Interview: Jay Knight, Standing Bright In A Shadow

Interview, Music

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the beginning of New Zealand Music Month, Jay Knight released his first free EP titled E+M meaning Emotions + Motion. It features a track titled ‘Keller Helen’ for which he says only Diaz Grimm knows the meaning since he came up with it. For Jay, this May has been focussed heavily on pushing for votes to get that track to #1 on the theaudience.co.nz. The plan is to go to Australia with other featured rappers Diaz Grimm and Raiza Biza, as it is widely accepted Louie Knuxx can’t or shouldn’t re-enter New Zealand, so Jay’s busting his ass to get to Oz. It ‘s no wonder though – as soon as you hit play and the seconds tick over, ‘Keller Helen’ doesn’t fuck around. Whendidyoufallinlovewithhiphop is in full support of  some of Australasia’s hip hop underground crema making visuals for such a sexy beat.

However, with all this commotion over ‘Keller Helen’ and keeping it at #1 (where it now sits), Jay feels E+M – as an entire body of work may have fallen into the shadows. Possibly he’ll re-release it once his pockets ain’t empty no more, touch wood, and he’s on his way to Melbourne with Diaz and Raiza. Having  just hosted the Assembly with his mates, Tony Douglas, Spycc and INF, Tom Scott, Jane Deezy, Raiza Biza and Amara Fleur it’s safe to say the young prodigy is mastering the art of juggling. Let’s not forget, as well, entering the Super Brawl Invitational beat Battle at Sandwiches the previous week. Tom Scott in an earlier interview described Knight as, ’18 years old and hungry as shit, he influences and inspires me’. Check the interview below to see why he inspires us:  

 HH: You’re going for the $10,000 Audience grant, what are you hoping to do with the cash if you win?

J: The 10k from theaudience.co.nz is to fund the music video for the song (Keller Helens Ft. Raiza, Louie Knuxx & Diaz Grimm) we want to go over to Australia and film it there so that’s my plans. I think you get 6,000 for the video and 4,000 for recording. We’ll see!

HH: You have managed to keep up your #1 spot, are you feeling the love right now?

J: Yup definitely. It was a last-minute decision to go for it so I’m surprised it’s actually working out to be honest. I could lose that spot any-day so I’m still not expecting to much.

HH: Who came up with the idea for Assembly happened May 24th?

J: I came up with the idea to just throw all the biggest up and coming hip hop artists and a couple well-known faces together in one building. What’s dope about it is we are all a fan of each other and actively collaborate: YGB / AMMONATION / SWIDT / 7GANG.

HH: What were your visions of how the show would go?

J: Just for everyone around Wellington & New Zealand to take notice of the talent we really have.

HH: Was it a challenge to put such a strong line up together?

J: To be honest it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It was a joint venture between me and Lex Sim. Shout out to him, he put hard work in also.

“I guess I wanted to understand what I was listening too. Now it’s turned into an obsession of moving sound forward.”

HH: You are very young, does that at all affect you or cross your mind when you are producing at such a high level and standard?

J: Not particularly. I don’t think age has much to do with it, it’s just about what you’re exposed to.

HH: You have just released your E+M EP, what has the response been like so far?

J: It’s been pretty good, although I haven’t been able to promote it as much as I want because I have been trapped trying to get the $10,000 funding. I might re-release it.

HH: What does E+M stand for?

J: Emotive+Motion

HH: Do you have a favorite song on it, if so what?

J: Train Of Thought and Mind Control – they were both made in a weekend between Auckland & Hamilton. Fun times with Tony Douglas.

HH: What have you found most challenging about putting your EP together?

J: Myself finally coming to a finished product.

Trap Hybrids and The New School.

Music

tumblr_mgmnkqIpIf1rv8sb5o1_500After reading an article by David Drake on Complex magazine’s website, Real Trap Sh*t? The Commodification of Southern Rap’s Drug-Fueled Subgenre it got me thinking about where we’re at. Us Hip Hop kids born after 1980.

Because we live in a different generation to the original hip hop figures who came before us, yet, we are old enough to remember Run DMC and how important it was that Adidas endorsed them. We’re old enough to remember when Hip Hop was still a taboo sound in the mainstream, and when being brown was an unrecognizable, undesirable persona in pop culture.

As a curvy ass-can’t shop at Wild Pair, brown girl I see myself everywhere these days, from Rihanna to Beyonce…There are beautiful half caste and mixed children everywhere throwing up the middle finger, skating through traffic, playing basketball in the park, boys and girls flood from theaters featuring movies starring our favorite rappers, buying The Source, Vibe and XXL, the list goes on.

