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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week - Kalil Kash
Monday, May 18, 2009

Last month I saw Kalil Kash performing at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC as a part of Conscious’ Bondfire series. When Kash got into the chorus of his song “Baby I Want It” I suddenly realized I was rapping right along with the call and response part of the hook. I had remembered it from the last time, which was the only other time, I saw him perform. That, my friends, is impact, and it’s exactly why I felt the need to catch up with Kalil Kash to find out more about the Jersey native and his music. During our interview Kash not only opened up about his musical history, but he also shared an aspect of his master plan that should scare a lot of less talented emcees.

Adam Bernard: Start me off by telling me about your hometown of Newark, NJ and what the Hip-Hop scene is like there.
Kalil Kash: Brick City! Well, Newark is Newark, man. It’s a violent ghetto. I've lived here most of my life and honestly, I wouldn't hesitate to leave. It's the people I represent here, not the bullshit and crime. As for the Hip-Hop scene, shit, it's damn near nonexistent. For the up and coming artist like myself there's really no easy outlet for performing or getting your music out there. There are no steady open mic spots and very few underground Hip-Hop shows. I guess that’s because of a few reasons; one, there’s so much crime and people are afraid to come, and two, because Jersey is a lot more laid back than New York is, so everyone who raps is just basically "chillin." That's why it annoys me to hear cats out here say "damn NYC always holding us back. We can't get no burn 'cuz we from Jersey." No, it's because you're not doing anything about it. You can't just sit on your ass and complain about how we don't get burn, make them listen. I rep Jersey heavy, though, regardless of the bullshit.

Adam Bernard: You have a really interesting history as an artist. From what I’ve read you had a bit of a late start. Why didn’t you pic up a mic until you hit 18 and what finally inspired you to?
Kalil Kash: It’s funny you mention that. The reason I didn't start until so late is because at the time I sort of fell into rap. I was just bored one day after school and an old friend of mine showed me this internet rap battle site, so if figured I would write a little bullshit verse you know, just for fun. I posted it up. I don't remember if I won the battle or not, probably not {laughs}, but I continued to battle online for a while. Eventually I started recording my battles on my computer and a few months later I moved on to just writing regular songs. I’ve been with it ever since. It's funny because I never thought I would be a rapper until 18.

Adam Bernard: For those who may not understand, how different is it writing a verse for a message board versus writing a rhyme that you actually want to perform?
Kalil Kash: Very different. There's no idea of structure or appeal when writing a battle rhyme. You're not sitting down thinking "okay, is this going to translate well on stage? Will females and guys like this joint?" All you care about is beating your opponent. Nowadays battles are pretty pointless for me, whether they’re online or face to face. In my mind, there’s nothing like the look on a motherfucker's face when you’re on stage killing it, as opposed to when you’re just trying to “style on” somebody.

Adam Bernard: What made you go from writing your first rhyme to having the passion to want to become an emcee?
Kalil Kash: Just the pure fun of it. The more I wrote rhymes and recorded them the more interested I got. Also there was a lot of inspiration from artists that were better than me, both people I knew personally and famous emcees. It's kind of like when you learn to ride a bike. At first it sucks because you keep busting your ass for lack of balance, but then once you really get it it’s the best thing in the world. Plus after I started performing it became way more fun.

Adam Bernard: Both times I’ve seen you perform it’s been with former Artist Of The Week Top $ Raz. How did you two link up and do you plan on working on some songs together?
Kalil Kash: Raz is my dog. I met him at Training Camp at Club Pyramid. He performed his joint "SSDD (Same Shit Different Day)" and I was mad impressed, so I took a CD from him. Dude is ill, man, and I kept running into him on the underground scene. We were cool from there. We actually already have a song together called "Be Gone." It'll be on mine and his upcoming albums. Shit is crack juice!

Adam Bernard: Looking at both the industry and the underground today, which artists do you feel are building their careers the right way and what aspects of their career building do you respect most?
Kalil Kash: If you're independent right now you’re a smart man or woman. As far as specific artists, the person who I notice the most in the NYC underground scene has to be Homeboy Sandman. I see this guy everywhere. His own shows, of course, but also open mics, other people’s shows, the supermarket, the check cashing line. {laughs} He grinds. It just shows you how an independent hustle can set you apart. True, you may not be on MTV and BET, like that matters anyway, but at least you'll have some money that you won't have to split too many ways and you can make the music you want to make. As far as the industry, as in mainstream, I can't really say I would respect or model my career after any of them as of now. I'm not really in the mood to get musically raped anytime soon. {laughs} Oh, but that dude Drake is killing it without an album. See, independent, man.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of killing it, you’re killin it right now with the free mixtapes. Other than name recognition what do you hope to gain from giving away your music?
Kalil Kash: Fans. It’s that simple. I know a lot of artists are going for some big record deal, or hoping some huge big name artists will hear it, but I'm a little more realistic. {laughs} I'm trying to do the indie thing anyway, so me giving away mixtapes is strictly for people who want to hear some good Hip-Hop music. Also, it'll give them a reason to want to hear my full album when its here.

Adam Bernard: What’s next in your own personal master plan?
Kalil Kash: Same thing we do every night Pinky… {laughs} But seriously, my plan is to finish recording my upcoming album, The Exit Method, and release it in either Summer or early Fall, and before that gain enough buzz with mixtapes and performances, or whatever else, to get people to want the album. I’m going to perform as much as possible, mainly because I'm addicted to it. Oh, and I want to scare as many wack rappers as I possibly can. I get a kick out of that.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/kalilkash862
Blog / Free Mixtape: kalilkash.blogspot.com
Twitter: twitter.com/kalilkash
Facebook: Kalil Kash

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:40 AM  
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