featured interview

Capital D Do the Polymath Capital D's new album holds the title 'PolyMath'. But even the word 'PolyMath' is an understatement for this Chicagoan millipede. David Kelly's not only a solo MC; along with Tone B Nimble, he's one half of the group All Natural, he's also a producer, owner of the All Natural Inc label, he's the author of the book 'Fresh Air', he's an editor, activist, 'nd attorney 'nd we're probably even forgetting a few of his jobs.

So euh, Cap D, when do you sleep?

I always find time to do the things that I love like writing and making music. I can spend hours just working on music so I often work on beats well into the night or early morning. The one thing that I cut out was going out to clubs, etc. For me that was a time killer so I don't do it anymore. I tried to get rid of a lot of things that were taking up my time but that were not really benefiting me.

Which one of these jobs has a most special place in your heart?

Writing. Everything that I love to do, hip-hop, poetry, law,...all revolve around being a good writer. I think writing is the thing that I love the most and that makes me feel most creative.

Is there some job you still wanna do in your lifetime?

I want to have the time to write a novel. I think that I could write a good book and want to make sure that I take the time to do that.

What did you want to become when you was a young kid?

I wanted to be a novelist or a journalist. Also wanted to be a basketball player...

Actually you're an attorney for the Chicago Bulls...could you briefly explain your job content?

I work at a law firm and the Chicago Bulls is one of our clients. I handle their large transactions (TV rights agreements, sponsorship agreements, website agreements, etc.).

Do you know the players?

I don't handle the player contracts and don't know the players though. It's real complex transactional work...not as exciting as it sounds just real serious legal work and a lot of details to handle.

Do your colleagues know you're a rapper?

The people at my law firm know that I'm a rapper and a few of them have come out to see my shows and have got an album or two.

Benny the Bull, the mascot of Chicago Bulls, got arrested once for slappin a police officer, so it's no coincidence that you made a song against the chicago police (Chicago five o)?

Nah, Benny wasn't the inspiration for that one. The catalyst was when it became so obviously clear how the cops were systematically torturing people, then watching that cop punch that female bartender in the face on film. Those were the tipping points.

Isn't it hard to rap about certain sensitive issues because you're ' lawyer' Have you encountered any problems, difficulties?

I've never had a problem, but I do wonder sometimes if it may create problems in the future. If so, then so be it. If my career prevents me from speaking up for what I know to be right, then I need to find a different career. Speaking out is really the least that I can do when I know that injustice is being done.

This album is funkier, with catchy, smooth choruses in a few songs, in regard to other solo albums that are much darker, what's the reason behind this style rupture?

I honestly think that I'm probably just happier right now. I have a couple of kids and a good wife so I'm probably just mellowing a bit in terms of my life and it's coming out in the music. I definitely wanted to be a bit more musical in this album in terms of the melodies and the harmonies so that part was a conscious choice. I think I caught some inspiration from people like Kanye who is real deliberate in terms of having a lot of musical layers. My album sounds nothing like his, but I definitely draw inspiration from what he and other people are doing.

Talking about Kanye, you worked with his mentor No ID for this record, is he really the legend he ought to be in Chicago?

I think so. His legend fits his persona. The people who know give No ID his true props. His fingerprints are all over the careers of a number of people, Common's, Kanye's for example, and he has done a lot for the Chicago hip-hop scene. He's not really the kind of person who self-promotes, thought so that's what I mean when I say his notoriety fits his personality. But those in the know...know.

Tragedy Khadafi is a pretty remarkable feature on the album. What were your reasons to have him on the album?

He's on the album because I'm a fan, first and foremost. I still have my Intelligent Hoodlum cassette tape. I was thinking of artists who had an impact on me as an MC and who are still doing their thing, and who people wouldn't think I'd do a collab with, and Trag came to mind as an obvious choice. So I reached out to him and sent him some of my material and he was with it. His resume in hip-hop is undeniable, but again only people who are in the know really honor him like that. I wanted to reach to him because a lot of people weren't...he wasn't the cat everybody was trying to collab with, but he really should be. He definitely made that song what it is and that's what you want from a collab is somebody who is going to leave his fingerprints on the song instead of just throwing you a half-assed verse.

‘Walking your own route', is that the main key to success d'you think' What else?

Knowing what's important to you, and then always making sure that you have options. To me success means always having options and opportunities, and then having the courage to seize an opportunity as if you don't have any other options.

As a label owner what achievements are you most pride of?

I think that everybody who has ever been affiliated with All Natural, Inc. deserved to be heard. Everybody had their own voice that needed to be heard in hip-hop for different reasons. I stand behind everyone that we've ever dealt with and I'm proud to be able to say that.

What more do you plan in the future for the label?

We plan on diversifying our sound with artists like ProhMic and Perfect Strangers, but still always coming with true hip-hop.

To be honest, at one point we had the idea like this album was a look back on your career and how good it all is and was, and that you've reached the top, the top of the mountain, and you feel like there's no more step higher, could you please tell us how wrong we are and why' No retirement plans?

I don't have any retirement plans, but I did approach this album in a way that it could be my last and I'd be cool with that. I wanted to create an album that was modern in sound, but that was still true to the essence of hip-hop. I wanted to leave it as a blueprint for how to be true to the past without sounding dated, and I feel like I succeeded in doing that and the album speaks for itself. If this is it for me in terms of hip-hop, then I'm cool. But there is still a lot more that I have to give musically outside of hip-hop that I want to get out there in the years to come.

Do you feel like there's enough respect in the rap game' Do young artists or label owner want to learn from the elder, the more experienced?

I feel like it is what it is. I think that respect is earned and that it should never be asked for or demanded. There are a lot of young cats who respect their elders in hip-hop, and there's some who don't. But I'm not mad at the ones who don't. Those who don't probably feel like they have to break with the past in order to truly strike out on their own and be their own man, and I can honor that.

The term PolyMath stems from the Renaissance, do you have a couple of artists from that period whom you look up to?

Honestly, no. When I think of the classics and the Renaissance, I really think back to the tradition of Black writers in America and the Harlem Renaissance and the writers and artists that came out of that period. I understand and respect where the word ‘polymath' comes from and that several artists from the Italian Renaissance were true polymaths and renaissance men, but I can't say that I study their lives and works like I do the more recent artists who I think speak more directly to me and my situation.

What were some of the latest books that you've read?

My reading has really been slacking in the last few years. ‘A History of God' and 'Wizard of the Crow' are the most recent books, although I still haven't finished 'Wizard of the Crow'.

What's next for All Natural Inc' / What's next for cap D?

We have a lot of really good music in the works. The ProhMic album is going to be off the chain. I really think he is taking things in a completely new direction. As for me, I'm working on a follow up album to ‘Writer's Block' with the Molemen so that has me focused. Also I have an album that I've done with ProhMic that should drop next year that is SOLID. And the project that I'm really excited about is a production album for a new group called Perfect Strangers where I'm doing all of the music and it's on a Chicago house music vibe, so that is really going to catch people sleeping.

Will you still be rockin rough in rhymes when you're 70?

God willing

Shout-outs?

You know the drill. Tone B. Nimble heads the list. Sean Dohe and Eric Recio for making ANI go. No ID, SC, IllMind, ProhMic and all the producers who blessed the album. Brother Ali and Tragedy Khadafi for doing their thing. And Chali 2na, Raashan Ahmad, Gift of Gab, Rita J and Adad.

 

POSTED 11|01|2010
conducted by cpf

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