By Lee Shaner
KINDA NEATJun 30, 2021
Mavi was one of the first artists I reached out to when deciding to relaunch Kinda Neat, so it's only fitting he ended up as the last guest of this "season" before I take a little summer break. When I reached out I'd recently gotten hip to his triumphant debut, Let the Sun Talk. It turns out Mavi had recently decided to take a break from school to concentrate on playing shows and building on the momentous buzz of the record. Then the world came to a halt.
I can't help but feel for all the young artists who were about to embark on their first tours when 2020 was stolen from them. Not being able to touch audiences and feel the palpable energy of a record like LTST can make an artist feel like the record quickly became a distant memory. In talking to Mavi, he seemed almost surprised someone (me) would still care about the album. But on the heels of his latest EP, END OF THE EARTH, with venues opening back up, hopefully 2021 will make up for lost time last year.
This was a very thought-provoking episode. We broke format and talked less about Mavi's journey than we did his worldview. I'm thoroughly impressed and in awe of his intellect, insight, and insatiable curiosity. The breadth of knowledge available at his fingertips on a wide range of subjects is enviable, and the wisdom that shines through his songs is just as easily on display in conversation. Tune in to hear us talk about his deep connection to South Carolina, how America is deeply haunted, and why his name is nothing to play with.
demahjiae's 2020 release "And, Such Is Life." boosted itself right into my favorite albums of the year upon it's release. The self-produced opus features a litany of guests that stay in my rotation (Navy Blue, Pink Siifu, Zeroh, ovrkast.), thoughtfully cohesive production, and constantly inward facing lyricism. It's well worth your time and truly shows the potential for a long-lasting and impactful career.
Tune in to hear us talk about legendary bass player great grandfather, the influence of video game soundtracks, and a pivotal tech deck rejection.
SG Ali was brought to my attention by a trusted source and I've loved everything I've heard so far. She has a deeply intuitive sense of melody, and consistently creates inspirational ear worms. Turns out she's been honing her craft since childhood.
Born and raised in Near North Chicago, in the Cabrini-Green Homes, she was lucky enough to be a part of a music education program in middle school called "Friday Crew" where members learned to make beats, make raps, and make music videos. While she was initially only excited to get out of class, she quickly realized she had vast potential as a rapper, and it wasn't long before early teenage Facebook posts of her raps were going viral. Now after almost a decade of honing her craft, her first record with upstart label Steady Leanin is on the way soon.
Tune in to hear us talk about Mayor Daly tearing down Chicago's housing projects, being born to young parents, and her pivotal time in "Friday Crew."
Travis Thompson and I go way back now. Even before his performance of “Need You” went massively viral back in 2017, he was following my friends and I online, and occasionally asking for guidance, as far back as 2011. He’s one of the friendliest folks to ever come on the show, and I feel a bit like a big brother (whether he wants me to or not).
After “Need You” blew up, labels came calling, and he signed with Epic. His first release with them Reckless Endangerment admittedly didn’t do what he wanted it to, and he’s been looking inward since. While fans and followers continued to wonder — and occasionally harass him about — where the new music was, he was in a spiritual crisis that’s helped inspire, what he feels is, the best music he’s ever made.
Tune in to hear us talk about overcoming self-doubt, artistic growth, and rocking Bape on the Rez.
Been a Njomza fan for a long time now. After hearing about her way back in 2014, inviting her to perform on the show (I have an unreleased GEM of hers in the archives), and having her play one of my last shows back in 2015, I was thrilled to have her team reach out about performing the latest single on KN.
A theme of this episode is drive and ambition. Njomza learned she could sing very young, and by the time she was in junior high she held auditions to start a band. She began posting cover songs to YouTube in high school, where she was quickly discovered by Mac Miller, and eventually she moved to Los Angeles on her own to pursue music. But interestingly her confidence and assuredness in making life decisions around music is in sharp contrast with her, at times crippling, perfectionism when releasing music. With her upcoming LIMBO EP, she finds herself in a new headspace, in her bag, and ready to release more music moving forward. This, to me, means it's only a matter of time until she's a household name.
Tune in to hear us talk about her parents immigration story, overcoming perfectionism, and a fateful night in Wisconsin.
Lou From Paradise
Lou From Paradise hit it big in 2016 with a video that took him from never playing a solo show, to playing festivals within a matter of months. He was quickly swept into the major label system, and describes it as all being too much too soon. Feeling trapped by a machine that didn't want to see him grow and evolve, he asked to be released, and is now back on the indie grind feeling fully recharged.
Lou's set to have a very busy year. With 3 releases already in the pocket, including the soon to be released tape produced completely by Statik Selektah, he seems set to have another big breakout very soon. He played me a bunch of new music after this episode and I can vouch, he's got all the bars, multiple styles, and seems to never run out of new ideas.
Hear us talk about growing up a troublemaker in Staten Island, his journey through the major label system, and his dad not letting Eve in the club.
