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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week – Sav Killz
Monday, November 06, 2006

Sav Killz is a gritty emcee whose voice can either inspire you or break you down depending on what his goal is for a particular track. After taking a listen to his latest CD, Determination Through Time, it becomes crystal clear that Sav has some incredible skills. Personally, the album reminded me, at times, of old school Wu-Tang and there’s a really good reason for that, he’s been down with the Wu for over a decade. Wanting to know more, I sat down with Sav Killz and got the full story.

Adam Bernard: Who is Sav Killz and what makes you unique as an artist?
Sav Killz: Sav Killz is Jamel Hampton. Born and raised in Flatbush and Bedstuy Brooklyn I was always inspired by different kinds of music but Hip-Hop was my main love. I always took part heavily in the Hip-Hop culture, from Graffiti to Emceeing. I used to write Savage back in the day and go out with the local crews . I always used to bomb but I stood out in whatever I did. I was always unique. My energy, my presence, how I carried myself, I was always me. I’m an individual. I was never part of the flock. I followed my own way. As an artist I go left field. I have a passion for the art of emceeing. Most rappers today don’t have that. I appreciate and respect the history of Hip-Hop. You can feel the emotions in my words, I am not just putting words together. I believe in what I am doing and I believe in what I say. I am not trying to be a gangster or be tough. I am just being myself.

Adam Bernard: Your list of guest appearances is fairly amazing. How did you like up with Wu-Tang and how long was it before you were in the studio with them?
Sav Killz: I kind of got hooked up, or introduced, to Wu-Tang through my educator from the Nation of Gods and Earths who was a brother by the name of Born Supreme. Born Supreme took a liking to me and often took me through the Streets of Bedstuy to battle emcees. Later on he had me build with Popa Wu back in 1995. From then on me and Popa Wu became cool, I looked up to him as one of the older gods who was an inspirational teacher. By 1998 I was going to the studios. I often hung out in several of the studios as well as at shows and later began to meet different members of the Clan. I would never push myself on brothers, I would play the background and observe. I was basically a student. As time went by I jumped into the local Hip-Hop scene and started making a name for myself. At that time my first partner in rhyme was a brother named Donnan Linkz, who also produced. The two of us started working and recording joints together. We discovered we had a good chemistry. I went off to do my own thing from there. By 1999 and 2000 I was building with the Stronghold crew (Lifelong, Breez Evahflowin, Poison Pen, C-Rayz Walz and Stelf Index) and also Immortal Technique, Loer Velocity etc. My journey began there as an artist. I went through my personal setbacks and went through the New York City shelter system. After I got my own crib and get myself back on track I put my priorities in order. I hooked back up with some of my Wu-Tang connects. 9th Prince (Killarmy) and I worked together. 9th is RZA’s younger brother. I appeared in his music video entitled “Banned from the Radio.” 9th introduced me to DJ J-Ronin who was working on his first mixtape at the time. We got cool, he really believed in me as an artist. After a while he became my manager. We started putting together my first official mixtape Determination Through Time. J-Ronin was working with a lot of Wu-Tang affiliates such as Prodigal Sunn and Killah Priest and had Priest work with me on a few songs. Also I linked up with Planet Asia from Cali at a show later on so that’s how we started working together. We are working on more songs now for future projects.

Adam Bernard: Aside from linking up with artists, talk to me about your path to where you are today and some of the bumps in the road you've encountered.
Sav Killz: My main bump in the road was me basically having to grow up and be a man; taking responsiblites, taking care of myself, getting my own apartment. Nothing real crazy, I didn’t get shot nine times or do hard drugs. Like I said before I did go through the shelter system for a year. That was rough but at the same time I worked a nine to five job doing security. I had to scope out the scene and figure out a way to come in. I was always sure that being an MC was what I wanted to do.

Adam Bernard: How are those elements of your life visible in your music?
Sav Killz: You can hear some of the struggle in my voice. You can see it in my face. I rhyme with my heart on my sleeve. As an emcee I don’t want to bombard you with sob stories, but I give you bits and pieces. For example on the Planet Asia song “Baby Food” from the Sickness album I spit “Stress had me losing my hair/ Pockets linted, bare/ hop the train with no fare.” Unfortunately the struggle is something most of us from the hood have to endure, but most of my rhymes that have come out have been more abstract and battle oriented.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what do you hope listeners get out of your work?
Sav Killz: Inspiration. My thing is preserving the culture of Hip-Hop; the art form, being an emcee, the creativity, keeping knowledge in our music, substance! Be original, be yourself. Sure we all have influences but show that originality. Believe in yourself in whatever you do in whatever you think is your path in life. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and cannot do.

You can check out Sav Killz’s music at myspace.com/savkillz and pick up a copy of Determination Through Time at ConsciousBootleggers.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:13 AM  
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