featured interview

Senor Kaos Swagger is nothing, talent is everything With fresh flows and lively lyrics, Senor Kaos was definitely one of the highlight appearances on DJ Spinna's 'Sonic Smash'. Kaos -the flow, the man, the brain- is an emcee to look out for. In 2008, he released the 'Swagger Is Nothing, Talent Is Everything' mix album, followed by the videos 'Girls Can Rock Too' and this month's issued 'Automatic Classic', one for one proves of sheer talent.

In our 2008 wrap-up your wish for 2009 was 'less hype, more substance', now that were already at three months from the end of the year: has your wish been fulfilled a bit?

Yeah, I think so. Especially right now, I think it's wonderful that Raekwon is getting great authentic buzz about his new project 'Only Built For Cuban Linx 2'. And you see people everywhere online saying 'Blueprint 3' (new Jay-Z record, ed.) may have the hype, but 'Only Built For Cuban Linx' has the substance. Hip-hop still has to get away from the manufactured buzz. It's only setting artists up to fail, and I think that's why were seeing more one hit wonders than ever.

'Swagger is Nothing, Talent is Everything': maybe in a perfect world, but not in this world, right?

(Laughs) I disagree. Talent still reigns supreme. I salute cats like De La Soul and Public Enemy who are still relevant after 20 years. All these Swagger Rap cats won't even be around in 2010, and that's less than 3 months away.

'We need more fans, and less artists' I read you said that one day; don't you think with the explosion of social, music networking sites as Myspace, Facebook,., this will be very hard to achieve now and in the near and distant future?

Not only that, but now you have 16-year-old kids who have Pro Tools or Logic or CD-duplicators who can make a whole album in their house. I say it all the time: 'everybody can't rap!!!' I think it's great that hip-hop has touched so many people's lives, and all, but at some point somebody has to be a fan. I don't think the game is hurting because people are downloading albums. I think the game is hurting cause everybody wants to rap and it's flooding the market. Over 300 hip-hop albums came out in 2008. I have a saying 'You can close your eyes, throw a rock in any direction and you'll probably hit a rapper!'

That maybe goes for blogs as well. You also started a blog.

I started the blog in 2007 as a way to document my travels, and show my friends and close people what I had going on. As it evolved it turned into a place where you could not only see what I was doing, but what I was also into from sneakers, events, videos, etc. At the same time blogs weren't posting my music, so I created my own blog as a way to post my own music.

So when did other blogs start to pay attention to your music?

When I released the 'Swagger Is Nothing, Talent Is Everything' project, I definitely noticed other blogs started to pay attention. Also when I released the video for 'Girls Rock Too', that got a lot of hits based on websites posting it, people commenting on it, etc.

How important is the Koas Effect blog for you? Are you updating that yourself??!

Maaaaaaaaan, it's crazy! It's very hard to keep the blog updated with everything else that I have going on, but I try my best. The site is very important because it's the only place on the internet where fans get to hear my voice. I do update the blog myself, anything you see my name as the author that's me. No ghost blogging going on around here. I do have some guest bloggers who help out when they can as well. Inori, Chicagorilla, O.Banga, and Ray. I try not to get caught up in the blog politics though. I post what I want to post, when I want to post it.

Do you find it important that your readers/fans know that you went to the Mall of America, for instance?

Hell yeah. A lot of times artists only want you to know what they're doing music-related. I try to let the fans know what I'm doing when I'm not in the studio. Like going to the Mall Of America in Minnesota, or going to play paint ball. Or going to DJ Spinna's BBQ for the 4th of July, etc. These are the other things I do in my life that I enjoy, besides making music and performing.

Another interesting quote from your blog: Naughty By Nature performed at Princes Spot 'First Avenue', we walked past and decided to the hit the strip club instead. Euh.so sometimes you gotta be consistent when it comes down to dilemma's right?

(laughs) Definitely. Sometimes you gotta get away too. The biggest misconception is that underground emcees don't like to have fun. I like to party, dance and all that when I'm in that mood. I have days where I say 'Okay today, I'm going to un-plug myself from the Matrix, and just do things that have nothing to do with hip-hop or music all day!' I think that was one of those days.