Kipp Stone's 2020 release HOMME was a carefully crafted and perfectly cohesive album. It was a stylistic leap forward for Kipp, and the first time he'd genuinely felt he found his voice on record. "Sprague Street" featuring Mick Jenkins was picked up by a number of playlists, and Kipp's buzz has been steadily on the rise.
Born and raised in Cleveland, this was Kipp's first trip to Los Angeles. With the release of his excellent new EP Faygo Baby, and the "three perfect albums" he has plotted in his head, it definitely won't be his last trip out here.
Tune in to hear us talk about cappin' and wreckin', getting fried in junior high, and ending up with a best friend by dissing every rapper in the city.
Was recently put on to Kear and intrigued by her innate pop sensibilities, confident delivery, and sensational ear for beats. The Philadelphia native was on her first trip to Los Angeles and it turns out she may never leave. After only working on music for a year, she has fully thrown herself into it, gathered a team, and made the trek across country to see if they can make it work. She seems to have all the right weaponry to achieve her goals.
This episode contains a somber story of housing insecurity, constant uprooting, and overall uncertainty about even the most basic childhood needs such as attending school. Kear's had some tough years, but has kept an upbeat attitude, is quick to laugh, and has a magnetic personality to match her music.
Tune in to hear us talk about FKA Twigs influence on her style, the uncle that inspired her to rap, and bouts of homelessness.
I came across Airøspace in a Twitter thread. I asked people to put me on to new music, and out of the hundreds of responses, 2020's Senjougahara Hitagi, Vol. IV tape really stood out. His 2019 release Sorry to Bother You further solidified how asleep I'd been.
He lives in DC, and trying to arrange an episode of KN during the pandemic became touch and go due to the fact my wife was approaching her due date during the week he was in town. My wife was having contractions the evening we recorded the episode , but we weren't sure if was actual labor or not. We left for the hospital an hour after I finished talking to Airø, and my son was born the next day.
Tune in to hear us talk about attending nightmarish boarding schools, drumming in metal bands, and spending time in a psych ward as a kid.
Carpetgarden's latest EP, "The Way He Looks," blew me away. The songwriting is impeccable, the production is great, and their gently deep resonant tone really hits an emotional soft spot. I gush over their talent in the episode because I really do think they have hit-record potential.
With such a wide range of influence and consumed media throughout their youth, Carpetgarden has a established a sound with crossover appeal to all sorts of music lovers. Growing up on social media and online gaming, they're truly a product of the internet with an intuitive knack for marketing that will surely build a cult following over the next few years. Very excited to follow along on the journey.
Tune in to hear us talk about growing up in a small conservative city, finding actual community in community college, and a very inspirational teacher.
You're not going to find a lot of Clip's music on streaming platforms yet. Her underground hit "SAD B!TCH" sits alone on DSPs, but a quick trip to her Soundcloud page will show you why the industry is salivating over her. Her versatility and style is instantly apparent, and with the well established aesthetic of someone raised on the internet, it's only a matter of time until she and her gang Burn All Sex Dolls pop off something major.
Born in Brooklyn to scholarship athlete parents, and raised partly in Fort Worth, TX after the family relocated, her journey into music started when her NFL player uncle bought her an iPod touch with GarageBand installed on it. The first song she ever put online, a cover of SZA and Willow Smith's "9" got attention from former guest Cuco, and she was on her way. Clip has a magnetic energy, and a natural penchant for gaining a following so I really think she might be a sure thing.
Tune in to hear her talk about her extremely athletic family, the similarities between small town Texans and big city NY models, and being accidentally popular.
Put Jacks Haupt on your radar now. We're tapping in extremely early in her career, and this could be a sure bet. With her sultry pop-savvy sound, and bilingual lyrical sensibilities, I could envision her being an international phenomenon. Big words to live up to, but we can look back on this post in a few years and see how it went.
Jacks grew up in Dallas and recently had her first whirlwind trip to LA, where she filmed music videos, became part of a documentary, and got her first taste of the music industry. A big step for someone who was thinking about removing her entire catalog from streaming platforms and quitting just a few months prior. A fateful DM from a friend of our show changed all that.
Hear us talk about living with bipolar disorder, skipping school to skinny dip, and the Vine covers she doesn't want you to find.
Jansport J has been working working. In 2020 alone he dropped four beat tape projects, and he's already released his first of 2021 in Save My Soul II. He's also been getting amazing placements from the likes of Benny The Butcher, Freddie Gibbs, Snoop, Ty Dolla Sign and many more. His soulful sample chops and swingy drums are a perfect palette for rappers, or wonderful standalone pieces that hold up just as well in headphones as they do knocking in your vehicle speakers.
I've known of, and been acquaintances with, J for over 10 years now. During some of the best (and brokest) times of my life, when I was religiously attending every rap show and party I could get into, J was a similar fixture of the scene. I would always see him at shows or on flyers and he's always been a good dude with a big smile. I love talking to people that stuck with it long enough to see it pay off whether or not they ever became a household name, and J's one of those guys.
Tune in to hear us talk about being born in Alaska, buying Fruity Loops instead of cracking it, and how he chose beats over raps. Don't miss his 8 minute beat set on our YouTube page.
