First and foremost, who is Kay Flow and where do you reside?
I am a hard working, hungry, and humble military serviceman by day and an aspiring hiphop artist. Always a fan first of raw lyricism and honest music. A very passionate individual who's constantly rediscovering himself everyday.
How long have you been rhyming?
I've been rhyming on and off since about 11-12 yrs old. Never seriously though. I'd write rhymes all of the time and keep tons of rhyme books, but never memorize them or create complete songs. No concepts, formats, or titles. Just raw bars and imagery. Not to mention my freestyling ability as well. Back then you couldn't spit written rhymes and get respect. Cats judged you by how well you came off the dome. I drove my family CRAZY! I still remember pops screaming, "Boy, get in the damn room and shut the door with that mess". I'd literally tune out and forget other people were even in the same house with me when I got in my zone. The imagery part has always stuck with me from the beginning which made me even want to pick up a pen in the first place. Big Daddy Kane has and always will be my personal greatest inspiration. He was the master of word play, imagery, swag, aura, all of that to me. He encompassed all of to elements to what Real MC should and needs to have. I started off patterning my rhyme style and delivery after him by literally putting together a bunch of big words that rhymed but had no idea what they actually meant. It just sounded good...to me. My lil homies back then used to be amazed because I didnt rhyme like an average 8th grader from Cali due to my east coast influence.
I want to thank you for defending our country. Has your military experience influenced your writing habits and perspective on the world?
Thank you! Yes! My military experience is why we are even sharing this interview as we speak. I've recently returned to the states about 2 yrs ago. Before that, I toured overseas for 11 yrs straight. Two tours in Germany, 2 in Guam, and 1 tour in Japan. I've seen MANY military cats as well as the local national population of hiphop heads do their thing successfully. I'm sure every country has their own rap icons that none of us know about. I remember seeing Japanese cats rolling in packs with timbs, hoodies, french braids, and dreaded up. Throwback jerseys and grills! Totally immersed in the HipHop culture. Not to mention the overseas beatmakers too! I always swore if I ever got on, I'd get ALL of my beats overseas! Germany is raw with it as well. The thing about overseas is that they still have appreciation for that raw witty underground sound that I feel America has forgotten due to money, politics, and pop culture influence. They just want to hear dope music and an MC who rhymes from the heart, not his image! I met my current producers, Mixtape Meeko and Young Speez because we were stationed together in Germany.
As far as perspective goes, overseas taught me how to be humble and grateful. We in America have more than we realize. Most of our poor or low income is many countries well to do! In many cases, they have to work twice as hard as most of us just to keep their heads above water. We are very BLESSED!
One of your strengths as a lyricist is the fact that you really value words and rarely spew filler. Describe your writing process to the masses.
I can write a book on this subject, so please, bare with me! LMAO!!! I am absolutely infatuated with imagery and wordplay! I cannot even fathom dropping a 16 without giving you some type of witty visual. One example is in "Never Ignorant" when I spew, "I even got a plate for haters/ My food for thought's harder than gargling peanut butter while blowing holes through a Now & Later." Soon as you hear that, you immediately picture yourself or someone trying to blow holes in a Now & Later UNTIL it kicks in your brain, "Wait a minute, that's impossible". Then if you're a real listener to lyrics and dissect it, you notice multiple meanings within that line itself. Food for thought being hard, Now & Laters, difficulty of gargling peanut butter, etc. It's like a big collage in 2 lines. I heard a quote, "People may have forgotten what you have said, but they never forget how you make them feel". I know how I feel when I hear some ILL thought provoking lyricism! It's sticks to your ribs like grandma's home cooking. That's what I strive for.
I have an infatuation with words period! English has always been my favorite subject. I see single words themselves as their own entity and having their own personal testimony by themselves. Word play is a puzzle/challenge to me that I absolutely love. I try to balance putting as many words that rhyme together, coordinate, tells a message, and flows perfectly to the best of my ability. However, make sure I don't over-do it and be sure that it makes sense enough for ANYONE to understand as long as they actively listen. That's a constant work in progress and I love it. I really, really meant what I said in my song "SAVAGE" when I said, "Verbally abuse'em/ I use alotta big words cause big words are never too big if you know how to use'em."
Lastly, I first listen to a beat and 9 times outta 10, it will give me a visual or a "feeling" of what I think it it's telling me write about. When I first heard the By Myself Meeting track, it's hit me instantly that I need to express my emotions good and bad, as a man and a human with no question. I choose beats that sounds like I'm just hearing it for the first time even after I've already heard it 30 times over. I roll around town listening to instrumentals daily and see what most consistent feeling I receive from the beat and what I should write about. Some take longer than others to digest, but once my mind is made, it's a wrap!
As far as the writing process to that, I usually memorize the first 16 or 24 in my head before even penning it down. If I'm out and about, I write in my phone, repeat it and finesse it my head without even looking at what I wrote. I allows me more freedom to play around with the flow and delivery before I actually structure it. Most times I don't even write to a beat. I'd rather write extensively and have to edit/taper the lyrics later once I actually sit down to structure the song with the chosen track. This allows me to be as creative and free writing as I want without being constrained by the tempo of the track. This all goes back to my freestyle background when I first started to rhyme as a kid.
