and I rather would’ve had the car. Luckily, I stumbled across FL Studio. I just downloaded it. I was kinda nerdy, you know what I mean? I was always good with computers. My mom worked with computers at Microsoft. I was just familiar with them. And, I actually figured out how to crack FL way back.

Nick: Nice.

Keyboard Kid: It was FL one, man. I’m talking like the dinkiest sounds you could find. And, I would mess with it for hours. My friends would come over like “What the hell you doing?” So, my summer going into Junior year I spent teaching myself Fruity Loops. So, it got to the point where I could make a decent loop for me and my friends to rap on. And that’s kinda how it all began. And, I made a beat one day and people was like “Yo, this is actually dope! You should get somebody to rap on it.” I was like “Yeah, ok” I formed a small group with a mutual friend. He had access to a studio, so I would go in and make beats and rap on them. That kinda dissolved. It was around ’04 or ’05 I was just fresh out of highschool.

I didn’t have much going on with the music. I didn’t really know what to do. And nobody in my city in Seattle really understood my sound or my style of beats. It was real colorful and different. I gave some people some beats and they were like “Yo, these are dope as fuck. But, they’re just too different. They’re not really what we’re looking for.” I was kinda discouraged at the time.

But, also I was like “yo, what do I have to lose?” So, I just started hitting everybody up I could find doing music on Myspace. Back when Myspace was a thing.

I always liked The Pack’s music. And, something just spoke to me. Almost like a voice spoke to me to tell me to contact Brandon, Lil B. I was like “What do I got to lose?” I messaged everybody in The Pack at the time. And, Brandon hit me back. I actually didn’t even send him a beat! On Myspace I was like “Hey, I would love to send you some music. I don’t want nothing from you. I just wanna make some dope music!” And, you know how Lil B is. A super cool, open nice person. He gave me an email. Some random email. I sent a couple beats, and he was like “Yo, these are fire! Send me some more!” He gave me a different email address I sent him some more to that one. He was like “Yo, this is so crazy I fuck with you!” Then he gave me his real email and his number. I called him, and we ended up talking for like 2 hours on the phone about music, about everything. He was like “Yo, my group situation just started to dissolve. I’m looking into doing solo music. Would you like to be a part of what I’m doing?” I was like “Yeah, I don’t got much going.” But, I was like “What’s Based?”

He was saying it was gonna be called “Based World” and it was about living with love, kinda being a rebel but living with love and positivity. And, that was something I could get behind. I was like “I’m down with Based World. I’ll help!” And our relationship just grew from there. We would send music back and forth and talk about music. Discuss ideas. He would ask me like, “where do you see music going?”

I was a young cat and I was smoking weed. Me and my homies we would listen to ambient music on Youtube and shit. And I was like “Yo, what if we rapped on ambient music?” I wanted to switch up the genre. Something calming, but still on hard-hitting ambient beats. And that was kinda the birth of Cloud Rap, really. I started experimenting with more atmospheric sounds. I would treat the sample like an atmosphere or a pad. Just trying to play it, and make it make sense. That was kinda what made me feel like I really could take music serious. I was probably like 19 at the time.

Nick: Wow. That’s awesome. And, you really addressed a lot of the shit I wanted to talk about right there! Something I’ve always felt about Cloud Rap is that there is a lot of emotion in it. And, you kinda just touched on that about how that sound came from ambient music. For me the idea of “Cloud Rap” is very emotional. When I listen to your music and also Clams Casino it feels deeply sad to me, but also hopeful. When you’re making a beat, do you feel like you are really in the zone and emotionally connected to it kinda?

Keyboard Kid: Totally, man! Not being a musician that’s technically trained it’s all emotion, all feeling. Especially growing up here in the Northwest. I spend a lot of time inside because of the rain. “Cloud” really came from Seattle, man. People really credit Clams a lot, but he told me the beats he made were inspired by my music. Because he saw me out there working with Lil B and he got inspired. So, it came through me and it filtered through Oakland with Squadda B and Main Attrakionz. They were all in North Oakland like where Oakland and Berkeley meet. Like the Turf out there. Where all the young cats would kick it.

I was using the internet and getting the beats out there. They would play each other the music. They were like “Who is this? This is crazy!” I was actually in The Bay with Squadda not too long ago. And he told me “A lot of your earlier music inspired me.” It’s just crazy because where I’m at there isn’t really a market. So, It really got picked up and commercialized. But, it all started from me.

