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food for thought
02-27-2009, 11:20 AM
Congratulations on winning the Loud.com MC contest with L.F. Daze. When you entered the contest what kind of a chance did you think you had to win it?

Originally when they picked the final 10 I wasnít in the 10 and I was kind of honorable mention. That kind of put a bummer on the whole situation because I thought I had a good chance of competing but when they picked the 10 I wasnítí there. That was kind of a bummer. I had even forgot about the contest altogether and then a week into it they called me because I guess two people had dropped out. They brought me back into it and thatís when I jumped in. So from the very beginning I came in like an underdog. I feel like I came in a week behind everybody else. Once I got the itinerary of things that we were going to have to do and I saw that the competition was based on the grind of make a song, make a video, promote yourself, get a street teamÖOnce I saw what the contest was based around, thatís when I saw that I had a chance to win this.

Youíve basically been doing that your whole career.

Exactly. And thatís what I knew. When I saw it was like that as far as making a song, making a video, doing viral marketing, getting a cosign from an established artist, I saw that this was my normal routine. Each week it was just something that I had to learn the hard way anyway and I think what really needed up being dope about it was that the cats in the contest were all independent and were all doing things on their own and they were all there staying at the end. The final four were people that all had projects or mixtapes or had worked with somebody. They werenít just people that were fresh off of MySpace and thatís all they had done. It all worked out.

How much do you think your previous experiences, like being around 9th Wonder and touring a lot, help put you ahead of the other artists in the competition?

I would say that definitely all of that. Having relationships established helped me complete things by the deadline. You would only have a few days to complete something that would take a few weeks to do. They would tell me I had to have a track with somebody famous by next week and these were all things that if you didnít have these kinds of relationships established already then you were at a disadvantage. I had been grinding for so long and all I had to do was holler at people. I told them what was going on and I had been around my block. This wasnít my first rodeo. And thatís what I said in the competition. This wasnít the first time that I had to do any of these things. I definitely feel like this gave me an advantage. It helped Homeboy Sandman out as well. It helped No Name as well. And I know L.F. Daze had produced for a lot of artists as well. I think what I had done in the past let me not panic with any of the challenges that we had.

What kind of music did you think youíd need to win the contest?

You know, thatís an interesting question because coming into it I knew a couple of things. I knew it was Loud Records. I knew the history and the tradition of Loud and what it was and I was saying at the same time that I wanted to make the biggest record possible. This is Loud Records and SRC/Universal. If Iím really gonna make an impact here at this label, I need to first of all show that I can rap and at the same time show that Iím business minded and show that I can sell records. I want to be able to do all those things without compromising who I am as an artist or who I am as an MC.

You do have a fanbase of cats who donít know me for Spirit of í94 and 9th Wonder. But a lot do know me. I feel like Iím in the same position Eminem and Kanye were in when they had to make a transition from the type of music they did to please themselves and what you have to do when you step into the light when youíre trying to go platinum and sell the biggest records possible.

I think there is a happy medium and what Iím always going to let my fans know is that the lyrical content is always going to be present and the MCing aspect is always going to be present and the hip-hop is always going to be present even if itís mashing up with rock or R&B. Hip-hop is whatís always going to be heard in my music.

Coming into the contest I wanted to show them that I could rap and at the same time show them that I could make a song because there are so many cats that are nice in the battle realm or freestyling or whatever, they have difficulty making songs and I wanted to show the diversity that I could make a song and give them something catchy and make something accessible that the heads are going to love and the mainstream is going to love at the same time.

Most fans know you from your critically-acclaimed Spirit of í94. Do you feel like fans expect a certain vibe from you?

I think that a lot of cats are expecting certain things because even when I put out the record ďThey Donít KnowĒ that I won the contest with, when I put that record out, a lot of cats on the blogs were saying that it was a different sound coming from me just because it had singing and R&B on the hook and my flow was real slowed down and my delivery was. People were already saying that but I think what cats can always expect from me is something quality because even with my last couple of releases Iíve changed and grown.

Thatís the thing. Iím not going to continue to put out the same music every time. Cats can expect me to be consistent and as long as the music's consistent, I donít think thatís going to be a problem. The cats that know my steez and know how I get down, theyíll know what I bring to the table. If cats is expecting to hear another whole album of me rapping like the Spirit of í94 all over again, I hate to disappoint you but weíve been there and weíve done that. Iím going to stay true to my sound and stay true to hip-hop and Iím sure me and 9th will work together in the future but Iím still trying to do something new and improved as well.

How much are you working with 9th Wonder today?

I havenít been really recently, man. Honestly that man, I know heís real busy. I tried to link with him but I havenít been able to link with him recently, like lately. Heís on a different level from me right now. Heís really been inaccessible. But itís just a matter of schedules and two people linking up at the right time to make a song happen.

How close are you affiliated with the JUSTUS League today?


Thatís the thing, man. A lot of cats get it confused and they think that Iím in the JUSTUS League and they think that Iím some type of affiliate. You know how they have a hundred different affiliates. We were all coming up in the 919 at the same time. IU was in Chapel Hill and they were in Raleigh and Durham. We all grew up in the same hip-hop community and me and 9th were introduced on a different level. That was like the first person that I knew that I had a relationship with there. Everybody else there Iím cool with and I know but heís the first one that I had a relationship with. And we built outside of what he was doing in his camp and outside of what I was doing in my camp. We made something happen on our own as two individuals. I got a lot of respect for that camp because they shined a big light on what the rest of our scene had going on.