Rexx Life Raj
Been wanting to have Rexx Life Raj on the show for some years now and finally worked it out. The Bay Area native has a butter smooth delivery, intuitive sense of melody, and a plethora of range in topics and emotional depth. His latest release California Poppy 2 finds him releasing the sequel to his heralded 2018 tape. While that release found him collaborating with Bay legend E-40, the follow up welcomes New Orleans legend Juvenile to the party as well. Raj started rapping in high school, when Berkeley High was bubbling with an immense amount of talent, but being a D-1 football prospect led him to college in Boise State. While athletics kept him busy from 5am to 9pm with workouts starting at 5:45 in the morning, he still found time to work on music whenever he could. Upon returning home to the Bay and writing raps while running delivery routes for his parents' business, the music slowly but surely started to catch on. By the time his single "Handheld GPS" took off, he knew he'd found his path. Tune in to hear us talk about majoring in communications, starting therapy during the pandemic, and still doing deliveries for his parents in his new Tesla.
N8NOFACE has been making music for almost 30 years, but for over 20 of those years he made it in secrecy. His first love, east coast rap music, inspired him to order an SP1200 from the back of a magazine when there wasn't a single music store in his home state of Arizona selling them. For years he toiled away learning how to make beats and rap, but never showed anyone. Even when he and his brother both owned hip hop shops in Tucson, hosting open mics and battle events in store, he still kept it secret. Finally, when DJ Kutmah heard some of his songs on his brother's Myspace page, he was pushed into playing his first ever performance and hasn't looked back since. His former group, Crimekillz, is where he started to develop his signature synth punk style. They had glimpses of success in the early to mid 2010's, but it always seemed as though self-sabotage kept them from reaching the promised land. Recently N8's solo career has been seeing an uptick in notoriety and fandom, and he credits it to his newfound sobriety and, surprisingly, Covid-19. Be sure to check out his latest record Bound To Let You Down out now on Eyeball Records. Tune in to hear us talk about growing up in coyote country (not the animal kind), owning a record store, and recently becoming a grandfather(!?).
Nana's recently released Save Yourself LP is an absolute gem. Looking at the complete picture - extremely high production value, master class level bars, cinematic visuals, polished and professional album photography - it's hard to believe the record was released independently. Even the collaboration with TDE's Reason was an organic introduction from family and friends in the Crenshaw District. Nana's been quietly honing his craft for over 10 years. Save Yourself, and 2018's Nana's EP, are carefully crafted battering rams that will surely kick down the door for this exciting new voice. Get familiar now, because the whole industry will know his name by the next record. Tune in to hear us talk about visiting his parents home country of Ghana, working with my ex at Abercrombie & Fitch, and James Harden making the basketball team he didn't.
The Khan has been bubbling in the underground for a few years now, but underground rap wasn't his first foray into music. Originally inspired by classic rock, he started a band inspired by the likes of Led Zeppelin while still in middle school. Born and raised in DC, Khan's unique experience has inspired his political activity. The song he performed, "BLM PLAZA," was created after weeks of protesting in front of the White House (Pen Ave & 16th). After weeks of BLM protesters being beaten, belittled, and berated by police and the president, the corridor was renamed BLM Plaza, and a song was born. He's been in the lab cooking up new styles, and lately he and his peers have been incorporating Drum n' Bass into their beats, which leads to a refreshing twist on a retro sound. You might be familiar with some of Khan's bangers like "Tires" and "Vices," but in speaking with him you really get the sense he's always trying to grow and expand as an artist, and the fact he and his friends may be birthing a new sub-genre is very exciting. Tune in to hear us talk about immigrant parents, his first underground show, and learning to take his time.
Oliver the 2nd
Oliver the 2nd is a rapper out of Fontana, CA (the I.E.) who's been honing his craft for years. He's been collaborating with his cousin Jeremiah Jae since before Jae was signed to Brainfeeder, he was featured in a Boiler Room episode with Jon Wayne, Zeroh, and Azizi Gibson, and he's had the opportunity to work with Alchemist multiple times over the last few years. Clearly he's in a circle with some of rap's elite, so why did he almost disappear for 6 years? He released his last project in 2014, only popped up on collaborative records and compilations, and then released the spectacular "Lingua Franca" EP in November seemingly out of the blue. After running across the record I wanted to get to the bottom of his hiatus, and how we knew so many of the same people without ever running into each other in the past. Hear us talk about battling at both lunch periods, working with Alchemist, and approaching his music with refreshed dedication.
Dana Dentata's story is a real roller coaster ride. After becoming a model at age 14, her journey has been filled with seedy men, shady scenes, and lots of demons. Those demons were a signature part of her visual aesthetic to this point, but she's recently brightened her outlook after signing to legendary metal label Roadrunner Records and, through therapy, learning about her dissociative disorder. From close encounters with Jeffrey Epstein, to being the face of American Apparel, and eventually being mentored by Kanye West, Dana has stories for days and experiences that run the gamut. Hear us talk about starting an all-girl band in her teens, dissociating from traumatic experiences, and losing a modeling competition thrown by Jeffery Epstein.
