Kidz In The Hall: Kiddin' Around
Though one-time wallflowers, perceived by some as an aspiring Lupe Fiasco and a Just Blaze/Baseline Studio understudy, the Kidz have grown up into that popular crowd. The proverbial braces and zits have vanished, and the Chicago and New Jersey duo now can bask in the glory of comparing condom brands, sprinkling game on the freshmen and making an album that needs no comparisons or protege comments. New gear, new sounds and new swagger could position Naledge and Double O as independent Hip Hop's best bet. Like their Canadian namesake suggests, it's all sketch comedy for these gentlemen, and while their brand of Hip Hop remains intelligently crafted, nobody is seemingly looking at the Ivy League diplomas - posted next to the dartboard on their walls.
HipHopDX: I last interviewed you guys a little more than a year ago, and a lot has happened since then. Whats been going on with yall?
Naledge: A lot of good vagina.
Double-O: Its basically like that. We figured out a way to crawl out of the womb and crawl back in when we want to, and its been a great experience because of that.
Naledge: And we need that Magnum sponsorship real quick, right now.
Double-O: Ive realized Magnums are a lie. They only equate five millimeters or some shit larger than regular condoms, and thats a lie. Tell them they need to make every condom feel like natural lamb. If every condom felt like natural lamb condoms, we wouldnt have the problems in the hood that we have now.
Naledge: Thats how our album feels, it feels like natural lamb.
Double-O: No, it does. You listen to that shit, and you think, Wow, it shouldnt feel this good, its so how unsafe [sic], but at least I wont get pregnant." Nah man, weve just been livin. Thats really all weve been doing. You grind for so long so that you can wake up every day and make music, so we dont take that for granted at all. We have fun with this shit.
DX: You guys have a decent history as far as labels: you signed with Rawkus before, and you just signed with Duck Down. What do you think it is about you guys that makes you gravitate toward such grassroots type labels, and what makes you so attractive to them?
Double-O: Honestly, I think its more of a business move for them. They look at us and they see our team, and they see that 90% of our grinding, of us getting out there, is done by Major League [Entertainment]: myself, Naledge, and our two managers, and whoever else is working at Major League at the time as interns. We do it. So its in their benefit to do deals with us in terms of joint ventures, because they know we have this growing fan-base and dope music, but more than anything, we have this overly basic grind process. Not everybody puts in that work, and I think from the business end, thats why people want to come fuck with us. They see what we do every day and out. And, because I have amazing breasts.
Double-O: Man-breasts! This is like our fourth interview. Its about to get crazy.
DX: I look at your guys' situation, and it makes me have faith in music. You guys came in, got a record deal, maximized that situation, and youve been doing your thing ever since. How has your experience changed your perspective of the industry?
Naledge: I think we knew it was shady coming in, but shadiness is a way of life when you start creating music. Its crazy whats conventional in this industry is some of the most misogynistic, addictive, self-destructive things you can do in life. Its a balance between knowing that its wrong but still loving it at the same time, and you have to be crazy to want to get involved in this industry. But the art that comes out of it is so beautifulit makes it all worth it. Dealing with executives is a hassle, sometimes doing the business side of it is a hassle. But you love making the art, and thats what drew you to Hip Hop in the first place, the moment you fell in love with it. Whether you heard a song, you were in the park, you were at a party, whatever. Whatever happened, thats what drew you in, thats why you stay with it. The industry aspects of it, you get used to. Im sure if you become a doctor, you might not have always liked looking at blood, but its just something that you get used to. Its the same type of thing with Hip Hop. I never thought I would be in the studio with people consistently doing drugs and things of that nature, but thats how the music gets made, so you kind of just live with it.
DX: Your song Work to Do was chosen as the theme song to Barack Obamas campaign.
Double-O: Its just a great thing. A lot of the time we make these records as passing thoughts, and they become these huge things. We made the original version of Work to Do probably about a month and a half after School Was My Hustle first came out. It was still very early in terms of the Obama campaign, but the more we listened to it and the bigger we made the record, in terms of the choir and bringing in my man Robin and having him replay some stuff, it felt like it could represent something more. Naledge has always been behind Barack since there was a possibility that he was going to run, so once that became official, we ended up doing a version for him. Luckily, there were people connected to the campaign that we know and we were able to get it around there. That was another situation where they were sort of hesitant to pull the trigger, but as soon as we put it out and we did what we did in terms of the Internet with it in a matter of 24 hours, they hit us back like, Boom, lets go. We see what you guys do. Like I said, its one thing to make a record; its another what you do with it.
DX: Have you guys had a chance to meet Obama?
Double-O: Not as of yet. I think Obama likes gangsta rap. He might not really like us. Hes a big N.W.A. fan; him and Oprah, they Crip-walk to N.W.A.
Naledge: [Oprahs best friend] Gayle be in the club, Im sure Oprah be in there with her every now and then.
Double-O: [sings] "Shot of Patron and Im gone!"
DX: This time around, your Ivy League background isnt as big of a plot in your marketing scheme. Was that a conscious decision, or just the way things worked out?
