‘Blood, sweat and tears’ went into K Salaam and Beatnick’s debut album: ‘Whose World Is This?’. A provocative and political album bringing together a host of heavyweight reggae and hip hop artists strongly committed to the concept including Talib Kweli, Kardinal Offishal, Capleton and Sizzla.
The album’s accompanying DVD offers even further insight into the making of the music and the people behind it all. It throws up questions, thoughts, and poetry in a quest for answers to the album title.
Relatively unknown at the beginning of the project, Iranian born K Salaam, literally went knocking on doors to persuade artists to collaborate. He got 13 of the 15 artists on his wish list, after hearing the music and the philosophy, Stic Man from Dead Prez stated it was, ‘A no brainer’.
The Beatnick and K Salaam team are making waves and are also producing for Nas, The Outlawz and Young Jeezy. Beatnick states they don’t just make beats, they compose music and that’s why it’s so strong.
Uh huh. I hear that.
Lady Jay UK: You and Beatnick are a production partnership and recently created the ‘Whose World Is This’ album. How and when did your partnership come about?
K Salaam: I met him in Minnesota. I heard a beat CD of his. I realised that he was a real talented kid. I asked him to work on a beat with me.
Beatnick: K had a drum track and the sample chopped up. I added everything else and then tweaked what I did. We sat back and listened to it and realised we had something special. After that it was on. That beat ended up being the Saigon track.
Lady Jay UK: There’s a strong concept behind this compilation album, share it with us…
K Salaam: "Whose World Is This?" Is a question. We are trying to engage the listener by letting them be interactive with the album. We need the listener to help come up with the answer to that question. This album isn't about me and Beatnick, or the artists involved; it's about everybody. That's the concept behind the album in a nutshell.
Lady Jay UK: You’ve gone so far as to say it’s a movement, explain what you mean…
Beatnick: It's a movement only because the level of passion, hard work, dedication, and people behind it. You can't really call something a movement. It either is, or it isn't. And as of right now, it's taking that shape of being a movement.
Lady Jay UK: I can only summise this is very much who you are…
K Salaam: I come from an activist and musician family. Beatnick comes from a musician family. The music and message on this album is very honest, real, and pure. This album is very much who we are. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into this. This album is gonna be around forever. Nobody can take that from us.
Lady Jay UK: Talk to me about the album itself, it’s not just hip hop…
K Salaam: It's music. We don't see boundaries in what we do. This is a new time. Everybody is trying to find that "new sound" because music is so stale right now they need to look at us. Everybody is trying to experiment with that "hipster rap", but that shit ain’t natural. Our music is not forced. We didn't say, "hey, let's do something different". We were ourselves, and the rest is history.
Lady Jay UK: What have you learnt in the process of making ‘Whose World Is This’?
K Salaam: Wow. I could write a book on that. I went through a lot of just personal shit making this album. Not to mention all of the trials and tribulations of just trying to make it as an artist in this music business.
Beatnick: This album is a part of our lives. It took on a life of its own and we grew with it. We've learned so much from it, that I don't even know how we could begin to answer this question.
Lady Jay UK: You released ‘The World is Ours’ in 2006, how did it all begin for you?
K Salaam: I started DJing in '94. I began listening to hip-hop since I was a kid. I grew up around music because my mom was a professional piano player, and I was a jazz "prodigy" at a young age. I was a jazz trumpeter and composer. I've been writing songs as far back as I can remember.
Beatnick: I started playing the piano, then I picked up the guitar. I pretty much taught myself how to play almost every instrument. I started making beats six or seven years ago. I went to high-school for music production and I also went to music engineering school.
Lady Jay UK: What’s your definition of a real hip-hopper?
K Salaam: Hip-Hop is dead. Now there's just music.
Lady Jay UK: What can we look forward to…? Any plans for some live shows?
K Salaam: Yeah, I'm DJing pretty heavy on the NY scene. I just did a show with Tony Touch last week. I'm doing something with Scram Jones this week. I'm doing a lot of club dates on the solo tip, and I'm also doing a lot of big shows.
I'm did Black August on August 31st with: KRS-One, Bilal, Immortal Technique, Smif N Wessun, Marley Marl, DJ Scratch, and DJ Evil Dee.
Lady Jay UK: Damn!
K Salaam: I'm also DJing at the anti-Republican Natl. Convention @ the Minnesota State Capital in front of 15,000 people; alongside Dead Prez, Michael Franti, and much more… That's just a couple of things…
Check out http://www.myspace.com/ksalaammusic for updates.
I also want to tell people to make sure to buy the album, because we put our blood, sweat, and tears into it. The album comes with a DVD that documents me with all of the artists in NY and Jamaica. Support real music.