I MET UP WITH "Shelblack tha' Shoota" on Fairfax Ave in Hollywood. After doing the rounds at the Diamond Store, Huf Store, Supreme, and SLB store, we headed over to Damiano's New York pizza to meet The Knux. The Knux is a garage hip-hop band that consists of two brothers, "Krispy Kreme" and "Rah Almillio." They originated from the 'hood in New Orleans, and draw a large part of their inspiration from old school punk rock. Now, due to Hurricane Katrina, they're based in LA. In true punk rock (and originally hip-hop) DIY style, they write, produce, and play all their own instruments and music. Over the last year they've been tearing up the LA after-hours scene--voicing their artistic dissatisfaction with the current state of corporate hip-hop, and being loved for it by the various hordes of hipster kids, socialites, industry types, and celebrities cruising around LA late night. The Knux are poised to release their debut album, Remind Me in Three Days. Can't knock the hustle? Yeah you can, if it's on the Knux' block.
Wuddupaz. The Knux in the building? Yo, Krispy Kreme, this is my brother A1.
What instruments do you both play?
Bass, horns, keys--we both play keys. Only thing A1 does that I don't is play guitar. Musically we do everything together; whatever you hear, we both done together.
So you both out of The Dirty?
Yeah baby, big up New Orleans.
So let's talk about how you started out and what music inspired you.
Basically this dude is my brother, so anything he listen to, I listen to. Anything I bring to the house he hear, and vice versa. When Portishead's Dummy came out, I was listening to that shit at middle school. I always wanted to do an album like that. But you know I was a 'hood kid, so I was listening to Nas, Wu-Tang, OutKast, shit like that, but also we bumping Radiohead, old punk like the Clash, Misfits, Bad Brains, to Miles Davis to Prince. We like everything. As musicians and fans of music we put everything we like into our music.
So what is The Knux bringing to the table that other hip-hop artists aren't?
What's different is, we're original. Our music is not coming from a corporate point of view. We're not thinking about what fans want to hear. It's us, and it's authentic. We really don't give a luck. We write about what we wanna write about, not cliche rap shit. We are songwriters.
You bringing it back with live music?
Live music that's genre-bending; we lean toward lots of other genres. You like electronic music, you gonna like us. You like AC/DC, you gonna like us. Old school, straightforward shit. We into punk shit like Black Flag, Dead Kennedy's. We were just watching Bad Brains live from CBGB's; man, you feel that energy. Hip-hop used to have that energy but now it's too corporate, too presidential.
A lot of that has to do with the South running hip-hop.
You are absolutely right.
All that shit from the South sound the same now; are people getting tired of it?
Yeah, and that's why it's gotta change from the inside. We are from the South, so no one can say shit to us.
I was a big fan of the South. It was raw and it came and took away that too-slick, too-cool NYC sound, but now it's just the same old dumb "I'm a Do Me" shit, with the exception of Lil Wayne and Outkast.
Yeah, it's all over-glossed, corporate. We trying to make our sound hella dirty. Hip-hop was never supposed to sound like disco records. It all sounds hella clean right now. So we coming real dirty sounding, real grimy.
I am gonna say this--it's a bit bold, but flick it. In England, in the mid '70s, people got really tired of the rock/pop super groups running the music industry. So punk rock was born. Do you feel that hip-hop now is kind of in the same place as rock/pop was in the mid '70s, like something more exciting needs to come along and turn this corporate industry crap on its head?
Hell yeah, I am glad you from London. You understand music. You gotta have balls to be yourself. Everybody is different. So if everybody be true to themselves, then there would be lots of different types of music. Now everything sound the same. It's all about money, corporate shit, commerce, take-your-girl-shopping shit. I like 50 Cent, 'cause 50 is a hater. Hip-hop needs more haters. Nobody wanna hate 'cause they don't wanna hate on the hustle, or hate on a brother's money, but man, if your hustle means making that corporate garbage you call music, you gotta get it off my block, man.
Fake-ass gangsta shit, that's a joke?
Ain't nobody living like that shit; fake-ass gangsta shit. Same as those metal dudes back in the day screaming and getting crazy. Nobody living like that. Hip-hop is hair bear right now; it's all corny go-shopping shit. There's only a few people willing to rap in this day and age: Lupe Fiasco, OutKast, Li'l Wayne, and I give them respect for putting it down, 'cause man, they don't have to. No one else is. They got dignity and I commend them.
Alright, we rest our case. Let's talk about what tunes you got out now.
So we got the new single out now called "Cappuccino." That shit blew up and went straight onto MTV, just on the fans' love for our music. That shit never happens no more. We did not push that shit and the label did not push it either, it just happened. We got a new single coming out called "Bang;" shit is bails-to-the-wall, straight nasty shit.
What about the album?
Then we got the new album, Remind Me in Three Days. It's got electronic shit on there, crazy shit on there. We look at Prince--he was on Warner, a major label, and he did what the fuck he wanna do. We wanna be the same. Take it down from the inside. Fuck the system. Bring that word back. We gotta make that phrase big again. We had a good run, but those muthafuckaz got us again; they got us with hip-hop like they got everyone with rock.
So what's up with the LA after-hours scene, the socialites you rolling with, and the couch stage you played on at the parties?
Man, if you live in LA, you know it's all about the after-hours scene; shit starts at 2 am. Everybody who knows what's up knows that's when shit goes down. I won't even expose it--scene is so ill. I wont say shit. Just come out here and look for yourself.
You got caught up in Hurricane Katrina, is that correct?
Yeah. We just signed a publishing deal and Krispy heard the hurricane was coming, so he said, "Let's leave." Man, we never leave, but this time we said fuck it; we had a feeling, you know? Ended up never being able to come back. Shit, we posted up in Houston for a year. That wasn't just for us. That was everyone. People were getting all this FEMA money and going to the mall and buying sneakers and shit with it; everyday you'd see cats shopping at the mall with all this government money.
That shit's still fucked up now, right?
Hell yes it is, it ain't mended. You can't give people money who've never had money. They don't know what to do with it. First of all, they went through way more shit than they got money for. So what, you just gonna let the government come in and give you 10 grand when you lost all your shit, your home, everything in it? That's all we worth?
Why do you think the Government didn't give a fuck about the people of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina?
'Cause they black and they poor. Let me tell you the truth. It's just that poor people don't make a fuss. It really ain't a race thing, it's a class thing. Been reading about the Illuminati; it ain't no conspiracy. It's an agenda to keep you hypnotized, keep you controlled. Keep you distracted from what's really going on. When you poor, you just worried about eating tomorrow, and they know this. Divide and conquer. You think these fools don't know that? They love all the sets in the 'hood, they love all the gang banging in the 'hood--it divides people.
Hip-hop and punk rock used to talk about this in the music. I mean, they came up together in NYC, John Lydon, Afrika Bambaata ...
Yes exactly. The whole NY scene. Bad Brains? Public Enemy?
So what the fuck happened?
We all wanted hip-hop to go to the next level. And when it did, the corporate hand took it and said, "Hey, hip-hop is acceptable now. Let's put it on commercials," and we were like "Wow, hip-hop is big now." But in actuality, it destroyed what it stood for, which was the art.