Talk about perfect timing. Just as we were all getting tired of snapping our fingers and shaking our Laffy Taffys and whilst Nas defiantly declared Hip Hop is dead, a few enigmatic Hip Hop acts managed to slip through the net. They weren’t flashy, boastful or gangsta. Nah, these guys were smart: some might say artsy, old fashioned lyricists who were raised on Hip Hop.
Double O and Naledge are Kidz In The Hall; signed to Rawkus Records, their debut album School Was My Hustle has generated rave reviews in the US. The album showcases Naledge’s skilful lyrics which are conscious yet playful, over DJ / producer Double O’s masterfully produced beats. Following on from Hip Hop forefathers such as Guru and DJ Premier, the Kidz have managed to successfully balance their musical styles. Together they pay homage to all those who have gone before them, whilst sparking hope for all those coming behind. Read on.
BHH: Your album received glowing reviews in the US, how does it feel to have made an album many people are saying is a modern Hip Hop classic?
Double O: It’s a good feeling to know that people get what you are doing; you know we just try to make the best music possible and it worked.
Naledge: I mean we never anticipated it and we’ve had an over whelming response to it- its great, an honour.
BHH: Your latest single Wheels Fall Off is huge in The States and has just started popping off over here in the UK. How did the track come about?
Double O: It was one of those things that was funny because that record was originally a mixtape record that Naledge rapped over the Just Blaze instrumental. I always loved what he did lyrically on it ad it always felt dope to me. I just wanted to remix it and really play around with it and I just re-constructed the track from scratch and played with the baseline and tried to make it my own but at the same time it was still only a mixtape record. Then what happened was anytime someone would play the mixtape they would be like that record is dope- it’s crazy! So when we did the album we where like, ok we can’t not put this track on the album and that’s really how it came about. We just followed what the fans wanted and it went well ’cause they were right (laughs).
BHH: Is it one of your favourites on the album?
Double O: Me and Naledge always say you can’t choose a favourite track, it’s like choosing your favourite child.
Naledge: I mean it depends on the day and it depends on the feel. There’s one song you might play in the shower and another I might play in the car…
Double O: It’s funny though; it’s some people’s favourite record and they’ll come up to us and be like yo that’s my joint. At the end of the day, its’ a great feeling when someone says they like it and I’ll be like wow, I made this in my make shift studio in my bedroom on the weekend when we went working.
BHH: Naledge, I read that you had a flair for English when you were in school and you even wrote a book. If you weren’t doing music, what do you think you would be doing?
Naledge: Probably trying to write a book or working for JC Penny’s (laughs) and writing raps on the side. I have a lot of ideas of things I wonna do outside of rap but right now it’s about getting the music out there and trying to make an impact with my mind in different ways.
BHH: Double O, is it true that you were a track competitor in the Olympics, Greece 2004?
Double O: Yeah that’s true.
BHH: So you both have interesting stories before you became Kidz in the Hall which you could have pursued. What is it about the music that made you both leave potentially successful careers behind- is it simply just a love of music?
Double O: Yeah it was one of those things. I still get the edge to get out there on the track. The thing is when your running track you are so focused on running track and then when I’m not doing that I’ll go do some music but now it’s in the opposite direction. I mean I still wonna work out and do some hurdles even though I’m doing the music stuff. There’s always been two loves for me. I’m one of those people who in ten years time doesn’t wonna be sitting here looking back and be like I should have tried to do that, so I’m gonna take the chance. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
BHH: A lot people are saying that acts like you and Lupe Fiasco etc are resurrecting Hip Hop. Do you feel under pressure from theses expectations?
Double O: I personally don’t, I don’t think Naledge does either. There’s nothing that’s going to resurrect Hip Hop. People need to get that out of their mentality. I think the issue people have is that there is not enough of a variety in Hip Hop. There’s too much of one kind of Hip Hop around, it’s too much of the moment- none of it is of the soundtrack that will mark that time period. I remember when Nas’ album first came out, and then I remember when ‘Whoop there it is’ came out but that track didn’t mark that time period. What marked that time period was the epics, the Reasonable Doubts and the Biggie videos etc. Those kinds of things made you fall in love with Hip Hop. Everyone’s concentrating on making money in this business.
BHH: I feel you, I grew up listening to KRS-1 and Ghetto Boys etc because of my older brother but what Hip Hop inspired and influenced you as you were growing up?
Naledge: We’re kind of in the same boat. I’m 24 and I grew up listening to the same kind of acts you mentioned because of my older siblings but at the same time I was listening to what my sister was listening to, like Pharcyde, De La Soul, Brand Nubians, Public Enemy- there were a lot of different things going on in that era. You know there was like Rakim; there was such s good mix of music coming out at that time. Ghetto Boys, Scarface, but as far as my era- Common has been a big influence on me, Nas and Jay Z- all of those people influenced me as well. It was a mixture of the brash and conscious all in one and I think you can kinda hear it.
BHH: You seen to have real musical chemistry between you, is that simply because you are such good friends or you just understand each other musically?
Double O: We’ve been working together for a while now and it definitely hasn’t been an over night thing. We’ve been working together since 2000, so it’s been a little wild but I think when it comes down to it we understand each other. I think first and foremost we are both students of what we do. We approach it with an academic manner as we really study what goes on around us and so we’re able to vibe and then put that on the record.
BHH: So you’re signed to Rawkus, the legendary Hip Hop Label- how do you feel about being part of that legacy?
Double O: It’s definitely dope to be a part of something like this. It’s gonna be a part of history one day we’re gonna look back and we’re gonna fit in Hip Hop history.
BHH: So are there any UK acts you are feeling?
Double O: I’ve definitely been feeling what Sway has been doing. I listen to some of the Grime stuff. I like Dizzee Rascal, I mean I try and keep my ear to the ground. We do get stuff over here; it’s probably more so now because we see a lot more music videos from the UK.
BHH: Would you collaborate with anyone from the UK?
Naledge: Yeah I like Amy Winehouse, she’s dope. I’ve done a few things in the UK. Theres’s a lot of dope music coming out of the UK.
School Was My Hustle is available now.
By: Michelle Adabra