You also possess a rapid fire flow. Who influenced you to rhyme and what artists motivate you today?
WU-TANG FOREVER *W in the air*! Nuff said on that one! As I stated earlier, Big Daddy Kane. Canibus was by far my favorite in the late 90's along with Wu! That dude in my opinion made punchlines and metaphors cool again! That was dear to my heart because that art was starting fade due to the rough neck thuggery and "playa" image that was beginning to really take shape of HipHop back then. Right now? Slaughterhouse, Elzhi, Phonte, and Skyzoo are my top dawgs! There's a slew of other really dope artists doing their thing, but I can literally hear one single line from these guys and if it hits me, and I'll pen a full 16 on the spot on some RainMan shyt! No Joke! I consider those dudes on top of the food chain and absolutely untouchable lyric wise. I'm a die-hard Nas fan too. He does no wrong in my eyes lol.
Your first release, Under Mainstream's Ground, was released in 2010. What did you want to convey with the release?
UMG for me was me showcasing my talent in the rawest way possible. That album was a great fire ball of energy that wanted to blow up anything in it's path. It signifies Kay Flow practicing and finessing his capabilities. Learning his weaknesses and faults. Determining his direction and picking his audience. Simply put, it was me embarking on this musical journey is search of who I am and what I am meant to be in this life culture we call HipHop.
What inspired you to write "Assassination"?
Would you believe me if I told you that I wrote Assassination back in 99'? When my homie first heard the song, he called me up and said, "Yo Kay, I remember back in the day when you used to spit that". I was shocked he remembered! As I stated, Bis was my source of inspiration, but those bars actually derived from Nas's song "Last Words" feat Nashawn! We lived in dorm rooms that were literally shaped like a box. When I heard Nas's bars describing a prison cell as a living person, that shit gives me chills still to this day just thinking about. Remember what I told you about never forgetting how something made you feel? That song was a prime example.
Recently you released Kreative Kontrol. What did you want to convey with this release?
Kreative Kontrol was showcasing my my growth. Not just a rapper with witty lyrics over dope beats, but me beginning to understand who I am as a lyricist. I have found my direction and picked my audience. I understand the importance of delivery and concepts along with diversity. I have really worked hard on my writing and flow. I have a long way to go, but this album has really shown me my own potential and what I'm capable of. To be honest, I listen to it and still can't believe it's me. I am FAR from satisfied. My hunger is even stronger than before. I lost 10 lbs in a week cause I forgot to eat some days. I kid you not!
What is the main difference between your debut and Kreative Kontrol?
Growth period! Delivery and flow is much better. Way more diversity. Creativity has jumped leaps and bounds in my opinion.
When you listen to other artists, what do you value the most (lyrics, flow or delivery)?
ALL THREE! If you don't have them all that catches my ear, I probably won't listen to you long. Kinda sucks because a lot of stuff would catch my interest if I didn't rhyme myself, to be honest. However, when I listen to artist, I NEED to be inspired to want to write. That's the only way you keep my attention. That's the way I enjoy music besides a great story to tell or personal drama that makes me feel like I know you as a person.
I notice that you rhyme over production by Mixtape Meeko and Young Speez. What is your relationship like with Mixtape Meeko and Young Speez?
They are the reason I even started rhyming in the first place. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them. I knew these two for a year before they even knew I rapped. This was back in '08 and Meeko was beginning to start producing. He actually coached Speez! Hope they don't shoot me for releasing that bit of info *ducks*. They are also fellow Air Force serviceman as well. We stationed together in Germany. Meeko used to always invite me to the studio once he heard me rhyme, but I dint take him serious. He was still learning his craft as a producer and engineer, but he learns FAST! Speez started coming into his own production-wise. I'm sitting on probably 300-400 beats a piece from each one of them. They have some HEAT from 08'-09' that you would not believe. Let alone the new stuff we have now that no one has heard yet! We were just 3 ordinary dudes who loved HipHop. Took one step at time and now we are here. None of us NEVER thought we'd be even this far with it. It's amazing how God works.
What are you currently working on?
Right now, I'm actually structuring up the creative direction/blueprint for my next album. I have the title and everything. I'm still picking beats, but have a few definites on the table. I'm hitting the studio this weekend to lay my first official tracks for it. The plan is to really, really push Kreative Kontrol. A few videos in planning as well as the documentary for the creation of Kreative Kontrol. If all goes according to plan, we drop another another "Shorter" project by summer and have a full length album to be sold through retail for fans to purchase.
How can the masses get in contact with you?
You can get a hold of me on twitter Da Real Kay Flow or Facebook. Also, me and the team just started our own blog called ThaLookOut.com. I'm one of the admins over there. Lastly, in process of building up my website.
Any final words?
I truly, truly believe that KayFlow has something special to offer the HipHop community as well as the music world period. The plans that we have in the making will be something you've never heard or can rarely ever find in HipHop these days. Please don't sleep and tell a friend to tell a friend. Please listen to Kreative Kontrol for yourself. "THAT" potential is there without a doubt! I truly do this for the culture! Thank you to ALL that supports our movement.
FREE Download: Kay Flow
Under Mainstream's Ground - 2010
Kreative Kontrol - 2011