YUNGMORPHEUS had a busy 2020. Starting off the year dropping the impressive collaboration Bag Talk with Pink Siifu, before continuing with solo project Black Schemata, a beat tape Pieces, and wrapping it up with the great EP Mise En Place. He's started 2021 with the same feverish pace dropping the States of Precarity LP last week. In the song he performed for us, "Championship Spliff," he states he "took time to hone the pen, I had something to say." His progress as a rapper and beatsmith have been on a constant upward trajectory, and I find that line to be poignant because he seems to have really hit his stride this year and sounds more comfortable and formidable on the mic than ever before. You can tell he's been taking the time to hone the pen. We discuss hitting that stride and much more. Hear us talk about growing up in Miami, skipping grades in elementary school, and why he's pursuing art rather than academia. Head to YouTube to see him perform "Championship Spliff."
Huey Briss is a Long Beach, CA native who’s recently come into his own as a rapper after years of working on his sound. What’s his new x-factor? His producer Nikobeats. When the two started working together he noticed an immediate chemistry and growth in his sound. The fact Niko’s father is hip hop legend DJ Babu has helped them both learn to polish their industry acumen and professionalism. With a string of releases set to flood this holiday season, he’ll be ending up on a lot more radars in 2021. Tune in to hear us talk about the poignant guidance a teacher gave him, befriending Buddy in high school, and asking Pharrell for advice.
Eyedress is effortlessly cool. His latest record “Let’s Skip to the Wedding” is an exercise exploring every genre that made him such a chill dude. With styles ranging from Joy Division inspired 80’s new wave goth, to Zapp & Roger funk fueled vocoder anthems, the record is simultaneously all over the place, and absolutely cohesive. That’s probably because he carries all the heavy lifting from song-writing, to production, to instrumentation himself. Born in the slums of the Philippines, raised in the San Clemente anarcho-punk scene, before heading back to Manila where he really found his sound, Eyedress has already lived a lot of life. Now with a newborn son having just arrived, his record “Jealous” is going viral almost a year after its release. Hear us talk about being 4’11” and scared his first time performing, getting signed and dropped from XL, and how Prefuse 73 is the guardian angel he’s never met.
Open Mike Eagle
Mike Eagle is one of the people I've known longest in my strange career path. We met over 15 years ago, we've worked together on countless little things like this episode, and he's someone I used to see almost every weekend at functions in my mid to late 20's. The first time I ever toured, Mike was on the tour. We were just dudes in the same "scene." Our lives diverged at some point, as scene friends' lives often do. But unlike most compatriots I don't seen as often, Mike's continued to release fantastic music, garner a following big enough to live off of, and at one point ended up on a billboard he could see from his bedroom window. Mike and I do an episode like this every few years, at this point it's our main way of catching up, and I cherish these conversations while knowing he's one of the most compelling friends I've ever made. Tune in to hear us talk about the new record, TV shows he developed, hosting the best podcast of the year, and going through a divorce during all of it.
Last time I interviewed smrtdeath, he told me off-air, he was in talks with Epitaph about potentially signing a record deal with them. Now, a year and a half later, his Epitaph debut is being released this week. "Somethjngs Wrong" is a step forward for smrtdeath sonically, visually, and professionally. Graduating from an indie artist who accomplishes everything by favors and beneficial collaboration, to being a signed musician with a budget for marketing, visuals, and even paying producers up front is a big deal. That said, we spent a lot of this episode just BS'ing and joking around. If you're interested in learning more about smrtdeath the human, there's a more official "life story" type episode on the podcast I was doing last year. Tune in to hear us talk about his upcoming release "Somethjings Wrong," covid quarantining in Canada, and currently couch surfing.
Remy Banks is rapper out of Queens that emanates New York grittiness, street smarts, and smoothness. I first started hearing of Remy as a solo artist way back in 2014 when he released a single produced by King Krule called "7th heaven. (interlude)." I didn't realize how long he'd already been involved in the scene and working as a rapper by then, so you can imagine all the stories he has by now. Episodes like this are a joy for me because I love hearing about scene origins, and the beginnings of artists now known nationally when they were only known locally. Remy's been around and involved in all sorts of NY subcultures since his youth -- from skating, to streetwear, to underground hip hop -- he's the epitome of a social chameleon who feels comfortable in any room he walks into. A spoon that stirs the pot, and connector of dots, Remy's not only a formidable rapper, but also a great ear for talent, early adopter and collaborator with all sorts of now household names. Tune in to hear us talk about seeing the Tony Supa dunks before Nike SB was even announced, touring with Earl, and the origins of the now legendary NY underground hip hop scene of the early 2010's.
Brennan Savage never had dreams of being a musician, but meeting a young Gus Åhr in his adolescence accidentally put his life on crash course towards rap life. Now, half a lifetime later he's racked up hundreds of millions of streams, garnered an enormous following, and seems to have pop-crossover potential. His latest EP, Slow Motion, finds him broadening his sound and horizons as major labels are surely foaming at the mouth. Hear us talk about growing up skating, moving to LA with Lil Peep, and how his successes have only made him more hungry.
