Kemo The Blaxican Once the former front man from the Platinum recording group Delinquent Habits, Kemo the Blaxican now steps out into his own spotlight to debut the new solo album “Simple Plan.” This English/Latin fused release brings an endless variety of flavor and diversity. Check out Kemo as he talks about his new clothing line, his latest release, and what he has in store for us next!
Interview by Rob Schwartz
WHO?MAG: Tell us about your latest album release “Simple Plan”? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: Simple Plan. My first solo release. It’s pretty much a simple approach to making a good record. Raw beats, original cutting edge. No bells and whistles. Tight lyrics. Not trying to give any crazy collabs of what is going on. Just trying to give people a little bit of what they know of me with the Latin twist that I do. A little bit of bi-lingual. But also trying to give the people a lot more substance. I think this is a much more personal record than others that I did.
WHO?MAG: What makes this album stand out from your previous releases? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: Well, for one, it’s all me. Lyrical content. I think I just came back trying to be a real person with the lyrics. I always have been, but it allowed me to hit on some things that being in a group won’t let me talk about because maybe not everyone is on the same page or feel the same way about a topic. I did a lot of things that were more personal to me. I tried to show respect and homage to the good women in our lives and things that people seem afraid to talk about like being respectful and showing love to your folks and showing love to a lady. I’m
not trying to make it corny, I just saying to be respectful because there are good women in this world and they are the flowers in life. I try to have some songs on this album like La Receta. With this song, I was trying to jog peoples memories and try to remind them where they might have heard me before by giving that mariachi kind of feel. I also have some flavorable stuff. I have something on there for our soldiers in Iraq right now. I also try to stimulate people to help them make a decision in life. Help them make the right path sometimes and not be too preachy.
WHO?MAG: What is the biggest difference between Latin hip-hop and reggaeton? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: For the most part for me, the biggest difference is that reggaeton seems more like party music or dance music to me as well as lyrical content. Right now, it’s just party music so it’s all about having a good time so you talk about women or about partying. It’s just a good time. Latin hip-hop is deeper and more stimulating to me. It is more thought provoking. That’s where I like to go with my lyrics. That’s what I like to hear.
WHO?MAG: Besides the money, what are some of the other benefits of becoming a solo artist? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: In my situation, it was a bit different. When I
became a solo artist, not only did I have complete control on how I want the songs to be creatively, but I also produced the entire record and I have never done that before. I don’t know if that was a benefit or not, but I really did step to the challenge. I knew it would be a lot different for me. I walked away from a really nice studio that we have been building together for years as a group. It was really like breaking the chains of freedom. At the same time, I had these challenges because I recorded this album in a very small studio that I have put together and I have recorded in many big and famous studios in the past as well as our studio. I believe that those are the benefits for me because it challenged me and helped me to get the best out of my music and my writing
without any bells and whistles. Everyday, I was writing or cranking out beats, so it pushed me to make the best record possible.
WHO?MAG: What differentiates your clothing line “Joint Clothing” from other hip-hop clothing lines? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: Joint clothing is a street wear line that I feel is very universal. It crosses over a lot with not just hip-hop, but anything street. It promotes unity, culturally, and just for people who want to rock something. But I got everyone from b-boys, to rappers, to skaters wearing my clothes. I am surrounded by all kinds of people. I make hip-hop records because I am surrounded by hip-hop heads. But around me as well are a lot of other cats doing other things like skating and graffiti, riding motorcycles in the mountains, and all of that. I am into all of that. I may not do all of it, but I am appreciative of all of it. I feel that the clothing line really shouldn’t define who you are. If people ask me what Joint Clothing means, I ask them what it means to you. I’m sure there is more than one definition for Joint Clothing, which is why we went with that name. It has so many meanings itself that we decided to name it that. Of course everyone has that first impression of what “joint’ is, but then ask a second time, you might get different
WHO?MAG: What do you feel is the biggest obstacle in Spanish hip-hop today? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: I would say it is lack of major support. Lack of major marketing support from major labels picking up talented acts. I still don’t believe that there are enough talented artist out there getting picked up by major labels that are willing to invest in an artist in order to blow him up. I have seen artist put out records and grind on their own and be successful independently. I am not saying that it can not be done without radio. I heard enough success stories. I have seen it done. For the most part, it requires the backing and support because we know that now-a-days radio is more about politics that music. Radio is so important in creating gold and platinum records. Therefore, I believe that label support is necessary to help that success to help sell records.