Naledge: I didnt really go to school. I dropped out of high school, I was a joke. It was something we made up for the sake of the media. I didnt really go to school. Eighth grade.
Double-O: Im actually 43 years old. Ive been to jail for about 15 years, and I came out and decided I could just make some shit up because I still got a baby face. The baby face didnt work well for me on the inside, but on the outside, Im good.Nah, the Ivy League was where we came from on our first album. We havent been to school now in a number of years. You cant still rely on school. The records we were making were in school and fresh out of school. The first mixtape that we made that started getting buzz was two months after Naledge graduated in 04. I was running track that whole time too, so even though I wasnt in school, I was still in school mode. I was at school every day training. I dealt with all kinds of students. That was our mindset. Now weve been on the road, been in Europe. I basically lived in Europe for half a year. We are coming from a different standpoint now. And Im smart; I dont need to tell you Im a genius, you hear it when I talk. [Laughs] Its apparent. We came from school, we did what we did, we put this album out, and now were putting out the new album. We dont need to go back and rehash the same thing.
Naledge: Theres also a lot of dumb mothafuckas with degrees too, though. You can be smart, and it doesnt always tie in to having a degree. At the same time, going to school dont make you a goody-goody either. I know a lot of whores that are in college right now, and a lot of man whores that are in colleges right now.
Double-O: Im hoping to reach some more whores when we go on our college tour.
Naledge: And if you go to the club right now, a top-level club and you surveyed the entire crowd, I wouldnt trip to say that four out of five people attended some type of college, or junior college or university. And they might be acting like idiots. So I think people need to get that whole school out of their mind, because were just individual people and thats it. We come from where we come from, and thats the moon.
DX: Sonically and lyrically, the new album seems a lot more accessible than your last one.
Double-O: We just got better. You get better every time you sit down to do your craft. Every shot that you make is better than the last shot you made while youre practicing playing basketball. Thats kind of how we look at all this stuff. So for us, if you follow progressionwhich most people wont, so we tell themgo download Detention, Naledge of Power, Geniuses Need Love. You hear the progression, you hear the songs getting better and getting better until we get to this point where we put this album out, and its kind of hot.
Naledge: Its like buckets of fried chicken. And everybody loves chicken.
Double-O: We make fried chicken for the people. Our album is fried chicken and natural lamb condoms. And trees, all night. With Sportscenter on. With strippers that take paper instead of real money. All in one room, and its only you and the black light. Thats what we like to do, William.
Naledge: Thats why you should buy the album alone. Were cool people to hang around. Who cares if you make decent music? If youre a loser, youre still a loser.
Double-O: This album is an experience of hanging out with Kidz In The Hall. You get the album, you also go to the corner store and get a square bottle of Patron, if not some Don Julio, if not some plastic bottle vodka, or Andre. Turn the lights down low, press play, sit in the dorm room, invite some people over, and ya know, do what you do. Hopefully, itll end up in an orgy. Thats really all that we want. This is how I knew this is what our place was. My homeboy calls me. School Is My Hustle is in stores, he goes to Best Buy. His name is in the Thank yous. He buys the album, opens it up immediately, and hes like, Awww shit! There was a girl there, apparently in the Hip Hop aisle too. So hes like, This is my boy, look, my name is in here. Did he get her phone number? Yes he did! Did he have sex with her? Yes he did! Thats what we do. Were that last song at the end of the night that you get a phone number for. When I play that last song when Im deejaying and I give you an extra five minutes to get that girls phone number, because you were talking about some other shit the whole time? We provide that gift for the world.
DX: The albums got a lot of guest shots, too: Masta Ace, Phonte, Guilty Simpson, Black Milk. The last album was mostly just you guys.
Double-O: You can thank Rawkus budget for that. Nah, all albums only start with two or three songs. Thats the kernel of the album, the root of the album, everything builds around it. When this album started, it only started as an album where we wanted a little bit of a sparring session. Sometimes, you have to lay shit out in front of people. So its like, Okay, we fuck with all of these people, lets get them together to show that this is going to be the next 10 years. These people are not the only people, but theyre representative of people that are pushing the forefront of music. You should support them, because they love what they do, we love what we do, and thats all of it. Its almost a call to arms: Fans, if you think this way, this is what you need to be doing. This is what you should be listening to, this is what you should be looking for in new music. This is our mission statement, to be a part of The In Crowd.
Naledge: The person who thinks they can change things by themselves will be the person that will end up alone, with no children, no wife, and no husband. Because at the end of the day, its a community. You came in this game appreciating artists, so if people appreciate you, at the same token, you cant always isolate yourself off. The best artists of the game fed off people, the best artists in the game take ideas from different people in the room. The best artists in the room surround themselves with the best so they can compete. Its a competition thats healthy. If you just sit in the corner or on your block and spit your raps around your boys, they already sound the same. If you make your beats in the basement, theyre going to always sound the same if you dont open yourself up. Were opening up a community to where we feel like the future great should belong. At the same time, were making our record. It ended up this is our album, viola: its music, here it goes. Its an exhibit of art: come in and look at it.