Hip Hop is so dear to us, still, in our mid 20’s because it’s ours. Yes it’s merged into the mainstream and changed, but  we won’t grow out of it because we’ve spent so much time and heart  making it. Not even strenuous commercial dilution could kill it. When Nas said hip hop was dead, it was simply hurting at best.

Those who came before now put in the work and now us kids get to reap the benefits. The question is, what are we going to do with it. Where are we going to take it? This writer knows Kendrick Lamar is working on it. But let’s talk abbot Trap. There is hate about Trap and the misconception of what it is and where it came from. It is totally relevant when Drake, in his article, makes the point:

“Then comes the controversy, and we’re all forced to choose sides: Trap is good, and can bring artists and fans from different worlds together. Trap is bad because it  trivializes serious issues stemming from the American “War on Drugs” and an accelerating prison population.”

His solution: “Trap music is fun, but listeners should be educated on the history of where the music comes from, and give respect to the innovators of the form, learning (via Google) about the pioneers (T.I.!), the sobering social contexts (drug dealers!), and the branded cultural trends (sizzurp!).”

Word.

The internet has allowed underground musicians a means to self market and artists such as Oddisee and The Mello Music Group the ability to tour the world without major music company influence; in the same regard the internet obliterates any excuse for ignorance. In this day in age absolutely anything you need to know can be Google-d or YouTube-d so self-education is important; same as when feminists once fought for a women’s right to choose; information and education were allowed to a privileged few only. Ignorance is unacceptable.

But I have to say this: MANNN!! What’s happening with hip hop at the moment is effing EXITING. And there are so many untapped facets that are left to come from the new school. I mean Jay Z just had a baby. Dr Dre is releasing boss ‘beats’ in the way of merchandise not music, Snoop Dogg just changed his name to ‘Snoop Lion’ and even Lil Wayne says he has about five years left in him. As much as these guys and so many more paved the way. The new school is in session. Kendrick Lamar and the TDE team, Oddisee and the Mello Music Group plus so many others are leading.

Some subjects prove that, yes, we have become pretty desensitized to drug use and misogyny -our attitudes are a total skew of reality as our favorite rappers and their lifestyles have soaked into our ears, eyes and brains.

Common drug use is so common we call them ‘treats’. I mean as I write Tommy Ill just posted on FB this, ” i do drugs but i aint done enough yet, molly & lean, i chop & screw dubstep”. What other  back up quote do I need here?

There is more there than just drugs and hoes though. Hip Hop’s Gen Y have see our parents fighting, we’ve seen how debilitating teen pregnancy can be, we know what crack will do and what kind of life you get if you don’t appreciate your education. And we want more from life. We’ve also obtained the confidence to go get it.

Women have proved they want to, and will, fuck casually along side their bro’s and there is a plethora of femcees that can now put men in their place. Men and women in hip hop are best friends (Bey and Jay, Wiz and Amber) instead of hostile lovers.

We  are still to focus on maintaining a balanced consciousness when it comes to the issue of trivializing serious life issue like gun possession or crack as we party to ‘ignorant’ music in the clubs; as all our favorite rappers adopt that one key dance song on their debut album. Take A$AP and Skrillex, Nicki Minaj and her whole other tangent, Kendrick did but he went the other way with Swimming Pools and the progressive beats movement (trap DJ’s still find a way to incorporate it though).

Drake’s suggestion of education to avoid ignorance and mainstream figures keeping up the heart in the music is a good start.

What I love though about the incorporation of Hip Hop and Trap on dance floors is the visuals. Us Hip Hop babies who grew up quietly relating to the stories and beats amongst each other can now see ourselves everywhere! It’s cool to have a booty and twerk it around. The ‘swag’ (fuck swag) is being used from retail outlets to the news and magazines, Pepsi ads, sneaker campaigns, Superbowl half times and the list goes on. We don’t only belong in the mainstream now, we’re wanted and sought after. Our lifestyles are more than a benchmark of cool…How we are is a way to live, an ideal to be, even if it is considered dreaming in euphoria. The message is that we can have it all and this to me is progress to me and the kind this writer wants to nurture-not criticize.

Top three Trap mixes at the moment are:

1.Donald Krunk- Stack x Kwacks

2.DJ Green Lantern-Altitude

3.Flosstradamus-Banned 2

4.Lunice Mix-Diplo and Friends-BBC Radio