That’s what is lacking. Nobody is really putting money out there for Latin hip-hop artists. They are starting to now. Labels are now picking up a lot of reggaeton music. That’s a good sign because eventually it will trickle down and people will notice the other artists and acts that will come to the surface. It’s a building process. A lot of Latin artists have been making music for a long time. There are a lot of artist who were instrumental in where Latin music is now. We can not forget that. It also seems ever so often you have a breakout artist that comes around like Kid Frost, Mellow Man Ace, Cypress Hill, and Big Pun. It seems there are a few, but at the same time we have to be able to match up to anything else that is out there. Let’s keep strong and keep real with our lyrics, so when we blow up, we good. You can make a lot of money and what not, but it’s not going to be about longevity if you are not putting out any quality. We can’t let all the work that has been done up to this point come to an end. We’re going to die sometime and we have to make sure we are careful about what we leave behind.
WHO?MAG: What advice could you give an upcoming artist trying to enter the hip-hop realm? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: My advice would be to be very real to yourself and stay original. Don’t try to be what’s hot right now. Try to be cutting edge and stay different or else you are going to fade out. Also do a lot of homework. Read a lot of books on the music business. Understand publishing and understand there are so many ways to make money in this industry instead of being just a rapper. Producers make a whole lot of money. Learn how to produce as well if you can. There is a lot of ways to make money. There is publishing money, getting songs in movies, commercials, being a writer. Just read a whole lot of books.
WHO?MAG: Being that you have toured multiple times overseas and have recorded with major international recording artist, what’s the major difference with hip-hop in the US verse overseas? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: Overseas is still very raw. It’s a raw form of
hip-hop. It doesn’t seem as glamorous. People over there don’t care about the glitz and the glamour. It goes really deep and seems like they care more about the artist. There really isn’t a whole lot of flash going on over there, which is a good thing. You go over there and you fill up a venue with a bunch of real hardcore hip-hop fans and you drop a beat and it’s great. Not everyone out there is trying to be a rapper. There are still fans out there. Out here, everybody is a rapper. Everybody wants to rhyme. Every time I do a show in LA, it’s crazy. They come to the show and love it, but at the same time, they are like, damn that should be me. About 50% of the people at the shows are rappers. They don’t want to be fans anymore. Everybody can rap. Out of all the shows I have done for Simple Plan, I have toured overseas. Don’t get me wrong, I love it over there, but I want it to come back here to rock shows in LA and the states because to comeback as a solo artist, I know you have to put it down proper right here and its tough out here. Overseas, you have a more genuine appreciation when you go overseas to rock shows. All the amateurs of hip-hop are still very much respected over there. It’s a good feeling when you get out there.
WHO?MAG: Can we ever expect a Delinquent Habit reunion? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: No. I really don’t foresee that at all.
WHO?MAG: What’s next up for Kemo the Blaxican? KEMO THE BLAXICAN: A follow up album, which I am working on right now. I started production with probably some surprise collaborations on this record. With Simple Plan, I stayed within my camp. I have a few artists that I am trying to bring out like my artist Jehuniko, Sicko, Mostro, and Monica Cuello Ortiz. I stayed within that realm. Now I am willing to work with some artist that I really respect and want to be creative with it. That is what you can expect from this new record. Also, we are about to do the video for the song Simple Plan as well as trying to nurture these artists.