Talking about girls: 'Girls Rock Too' was a dope video. It was about women/girls in general but to what extent do you think that female emcees have contributed to rap music, although they are/were still a minority in this predominately male culture?

Thanks. Not only female emcees, but female managers, booking agents, journalists, etc. have all contributed to rap music/hip-hop. Can't forget about them. It's a shame most labels don't give female emcees a chance to shine these days, but there's sooo much talent out there. In Atlanta alone where I live you got Stahhr, Boog Brown, Rita J, Adrift Da Belle, and more getting busy on the mic. I think more than female emcee's though good music as a whole is a minority these days.

Has your female fan base grown a lot since that single/video?

You know funny as it is. A lot of women loved that song and video. But a lot less of them actually bought it. (laughs) It's available on iTunes right now - search 'Senor Kaos - Girls Rock Too'. I think the song put me on a lot of women's radar who might've not been checking for me before. I've gotten e-mails from women across the world, saying they love that song and thanked me for doing it. However I haven't had much success with getting it to the WNBA, or magazines like Essence to be featured.

That single was released on High Water Music, how did you get with it? Through Sucio Smash?

Correct. I met Sucio Smash through our mutual friend Jax - rest in peace. He took over Bobbito's CM Famalam Radio Show in New York where he was an intern. Jax connected us, and I started sending him music over the years. I have a lot of respect for Sucio Smash cause he was one of the only people who believed in my music when everybody else was fronting on it. He created High Water Music and I was honoured to be chosen to be apart of the label. Suce is like a Mad Scientist. I'm always amazed at his method and how it works for him. I hope one day he writes a book. I released my digital single for 'Girls Rock Too' and 'Automatic Classic' through High Water Music and it's available on iTunes right now. Working on finishing up a project with me and Atlanta producer Illastrate that you all should hear about more in 2010.

Ah.Illastrate's 'The Black Noise LP' with Aarophat was real nice, the 'Automatic Classic' song he produced was dope too. Tell us more about him and the upcoming collabo.

Yeah, this new project is me on the rhymes and Illastrate on the beats. It's sounding fresh so far. I can't wait for the people to hear it. Illastrate is a great producer; he's 'hip-hop's best kept secret' if you ask me. The project we're working on together is seamless. He knows the exact sound I'm looking for. We always joke that if Nas and DJ Premier made an album together it would sound like this.

To be appearing on DJ Spinna's album must be one of your biggest achievements as an artist until now, have you heard a lot of feedback yet, have there been some requests from labels, artists,.., since you appeared on the album?

Yeah working with DJ Spinna was major. It's funny I knew Spinna for a while, I've always been a fan of his music, but he didn't know I was an emcee. Sucio played him some cuts and he was digging it. One day I got a text like 'DJ Spinna wants to work with you'. I flew to New York City a month later and we created the song 'Call Me Senor', which made the cut for DJ Spinna's new album 'Sonic Smash'.

The feedback for the album as well as the song has been great. I haven't had many requests yet though. There's a lot of artist just off that album that I would love to work with; Torae, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Tiye Phoenix, Elzhi, Homeboy Sandman, Phonte, etc. People I have gotten a chance to work with, who are also featured on that album are: John Robinson, Fresh Daily, P.So, and Howard Lloyd (Sputnik Brown).

Do you think however that sharing the stage with Ice Cube, Sean Price, Little Brother and Ghostface Killah will do more for your name brand?

Of course. Shows are just like jobs. Each time you do one, you have something else to add to your resume.

You worked with a lot of street teams, you worked for Capitol, Interscope, did a lot of promotion, hosted a lot of shows, to what extent has that given you insight in how things work, how you can promote yourself as an artist, how to do your business yourself, on how to deal with labels, how to work with other artists, insight behind the scenes of the rap game?

