Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Legendary KO Interview

For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last year and haven't heard "George Bush Doesn't Like Black People," a song that has been dubbed "the most important freestyle of all time," well, go listen to it. The crafters of this tune (by way of a beat from Kanye West) are the Legendary KO, another shining star in Houston's hip hop crown. Seeing as I'm from H-town and how I love rap music like the Bush daughters love a party, I felt it was only natural to interview these folks on Yatsushiro Radio.

Joining us via email is Damien from KO. In addition to being a producer, rapper, and a financial advisor (hey Damien, you got any advice on a 3 year CD ladder? I want to beat inflation and cow the interest rates before the inevitable economic downturn), Damien also happens to be a very cool guy and was happy to let us in on the KO's plans for 2006. Still wondering what they sound like? You can visit their website here, and get a free full-length mixtape here.

Please introduce the Legendary KO. Where are you from? How did you get started? How long have you been in the rap game?

The Legendary KO consists of Big Mon and Damien (no clever stage name). Hailing from Houston, TX, we started as working as a group waaaaay back in 1992, and have been tearing up stages and studios ever since.The two of us met in high school, and started off by battling each other in computer class (when we were supposed to be working). After graduation, we just decided to pursue music on an official basis.

You recently received major widespread attention for "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People," a song influenced by Kanye West's infamous TV adlib. How has this effected the KO legacy overall? Do you think you've arrived?

That song basically exposed us to an audience taht we hadn't touched before. Obviously, we were able to connect with a lot of folks who wouldn't have given us a listen otherwise. It's definitely stepped our rep up, and people are now aware that thoughtful, passionate music still exists. I still don't know if we've arrived yet - we can't get too comfortable or we might lose our edge.

Some people would claim that GBDCABP is simply cynical and predictable self-promotion. Though it's been noted that yourself and Big Mon's have given time, aid, and money to aid foundations, how do you respond to such accusations?

99% of the people out there know that we're genuine. We haven't made a single cent off the song, and don't plan to. We actually did a lot more volunteer work than we spoke about, but this situation hit so close to home that we were more concerned about helping others out on a personal level - not gaining notoreity through this song. This song was the second most important thing that we did during this time. The first was responding to the needs of those who were displaced.

Any word from Kanye's people about the song?

Nope - and I doubt we'll hear anything either. He wouldn't stand to gain anything from acknowledging us.

Houston hiphop has been experiencing a media renaissance recently in terms of expanded coverage of everybody from UGK/Bun B to Pall Wall and Lil' Flip up to and including the living legend that is Scarface. However, with this increase in exposure there's a danger of marginilization. Does Legendary KO worry about being cut out of the loop or blackballed because of the slightly more varied rhyme style and lyrical content?

We'll see how things turn out. Each year a different area of the country has its time in the spotlight, and 2005 belonged to Houston. I have a feeling that 2006 will see less of a focus on the same Houston artists that were popular in 2005. We're not worried about being "left out" because we continue to do what we do, regardless. By buying into the "missing out" scenario, we then allow our success to rely on the success of others. We want our success to rely on The Legendary Ko.

Damien, you maintain a job as a financial advisor in the banking industry, correct? How did you get into that? Do you enjoy that line of work? How does the day job effect the rapping?

I got into banking several years ago while I was in college - I started off as a teller and worked my way up. I enjoy that line of work, btu i'd rather be doing my own thing full time. The fact that I have a 9 to 5 affects my writing because every verse that I pen is influenced by my motivation to quit my day job and do music full time.

You guys have toured Japan, home of our broadcast. How was that? Would you like to do more international touring? How was the crowd response?

Japan was our first international tour, and certainly left an impression on us. We've been throughout Europe as well, but they pale in comparison to the crowds in Japan. They can really get down with some hip hop over there! We took a little break from touring in 2005 to spend some time with our families, but we'd definitely like to get back to Japan soon! (hint, hint)

Do you think European and Japanese audiences have a different attitude towards hip hop? Is it tangibly different?

From what I can tell, European and Japanese audiences are really only slightly different. From what I gather, it seems like a lot of the European audiences favor the "golden age" east coast sound, while the Japanese gravitate more towards hip hop with a heavy jazz influence or west coast bangers. I may be wrong, but that's what I see.

Tell us about 48 Seasons. When is it coming out? Who's handling the promotion and distribution? Has the increased media hype and attention positively or negatively affected the album?

