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K Banger Let the truth be told With a rap career that goes back to a feature on Miilkbone's 'Da Milkcrate' in 1995, K Banger recently signed to Shaman Work, the label of John Robinson aka Lil Sci. Not new to the Scienz Of Life family however (he featured on SOL's debut record) 'Truth Be Told' is nothing less than to be anticipated heavily by any fan of truthful hip-hop. A talk with the man behind the album.

?Truth Be Told? will be released through the Internet, will it be found in the shops someday too?

I?m going to guess that they will have to put this on the shelves, yes. But with the way things are going on in the business lately, it probably won? t make much of a difference.

Since your feature on the first Scienz Of Life album, you had connections with the Shaman fam going way back, but why did it take untill now untill you got on the Shaman Works label?

At first, it was my fault. I slow-rolled on submitting music a few years back and it threw everything off for some time. It was cool though, because there was a lot that I had to experience on my own before making a situation like this work. I now realize that.

How did you get with Scienz Of Life in the first place, with you being from NJ?

Kane U$A had worked with SOL for some time. Kane and I grew up in the same area. SOL came from New York to Jerz when they landed one of their earlier record label situations, so we all just clicked. I played drums at their live shows at the time, and contributed rhymes to recordings as well.

Your first recorded track was on Miilkbone?s album, do you often listen to that record again?

I haven?t heard that album in a while, man.

The album was pretty tight but never really got much attention…

A couple of things went wrong. I?m not sure exactly, but I would say that money was mismanaged, and my man Miilk didn?t have the mindset at the time to create his own career foundation with surrounding resources. Even if he was getting ripped of, certain connections could have taken advantage of. But remember, this was a time when the ?independent? artist wasn?t so common. You went with a label or management, and they took care of you. Supposedly.

Before signing to Shaman Work, you were an independent artist with his own, indie label called Dirt Dept, does that still exist?

Dirt Department is in full effect. We?ve done music for television and programming, and will be promoting a roster of talent by 2008.

So why did you decide to sign with a label?

I decided to go with a label like Shaman Work because, let?s face it, I?m very busy and it?s not worth killing yourself over promotion and record-selling resources if someone else has it covered better than you do. No man is an island, feel me? You need a team, and Shaman Work knows what I?m capable of doing, so there?s no pressure whatsoever. Prior to this, I was avoiding every label situation possible. Especially the majors. They don?t talk my language at the moment (laughs).

I once read an interview where you was talking about the importance of 'word of mouth', how big of a role does this still play these days especially when the Internet's booming?? Is it still necessary to go on the streets and spread the word?

Very much so. But still, every outlet is important. My personal philosophy is that everything is word of mouth when it comes to promotions. Internet, magazine ads, videos are just more visual forms of word of mouth. At the end of the day, word of mouth is the desired result, no matter what the platform.

You already released an album in 2001 called 'Stillborn Lives' but I can imagine lots of people won't ever have heard of that, now that your name is more out there, are you tending to re-release it?

?Stillborn Lives? is still available on iTunes and other digital outlets. There are still a couple of copies on cdbaby.com/kbanger as well. Other than that, I may not re-release it. Shaman Work may want to do it, who knows? Heads still bang that joint. One of the songs ?The Edge of Wartalk? was just recently used on Spike TV to advertise a movie special. Crazy!

Now you mention ads, you appeared in a Diddy commercial...euhm..can you explain how you got in there?

(laughs) Kane U$A was directing that spot, so he had me do that little part. Kane shot the picture on the ?Truth Be Told? album cover that same day. Ironic, isn?t it?

Very much so. Could you compare your first album to your last album?

Well, I had a lot more help on this one, for sure. John Robinson aka Lil Sci, who is the President of Shaman Work, had a lot of production lined up, and that made things much easier for me to compile for the project. Plus I had much more hands on the production end. I tracked the vocals on all of the songs, and even mixed a few of them.

You're the head audio producer of BET Creative Services, when will your video appear on BET?

That?s funny (laughs). I don?t know. I don?t think I care either. The heads around here support greatly though. That?s all I can ask for.

