Estimated reading time: 22 minute(s)
(Blogger’s Note: I’ve known the Hip-Hop legend K-Rino for many years and I consider him one of the greatest lyricists of all-time; not just in Houston, but the entire global industry. Along with doing some of the greatest rhymes and albums ever, he has also been very active in empowering the South Park neighborhood he grew up in along with inspiring countless people across the country and the world. I recently went one-on-one with him on his unbelievable feat of releasing seven albums in one day.)
Brother Jesse: At what moment did you choose this path of being a hip-hop artist? Why the name K-Rino?
K-Rino: I started rappin’ in 1983 but I really decided to be a rapper full time around 1985 when I got cut from my high school football team. After that I dedicated all my energy to writing. The name K-Rino was just a play name I had since maybe 4th grade but as I got more into music I created an acronym with it which is K.iller R.hymes I.ntellectually N.ullifying O.pponents.
Brother Jesse: How has growing up in South Park, life experiences and The Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad impacted your music the past 30 years?
K-Rino: Those three things you name are what makes up 75% of who I am as an artist. The other 25% would be the God given ability itself. South Park is where I saw a lot of things I speak about from just a street perspective. Of course just living life and going through things played a huge role in concepts as well. But the Teachings of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad are in my opinion what has allowed me to have the longevity I’ve had. People gravitate toward knowledge that they have never been exposed to. So when it’s done through music, it enhances people’s perception of you. And I have been blessed to be able to use what I learned from The Teachings in my music to try to change lives for the better and it’s been very effective. This is a body of knowledge that Black people don’t get in public schools so to many it’s mind blowing when they hear it for the first time. And it also gives me a platform to bring people to The Teachings because they always ask me where I learned it from.
Brother Jesse: What was your aim in starting the South Park Coalition? What has its presence meant to the advancement of hip-hop, especially in the South?
K-Rino: In the beginning I just wanted to organize my homies who I went to school with. Later it evolved into an opportunity to bring the rappers in my neighborhood together because there was a lot of beef between us in those days. Eventually, we grew to where you didn’t have to be from South Park or even Houston or even America for that matter to be in the S.P.C. People from everywhere fell in love with what we stood for and wanted to be a part of it.
I can’t say what our presence has meant in the grand scheme because being underground like we were and still are, there are many who never heard of us right in our own back yard. I do know that many of the major groups in the South have been influenced by us and they’ve told us that face to face so the respect is there from certain artists and it’s definitely there from our loyal diehard fans. That’s why we’re still here 30 years later.
Brother Jesse: You have 30 albums in your catalog and recently released seven in one day. What sparked this feat? How long did it take and can you please describe the process from start to completion? What did you find out about yourself while gunning for this?
K-Rino: Well as an underground artist, you know you won’t get the exposure that the mainstream artists get, so when you think about your own legacy you have to ask yourself: What have you done that no one else can say they did and what will distinguish you from the rest? Initially I wanted to drop 100 songs in one day on iTunes. Then that got reduced to 84 songs divided by 12 songs per cd which came out to be 7.
The hardest part was conceptualizing and then writing. Writing on a high level was the key to the success. When you do that many songs in that short span of time complacency can creep in and the quality of the project can suffer so the challenge was to stay focused on making every song lyrically potent; no short cuts. I had moments of discouragement and second thoughts but I was able to brush those thoughts off and focus on the marathon as opposed to the sprint. The lesson was no great accomplishment is achieved without struggle. I underwent a full range of emotions during the nine month process of putting this thing together. It was like a pregnancy (laughs) and I gave birth to septuplets.
Brother Jesse: You mentioned that you haven’t found any artist who has come close to releasing this many albums at one time. Do you plan to officially file with the Guinness World Record Federation?
K-Rino: Absolutely. I don’t think anyone has done this. So if that’s the case why not try to apply to see if it’s a record? Like I said, as an underground artist, this is great for my legacy.
Brother Jesse: Since getting all seven in hand several weeks ago, I admit I just recently made it to the fourth disc because I keep pressing repeat. As expected, you’re raising the bar with every song. Did you meet or exceed your expectations? What has the feedback been like thus far from your supporters?
K-Rino: The feedback has been great so far. All positive. There will always be those who may not like what you do but the responses have been very good which is a relief.
I’ll never be satisfied with it personally because I always feel like it could have been better and this project is no exception. I always critique my albums after they’re done and feel a sense of dissatisfaction but I think that’s what keeps me motivated for the next one to be better. I’m my own worst critic.
Brother Jesse: You’ve been active in the Houston community for years and you’re also a part of the A.R.C. (Artists Respecting Community) which has been meeting monthly. What is the focus of A.R.C.?
K-Rino: The focus of A.R.C. is to educate artists on the business of music. We come into this industry operating strictly on talent while someone else profits from the talent. So we want to teach the importance of publishing, copyrights, team building, entertainment law, the skill of promotion and marketing. These are all of the facets of the game that lead to the money. However, in our ignorance we come in letting others take control of those aspects and by the time we learn that part it’s usually too late and our musical legacy is set but the future of our families and financial security is gone. A.R.C. is also a community oriented organization which uses music as a platform to reach our people and make a positive impact on the community.
Brother Jesse: From your lens, what is the state of hip-hop? What do you think artists should be focused on more when it comes to leveraging their platforms?
K-Rino: Hip-hop is many things to different people. Depending on your age, preference, what era you came up in, that shapes your view on what state it’s in.
I believe it’s what you make it. If you have true love for the art and what it stands for then you won’t disrespect it. I do know that you get out of it what you put in so in a lot of cases our level of dissatisfaction is a result of our lack of grind but we blame the “game” and other artists for messing up or ‘killing’ hip hop. The internet has leveled the playing field to a degree so mainstream radio, TV, etc., are no longer the only means of achieving success. You just have to work hard. An artist has to find his/her identity then push themselves to the max and build their audience.
Brother Jesse: What should your fan base look forward to in 2017, especially since you’ve dropped enough music in one day to last them a life-time?
K-Rino: (Laughs). I’m gonna drop an album with my brother Gangsta Nip. Then I’m gonna chill from recording but not promotion. So I’ll still be very active in 2017, Insha’Allah.