Karen Shaner (My Mom pt. 4)
In this episode I kept saying it was the third time I've had my mom on the show for some reason, turns out this is actually the 4th episode with her. Interviewing my mom and trying to get a record of her (and our) life story is a time honored KN tradition. We haven't done one since January of 2016, so I'm glad I was able to even see her this year due to COVID, let alone get time to do an episode with her. She was down helping my grandmother out for a couple weeks and we recorded the night before she flew out. We only get through roughly 3 years of life, but during that time she got her master's degree, landed her dream job, and bought a house.
My first conversation with Leafar Seyer of Prayers was quite possibly one of the most intriguing episodes we've ever done. It was an emotional rollercoaster filled with energy, stories, and even a few tears. His voice was a bit fried from a sold out show the night before so we didn't record a performance. I've gotten dozens of requests for a follow up interview with Leafar since then, so I was geeked when he randomly reached out to come through again, and this time he wanted to perform a song as well. The thing about interviewing Leafar is: you just sit back and listen, the interview takes care of itself. He's lived so much life, and has so many stories, there's barely a need to ask questions, one story leads to another. This time we caught up about marrying the love of his life Kat Von D, astrology and mysticism, and a personal guru that magically appeared at the restaurant he owned.
Lil Zubin is someone I've wanted to have on the show a few years now. From his string of solo EPs, to his work with Misery Club, and now If I Die First, Zubin's output as a singer has been widely varied in style and genre. His "Misery" EP is up there with some of my favorite EPs released in the decade. But he got off to a late start vocally. Zubin didn't make his foray into lead vocalist until a few years ago, even though he's been in bands since he was 12 years old. His upcoming project with Yawns titled "Perfect Hell" finds him veering away from the atmospheric R&B sonics of previous solo endeavors and leaning into goth, rock, and 80s influences. Been riding for Zubin since Nedarb put me on some years back, and am excited to watch "Perfect Hell" push him further into the limelight. Hear us talk about junior high cover bands, Working On Dying convincing him he could be a lead singer, and Covid helping him concentrate on his career. Head to YT to see him perform the title track "Perfect Hell" live in studio.
St. Panther is a multi-instrumentalist / singer / producer from Irvine, CA. Her latest EP, "These Days," is a funky, soulful, genre-crossing, moving, and often danceable display of all her talents. As comfortable laying down her own drums as she is rapping and singing, SP is a creative powerhouse. Shes actually had to slow herself down and be more picky about when and what she creates so she can feel like all her songs have purpose. Now under the wing, and label, of Grammy nominated smash hit producer Ricky Reed, she's set to have a big moment any day now. She has all the talent and charisma to be a huge crossover act, and "These Days" is just a small sampling of what surely awaits. Tune in to hear us talk about growing up in a conservative area of Southern California, her piano teacher recognizing her as a composer in elementary school, and bouts of homelessness before getting signed. Head to YouTube now to see her perform "Something's Gotta Give."
Liv.e's latest record "Couldn't Wait To Tell You..." is a masterpiece in my eyes. She and producer Mejiwahn put together a wonderfully warm, cohesive album that feels unrestrained by convention or structure. It dabbles across different genres and styles, showcasing Liv.e as a multi-talented singer, rapper, and poet. The record feels like the beginning of a long and important career, and I'm so excited to have her on the show. I say it a lot, but her project really is one of my favorite albums of the year. Hear us talk about attending a well known performing and visual arts high school, the making of "Couldn't Wait To Tell You..." and a college roommate nightmare. Head to our YT channel to see her perform "About Love At 21" now!
Dbangz had a huge smash record in 2017. It was meme rap, it was childish, it was vulgar, it was sexually explicit, purposefully offensive, and it was written when he was 15. The song has garnered hundreds of millions of plays across streaming platforms, and was one of the original Tik Tok smashes. D's always been different, a self-described outcast and weirdo, he concentrated his quirky sense of humor and ability to flame his classmates into lyrically dexterous raps after commandeering some equipment from his parent's burgeoning radio station. Now, just a few years later, he's got skin in the game, releasing multiple EP's and having more than a few major labels trying to get their hands on his virality. His latest EP, "Been A Long Time," may seem like an ironic title coming from a 19 year old, but the five plus years he's been releasing music is more than a quarter of his life so, for him, it's indeed been a long time. His latest records see him growing up a bit and tackling more adult topics, while maintaining his off-kilter sense of humor and rapid-fire delivery that always seems to have a sense of urgency like if he doesn't fill up every piece of the beat with his thoughts he might just get consumed with them. Hear us talk about MF DOOM changing his life, getting flown to New York at 16, and semen retention (yes I double-taked at that too). Head to YouTube to see him perform the title track from his new EP, "Been A Long Time."
Swarvy has become an integral and trusted part of the LA music community. He's produced, recorded, mixed, or mastered numerous songs and projects for friends of the show. But I invited him on because his new solo project, "Sunny Days Blue," is a magnificent accomplishment produced and performed almost entirely on his own. A a formally educated musician, muli-instrumentalist and engineer from Philadelphia, Swarvy moved to LA and immediately immersed himself into the scene.