Nick: Yeah, I feel like you are kind of a touchstone for so much music in the last like 7 years. You’ve produced for SO MANY people. You mentioned Squadda, and there have been a lot of other people on the come up that you’ve worked with. A lot of folks might be like “Oh, Keyboard Kid that’s Lil B’s producer” Which is true, but you’ve been a producer for so many other artists, too. What makes you wanna work with someone? Is there like a quality that certain rappers have? Is there something you see in the folks you’ve collaborated with?

Keyboard Kid: Yeah, I’ve always felt kinda eccentric. Like an individual. A little bit ahead of my time as far as what’s going on. I’m always looking to push culture forward. It’s just in my nature. I’m always questioning. If someone tells me something I gotta ask why. I don’t just take things at face value. I always felt like rap could always go further. It could evolve. And, when the big money gets involved people just start chasing trends. When I came in I just wanted to say “fuck all the trends.” I was like “Why isn’t my my music hip hop? I grew up listening to hip hop.”

My feeling is I don’t care what you’re doing. If you’re making dope music and doing something different then I wanna help you. I like taking risks. So, a lot of times people be asking me “Why’d you work with them?” And it’s because I wanna do something different. I don’t want my  music to sound like everybody else’s. I wanna take risks on these young kids because I remember when I didn’t have the same opportunities. Nobody really wanted to give me a shot. So, I feel like why not just help them and carve new lanes and new paths. That’s kinda what helps me make my decisions as far as who to work with. And, also personal interaction. I feel like I can kinda tell from how people approach you when they message you. It’s almost like I’ve learned a language through the internet. Like I can see who’s sincere.

Nick: Hell yeah. I actually feel kinda the same way about getting a feel from how people approach or talk with you online. I mean, in setting up this interview or the times we have talked on Twitter or whatever before you have always been very real and very positive. And, I do think that’s rare. And it’s important. It seems like you and Lil B are definitely similar when it comes to positivity. I think the Based movement inspired a lot of folks to be more open and more positive, but it has been a while. Do you think things have changed over the years at all?

Keyboard Kid: I feel like it definitely has changed, perverted a bit from what it used to be. There’s a lot more troll culture now. I mean we were kinda pioneers of that with “Based,” but I feel like there’s a lot more now. Here’s the thing: we were trolling, but with Based it was always a foundation of love, you feel me? It’s about love and understanding and trying to do something positive. I feel like a lot of people now do unnecessary things to get seen. It’s like a lot of things when money gets involved and people see you can make a lot of money. And, everybody is trying to innovate and do their thing, but let’s keep positivity first.

Let’s keep love first. I make hip hop, man. No matter how it sounds, and hip hop is about uplifting the people. As long as these young guys and these new acts are coming in with positivity and trying to help people and help music then I got no beef with what they’re doing.

And, you know a lot of the time you gotta meet people in person. That’s why I don’t really wanna point the finger and judge. And, you know times have changed. Young people have a lot more stuff to deal with these days. It’s crazy times, man. But, as long as you keep love and positivity and fun first then it’s all good. It’s just art people gotta express themselves, but people also gotta know if you’re making art you got a responsibility to push culture forward. That’s how I look at music and at art. It really is a universal language. It is saying things and speaking to people in different ways. So, lay the foundation with love. And stay true to you! Be original. I understand there’s trends. But, influence is one thing, and to emulate is another thing.

Nick: What you just said is exactly what I see as being Based. Being true to yourself, being real. It’s interesting that you called Based sort of a “positive trolling.” And I think it definitely was especially at first. Some of the things Lil B was doing like calling himself a “Bitch” and the way he dressed was like shit people never would have done in mainstream rap before. And, that is totally a troll move to me. It shook things up a lot. Have you heard about these fucking Alt Right guys who have kind of taken Based and co-opted it, trying to make it some hateful thing?

Keyboard Kid: Man, I’m on the internet all the time, so I’ve been seeing it. We’re seeing it emerge now it started on 4 Chan and the chatrooms. They definitely perverted the use of based. Using it for the opposite. Those people are strange, man. They have nothing to do with Based. They’re just complete trolls. They’re just using something that is widely accepted by a lot of people, especially young people, as a way to be impressionable on the young people. We got a lot of new, coming-of-age, spongey minds out there.

