3rd Stream Interview No.1: Kenny Dust
Psykhomantus: Okay, so first question. When did you fall in love with Hip Hop. Lol! ?
Kenny Dust: Probably around '90. I got into it through the pop charts. My first Christmas in the UK it was all about Vanilla Ice vs MC Hammer. Vanilla Ice was the Christmas number one. I got both their albums for Christmas [Laughs] That was my first introduction to rap music. After that I moved to Hackney where I met other kids who introduced me to artists like Cypress Hill, Dr. Dre etc. plus my mum had the 'Fear of a Black Planet' tape. That came with the lyrics in the inlay and that's where I really started to understand and relate to hip-hop.
P: I met you in 2003 thought Artistic Director Kwesi Johnson when I was on my first theatre tour for A Hiphop Story. The group you was in was called Mad Danger. How did that come along?
KD: M.a.D Danger was a crucial period for me as an artist. I was in a duo with an MC (K-Cire) older and more experienced than me. I learnt a lot and developed in that partnership as an artist and a performer. We signed a single deal around '03 which have me a taste of the inner workings of the industry. We rocked shows from London to South Africa. It was real DIY artist development.
P: So when did you go from Phenom P to Kenny Dust?
KD: The name change came around '04. It's about growth and transition and I just naturally gravitated toward it. It was my first time being a solo artist as I'd always been in groups or crews before that. It was an opportunity to reinvent myself and evolve as an artist and reflect the universality that I was getting in tune with at the time.
P: Not many rapper I know can change up their style and feel comfortable with themselves. Which artists do you feel or look up to?
KD: Well, I don't really take those kinda cues from other rappers. I'm a music lover period, and an old soul to boot so I tend to be inspired by a lot of classic artists. I die hard for Nina Simone, Gil Scot Heron, Dennis Brown, Super Cat and people like that. Their depth and diversity was effortless and not faddy or trendy. Hip-hop wise I'm a die hard Wu fan. Artists like MF DOOM, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Prince Paul, Ty and Gang Starr I respect and admire. Right now I'm feeling what Sean P, Pro Era and Black Hippy are doing.
P: Your skills don't just stop on the microphone, you know how to chop a few samples. Can you tell me how you got round to knocking up beats?
KD: I had to start making beats cos I have a lot of music in me and back in the day before EVERYBODY lol was making beats I couldn't find producers that could translate the sounds in my head. I did a music production course at Raw Material where I learnt to use the Akai S950 boy! Haha! Round that time I was into a lot of East Coast shit, Black Moon, Diamond D, Large Pro, Gang Starr, Pete & CL! See, just talking about it gets me excited!
P: Everyone seems to have jumped on the Dilla bandwagon, do you think he's all of that like the media have made him out to be?
KD: Hmmm..the Dilla thing... Listen, I look at it like this. Dilla was a genius when he was here and it's just a shame that there weren't this many people on his di ck at the time. I think death does that to some people though, u regret not being there when they were alive so even in death u try to compensate. On the downside people get too caught up and try to outdo each other. Like 'nah man, I love Dilla more than u!' [laughs] forgetting the essence, which is that Dilla was all about the music not the bullshit. On the upside it means his legacy actively lives on, newer generations get hip to his music and it spreads.
On another note I'm STILL hearing Dilla clones coming out the woodwork. He left such a huge impact, though unsung, some people try to capitalise off it. Others are brand new to this and think they're the first to re-create that sound, especially the Fantastic vol 2 era. There's a huge difference between being inspired or influenced and cold Xeroxing.
P: Can you remember your favourite performance?
KD: Off the top of my head, there was a show we (M.a.D Danger) did at The Scala. I felt it that night, near full house, walked past man like Rodney P on my way to the stage. I think he just came off stage if I remember right. We repped and especially for an unknown, unsigned group. Felt on top of the world that night.
P: Is their a performance that you've done and said to yourself that you could of done that better?
KD: There's always room for improvement but for me the moment overrides everything. Hindsight is 20/20 so it's all in the preparation and the moment of execution. I'm always thinking about how to improve.
P: Your the first artist of my Mixtape Collaboration. How did you feel listening to your tracks back to back?
KD: It felt good to hear it back as a completed project. Made it feel official cos a lot of those tracks were unreleased and I always wanted to hear a DJ cutting up my choons. Giving it a few jugga juggaz [laughs]. I was happy with the way you set it up and sequenced it. The feedback was really good too so it was the right decision, a definite win-win.
P: Last question. What will we be expecting in the future from you?
The unexpected [laughs].
KD: You can expect new music from me and my crew Third Stream which is DJ Son of Dan, Dziko, Enji and yours truly. We're all artists in our own right but collectively we are a production unit primarily as well as band and creative conduits. I've got a few solo projects in the pipeline, look out for my first release in April 2013 including some videos, and I'm taking bookings for shows so promoters get in touch. Just stay tuned via www.twitter.com/kennydustmusic for more info.
Check out CASSAVA by Kenny Dust
Also check out DUST PARTICLES SAMPLER by DJ Psykhomantus