The Futurist: Killa Kyleon Talks Indies Vs. Majors and Houston’s Influence on Hip-Hop
In the last installment of The Futurist we chopped it up with producer/rapper, Danny! This week we head to Houston to catch up with one of the city's hardest spitters Killa Kyleon. The H-Town rep opens up about his come-up, independents record labels versus majors, his New York influences and more.
TheBoombox: You've been on rap fans' radar from quite some time but not many people know where you got your start, tell us about that.
Killa Kyleon: My first real experience in a studio was with my big homie B Don and Nuke of Quarter Pound Records on the northside of Houston. I got heavy into it when I started started f---ing with Big Pokey and Chris Ward of SUC [Screwed Up Click], we formed a group called Mob Style. That’s where Chris Ward would introduce me to Slim Thug. That introduction had me venturing into different mixtape series, features and of course freestyles. Slim [Thug] decided that he wanted to create an H-Town supergroup, Boyz N Blue.
The group featured n---as from the northside and southside, we made so much noise around that time. We caught attention from the major labels, which is when Slim hooked up with Interscope. It was written in the contract that he would take one of his artists with him when he signed and that was me. After the deal s--t didn't really work out. I decide to stand on my own ten toes and now here I am. Team Run It.
TheBoombox: Your sound seems to be a mix of '90s New York City style hip-hop with a heavy Houston cultural influence added to it, is that an accurate assessment?
Killa Kyleon: Very much,[you're so on point! I always loved the East Coast style of rap, it was far more advanced than a lot of other regions and areas in rap. The style of [New York rappers] delivery, wordplay and cleverness is what attracted me to it. Even the way they dressed. The whole nine. I took that influence and the influence my city had on me, soaked it up and ran with it.
N---a’s like Eric B & Rakim, The Juice Crew, Native Tongues, Wu-Tang, EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Redman, K-Solo and of course the gods, Nas and Jay-Z had the most influence over all for me.
TheBoombox: What did you learned from being signed to Interscope and being down with Slim Thug's Boss Hogg Outlawz crew early on in your career?
Killa Kyleon: I learned relationships and grind get you to the highest point in rap. Consistency gets you to the highest point as well. Slim is one of the smartest n----as in rap on how he did him. He’s been a well off n---a since 18 off rap! The n---a’s 30 now, that says a lot about the grind paying off. Consistency is the key.
You're currently taking the independent route but is there still a chance that you'd sign to a major label?
I love the independent grind because if you rise or fall, it's completely on you. Now that social media and the digital era have come into play, you can reach more eyes and ears than we were ever able to before. All you have to do is upload and press "enter" and the world is at your figure tips. Now it seems like the majors depend on the independent markets we once depended on -- like the B, C and D markets. That’s where they are breaking music and see what’s hot or try to develop artist with 360 deals. Now a 360 deal is pretty much pointless when all the avenues are available on a laptop. iTunes even allows you to upload and sell your own music cutting out the middle man taking a percentage. As far as mixtapes, LiveMixtapes and Datpiff act as distribution companies with both high end and lower level artists. OnSmash, Rap Radar and WorldStarHipHop act as VH1, BET and MTV for video placements. Twitter and Instagram give you the MTV Cribs look into a day in the life of your favorite artist which is a gift and a curse. With the right dollar amount you can be the second Macklemore!
Is that why you place so much focus on mixtapes, rather than releasing a debut album? Is there a debut album in the works?
Rap to me is like sports. Mixtapes are like pick-up games and the summer league grind during the offseason. I have a debut album that's done but mixtapes and freestyles create that demand for an album. If there's no demand for an album, what's the point in releasing a project. You put so much work into to make it great, without demand it's pointless. Instead I take advantage of the mixtapes by creating music with quality, yet no limits. That’s where you can judge the response of your fan base and new fans. I'm able to display my rapping skills and ability without being over critiqued like I would with an album. Also show my song-making abilities without making a certain blueprint, which is called for when creating an album.
We hear that you're very prolific in the studio and that you tend you record multiple songs in a day. Why take that approach to making music? What's the rush?
It's not a rush. I'm just trying to perfect my craft and create a catalog of music to pick from. Staying ready, so I don't have to get ready. Within that catalog I have enough music to drop continuous music.
On your "Pound Cake" freestyle you said "Your downloads and videos don’t convince me... " Who were you addressing there?
That's my own opinion on the game itself. I'm also a critic, as well as a fan of hip-hop. There’s a lot of trash out there that I see getting a lot of credit. So I'm not convinced with the s--t people call hits or great music.
You've rapped over other artists' beats better than they have time and time again. Do you think that has helped or hurt you along the way?
I think it helps. It's pretty much me displaying my abilities to my fans. I believe the only way it could hurt is if I couldn't make my own hit record, which isn't hard to do at all. It's me having fun in the long run.
How do you feel about artists from the rest of the country appropriating the chopped 'n' screwed sound and the overall Houston musical approach?
Imitation is the highest form of flattery. I knew this would happen, I called it years ago back in like in 2005 at Interscope. They didn't get it till now and it's almost a decade later and they're just now catching on. It’s just like how everybody's obsessed with the Bay style of music now. Houston and The Bay always had that influence on each other in Hip-Hop, because screw always showed love to the Bay.
Dwight Howard is officially big man on campus in Houston. Do you expect the Rockets to win the Championship this year?
It's all about that [Miami] Heat with me G!