Having set the bar high, London born and raised Hip Hop Artist Kingpin, made his mark on the underground music scene with his thought provoking social content, explosive rhythmical delivery and high-energy stage presence. I Am Hip-Hop Magazine’s writer Seth Pereira cough up with Kingpin to talk about his new work, life and music.
Q. Firstly I just wanna congratulate you on the release of Art of Survival. What can the people expect to hear on your latest offering? Are you planning to tour to promote the album?
Thanks, it’s a long process making an album and I’m pleased that I’m able to share all my hard work with the fans who support and invest in my music. In terms of what people can expect from the album, I feel it’s my best work yet. I’ve searched all over and been in contact with all my favourite producers to get the right beats and soundscape for the album. I would say that the album’s got that raw boom bap feel with well executed lyricism and crazy flows. The album was made during a difficult period in my life and I’ve tried to put these experiences within the album. I’ve tried to harness and be constructive with the negative experiences and feelings that I have experienced during the creation of the album so there’s a lot of anger, frustration and aggression in there as well as the balance of more positive and optimistic energy too. I think it’s a skill to accept the negative energy and rather than let it be destructive, utilise it to be creative so overall these emotions can be made into something positive.
Q. I know it’s generic but I have to ask, What would you say is the defining moment (if there is one) that made you want to go down the difficult path of pursuing music as a career?
I think it’s a collection of moments rather than a single event. During my up bringing I have been exposed to so much hiphop and music in general. The first time I demonstrated my ability on the mic was when I was about 14. I was with all my boys jamming at my friends yard. He had some vinyl on the decks and was asking everyone to drop some sort of verse. It could be our favourite rap verse or something original. There was about 12 of us sitting in a circle and I was the youngest of everyone there. I used to always be the one who would get dissed and bear the brunt of all the jokes and cussing so I was so nervous about spitting a verse. My boy was demanding everyone drop a verse o they were a ‘pussy’ and I didn’t want to be the one that couldn’t pluck up the courage. So when it came to my turn I dropped a verse that I had written while at school and everyone went nuts. I was expecting heads to start cussing me but for the first time I could feel this level of respect amongst my boys and ever since I been hitting the mic whenever it is passed my way. It helped me turn the table and become more of a respected figure amongst my boys and so it felt good to pursue.
Q. If it wasn’t for music what do you think you would be doing? Landscape Gardner?
Something to do with writing and creativity. I’ve had a go at writing and directing short film and this resulted in me having a film screened at the British Urban Film Festival. I would be trying my hand as either a novelist or script writer.
Q. I know you mentioned Jamiroquai in one of your previous interviews and how you felt he managed to remain socially conscious while simultaneously garnering commercial success. Hip-Hop its been a while since we saw something similar to that, until recently with the rise of J Cole and Kendrick Lemar do you think that we may be seeing a return of socially conscious mainstream rappers?
Not sure really. I’ve been out of touch with current hip hop and never really involved with trends so I’m probably the worst person to ask. You guys are are journalists and reporters and keep your eye on the ball so I would value your opinion over mine when it comes to these matters.I will add that hip hop is conscious and so I find it strange when rappers are called conscious rappers. I feel by engaging in rap and hip hop you must have an element of consciousness. Maybe we should label all rap outside of conscious hip hop as ‘ignorant’ so that we either have rappers or ignorant rappers. Lol
Q. What current mainstream artists do you enjoy listening to?
CyHi the Prynce… I haven’t gone in with his stuff too much yet, but what I’ve heard I’ve really enjoyed. Check out the Black Hystori Project.
Q. In recent years there most certainly has been a rise of independent artists. Aside from the obvious (creative freedom etc), what would you say are the advantages of being an independent artist?
I think being independent gives you a more direct communication with your fanbase, which is cool. Also, we know exactly where and when we receive our income. However, even independent artists have people who support them and make it happen for them. They may employ or work with agencies to help them raise their profile. Truth is most independents got a lot of people who are putting in time to make them successful.
Apart from that it’s hard to talk about advantages without touching on creative freedom and in my opinion being signed puts artists in a more advantages position than those who are working as independents, especially when it comes to marketing and exposure.
As for a ride in independent artists, maybe the independent artist have always been there but they are getting better at gaining exposure from the Internet. Also, not everyone who calls them selves a rapper or singer deserves to be credited as an artist. I think we been abusing the term artist these days. It’s like heads drop a 16, get a few views on YouTube an suddenly they are an artist. I personally think there’s more to being an artist than that.
Q. You’ve been working with Globalfaction for a while now and they are well renowned for making incredible videos. How important is that aspect of the music in this digital age?
Very important. People want to be entertained via all the senses, sight and sound. If I drop a MP3 file and say check this out, it will get some interest but if I drop that same audio with a visual too it will get to a much wider audience. So many more people consume music via iPhones and laptops without headphones and proper speakers where the sound quality is actually quite poor, so as artist we have to do more to separate ourselves and make our work more distinguishable from the next person. I find that fans often say that their favourite tracks of mine will be ones that I’ve done videos for. I don’t always thinks this is because they are genuinely my best tracks, but I think the video helps them songs make an impression on the audience.
Q. For those that don’t know you used to be a member of a Hip-Hop collective Caxton Press and were touted as the best group in the UK alongside Rhyme Asylum. I have to ask why did you decide to leave Caxton?
Yeah these are proud moments, but we split up really because of business. There was trust issues financially and things started getting nasty between us. It’s difficult when money and paperwork get between creativity. The relationship between myself and the rest of the group felt strained after a while. Also, there was a contradiction between what we were rapping about and the way some members of the group were conducting themselves and it didn’t sit well with me. You can’t talk about telling the truth and shaming the devil when your living a lie. #RealTalk So I told the group that I’m out. They did some good stuff in my absence but I feel our best work was as the original collective.
Q. In terms of collaborations who would you love to work with? One producer and one MC and why?
Pete Rock or Lord finesse are my choice of producers. They my favourites. Pete Rock makes that jazzy, soulful stuff that I love and Lord finesse makes them raw bangers that I know I could smash to pieces lol.
Rappers that I would like to work with…. Nas, I don’t even feel like I need to explain. Listen to Illmatic. That’s my explanation right there 😉
Please visit Kingpin Bandcamp for more music!
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