I really feel like that is some weirdo shit, man. There’s some things in the works, though. You know Lil B is aware of it, and we were having a conversation about it over the weekend. And then Fader came out with the article about it. People are noticing that. True Based people. All of that will be addressed soon. This stuff’s copywritten. So, if need be there could be some steps taken.

Nick: Yeah I mean Lil B was calling out folks for being Fake Based years ago and these guys are absolutely the definition of Fake Based.

Keyboard Kid: The truest form. Real talk.

Nick: Earlier you mentioned samples, and how you were using ambient music in your production and that helped you kinda find your sound. I wanted to ask you about what leads you to a sample? And what makes you wanna choose the samples you use? One of my favorite tracks on the new project is “Tokyo Ghoul Music” which has this awesome guitar sample on it. I feel like you really have a knack for finding beautiful samples.

Keyboard Kid: It’s just life, you know? Life experience. Everything that makes me “me” is what I put into my music. Genres I stumbled across when I was younger and pop culture. I’ve always been into animation. And, a lot of my samples come from that realm. I’ve always been into cinematography and movies. I’m all about the feel and the textures of the music I create. It’s like water, you know? Water is metaphorical for me. Say, music was water. If you could submerge yourself in the water, that’s how I feel about music. I want it to fill the room you’re in. I feel it in the air. The viscosity. Is it a thick texture? Is it smooth? Is it floaty? To me music comes out like a 3D space. It’s kinda weird to explain.

Nick: I totally get it. And anybody who has heard your music will understand that I think. That makes a ton of sense, and I think perfectly describes your beats.

Keyboard Kid: It’s like watching a movie. I want you to feel that whole vibe. Like the song “Kush In The Beamer” I want you to feel like you’re smoking kush in a Beamer.

Nick: You’ve made so many beats! I feel like you’ve done so many instrumentals and you are always producing for rappers. Do you ever feel like you get “writer’s block?” like do you ever hit a wall where you just don’t have ideas, or can’t create?

Keyboard Kid: Yeah more so that I’ve gotten older. Not so much a “writer’s block,” but more like a time thing. I got a daughter now. And I got a family. It’s a blessing, you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s been a balancing act with work and personal life as of recently. Sometimes I feel like I might have to go digging for new sounds. But, it’s never like I can’t make a beat. Honestly, if I had nothing else to do I’d make beats all day every day.

I’m never uninspired it’s kinda crazy. I can find inspiration in many things. Just life. Some of the things that help me if I do get in a place that’s kinda slow is I’ll play videogames. And I’ll think in my head like, “what would I make for the soundtrack for this game?” I’ll play games for like 30 minutes, and then I’ll hop back on the beats. I keep my playstation and my beats right next to each other.

Nick: That makes a lot of sense. I feel like a lot of your production does remind me of video game soundtracks in a lot of ways. That’s something you have in common with Lil B, I think. He’s a huge fan of videogames, of course. And also he’s ALWAYS working. He has put out so much music.

Keyboard Kid: I always felt like I’m the producer version of Lil B. We’re definitely kindred spirits in the creative sense.

Nick: And you’re not just a producer, of course. Earlier you were talking about rapping over instrumentals. And, it’s a bit rare to hear you rap, but I’ve definitely heard you spit on a couple things. I think you did an album with Pepperboy?

Keyboard Kid: Yeah! We did the whole Endangered project.

Nick: Oh! And I remember there’s a Mishka song, too. One of those posse cuts. I think I was on that song, actually.

Keyboard Kid: Hell yeah.

Nick: Is rapping something you wanna purse more? Or do you feel like it is more of a “here and there” thing for you?

Keyboard Kid: It’s one of those things where I get to a certain point and I feel like I’ve expressed myself as much as I can through the beats, but I have more stuff I need to get out. That’s what leads me to make rap projects. I got a few projects on my bandcamp page. Mostly freestyle shit. I’ve never really sat down and wrote except for one little mixtape I did called Under The Sea under my alias Namor. I didn’t even write all the songs on there, but I did write a few. Most of the songs that I do write I never record.

