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Tag Archives: Interviews

Ras Kass Talks Blasphemy LP, Working with Apollo Brown and Longevity in Rap

The idea of having one producer and one MC handle their respective duties on a project is not a new concept in Hip Hop. Quite frankly, that was the blueprint before the album-by-committee became the more accepted norm. This one-on-one formula has been making its way back into the culture with some efforts coming off forced, or contrived, and others finding the participants’ strengths melding into a cohesive offering, giving fans a project worthy of anticipation. Apollo Brown and Ras Kass’ latest effort falls into the latter category: a project that packs edgy beats with rewind-worthy rhymes. It’s what you’d expect from two artists that continue to build their careers on consistency, forgoing the trappings of commerce and dedicating themselves to the culture. This achievement becomes even more noteworthy because they don’t self-congratulate and provide excessive commentary about the struggle; they just get in and get busy throughout their new album Blasphemy. Aside from the headliners holding it down, the guest artists are well-placed and provide just the right compliment to the thematic feel of each record. In other words, Apollo and Ras supply the listener with a well-crafted album that harkens back to the Golden Era while remaining firmly rooted in the present. Ras Kass took the time to shed some light on his recording process and how he and Apollo crafted this latest project on Mello Music Group. You sound so at ease with this latest project. Explain how this comfort factor was developed working with Apollo Brown. ... Read More »

Kid Vishis Discusses Debut Album, Sibling Bond with Royce Da 5’9″ and Detroit’s Scene

Coming into the game as the younger sibling of a successful rapper can often be tricky. Just ask Jungle or 9th Prince. Constantly being faced with comparisons and repetitive questions about your brother’s work and your current relationship can be frustrating. It requires somebody with a lot of confidence to prevent the seeds of doubt from being planted by naysaying onlookers. Kid Vishis, younger brother of Royce Da 5’9”, has been prepared for the critics for a long time. The Detroit native recently released his debut album Timing is Everything and we caught up Kid Vishis to find out whether he worries about being in his brother’s shadow and what he see’s for the future of Detroit Hip Hop.  So your album dropped today; congratulations! How does it feel? Oh man, I feel on top of the world right now man. It’s amazing because I’m get a lot of different looks. Looks from pretty big websites and names and things like that so everything is just like on the up right now. Some people say it takes your whole life to make your first album. What were you trying to say on this project? It is what it is man. It takes the time that it takes for people to feel like they’re ready to do an album. My whole focus wasn’t even making albums or songs, my focus at first was just kicking people’s ass on verses. If I do a feature with them or stuff like that. I ... Read More »

Cormega Talks Mega Philosophy, Working With Large Pro and How His Perspective Has Changed

Cormega’s new LP Mega Philosophy is in stores now and its clear ‘Mega has come a long way from his start as a young emcee on “Going Straight Up” from Hot Day’s 1989 album It’s My Turn (which is worth digging up). From his incarceration and label issues to his highly-publicized industry beefs which the media still tries to play up in interviews, Cormega is an emcee who has always persevered and made his own way, giving Hip Hop his best every time he’s in the recording booth. He’s not a man who takes his rhymes lightly, as he once declared on 2009’s “Make It Clear,” a DJ Premier-produced cut from his Born And Raised album. His latest LP finds him working exclusively with longtime collaborator Large Professor. On Mega Philosophy, Cormega presents himself as an artist ready to be judged on his own merit, not by his past associations or an expectation that he sound like what he was creating back in the 90s. Though a listen to the album itself will provide a lot of insight for fans wondering where ‘Mega’s head is at currently, I got the opportunity to build with Cormega and expand on the new project, his legacy and how he’s grown as a man and as an artist. You worked exclusively with Large Professor on Mega Philosophy while Born And Raised had a number of different producers on the boards. How do you think working with one veteran producer affected the sound of the ... Read More »

Buckshot Discusses New Album, Backpack Rap and Independent Success

Buck does it all. Buck did it all. Buck’s doing it all. For someone who has been in the realm of Hip Hop for over 20 years, Buckshot has every right to make such a bold statement. After the release of his latest project Backpack Travels, a collaboration with producer P-Money, I got a chance to speak with the Hip Hop veteran. Backpack Travels is a reminder of Buckshot’s relevance in Hip Hop to this day. Speaking on the collaboration, Duck Down Music and an array of topics, one thing was evident in my conversation with Bucktown’s finest: Buckshot is an artist who remained true to mission since day one. “I represent the BPRs. You know, all the Backpack (rapper) stars. I’m down with giving a damn about the culture.” Read More »