You work for media but in 'Freedom March', a single of your new album, you despise the media, how would you rhyme these two facts?

I?m contradictory like that sometimes. In ?Freedom March?, I think I was trying to relay what most of us say when we feel something is not right. It almost like someone saying to themselves, ?Man, I have to stop smoking these cigarettes?. The fact that I feel the way I feel, but can still work for a media corporation like BET or Shaman Work means that I have an opportunity to make a change where I see fit, and that?s a big deal. You can?t do that from the outside-looking-in. We gotta get involved, and do what you can.

'Free Reign', your previous ?compilation? album, was for free, what was your statement behind that?

Nice question. You know, prior to all this, I was gonna hang this rap shit up. Once I was exposed to post-production, BET and all that, voice-overs, music licensing,? I realized that I was kind of limiting myself, kind of. But what I didn?t realize was heads were very familiar with what I had done with my hip-hop music, even with my small scale independent releases. So I just pressed up some songs and gave it away, in the name of Hip-Hop. See, rappers messed it up for everyone in NY, straight up. Someone always trying to sell you something, all this ?I need to feed my seeds? bullshit, and with whack-ass tracks. I just wanted my sound to be heard, and show that I am grateful for what hip-hop has given to me as a man. ?Free Reign? was a symbol of all that. You can still download too at myspace.com/KBangerMusic.

You're studying classical and Latin instruments; however your beats are sampled/breaks would you consider adding some live instrumentation to it in the future?

The live elements in recording and performance will soon be in full, full effect, yes. I was playing in a reggae band for some time, and I miss it dearly. Can?t wait to incorporate all this into the live show.

Who are some of your favourite Latin musicians?

Ah man, the classics. Ruben Blades, Fania All Stars, Willie Colon, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, all that stuff. Too many to mention.

Why did you decide to go learn these instruments at an older age?

I always had a desire to learn these things, but for some reason, it wasn?t at my access when I was younger. That?s how writing came into my life, I guess.

You mentioned reggae, are you making other music than that and hip-hop?

Indeed, I have a lot of Pop, R&B and House music on file, ambient stuff as well. Got a few rock bands on stand-by as well and I?ve been meeting with a lot of movie-soundtrack guys that do the orchestra and big band thing, you know? I?m just universal when it comes to sound, I need to do it all.

What was the first rap record you bought?

I don?t remember the first one I bought with my own money, but my moms bought me ?My Name is D-Nice? for Christmas. I remember her saying, ?I can understand every word he says!?.

Being from NJ, what 'famous' New Jersians did you collaborate with?

Tame One, if you consider him famous. I would say that he is.

Who are some of your fav NJ artists?

Redman, Fugees, Naughty by Nature, Sugar Hill Gang, Bruce Willis, Nick Wiz, Latifah, Thomas Edison (laughs). He wasn?t born in Jerz, but all of his film and audio experiments were done in Jersey.

Not from NJ but Harlem, Big L, you met him once, correct?

I did meet Big L. Coolest brotha ever. He was performing at the Elizabeth High School Gym in Jersey. I performed there once, I opened up for Nice and Smooth and George LaMond. (laughs) That was a while ago, playa. Anyway, the promoter invited me to another show. He was hipping me to the game, you know? Big L was there and he performed and we kicked it. All I can remember is how pleasant and cool he was, characteristics of a true gangsta. I would say that he influenced everyone that was familiar with his music. I have yet to hear a flow like that.

What can we expect from you and yours in the future?

Expect what you would normally expect, including the unexpected. All of this will be obvious once you see it. (laughs)

Shout-outs?

Shout out to Fresh Press Media, they?ve been taking good care of me lately. I wanna shout out my moms and grand moms, and you guys writing salty record reviews, you?re off to a good start. Shaman Work of course, Balance Project: Triplebeam, Kane U$A, Phoenix, KR, ?Future? Nunez, all of yall. And of course to Platform8470.com for the support. Also shouts to myspace.com/KBangerMusic and KBanger.com, good peeps there as well.

 

POSTED 06|01|2007
conducted by cpf

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