DeathByRomy is unique amongst KN guests in that she's been navigating the major label system since the beginning of her career. While most of our prior guests have years of independent building and experimenting outside of the spotlight, she was pursued and signed by a major label at while most kids would still be in high school. It seems like a complex and intimidating task for anyone, let alone a teenager, but she's been doing a bang up job so far. We talk extensively about her experience being signed to a major, being given the room to grow as an artist, find her sound, and build her team. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Romy grew up in the heart of the entertainment industry and knew she wanted to be a singer and songwriter from a very young age. There's video footage floating around of the first fully structured song - verse, hook, and bridge - she wrote when barely even elementary aged. Romy has a warehouse party aesthetic, and a stadium sized sound. It's only a matter of time until she's ruling the radio airwaves, so we're glad to have the opportunity to showcase her now. Tune in to hear us talk about dropping out of school to pursue her career, her fear of subways, getting kicked out of 6th grade choir, and head to YouTube to see her perform an exclusive rendition of "Fiending For A Lover" live in studio.
Uno Hype has been making music since he was 8 years old. By that measure he's already got almost 20 years of chops under his belt. It puts him in a unique standing amongst his peers as someone who began learning in an analog world (on pause tapes nonetheless!) and grew into the digital realm. He's been uploading music online since Soundclick; heads will remember this predates even Myspace. He's been grinding for years now and, with all the right weaponry aligned, 2020 was primed to be his big statement year. There were SXSW plans, a tour lined up, album ready, all the things. Then, of course, COVID hit and delayed everyone's plans slightly. But Uno has been releasing consistently strong singles for months now, and with a new record surely locked and loaded in the holster, there's no doubt you'll be hearing a lot more of him soon. Tune in to hear us talk about sending demos to labels when he was a child, his collab with the late great Capital Steez, and the gems he picked up from his high school rap group.
We sat down with Amindi, whose recently released tiny piece of perfection "minztape" made me an instant fan. I was sleep, turns out she had a big moment in 2017 with the release of her biggest song "Pine & Ginger" that got her signed to a major deal before she even graduated high school. Only problem was, "Pine & Ginger" was an outlier from most of the music she made. While she is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, and grew up with dancehall rhythms coming from the speakers of her childhood, she doesn't consider herself a dancehall artist. After spending the last few years in writing camps, and in rooms with various producers, she's fulfilled her label agreement and is back to writing and recording whatever she wants. With her new found agency, she's ready to show the world who she is. Hear us talk about growing up in Inglewood and attending high school in the Palisades, being voted "Most Likely To Be A Celebrity," and the pink racecar bed in her first apartment. Head to YouTube to see her perform the amazing single "Cocoa Butter Shawty."
Cashius Green is someone I've known for years through my guys Speak & Westside Ty. We've always been cool and he's exactly the type of dude you gravitate towards while you're backstage at shows, or at various functions. That said, while we're long time acquaintances, we know next to nothing about each other, and I always look forward to learning about folks from the scene I came up in. Cashius just released an excellent album called "Best Western" that really puts his talents and charms on display in a brief and ultra digestible package. I've always know Cashius rapped, but I'd never seen him perform other than appearances on stage with other friends at the time. I assumed he was an indie rapper on the come up like the rest of us. Come to find out, he was scooped up by a major labels in the early part of last decade, and had a chance at becoming a household name like collaborator Vince Staples, or former tour mate Joey Badass. Unfortunately, trying to navigate the industry without a manager made things much more complicated, and after being dropped, going through a dark phase of depression, and continuing to experiment with his sound, "Best Western" finds Cashius emerging as the rapper he always dreamed of being. Hear us talk about growing up Black in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood, getting signed to Epic Records, and ending up the valedictorian at his credit recovery school.
This week we talk to Gordon Scamsey aka Shia Labustdown aka Bitcoin Batman aka Stone Cold Steve Flossin better known as Guapdad 4000. Guap has quickly become one of the most beloved characters in rap music and he's probably friends with everyone on your current playlist. He's also been busy during quarantine. His "Rona Raps" series has kept everyone stuck in the house entertained with features from all across the hip hop spectrum from Isaiah Rashad to EarthGang to Murs. This year's "Platinum Falcon" release shows a multifaceted Guap both floating over gentle melodies on songs like "Trade Place With Them Jeans," and firing off cold bars over original productions on joints like "Greedy." Easily one of the charismatic guests to have ever appeared on KN, and he'd be sure to tell you so. Hear us talk about being just as creative and attention-seeking as a kid as he is now, losing the family house to tech gentrification, moving to Los Angeles on his last 20 dollars, locking himself in the studio for 8 months before going viral, and see him perform "Platinum Falcon" live in studio.
Rhythm & Flow began as a hate-watch for me, but quickly grew into a show I looked forward to every week, and Rae Khalil was my early favorite to win. She started off quietly, no flashy style or big forced personality that would normally make someone jump out on a reality show. What made her standout to me was she could actually rap. I noticed a lot of other contestants making rookie mistakes, or using bars that were just unexplainably bad to the untrained ear, but Rae's verses were all flawless (no Real Talk). I thought she'd easily end up in the finals and was very publicly rooting for her amongst my friends that were as invested in the show as me. When she was (spoiler) eliminated in the battle round I felt short changed and ripped off. She's a good sport about the show, and seemed to know from the start that D-Smoke would end up taking it all the way, but nonetheless, when KN restarted she was one of the first artists I reached out to. I needed to know if she was as talented as she seemed in the short time she was on the show (she is), and I wanted to know how such a talent was flying under the radar in LA before the show (she was in the South Bay bubble). The Covid crisis, of course, put our initial interview plans on pause, but the timing now couldn't be better as she just released her record, FORTHEWORLD, in June and hints at more new music coming before the year is out during our conversation. Make sure you check out her performance on our YT page, it's unbelievable. There are going to be a lot of "this is lip synching" comments, but i promise we watched with jaws drops as she nailed the song in one-take. Hear us talk about her stint on Rhythm & Flow, getting into and deciding not to attend American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and keeping a positive mindset as she navigates through the world.
Adam Weiss has become one of my closest friends and confidants since the last Kinda Neat episode we did in together in 2013. That first conversation centered around the journey into his addictions, and his eventually path to sobriety and recovery, and building one of the most well known underground party brands in Los Angeles. Since then his life has continued to change as he’s delved into Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). After years in various recovery programs, he felt like SLAA really helped him learn about and deal with the childhood trauma at the root of his addictions. Since beginning his journey into self-care to build his self-esteem and allowing himself permission to enjoy being alone, Adam has turned his instagram into a sort of self-care instructional guide and a means to hold himself accountable to his self-care routines. I make fun of him for it a lot, but I know that it helps people, and I know it's really made him a better person to be around over the last 5 years or so. Hear us talk about recognizing the problematic patterns in his relationships, going on self-dates, and setting boundaries in your work and private life.
Nedarb wears many hats. Musician, producer, A&R, talent scout, manager, and overall connector of dots are just a few of those hats. We spoke on an episode a few years ago shortly after he'd produced an EP for Lil Peep and became a big factor in Peep's meteoric rise. In this episode we catch up on everything that's happened in his life since, and it's been a lot. Peep's tragic passing, not long after our last conversation, obviously had a huge impact on his life, and shortly thereafter Ned found out he was going to be a father. He's now officially a platinum producer, and father to adorable baby Shavo. But beyond all of his perceptible achievements, some of Ned's most important work are the things he might never get credit for: introducing like minded artists to each other, convincing people they have the talent to succeed, being a mouthpiece for completely unknown artists, pushing affiliates toward their big breaks, and just being overall help to multiple scenes (and media outlets) for the better part of the last decade. He also formed a new band, a supergroup of sorts, with previous guest Lil Lotus, future guest Lil Zubin, From First To Last member Travis Richter, and more called If I Die First, who's first release is dropping later this week. Tune in to hear us talk about fatherhood, constantly dealing with "punishers" online, and how his new band name, If I Die First, is an homage to his late friend Chynna.
Maxo's "Lil Big Man" was one of my favorite releases of 2019, and really introduced into the scene of rappers I've been gushing about since KN came back. We did a full "life-story style" podcast together last year on the "You Feel Me" podcast I was doing while KN was on hiatus. You can find that podcast here: Maxo on "You Feel Me?", you will get some real insight into his upbringing in the I.E. and his journey into rapping. This podcast was really a chance to catch up, test the waters of podcasting after a 2.5 month Covid break, and an excuse to have him perform in front of the comic book wall and become part of the Kinda Neat legacy. We recorded this before the social uprisings, or I'm sure Maxo would have had plenty of insight on the situation at hand. As is we talked about what he misses most about pre-pandemic times, the process behind "Lil Big Man," and when I saw him at a MOCA event and all eyes ended up on him for a moment. Head to YouTube now to see Maxo perform "Clouds Say My Name."
Jonah Mutono's recently released GERG is a deeply personal and beautiful record. Full of movement and life, GERG takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and musical stylings all carried by Jonah's wonderfully resonant voice and impressive range. Jonah's been bouncing around his whole life, raised between Philly, Uganda, Kenya, London, and stints in NY and LA, he's a rolling stone with a big bag of influence. A classically trained pianist, GERG also shows his depth as a producer and instrumentalist. We caught him during the tail end of the (first?) COVID-19 lockdown and he let us know this wasn't his first quarantine, he'd lived through it as a child in Uganda with the EBOLA crisis. Hear us talk about that, where the name GERG, comes from, writing plays as a child, his vast travels, and go see him perform "If You Mean It" live in studio on our YouTube channel now!
Lil Lotus is someone I've known about for a while, one of those friends of friends type people who I'd yet to meet. He orbits around a scene in LA that I have a lot of respect for so I figured it was high time we sat down for a chat. To keep it a buck, with my current mindset and musical preferences his style is not something that would generally pique my interest, but I can also honestly say his sound is something I would have been absolutely obsessed with in high school when I was listening to a lot of punk that went on to inspire the pop-punk wave of the early 2000's. Lotus is an open book, wears his heart on his sleeve, and I completely understand why he attracts such a diehard audience. He's magnetic, charismatic, gentle, caring, and easy to be around. Even before we sat down for the conversation, I already knew him as a likable guy from texting with him. Needless to say, this was a good conversation and we dove right into the deep stuff almost immediately. Tune in to hear us talk about his father passing, becoming a rockstar at church, his move to LA from Dallas, and getting signed to Epitaph.
This week we caught up with Hook, who caught my attention last year with the release of her stellar tape "Bully." Had the opportunity to meet up and talk with her last year on the "You Feel Me?" podcast where I learned she's been gearing up to be a musician since childhood. She was in a girl group some family members as a kid, and the bootcamp-like environment of training to be a pop star has influenced her work ethic as an adult. She seemingly bootcamps everything now, an avid learner that obsessively studies music and philosophy, she'd rather be at home working on something than be out partying. That work ethic has clearly been paying off, as she's skyrocketed into the rap landscape and ended up collabing and working with some of the artists that inspired her in the first place. Hear us talk about endlessly journaling, growing up a Barb, and how being called "weird" is a compliment to her.
Linafornia is a beat maker who honed her craft in Leimert Park. The swing, bounce, and intangible funk of her beats express a true sense of soul that many producers are never able to achieve. She's part of the first generation of beat makers to be inspired by the Low End Theory / LA beat scene mainstays like Ras G, Dibia$e, and FlyLo. In fact, seeing Ras G perform one night moved her to pick up beat making. Finding out he was a friend of her brother's who only lived a few blocks away from her only furthered the desire, and Ras quickly became a big brother and mentor. I saw her perform at his memorial last year and was almost moved to tears watching her fight back her own. Knew then I needed to talk to her and learn more about her journey. Hear her talk about growing up Garifuna, attending and eventually leaving Catholic school, and Pharrell inviting her to the studio.
Ovrkast. (stylized period) is a rapper / producer out of Oakland, CA. I started hearing about him in late '19 as he was getting tweeted about by other guests we've had on the show, right before he got a huge beat placement on Earl's "Feet of Clay." Soon thereafter he released his "Try Again" tape and I knew I had to get him on the show. Ovrkast. was super patient and a pleasure to talk with and learn about, even as the episode experienced a disastrous technical difficulty. Our talk was very inspiring, and learning that he makes his soulful, bouncy, beats in FL Studio inspired me to download the program for Mac (yup FL is on Mac now) and start playing around with making beats during the safer-at-home orders. We squeezed this episode about 2 weeks before the world shut down, and the intro almost sounds naive in hindsight. Hear us talk about the changing landscape of Oakland, picking up beat-making in continuation school, and staying at home long before it was mandatory.
I found out about Deborah's Child as she released a string of hypnotic singles in 2019 (including "Margaret's Hymn" that she performed for us). Her recent EP "Look, Maw! A baby deer!" puts those loose singles and a couple new songs together in the context of a perfectly concise alt pop project. The level of polish on the songs is mind-blowing, particularly for how relatively unknown she seems to be at this moment. She and production partner Miles are making songs that would sound at home on the Billboard charts, and they are surprisingly doing it from home. I promise when you give them a listen you'll think they were made in state of the art studio with top industry song writers. Needless to say I think she's set for a big breakthrough very soon, and we're happy to be one of the first platforms to interview her. Hear us talk about growing up in Florida, how an ADHD drugs changed her life despite not having ADHD, and moving to LA after high school to make it.
San Diego native Jelani Aryeh is a genre-fluid standout from the crew Raised by the Internet. 2019's "Helvetica was a display of heartfelt songwriting, textural production, and an early look at a potential superstar. Hear us talk about quitting a promising football career to pursue music, how "Because the Internet" fittingly changed his life, and scouring reddit for like minded creatives. Head over to our YouTube page to see him perform "Patagonia" live in studio.
lojii is part of a rap scene I've been loving the last couple years. Guys like him, Mike, Pink Siifu, Maxo, Medhane, Earl, and a bunch of others are taking rap to places it's never been, while still making reference to and pulling influence from those that came before. The loose style of song structure, and deceivingly stream of conscious songwriting seem to dissect the genre to its most basic needs: a loop and some raps. Songs often come in under the 2 minute mark, and if the idea is finished after one verse, then so be it, don't force more verses. The lack of bells and whistles seem to help transcend to a level of concise depth I've been very impressed by. lojii's January release "lo & behold" is a beautiful record in its simplicity, sense of community, and laser focused cohesiveness. It was getting heavy spins around the time I linked with lojii for this conversation. I hope all of you go check it out and remember to support indie musicians during a time when a lot of their revenue sources might have dried up. Hear us talk cheesesteaks, getting in trouble for rocking headphones at school, and gush over the talents of our mutual friends.