All of my experience has made me a more well-rounded person. Working in the marketing field, I learned a lot about creating strategies and building brand identity. I used a lot of that experience when I created my blog and company. I can definitely say I learned a lot about how record labels work, working for them. I could write a book. (laughs). I don't regret any of it either; I'm happy I had the chance to meet and connect with so many people and learn as much as I could.

You mentioned creating a company as well.

Yep, I run a lifestyle Marketing Company Vintage Imperial Mktg and Promo (www.vintageimperial.com). I created the company in 2003 after I started getting corporate marketing projects to work on.

What three essential tips do you have for beginning/unknown (and of course talented) rap artists who want to start promoting themselves?

My advice...the 3 F's: be 'Focused', 'Firm', 'Familiar'. Know your audience, know your competition, and know your worth.

Now back to the music.you already told us about your 'Kaos Effect' album coming up, that it'll probably be for 2010, how are things now with the recordings.?

It's about 70 % finished. We're still touching up some things, listening, going back and changing things, etc. God willing it will be finished before my birthday in November.

How are you looking forward towards the A3C Festival? What does this festival mean for hip-hop in Atlanta?

The A3C festival means once a year, I can look forward to getting a visit from a lot of my colleagues. (laughs). It's the only hip-hop festival in the city, so it's kinda of all we got right now. Hopefully people will start paying more attention to it, and it can grow into something big like a CMJ or SXSW.

Which ATL artists and releases can you really recommend to us?

There's a lot of great artist in Atlanta. Check for: 4 Ize, Binkis Recs, Collective Efforts, Ozy Reigns, Mojo Swagger, Boog Brown, Stahhr, Clan Destined, and check for my new mixtape where you can hear a lot of those people doing their thing.

Who's Daniel Joseph?

Daniel Joseph is a dope emcee from Jersey. He's dropping a new project next month, check for it.

Who's your fav Wu-Tang emcee?

Ah man, I can't answer that question. I'm a Wu fan, they all have their own persona. I will say back in 94 /95 Method Man was probably my favourite, then 'Only Built For Cuban Linx' came out and Rae and Ghost were my favourites you know. I've met U God, Cappadonna, Raekwon, RZA, and Ghost in person though. Never met the rest of the clan.

What's your fav pair of sneakers?

Nike Air Trainers - Bo Jacksons - the orange and blue ones.

What's the first rap record you bought?

Wow. I honestly can't remember. I didn't have any money as kid, I used to dub tapes, and take my uncle tapes (laughs) My father was a DJ, so he had all the records. And when I was younger I wasn't buying albums, just maxi singles.

What are the latest albums you uploaded unto your iPod?

Raekwon - 'Only Built For Cuban Linx 2'. Tanya Morgan - 'Brooklynati'. Jay-Z - 'Blueprint 3'. And I can't wait to hear this new M.O.P. record that's supposed to be dropping.

What's next for Senor Kaos?

Well, the video for 'Automatic Classic' just dropped. You can check on my video page www.vimeo.com/senorkaos. New mixtape - 'Walk Softly And Carry A Big Brick' dropping October. It's 19 songs and features guest appearances from Young Chris, Wale, Bun B, Curren$y, P.So, John Robinson, Stacy Epps, Jaspects, Soul Purpose, Binkis Recs, 4 Ize, Punchline, 4th Pyramid, and more. Production from 9th Wonder, Large Professor, 2 Hungry Bros., Von Pea (Tanya Morgan), and DJ Spinna. Just recorded a 'Homage To De La Soul' record with Von Pea and Homeboy Sandman that will be featured on this Mick Boogie 'Le De Soul' Mixtape. And of course the new project with Illastrate for 2010. Expect more great music. Working on setting up some shows, looking forward to getting over to Belgium, German, London, Denmark, Rotterdam, and all that.


Shouts to everybody who supports my music. Black, Chicagorilla, Inori, O Banga, Binkis Recs, DJ Grandman, 4 ize, Punchline, Sucio Smash, Timm See, all the blogs/websites who show me love, and all the DJ's who have ever spun a SeƱor Kaos record. Thank You.

.and thank you for this interview!


POSTED 09|02|2009
conducted by cpf

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