Industry Insider: 5 Questions with Hip Hop's Jack of All Trades, Curtiss King
Curtiss King sets an example for artists of all ages and at all stages.
Curtiss King embodies the age old term "jack of all trades". As a teenager, growing up in Carson, CA, Curtiss made the decision that he would not only pursue his passion for rap, but also learn the technicalities of production, engineering, graphic design, and marketing. Residing in the Inland Empire, Curtiss's music embodies the "feel good" essence of the 90s, intertwined with a refreshingly raw appeal and inspiring contemporary edge. His credits are nothing short of impressive, including artists such as: Compton native Kendrick Lamar (TDE), Ab-Soul (TDE), E-40, MURS (Strange Music) and super producer Hit-Boy. Curtiss continues to reinvent himself through his music and constant output of value for his fellow artists and producers through artist 1 on 1 coaching, online tutorials, and public speaking. -- CurtissKing.com
1. How do you juggle all the different jobs? Describe how you manage your time, how you determine when to work on what?
One word: Discipline. Before every week I designate different days for different jobs. Monday - Social Media Scheduling, Tuesday - Artist Marketing & Producer Motivation Video Days, Wednesday - Rapper Days, Thursday - Make Beats and Piano Lessons, Friday - Make Beats and Do Weekly Sales Analysis. I wake up every morning and make a realistic list of the things that I want to accomplish that day. I set short and clear goals for each task and get to work. Everyday I workout, eat fresh foods, and read to make sure my body and mind can perform at top levels for these tasks.
2. Realistic goals, organization, and physical and mental health -- and I know you offer one-on-one services to help guide artists who need help in these and other areas. Is this a major source of income for you? Or, is there another area of your business that is most profitable?
At the moment my production is the most successful part of my business financially. As a rapper and producer I think it's the most successful for a few reasons. Artists in our industry have a bigger void of great production than they do a void of great feature rap verses. So the need and the demand of me at the present time is predominantly my production at CurtissKingBeats.com. Another factor is that I've worked with the likes of respected artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, E-40, and MURS so their influence obviously translates to more eyes and potential clients.
3. So, if it's not the money, why do you work so hard to help other independent artists?
Editors note: A twitter back-and-forth between Curtiss and an associate, with that associate likening Curtiss's current efforts to those of the late, great Praverb, led to this interview for Praverb's site.
I work hard to provide authentic value to my fellow independent artists for many reasons. Firstly, I know what it felt like when I first began making music and tirelessly searched the internet for REAL information that could help me. I wish in my early days I had a mentor or a big brother to help me avoid certain pitfalls that I encountered. Secondly, I have learned that the way to ensure my own success is to be of service to the people. Thirdly, it fills me up to help good people. There is no feeling in the world better than to see or hear about someone breathing a sigh of relief because someone like me gave a damn enough to help them. I have read so many books, articles, and listened to hours of podcast and what I continuously heard about was how every one of these millionaires had teaching as one of their main sources of income. THAT was a light bulb moment where it made me question some of the ethics and ideologies in Hip Hop. We don't teach each other like we should. We look down on the teachers in our genre. Why is that the OGs compete with the young heads instead of helping them clime? Why is that the young heads won't bless the old heads with game about Soundcloud or new social media knowledge that could help them? Both sides have legitimate arguments on why they don't, but no matter the reason this is a problem that needs to be solved for the preservation of the culture we all love. If I can spark the idea or the conversation to begin changing this mentality, I've done my job.
4. That's beautiful, my brother. Now, since faith played a significant role in the life of Praverb and remains important to many of our readers, how does religion/faith play into your day to day life?
Religion and Faith are literally the backbone of everything that I do. I talk to God often through prayer. I ask questions and I feel that he answers them in different ways, but he always answers them. I try my best to go to church every Sunday and pay my tithes. My life has been a rollercoaster of trials and triumphs that only a higher power could create. My life has been a 4 Runner driven on the gas of faith. Many of the principles of value and success that I have found in business related books all reference the Bible and I understand why. I'm never one to judge, but I don't know how any man or woman can attain true success and not believe in a higher power. True success comes as a result of strong faith, love, and understanding. Faith and understanding are at the foundation of God's love. I look around at where I am today in comparison to where I was at when I was 17 and I know God is real.
5. So, other than more brothers like you and Praverb, what does Hip Hop need more of? And what is the biggest lesson you've learned that all up-and-coming artists should heed?
Hip Hop needs more compassion for one another and leadership that truly understands what it means to be valuable and to give value. For a genre that was built on the foundation of giving a voice to the unheard, compassion is imperative to the success of the unheard. For me compassion comes in the form of teaching. I'm not a 'teacher' in the traditional sense with a classroom and whiteboard, but I am someone that knows what they are talking, has proof of concept, and wants to be of value to his peers. The biggest lesson I've learned was that failure doesn't exist, only exciting opportunities to learn something new. Also that GIVING VALUE isn't something you have to wait until you are rich to do. Value is something a 17 year old producer who is just starting off can give his 12 year old brother who wants to learn how to make beats. Up and coming artists, your success will not come down to how great you rap or make beats. The success you attain or the money you make in your life will be dependent upon the size of the problems you solve and how many people you solve those problems for. Be a giver and you will receive everything you desire in this world. I know it sounds crazy, but let these words sit with you and do what feels RIGHT, young creators.
Listen to Curtiss King's Raging Waters LP:
Listen to Curtiss King's Raging Waters LP: