KtheI??? Interview (by Con SECT)
Ok, let’s start with a little personal info. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is KtheI???, and I’m an underground Hip Hop artist from Cambridge Mass. I’m an underground Hip Hop artists for the advanced music listener, because it’s definitely some spaced out type stuff. Quite intricate. And I’ve been up in Cambridge for most of my life, representing all around the Cambridge / Boston area. I was down with a crew called Rebel Alliance and many other local crews with people like Virtuoso. I’m an MC growing, basically, to make it short.
How did you start rhyming and how long have you been doing this for?
I became an MC through my cousins. My cousins got me into Hip Hop many years ago. They were doing talent shows back in the days with famous groups like Top Choice Click and ED O.G… way back in the days. They got me into it and wrote a couple of rhymes for me. It was just a joke at first, but I kicked what they wrote and eventually realized that I wanted to start doing it by myself. I started doing this about twelve years ago, so I’ve been into it most of my life. Ever since I was a kid.
You said that you were from Cambridge. How was it growing up there?
Back in the days, the Cambridge and Boston area was incredible. Growing up there got me motivated to do many different things. It expanded my mind and I began putting rhymes together that were a little different than the norm. Quite abnormal, to tell you the truth. And there were a lot of abnormal MC’s in the area, so it was like a bonding. Artist like 7L&Esoteric, Mr. Lif, Karma, way back in the days when I used to run with them, Virtuoso, all of them, they got me into the scene. They got me into shows when I was underage, because they are older than me. So when I was 16, and the show was 21 plus, at places like Western Front, they would be like: “ya, ya, he’s with us”. I would go there and just chill. It got me motivated because there was so much Hip Hop around me. And so much different types of Hip Hop, which made it incredible and got me energized to do it.
Can you describe your style of rhyming and what sets you apart from other people in Hip Hop today?
My style of rhyming… I call myself “boom bap”, but I cannot say only that. It’s boom bap, complex, out of this world at times. Very different. There are many one-word descriptions that I could use for myself. Intelligent. My style is something that is out there, unique. I didn’t emulate it off of any one. It’s called years of listening to many different types of music and not only Hip Hop. I will go from Trip Hop to Jazz to Rock, and always stay open. And when you put that openness into what you feel you want to accomplish, it can create completely different things. You’ll have many influences coming together to create this one. It’s definitely different.
After you started writing and getting into the scene, who influenced you in the early days? Who are the people that influence you now?
The early days, 7L&Esoteric, Karma, the whole Rebel Alliance crew really. Lif, Virtuoso, FaktsOne. Also, Company Flow of course. Wu-Tang, back in the day. Roots. Common Sense was like my favorite MC for a long time. He was just angry with his. There are just so many artists. I could be here all day. There are so many artists, even from unknown places. I listen to the Anticon thing, Sole… They all impress me because it’s all different. It all influenced. That’s what people have to understand, if you are always one-track minded you will always be in that one track dimension. That’s the bottom line. I make sure to stay in the fifth dimension (laughter).
So your brain is just open to whatever comes up.
Basically. I don’t think about what I want to do. It just comes to me.
I know you have a lot of projects going on now, what have you been up to lately?
Lately I’ve been incredibly busy. I’ve been working on a collaboration with my friend from Sweden. He’s in a group called Stacs of Stamina. His name is Johan. He’s doing production and I’m going to rhyme on it. It’s going to be dope. Eventually I will be working with my boy TheButterflyswift. That’s my man, and we are going to be putting a little something to together called ‘We Missed the Train’. That’s a little crew, it’s going to be different. I’m also working with this crew Distorted Megabytes, the heads I came to the show with tonight. That includes my man Mud Buddha, OptimisGFN1 , DiverseOne, TSE, we’re mega deep… Holmes, Rev.Al. Also I’m working with these heads who are my boys that I grew up with, around my neighborhood in Cambridge. It’s me, my boy BrokenKlutch, my boy Rubber Bandit, Shawn Doe, Digistance, Mic Strategist, Str8-A, we’re mega deep too. So there are multiple things going on. I’m working on my solo EP at the moment which is completely produced by me. I wanted to take some time to have one of those under my belt. It’s going to be called, ‘Me, myself, K the third person I’. It’s a little weird. It goes in and out of this abnormal state.
Besides rocking the mic, have you participated in any of the other Elements of Hip Hop?