Skyzoo & Torae Talk Barrel Brothers, Working Together & The New York Sound

It’s hard being a Hip Hop head sometimes, endlessly waiting on albums that are always being pushed back or never coming to fruition. For years, fans have yearned for another Black Star album, been tormented by the myth of Act IIand completely lost all hope on Detox.Since their first appearance over a DJ Premier beat, fans have been desperately waiting on a full-length project from Skyzoo and Torae. On May 27th their prayers will be answered when the New York duo release Barrel Brothers. I caught up with them to find out what took so long, their take on the New York resurgence and the gentrification of Brooklyn. Mazin: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you guys meet? Skyzoo: We met back in…’05. We met back in 2005. Tor does a better job of telling the quick version of this story then I do. He can take it from there. Torae: The quick short version… we actually got linked up via Chaundon and DJ Vega Benetton who were working on a project and Chaundon wanted both of us to feature on the record. We heard each other’s verses, we were fans of one and other, we started kind of chopping it up on the Sidekick, and then we met later on after that, face to face. We’ve been cool ever since. Mazin: Now I’m sure the talks for you two to do a project together have been in the works for a long time. What took so long and ... Read More »

Pharoahe Monch Discusses PTSD, Traumatic Experiences and Reinvigorating Live Shows

“I’m tryin’ to utilize my time to shine here, I realize we only have limited time here” -Pharoahe Monch, “Time2” on PTSD I cannot say enough about the authenticity and intensity of Pharoahe Monch’s presence. It is rare to hear a serious sense of conviction when an artist is “selling” his/her brand. Often artists are eager to hype up their most recent projects, almost at the cost of just being real, relatable people. Clarity by way of learning through life experience is what the above line from “Time2”embodies and is what one of Hip Hop’s most thorough veterans, Pharoahe Monch, brings to the table with PTSD. After the recent release of PTSD, a European tour and some time to reflect on both, Pharoahe Monch took a little time out his day to spend with KevinNottingham.com. The result was a sobering discussion on his gratitude for PTSD’s warm embrace by fans new and old, the detriment of dumbing down and the importance of creating meaningful content. NathanAnthony: So, PTSD is out there for listeners to wrestle with. How has the album been received? Pharoahe Monch: I mean, man, it’s pretty overwhelming. As social networking goes for me, to get to see everything, naysayers or critics, and fans. My fans are very critical, and to get this type of feedback, this positive type feedback, it’s just confirmation of [my] hard work and honesty. It’s dope man. Fans are really enjoying the record. It just feels really good. Nathan: How does it feel ... Read More »

Apollo Brown Talks .38, “Grey” Sound and Revolving Not Evolving as a Producer

These days, it’s quite common for artists to flood their listeners with an obscene amount of music. From G.O.O.D Fridays to monthly mixtapes, the Internet age has lead to artists constantly releasing music to appease the click-happy, ADD generation of listeners, often at the cost of quality. So, some might be skeptical to hear that Detroit producer Apollo Brown is releasing another project, having released close to ten albums in the past four years. But Apollo Brown seems to have mastered the quantity versus quality balance equation. He has some how managed to maximize both sides of the scale and consistently release high quality work at an unparalleled rate. His latest offering, .38, is no exception. The instrumental album is a dark, gritty and almost disturbing project that is perfectly sewn together. I caught up with Apollo to discuss why he calls his music “grey,” daytime prostitution and the possibility of another album from The Left. Mazin: First of all congratulations on your album! Apollo Brown: I appreciate it. Mazin: It’s really an amazing listen. What was your vision going into this project? AB: I mean, you know, let me start of by saying three years ago I put out an album called Clouds. A lot of my fans know what Clouds is. It’s an instrumental album. Clouds is one of those albums where I gave you a backdrop for reflection. And it was something that had a theme to it. It was something that you put on when you ... Read More »

Big K.R.I.T. Talks Cadillactica, Paying Homage To Legends and How K.R.I.T. Wuz Here Was Almost His Farewell Project

I’ve heaped plenty of praise at Big K.R.I..T. over the years, but it’s well deserved. Since 2010, the man has been on a meteoric rise through the Hip Hop ranks and established himself as one of the best in the game today. On the tail end of his most recent tour, I got to speak with the Meridian native about his journey up till now and what’s in store for the future. Over the course of our discussion, K.R.I.T. explains his early struggles as an artist from a small town in Mississippi and why K.R.I.T. Wuz Here could have been his last project. We also touch on fan disappointment with his major label debut, how that experience better prepared him for his second album Cadillactica, why he won’t be producing the LP in its entirety and much more. Justin: How did the latest tour go for you? KRIT: The tour’s been love with Macklemore and Talib [Kweli]. To be out on the road and perform in front of – even me opening – 3000-4000 people… some of them that may be familiar with the music, some not, and to get the kind of response that I’ve been getting and gaining them fans, it’s always beautiful. Then to be inspired by a legend like Talib Kweli perform and seeing Macklemore & Ryan Lewis kill it every night, just seeing how intricate their show is and how much they put into it. That’s inspiring to me. It started on October 22nd and I performed in some places that I never thought I would perform: three times in the Theater at Madison Square ... Read More »

Marco Polo Talks His Tribute To Guru, Creating The Brooklyn Nets Theme Song and Bad Interviews [Part 2]

Earlier this week we brought you part one of our interview with producer Marco Polo. Today KN brings you part two of our conversation with the Canadian beatsmith, who recently dropped his new album PA2: The Director’s Cut. This time around Marco discusses how he landed the gig of producing the Brooklyn Nets’ theme song, why Guru’s death hit him hard, the difficulty of working with some many emcees on one LP and some interview horror stories. Check out what Marco had to say and make sure you pick up Port Authority 2 [purchase] if you haven’t already! Ethan: Now you say you’re really busy. You have other business ventures going on right? Marco: Well we’re always working on other stuff besides working on rap albums, I did the theme song for the Brooklyn Nets last year and it runs this season. I’ve been doing songs for movies. I was in Kick Ass 2. Yeah man I’m working on a lot of licensing stuff. My sound is always evolving and changing so I like to learn new shit. So yeah, it’s been a busy year. I need a vacation. Ethan: So how did the Brooklyn Nets thing come along? Marco: My boy Brian Hamilton, who does a lot of licensing stuff, hollered at me to do the theme song and I did it and they picked me and it’s fucking awesome. Ethan: So that’s played at all the Nets’ games? Marco: Yeah it plays on the TV. It plays on the YES Network, ... Read More »

Who Is Kasim Keto? An Introduction To Babygrande’s New Go-To Producer

Babygrande Records’ latest signee Kasim Keto recently released his debut album Long Car Rides. The instrumental record is a journey into the Brooklyn-born producer’s mind and is making waves on the Internet. I caught up with the humble beatsmith to talk about Long Car Rides, growing up in a West Indian home and what it means to be from New York. Mazin: Congratulations on this record. It’s a great listen. It almost has a trip-hop feel to it, really mellow and it really takes you places. What was your vision for this record? Kasim Keto: I mean honestly, it really started out where I wanted it to be this atmospheric journey. It was inspired by these deep contemplative thoughts that I would have on my commute back and forth to the studio, or to get records or wherever I was going. I wanted it to be a snapshot of certain events that I was thinking about or things that I would be contemplating at the time. It really transcended into something that I wasn’t prepared for, and it kind of became its own entity in of itself. [It] almost prepared me for certain things that were gonna happen to me and also foretold things that were going to happen. So it became a journey that I became a passenger of; I came out of the driver’s seat myself. Mazin: Can you elaborate on that, when you say it prepared you things that were gonna happen to you? Kasim Keto: So ... Read More »

Top 10 Albums of 2014
Top 10 Mixtapes/Free Albums of 2014
Top 10 Slept-On Albums of 2014
Top 10 EPs of 2014
Albums / Mixtapes Instrumentals New Singles Sponsored Releases
Ben Boogz (of 2 Hungry Bros): Soleil (feat. DJ M-Tri)
MarQ Spekt & Blockhead: Devil’s Island Storyteller (feat. Sadat X)
RIZSELFMADE: Dat Made Life
Hassaan Mackey & Kev Brown: That Grit [EP Review]
Big K.R.I.T: Cadillactica [Album Review]
Black Milk: If There’s A Hell Below [Album Review]
Stalley: Ohio [Album Review]
Ras Kass Talks Blasphemy LP, Working with Apollo Brown and Longevity in Rap
D.S. Interview At 90.5 FM [Video]
Artist Spotlight: RF3RD
Otis Brown III Talks The Thought of You, Jazz & Hip Hop’s Symbiosis and Donald Byrd
RIZSELFMADE: Dat Made Life
Lazarus: Open Heart Surgery (feat. Bizarre of D12)
Clay James: Kool Water Intro (Music Video)
Git x 1Mt: Lifestyle of an Artist
Microphone Check 1-2, 1-2
Donwill: Bad With Names Episode 8: 2014 Wrap Up (feat Von Pea)
Donwill: Bad With Names Episode 7: The Fun of Feminism (ft. Tatyana Fazlalizadeh)
Donwill: Bad With Names Episode 6: The Honor Roll (ft. Mike Baker & Tap 10)