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Clear, Refreshing Seattle Hip-Hop: An Interview with Kazadi

Posted by February 11th, 2017 1 Comment »

By Ian Bremner, Old Rookie

Moving from South Dakota to Seattle is not a traditional rap story, but neither is Kazadi. He may be fairly new to town, but Lucid is more than enough to properly introduce himself. The 8-track EP is soulful, artistic, and highly personal.

The beats and overall theme of the project may jump out first, but lyrically, Lucid has the steadiness of old school hip hop, with traces of very modern influences. There is as much room for John Lennon and Radiohead name drops and guitar solos as there is for stories about the struggles of the modern day world we live in.

There is something genuinely refreshing about this project. Read the interview with Kazadi about growing up around the world, his influences, and how Lucid came to life. You have some older material, but is this your first “official” release?

Kazadi: Yes and no. I did a project by myself about two years ago, but this is the first one I spent a lot of time on.

NM: You’re new to Seattle, what brought you to town?

K: My wife and I wanted something different and I really wanted to do music. I knew Seattle had a great music scene.

NM: What about the beats? Are they all you or do you work with people?

K: I do all the beats and I work with Nate Norton, who played guitar on a few tracks and helped produce. Thad Wenatchee is the guy who recorded me, Nate did his thing, and Sean Dwyer mastered the entire project.

NM: What about the video? Where did you film that at?

K: Portland. It was filmed by a guy named Tim Slew who I met through Myke Bogan from Portland as well.

I: Was the concept for the video your idea or did you just go down there and start shooting one day?

K: Tim’s really good at visuals. I basically told him I wanted something trippy but simple and have it be an alternate reality type-thing.

I: The album artwork is kind of like that too. Did Tim do that too?

K: He took the picture and I pretty much morphed my face a little bit and messed with the coloring.

I: Any shows lined up?

K: Nothing lined up right now. I’ve had a few shows at “The Upstairs” with the AU Collective, we did some shows for Thad Wenatchee and his release, and we did one at the Central Saloon and another for Hollow Earth Radio. But I’m just trying to get down and do more.

I: I hate when people compare any musicians but especially rappers, like “he sounds like MF Doom and Mos Def and ASAP” or whoever, so I’ll just ask who are your favorite MCs right now or growing up?

K: It’s different for me because I’m influenced by producers and MCs. I really like Flying Lotus and Madlib. I  love their production. J Dilla, of course. Kanye West’s production. Even The Neptunes. Then rapper wise, I really like Andre 3000. He’s one of the dopest MCs for me. MF Doom, Nas… who else? Kendrick Lamar… for me, anyone who is honest in their music and tells a story. It doesn’t even have to be a story, just authentic.

I: The entire Lucid EP is very personal and honest. Was that the goal for this specific project or is that just your general style?

K: I wanted this project to be a little bit more personal, even though it’s hard to do. Putting yourself out there a lot more, but at least it’s coming from a real place. I can’t really define my style, it’s just about experiences and going through tough times but that doesn’t mean I always feel this way either. At times I get down on myself, but that can be inspiring some times.

I: It’s very much in the moment. Even though it’s recorded, it’s still a passing moment. Do you get inspired by a certain moment or are you constantly working on stuff?

K: Writing for me, is almost like a reflection on something, so it has to be inspired in some way or I have to be in a certain mood. But beat making is something I do all the time, it comes more frequently. Writing style wise, I’ll have bits and pieces and I’ll put stuff together or something happens and bam, I’m writing it all down. For this Lucid project, most of it was older writings and I decided to put it all out there with some new production.

I: How long you been doing this? Did you grow up wanting to rap or did something just hit you one day?

K: I don’t know dude, I’ve always been involved in music and I’ve always loved music and played different instruments in high school. I played bass in orchestra, I was in choir. In high school, my buddy started recording music on garage band and I really dug that. Then when I was in college, I linked with this guy Myke Bogan from Portland and started making some hip hop based stuff and that’s what sparked it.

I: You go to school in Portland?

K: No I went to USD, University of South Dakota. That’s how I met Myke. He played football there.

I: You grow up in South Dakota?

K: For the most part. I was born in the Congo and moved to different places around the world. I talk about that in my music too. But yeah, I moved out to SD because my parents wanted us to have a better life. From the Congo we moved to France. Lived in Germany for a little bit and Belgium but that was all when I was a little kid. When I moved to the US I was like eight years old. But even within South Dakota, I moved around a lot.

I: Your family still there?

K: My family’s in Sioux Falls, yeah.

I: They support your music?

K: [Audible laugh] When I first wanted to do music in college, my parents thought it was a waste of time and didn’t support it. I have African parents so they are very strict on what you should do. Which is weird, but it’s just a cultural difference. I’ve always wanted to do music so now that I’m doing it, they are supporting me. At the same time, my mom saw the video and was like, “yeah I saw it, it’s a good video, but I just don’t know why you have to be cussing” and stuff like that, but that’s just mom being a mom.

Listen to Kazadi on bandcamp and Soundcloud

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