Oh ya. I at least try to conquer all of the Elements of Hip Hop. I will attempt at everything, and what I accomplish I will continue. For example, I used to write Graffiti and I was getting up and that was all good. But when I got into the music world and felt that I was going to make it somewhere, I had to put that element down… in the illegal aspect that is. You don’t want people following you. Plus it’s a super felony out here in Boston. As far as DJing, I have a turntable. One turntable is a gemini, piece of crap, but I also have a Technique. I use the Technique to cut with and I’m learning. I can put basic cuts on my solo record. I actually put cuts on the record, which is something that I hadn’t told anybody, but now they know. So I put on cuts myself. And breakin”, I used to Pop and Lock. I used to go to this spot in Jamaica Plain, at the Henagin school. I actually was taught by Domino of the Floor Lords, and it was pretty dope. I used to get my break on. My Pop and Lock on. I actually had some Windmills at one point in time. That’s all of the elements that I have tried out. MC is obviously my first thing. And I plan to eventually get some DJ thing going on, but for now that is just for myself. At least for the moment.
You have a group called Polymorphik, tell me about that.
Polymorphik, yes. That’s my man The Butterflyswift, who I’m doing the duo with, and my boy Theory. It’s not in the forefront anymore. We have put it away for a little while because we want to accomplish all of these multiple things that we have in the works first, to get our name out, and then we will come back to it. Polymorphic is more of a personal thing. It’s not even a group that we plan to just distribute to everybody. It impresses me that you remember the name because lots of people don’t know the name and we like to keep it quiet until it’s real. It’s not real yet. The stuff the we do as a threesome, us three, is incredible. But we keep it to ourselves because it’s more personal. We have mad many Polymorphik songs, but we have not distributed it to anyone, ever. And I distribute all that I can to people.
When the time comes…
When the time comes, it will be here, and you will definitely enjoy it.
At this point in Hip Hop’s life many genres of rap music have been born. Commercial, independent, battle, gangster, progressive, underground, etc… what do you think about that and where does Kthe I??? fit into it?
Right now, the commercial industry… I don’t even like to get into that, but everybody knows the obvious. Puff Daddy is controlling the industry. And there are other artists, like Jay Z, who have the industry in their hands. But in the underground, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a Def Jux world right now. It’s a Def Jux world and it’s an Anticon world. You know, people who have a name and their name is out, and they are releasing incredible music. You’re going to be in control if you are releasing volumes of incredible music.
Def Jux has the quality control…
They have the quality control. And also, Chicago. Chicago is incredible. People sleep on Chicago, but I’m teaming up with some MC’s now, that I’m about to leak right now, ’cause I’ve been waiting to tell somebody… There are some Chicago crews that are ready to come out and represent with me. My boy Vile, my boy Full Exposure, Aural, Drool, all these kids, they are incredibly deep and doing some advanced type music. And sometimes it’s Boom Bap, but it’s not your average normal Boom Bap. It’s more that 2003, or more like 30,003 type Boom Bap. It’s out there. And right now, who I’m actually waiting to represent is my man Big Jus. I just came back from Atlanta and I did a few songs with him that are coming out on a single. It’s actually produced by a guy named Orko from Sandiago. He did some stuff for Saul Williams. He’s produced some stuff for me also. I went out to Atlanta with my boys Mud and Holmes about two weeks ago and it was great. I had a nice experience. We laced three tracks. The first was myself, Jus, and Orko. The second was Myself with Jus on production. And the third was just me with Orko on production. It was pretty off the hook. And in the spring, when the spring hits, Jus is starting his own label. His own personal label, and he’s trying to get me on. He’s trying to help me out and has been a huge support. I respect him a lot.
He’s definitely an underground icon.
Ya, it’s funny when people that you respect a lot, you end up meeting them and they give you the same love that you give them. It’s one of the best experiences I ever had. And also meeting Orko, that was a bonus surprise. I respected his music so much already, but he was such a down-low person… and just to go there and meet him also… and now he’s like “Oh ya, call me, you want production, you got that”. Everything this year is working and it’s what I’ve always wanted. It’s working in all my plans, my plans are coming together this year.
It’s wonderful to see you smile, dog.
It’s incredible this year.
Ok, here’s some off the topic questions. What do you think about crossing the genres, such as when a Mos Def decides to tour with a Ja Rule? Is that a hinder or a help?
