Khalil: Adult Swimming His Way To Success
werd: james niche
We all know what the cartoon network is and most of you reading know what [adult swim] is all about.
What you may not know, is that [adult swim] has a music department that features and promotes underground hip-hop. They have produced CDs that are distributed worldwide, they feature the music of young musicians between programming on the network and try to give a helping hand to hard working artists.
Our man, Khalil, has now sold a few of his tasty beats to this project.
A young, intelligent, self-taught producer, Khalil has been lurking in the shadows of Rochester, blending together bits of hip-hop, rock and outer space.
He's a soft spoken, laid back young guy that has learned a lot from the scene around him and decided to do things on his own terms.
A wise man once said..."A smart man learns from his mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others."
I believe that Khalil has read this before, because that is the philosophy that was painted while I spent time with him one afternoon.
He sits down to talk about what happened with [adult swim] and where he comes from.
Khalil: Aaron (Aaron Costa, Owner of Krud Co.)said the best thing to me, about the Adult Swim deal.
He said, ‘Not for nothing, but, you’re nobody. That means, right now. So, take the opportunity, and run with it. Just keep giving them everything you can.’
We’re all local celebrities. Whether five people know you, or a hundred people know you.
I haven’t seen any one really push themselves out there, and really stay out there.
There are a lot of really talented people here, and they don’t really push their talent.
You’re supposed to want more.
ACT:LIVE: Maybe these artists don’t want more. Maybe they are content with pulling the average crew in every week.
Some people just have nasty attitudes, too. That keeps them back, no matter how much they deny it.
ACT:LIVE: What do you do different?
Man, I love so many artists in this community, but just because I love you and you’re well known, that doesn’t mean I’m just going to stay under your wing. I’m not a fool and I’m not going to be played out like that. I’m going to do my own thing.
But there still has to be a community effort. It’s not about one dude and a crew of followers.
ACT:LIVE: How old are you?
ACT:LIVE: How long have you been making beats?
I’d say going on four years now.
ACT:LIVE: What’s your style?
It’s real abstract. There are a lot of space-type sounds. But, because I’m influenced by different types of music, I don’t want to make just hip-hop music. I want to make all types of music. I want to bring something new to the table.
A lot of music today, is just recycled.
If everybody is trying to sound like J-Dilla, it’s boring. He was the man, you can’t duplicate that.
ACT:LIVE: What do you think J-Dilla’s biggest contribution to hip-hop was?
His career was pretty long man.
He’s been producing beats since I was listening to Pharcyde. Half the time he was in the studio, he was making beats for A Tribe Called Quest. He always puts me on shock, there’s so many CDs that never even made it out that have him on there.
He broke hip-hop down to the science.
ACT:LIVE: What kind of gear are you writing with?
I try to use mostly hardware. Right now, I’m using a Korg Electribe, a BOSS 202, and I just recently bought an interface that links my laptop and this DJ controller. I’m experimenting with that.
There’s not a lot of software that I use.
ACT:LIVE: I came from the days of analog; I can’t imagine what being a producer can be like these days. What I mean is, you have so many options available because of technology advances, so it must be tough sometimes.
I had to teach myself, pretty much.
When I was first stepping in, I tried reaching out and asking questions to people who I knew, but nobody helped. The one guy that really did help was my man at the House of Guitars. He actually took the time to show me what I could do with the equipment that I wanted.
I would go to the House of Guitars after school and he would be there. He was the dark skinned, Indian looking dude.
The other guy that really helped out was QP, he has done a lot of work for Hassaan Mackey.
QP has a real unique style that can’t be copied.
ACT:LIVE: Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the east side.
ACT:LIVE: How do you know Hassaan and his crew?
From back when Hassaan freestyled at Liberty Pole. It didn’t last long because of fights and craziness, but they had an open mic thing right downtown.
Me, and my friend David, would get off the bus downtown from school and we would see him. I bumped into him at a store on Monroe and from then on we had chilled pretty hard together.
Through him I met Emilio Rojas, back when he had some long dreds.
Matter of fact, I still have an old flier from Milestones, when Emilio’s picture had the long dreds. I used to watch them rip shows all the time.They really inspired me to get into music.
ACT:LIVE: So tell me about the Adult Swim happenings. For those that don’t know, you recently sold some of your tracks to them.
That’s big news; they work with some of the best names in hip-hop.
Well, they had put out a challenge online, asking people who think they could produce to submit their beats and if they liked them, they would play them.
Mo Producto kept telling me to send my beats in, but I slept on it for a while. So, after doing a few shows and getting a little bit of recognition, I felt prepared to send my music out.
I sent it in to them and heard back a little while after, which was crazy.
ACT:LIVE: What did they say?
They wanted to confirm it was me, first of all, but they have been giving me advice on what to do with my music and how to market it so far.
They also hit me off with some money to get some more gear.
They told me I should get going on my MySpace, too. I really don’t like MySpace, but they tell me it’s a must. So, for all you out there, they are looking at MySpace. They take it very seriously.
So, I’ve been working on that and putting more tracks and pictures on there. I’ve also been sending more emails to the press. That’s actually worked out well.
The opportunity has really given me a reason to keep doing what I’m doing.
They said that my story was no different than those more famous that they work with, so they tell me to keep busy and do what I do.
ACT:LIVE: What are your feelings on Rochester hip-hop?
It’s like a ghost sometimes. It’s like it’s there, which it is, but it’s transparent. You can’t touch it. It’s like some people just don’t want to succeed.
The only way we can succeed is together.
ACT:LIVE: What’s your favorite venue to play at in Rochester?
Man, I love the Bug Jar. The sound is good, and they have that really cool ceiling. Plus, there’s just so much history there.
It’s small and comfortable.
ACT:LIVE: What would your superhero name be?
K- Off Beat. Showing you that everything is not what it seems. Music is music, make what you want.
ACT:LIVE: Is there something you really want to say to the artists, young and old that will be reading this?
Push man, don’t give up. There are a lot of people out there that really want to hear this music coming from Rochester. Use your frustration towards the power of good and stay humble.
Keep passionate about music that means something. Keep doing it. Push it to outer space.
Alright everybody, I urge you to check out some more records from [adult swim] and get down to other artists from Stones Throw Records, like Madlib, MF and Peanut Butter Wolf.
Khalil has performed recently at Record Archive with a great number of other hip-hop artists this past August 23rd, but look out for some more shows coming in the near future.
At the least, if you're into abstract hip-hop and want to support another local success story, check out his MySpace page.
Till next time kids..peace.
Right now we're listening to:
Madlib "Stormy" ("Shades Of Blue", 2003, Stones Throw)