48 Seasons will hit stores in Japan in January 2006. Sub Contact is handling the distribution, and will be the exclusive distributor for the first run. The media attention has defintely turned a lot of heads our way, and the anticipation has probably quadrupled since we first set it off.

Why 48 Seasons as a title? Is there any significance to it?

When we sat down to do the album, we wanted to do something that reflected where we were in the game (at that time, 12 years). It sums up a lot of what we've been through and where we're going.

Damien, you're a hardcore Harry Potter fan. Yet you're also in a rap group that uses the line "first and only time I ever punched a bitch in the throat."

Why does the Harry Potter thing make that line so much funnier to me?

Most people don't realize it, but Harry Potter is much more gangster than I am. Sure, I punched a girl in the throat after getting stabbed in the arm, but Harry's quick to put a transmogrification spell on your ass! I can't really compete with a guy that can conjure up an animagus to beat by ass. Watch what you say about Harry - he can't be killed...

(Ed note: It is after reading this that I realized that between Jan Scott Frazier and Damien, all of our interview subjects have tough work ahead of them.)

You were originally known as K-Otix. In fact, your website retains the original name. Why the change? Was it too 90's?

In a way, the name is a little too "90's". As we've matured, we felt like we should make a name a bit more contemporary to kind catch up to where we are now. We feel that what we've done prior to this has been "legendary", thus the adjective. People still call us K-otix, so the name change hasn't really mattered yet.

(Ed note: It IS some real 1990's sounding, Das Efx type shit)

Do you make it out and about on the Houston club and hip hop scene? What spots do you suggest?

We make it out occasionally (if our wives let us), but the clubs change so often that it's hard to keep up with whatever's hopping. We just go if there's a good show to see.

Who are you feeling right now, music wise?

We've been so focused on creating new music lately that I haven't had a lot of time to really sit down and listen to everybody else, so I'll have to honestly say that I've really been feeling the tracks that we've worked on recently. Other than that, I've had the chance to listen to a new album by Verbal Seed (also from Texas). Their album should be out in Japan pretty soon. Strange Fruit Project is one of our favorites as well.

Do you feel that the Legendary KO is going to be able to fill a niche in the Houston rap scene? Do you think it's your time?

It's possible that we could fill a niche, but that's not our goal. We want to create a niche of our own, one that could distinguish us from everyone that has come before.... Just don't ask me what it We definitely feel like we're consistently getting better, so we hope that our time is coming.

Astros in the world series: did you give a shit? I gave up after the first few beatings...

I'm not a big baseball fan, so I really could care less. It was good for the city to finally host a host a couple of World Series games, but damn - they could have gotten at least ONE win!

You were on BET. How was that for you? How did that come together and whatnot?

We got a call from BET shortly after the Hurricane situation, and I thought it was a hoax at first. I really didn't believe that it was legitimate until I met them face to face. It was definitely a big step for us, and will ultimately pay off for us down the line. I had to get off of work early that day just to get the filming done, but I couldn't really tell my coworkers why.

Often-heard black viewpoints are regularly viewed as "extremist" by the media. For instance, look at the furor incited by the Boondocks comic/tv show or Kanye West's statement. Do you think this is a double standard?

Of course it is. It's the media's way of garnering attention from the remarks without endorsing them. Media outlets don't want their advertising base to feel like they agree with the statements, but they generate revenue by replaying and commenting on them endlessly. It's more extremist for the President of the US to send thousands of people to war over lies and speculation, and have the brass to still justify it.

Bill Bennett can go on the radio and say "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." We don't see him getting roasted on shirts available to middle America on ebay.

Fuck Bill Bennett. Oddly , he wasn't even important enough to really to waste too much breath on. We did one song about the situation and forgot about him. The one thing it taught us is that there people in high levels of government who still carry bigoted views about people of color.

Since you've noted your background as an educated man, rap enthusiast, and concerned citizen, does Legendary KO feel the need to add their voice in the mix on issues of personal responsibility?

We both feel that it's definitely time to step and give people more of what they NEED to hear, instead of simply making what sounds hot. You'll see a lot more of that in 2006 - trust me.

Anything else we should be checking for? Let us know where to get at you!

48 Seasons will be out in Japan in January! Get ready for a few more surprises right after that. We're also planning to film our own reality series - but there's no telling how long that might take.


Post a Comment

<< Home