I would say that in some ways it helps and in some ways it does not. Sometimes, in a major way, it does not help at all. It can help if, for example, an underground artist or group like Company Flow went on tour with Wu-Tang at the time of 36 Chambers. Big group. Major label. But that would work because Wu-Tang were rugged back in the day, and they attracted the kind of audience that would respond to a group like Co-Flowwho were also rugged. On the other hand, if a group like Co-Flow went on tour with someone like Ja Rule, that would be completely different. Now you’re taking a group that is very gritty and putting them on tour with somebody who is completely soft. That doesn’t mix. Wu-Tang and Def Jux make more sense than Def Jux and Ja Rule. With the first, you’ll get a solidified ruggedness, but with the second you’re mixing rugged with some real corny stuff. It doesn’t work. Actually Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox did a show with Ghost Face Killah. Ghost face had just released a great album, and Vast did a show with him. That helped him a lot because the fans who are into Ghost Face are now buying the Can-Ox album. And that’s how it works.
Mos really is going on tour with Ja Rule.
Ya, but you see, that’s not going to work for him. Well, It might work because he has more of a main stream appeal. He’s underground, but you could see in the beginning that he was bound to eventually make a different move. It might work.
Where did your name come from, and what’s with the question marks?
Oh, (laughter) OK. My name comes from… on the Streets they call me Kiki. That’s my nick name. And way back in the day I kicked this rhyme that started off: “Well it’s the K the I the K the I”, basically spelling it out like they used to do, K-solo steese. And someone told me “you should keep that as your name, I think it works. K the I, no one is going to copy that”. I was like, “that’s true”. At first I didn’t like it, but as time went on, I realized that it flowed better than Kiki. I looked at it as two separate letters in the beginning, but the more you say it, it flows well. Then I got attached to it. And the question marks… 3 is my lucky number. The three question marks. Now the first question mark represents to the person who is seeing or hearing about me, it will represent: “K the I… who is that?”, you follow… The second will just solidify that sentiment, “Oh my god, who really is that??”. The expression gets a little stronger. And the third, well that adds complete confusion now. “OK what’s going on here, who is this kid K the I???”. That is the name I wanted for myself, and it stands for what I created it as. People will come up to me on the street, “I heard you before, I heard about you”, and that’s good.
If the name stands out…
Yes. And as time goes on, more meaning comes out. The three question marks came at the end. It built up. First, 3 was the lucky number and then I realized what it could really mean to me.
Who have you been playing shows with lately, have you toured at all?
I haven’t toured at all. I plan to hopefully with this Swedish group, my boy Johan again, Stacs of Stamina. We’re planning on going on a European tour for which he wants to bring me and my boy One Day. That will be great. We plan to hit Amsterdam, Paris, Germany, Holland, just everywhere. We plan to go crazy. He has a lot of venues because he is a big name out there. His group is a big name in the European scene. As for shows, I just finished performing two nights ago in Portland Maine at this spot called The Skinny. I performed with my man Jamie Walker and KGB who used to be in the group Live Poets. Sole was the headliner. He’s cool, me and him kicked it for a second. He’s real cool, and he actually heard of my name, also. I was surprised, things are building. Tonight, I’m doing a show here at the Asia in Cambridge Mass, representing my area.
Ok, You said you produce. Besides me, who are your favorite producers?
Besides you (laughter), The Butterflyswift, my boy BrokenKlutch, Digi Stance, all these kids that I’m pretty cool with. Big Jus is pretty dope on the beats. Johan, Orko, El-P, man there are so many. My man Arc, who is down with Definitive Jux, he actually made some beats for my 12 inch coming out. There’s so many artists. My boy KaeoFLUX, who I released a compilation with. Wow. I like my beats, it took me a little while to get used to them because they are not the most normal things.
Like everything else you do, right…
Aight, this is because I’ve known you personally… How do you stay the friendliest kid in hip hop?
Oh… I don’t know, man. It’s because I’m a happy person. My mother raised me right.
Ya, It’s just like, there is no need for me to get mad. Even if it’s something that might make me angry in the aspect of someone putting me down for example. An MC dissing or something… I just stay happy. There is no need for me to get mad. Eventually good things will happen if you always stay humble. That’s how I feel. And it’s better to in-take if you get something great handed to you, and appreciate it. If you’re going to be ignorant about life, then when you get something good you’ll take advantage of it and use it to disrespect people. Say you blow up and you were a mean person and never appreciated the people who helped you out, they helped you but you didn’t see because you were so angry all the time. You disrespect them and I don’t like that. If somebody helps me man, I appreciate that. I never will disrespect somebody because I get “bigger” than them or whatever. If somebody helps me, I always remember that. I always remember. If I get to the point where I even get a little money to help somebody else, I’ll do that. Even if it’s a magazine. If I get big man, you got a publisher coming.