But, I do have a passion for rapping in general. I freestyle all the time. My homies are like, “just go in the booth and record the shit!” So, I think when the time is right I definitely wanna make an album. I just wanna do it right. There’s legit people in the industry I wanna tap in with and make it happen. We got a lot of work to do this year with Based World Records starting up. Getting things really popping. I think after we do this, I’ll have time to really go in on a real album. With me rapping and writing my songs and telling my stories. But, the story hasn’t even been finished yet, and I can’t even make the album I wanna make. You know what I’m saying?

Nick: You mean you feel like you wanna have more experiences, do more shit to be able to write about it?

Keyboard Kid: Yeah I wanna live a little more. There’s things going on in my career right now that I wanna talk about, but in retrospect probably. I wanna be able to close the chapter. I feel like I’m still writing chapters, getting things going. Even me and Lil B just working and trying new things. Black Ken’s really the start of a second life for Based World. After me and him knock a few more tapes out we’ll start working on my project.

I also wanna make like a Neptunes style compilation album like Clones where I produce for various artists.

Nick: You have so many connections with different artists I feel like that would be dope.

Keyboard Kid: Yeah I just wanna tap in with all the cats across the region even folks overseas. Get em all on the album. Put together some cool collaborations of underground people you haven’t heard work together. I think that’d be my goal. I’d want that album released on a major label. To shine light on people I’ve always listened to and respected.

Nick: That really speaks to how you’ve been you’re whole career in music. You’ve always lifted people up like you were saying earlier. I definitely wanna hear that project! Looking forward to it.

Keyboard Kid: It’ll be dope. And I’ve been working on my business side of things. I’ve been working with a young artist from Seattle named Misunderstood. I’m gonna be cultivating her sound. I really got my hands in a bunch of things. Just staying busy, man.

Nick: What do you think about the local scene in Seattle? I talked with AJ Suede a few weeks ago and he was mentioning that the music scene is pretty dope. Do you feel like you are really a part of the local scene?

Keyboard Kid: I feel like I’m one of the artists that helped cultivate the underground sound and scene. Just from being in touch with the Based aspect of it. And with my sound getting bigger. I’ve inspired a lot and got some shit popping out of here. A lot of people see me, and were inspired to do their own thing. GBC started up here and Thraxxhouse. I gave them the green light to use that name. Those are my little homies. Like Key Nyata, that’s my bro.

I feel like I definitely carved a scene. I think it could be more organized and more orchestrated. I’m from here so I feel like it gets redundant. The type of bills and lineups they have. But, you know I feel like I’ve done what I can do in Seattle I’m just trying to go global now. Seattle is cool. It’s a cool little scene and there’s a lot of people dedicated to the craft and the art. It’s definitely an artists’ scene like AJ was saying. AJ’s real cool. The weather really does make people wanna stay inside. It’s a producer’s place. A lot more producers and musicians came out of Washington than people know about. But, that’s because we have to go other places to get noticed. You can’t get plugged in here. There’s no real hub.

Nick: Like you gotta go to LA or to San Francisco or to like NYC?

Keyboard Kid: Yeah you eventually gotta move. Maybe just for a little bit. I feel like I was kinda in my utilization of the internet. I was getting seen. And, like I was saying when I was coming up no one really understood my shit. They weren’t really fucking with it. My first show as Keyboard Kid wasn’t in Seattle. I got booked in New York and Vegas and Portland and shit before here. Seattle can be kind of elitist and they need to stop doing that. They got their own little closed circle like a who’s. I think they should be a little more open. There’s a lot of young talent out here. There’s just not the platform. We don’t have the radio stations and shit like that.

Nick: That’s pretty much all I wanted to talk to you about. I feel like we’ve covered a lot of stuff! Is there anything else you wanna say?

Keyboard Kid: Shout out Candy Drips. Shout out Based World records. Everybody go grab that Based In The Rain 4. And look out for Millennium Thraxx it’s gonna be a very high energy, colorful project I’m dropping soon. And look out for all the music me and Lil B are gonna be dropping.

Nick: Hell yeah I really feel like Lil B is back and this is, like you said, a kind of second coming. I’m psyched to hear you guys working together on new shit.

Keyboard Kid: He’s definitely fired up. He’s got that fire in him. A lot’s happened and a lot of it happened very quickly. And we worked so hard. We had to take a little breather. But, now we back, we fresh, and going crazy.

-Nicholas Vogt
Twitter: @nicholasvogt

Older posts

© 2018 Candy Drips

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