And 9th never charged me for a beat so I canít say anything bad about him. I was running in the area on my own and this man took my album and he already had a name and he knew all he had to do was remix it and it would draw attention. Thatís how that album came about. And once that came it was a whole new ballgame as far as people knowing who I was. I just took that and I tried to capitalize on that when I was with Rawkus in the Rawkus 50 and then in the Loud contest this was another opportunity for the cats to say that they remembered me and that they heard of me before. This was another way to help with the momentum.

I heard some horror stories from artists involved with the Rawkus 50. Were you happy with how that went down?

I mean, honestly, man, thatís the thing. I was in a position where I went into it and I had high hopes for it but at the same time I kind of knew better. I had been warned about what it could be. What I wanted at the end of the day was to be associated with the label for its history and what it used to be with Mos Def and Talib Kweli and Company Flow and Pharoahe and Soundbombing. Thatís what I wanted to be a part of and I wanted to be associated with that and the razorblade and that logo. And at the end of the day I got that. Iíll never sit down and wait for a label to do something. I learned the hard way with that. I take whatís of value and I run with it. The logo and the name was whatís popping. I used that to get a whole Ďnother level of exposure and it was good for me.

Did they promote me or put me in a better position? No. Did they put me in a position to rebuild Rawkus as a real label? No. But at the end of the day I got the marketing and resources to put me in a better situation for another year and thatís where weíre at now.

How far do you think you can take your $50,000 budget in todayís game?

Yo, itís a recession, right? Thatís what Steve and all them told me. The thing is, coming from my background, everything has been a blessing. Iíve had to crawl on my knees. What I learned how to do was MacGyver the whole game and make something out of nothing. Everything that I ever did was grassroots because I never had no money to do it.

Let alone $50 grand, I can stretch $10 grand. I can really make it last. Iíve had to learn how to do everything from scratch so now that I got a little bit of bread to do things with and I got a little bit of love, they see my grind and I respect them and they respect me. Theyíre helping me do a lot of things for half the price or for free. They understand that weíre in it together. Iím trying to pull the next director thatís gonna be the next Hype Williams to come and do my video. Now heís got something for his reel and Iím trying to work with people on that level. Come design my flyer and then you got something on your portfolio that you can show the next big artist that can pay you more than I can. Thatís the whole part about bargaining with cats and all that. When I come at somebody for a 16, theyíll say, ďI usually charge $5 grand, give me $2 and a half.Ē If they charge $2, maybe theyíll give it to me for $1. Thatís what I like. Thereís nothing like grinding on your own. I donít wait for nothing. If Iím doing something, Iím doing something that I set up.

Howís your next album coming?

With this situation, I have to make a single pop for me to have any future here. This was a crack in the door. By no means can I throw my feet up. I have to make this one song matter and count. What youíre gonna see me do is a lot of music leading up to the release of the single. Iím going hard. Iím going to do a Gangsta Grillz. Iím going to be putting out a lot of music so when the single pops thereís no doubt in anybodyís mind what Iím bringing to the table, man.

Youíve already sold over 10,000 units of Spirit of í94. Are you happy with your fanbase right now?

I feel I got a group of cats that are real heavy on the Ďnet and they know about the music I make but by no means am I done. I have a lot of work to be done. In the grand scheme of things, itís a small community but itís a community that matters. The cats that know me are the cats that blog and the cats that do the websites and the cats that send stuff out virally. Those are the cats that know me and thatís a blessing because they have supported me as quality for awhile now and to see me come in a situation where I could get a little larger exposure, all of them are reaching out to support me because they saw me come in on a small level and they saw me do the 9th Wonder stuff and get ahead. Theyíre going to help me. I have a small cult following and I want to shout them out and thank God for them because they already know what time it is.

What producers do you want to work with in the future?

Jake One laced me. Iím trying to work with Nottz. Of course Iím trying to work with 9th and Khrysis. I got my own fam at home. Erg 4 and my man D-One. My man Analogic from Jersey. Iím going to be trying to break a lot of new cats, man. Thereís a lot of new cats I want to work with. Iím not big on chasing producers around that ainít interested in working with me. I would rather work with somebody with a smaller name and they would give me more attention than to work with a big producer for $10 grand and then they give me a throwaway beat. I would rather work with the cats that would give me 100% and we would make some great music. You might see me working with some names that you havenít seen before but there are names I respect that I would love to work with like Primo, Swizz, TimboÖThose are the names of the people you respect and hope to work with. Black Milk, people like that. Weíll see what happens at the end of the day, man, you know?

Getting back to your prize money, whatís the best way that you could spend that $50 grand today?

I think that marking and promotions is the best way. I think that when cats ask me what they should do with their $10 grand when theyíre about to put an album out, I tell them if they can do an album and have $8 grand leftover to promote, youíre doing it because marketing and promotions is hard. If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? The answer is no. If you make an album and nobody knows that you dropped it, it doesnít matter. Marketing and promotions is the hardest part. You can make great music for a small cost but if itís not marketing right then it doesnít matter.

Whatís next for Kaze?

Check me out on my MySpace. Come through and holla at me on there. Iíll be putting out some new music real soon. Real, real soon.

http://myspace.com/kaze1

DR. NICK RIVIERA
02-27-2009, 04:27 PM
does he have only one album with 9th Wonder....I only have that shit, I would to hear him more, he's a cool rapper