Oh ya [I’m straight blushing at this point]…
And I’m serious about that stuff. Just because you have to look at it like that. You have to help people. I don’t want to be one of those heads who leaves my area and no one remembers about me and no one cares about me because I didn’t care about them. That sucks.
Well said. If there is somebody out there who is hating the state of rap today because they were never exposed to the underground, and the many different qualities of this music, what are some of the things you might say to that person?
I would just tell the person to have an open mind about things. I have a huge mind about things. I never keep my brain closed to something that might be interesting. How do you know if you don’t like Hip Hop if you have not heard all that there is to hear in Hip Hop? I can say something like, “I don’t like commercial Hip Hop”, but then there might be a commercial head that gets me open. But he’s still commercial. You can not be like that. On the reverse, some people within Hip Hop might say, “You’re on a different thing, you won’t attract a crowd”. Well, why don’t they sit down and listen to what I actually got to pull off? Someone might think that I’m talking about nothing in my lyrics. But if they just took some time, ten minutes, to actually think about what I’m saying, they would notice that I do make sense. Friends of mine, and this is what I like the most, when I release a song they will tell me different things about the song every time I see them. “Yo, I understand what you meant at that part now”, and two weeks latter, it’s like, “oh now I understand the whole song!”. And they’ll come back to me later still and say something like “I didn’t know you snuck that in”… so they are listening, and I respect that a lot. You cannot close your mind to things.
What’s the last record that got you way open? Dopest record you bought this year?
Dopest record this year? Man. I buy lots of records. I support. I don’t know, one of them would be the Deltron 3030, that was incredible. That wasn’t even this year.
That was a few years ago.
Ya, I still listen to it. That’s how bad that record is. Um, Qwel, from Chicago. He just released two albums. I just bought the Rubber Ducky Experiment, it’s a pretty dope album. The Illogic record.
Ya, Got Lyrics?. That’s a great record.
The Aesop Record was good.
Aes-Rock is dope too. The El-P album was dope. T.O.J.’s my song. That’s my favorite song this year. I’m real impressed this year with the Bata One album, a compilation that all my friends put out. There’s never been a time when I could say that I was impressed by a complete project that I have been on. There were multiple artists and I know they put their heart into it. It came out real good, and we’ve been getting good press about it.
Tell me your discography, and then tell me what you have planned for release in the near future.
My discography.. all right, The first thing is the Powers of Sun 12 inch, Which is me and my man Christ on Mutant Records. The Komadose Productions BetaOne CD which is me and all my boys from Cambridge with the Lost Channel. The Distorted Megabytes CD. And The Forgotten Realm bootleg which is older, more experimental songs than what I do now. The stuff I do now is still spaced out, but back then it was out of this world Hip Hop. I still do that when I’m on the solo tip, but when I work with heads, I try to just make it some rawness.
Coming on many different levels…
I like to come on many different levels. I know personally, when I’m by myself in my own little trapped mind state, it’s going to be something crazy. My EP is really really weird. As for the future, I have a 12-inch coming out. The Teletron 12-inch produced by The Butterflyswift. Yes I say his name a lot, because that’s my boy. He’s a strong supporter of what I do. He produced the main song on that record which is called Teletron 1. Also, Arc from Definitive Jux, he gave me a beat for that record. Hopefully the Orko and Big Jus tracks will be featured on there also. That will happen if it comes out Jus’ label. If not, the record might come out on Ninja Tune. BigJus is releasing his album on Ninja Tune and he’s sending my package down with it. I have multiple things in the plan. My solo project should be coming out by the Spring. I’m waiting to see my options with labels. And the 12-inch should drop in March. The promotional team is getting ready for that right now and I’m going to Chicago for it. It’s funny that I’m getting down with a Chicago label, I never expected that. Chicago is just dope. I’m getting down with them. They have a label out there called 2064. They used to be a major graff crew out there. They basically turned that into a Hip Hop organization to put out records and so forth. They respected my stuff, my boy Vile. I produced something for his record, and a lot of other cats out there. There is also the collaboration with my boy Johan, that should be out by the spring. That gets the Europeans on my side. Stacs of Stamina is respected out there. Ok, A special treat… In the spring also, there might be a KtheI??? and Big Jus EP coming out. I’m going back there in may and putting in some work. Me and him talked and we agreed that I’m going to spend a month there in M ay.
Holly itch. Word up man, I’m happy for you. And I thank you for hooking this interview
No doubt, thank you. Keep in touch brother.
Thanks again to KTheI??? for taking part, and for Con Sect for contributing the interview.