In a rap climate where dance songs and drug tales are the norm, Kidz In The Hall are two Ivy Leaguers who managed to build a solid industry presence. Naledge and Double O are preparing the release of their fourth studio album,Occasion, and shooting a second season of their hit MTV reality show,“Here and Now”, proving that hip hop truly has unlimited origins. TWV caught up with the duo shortly before they departed to Europe to shoot footage for the show and discussed their new album, their relationship with super-producer Just Blaze and the importance of creative control.
The Well Versed: You’ve had your share of fans that were with you from the early stages, talk a little bit about your show on MTV and what that’s done for you as far exposure to a new audience.
Double O: I think what it does is solidify the idea of who we are. Sometimes you get the music but since we’re indie we don’t get a enough interviews to know who we are as individuals and as people. And that’s what we used the scenario for. For them to see we get out here and enjoy life and try to do what most people would do if they had the opportunity. That’s what it really did at the end of the day was give people a better understanding of us.
TWV: I understand you’re doing a second season, where are you filming?
Naledge: We leave for Europe on Monday. We shot the video with Bun B here and that will be a part of it too. It’ll be a little footage of us in New York but the majority it will be of us in Europe having fun, doing shows, and doing what we love to do.
Double O: We’re about to start filming on Monday (Nov. 14)
TWV: There are a lot of features on this album. Talk about what it was like working with so many artists.
Double O: It was actually pretty easy. On our second album there was a feature on basically every song because it was called “The In Crowd” so we wanted it to be a collaborative effort. So this was actually easier because we worked with people we really liked. It was a very collaborative effort.
TWV: Talk about your relationship with Just Blaze and how that has helped you as a producer.
Double O: The first and foremost thing with us was work ethic. When I first met Just it was like 2003 and he was really getting hits out with Freeway and all of those records. I would go hang out in his studio and just watch and observe. He’d be there until like 6 in the morning then I would have to get out and go to work and do it all over again.
I remember telling him one day I was like “I realize this is how you win.” You have to be firing on all cylinders until something happens. So that was really where it came in. I would really be sitting back and observing and if I really had question I’d ask. It definitely helped when early on I did a record with Freeway and I couldn’t get the sample cleared. So having a little bit of a connection with [Just Blaze] to be able to call people was bonus.
A lot of times young producers may not have those types of connections.
TWV: Naledge, what it’s like being able to work with Double O?
Naledge: It’s a great thing because of the type of producing. His style is not monolithic. You can listen to the album and you wouldn’t necessarily know that one person produced every song. He doesn’t really have a general style. And I think with hip hop critics there’s something they love about us or something they’ll be like “Aw, we don’t like.”
As an MC, it challenges me to be able to do any type of song I want to do. I can call and be like “Give me weird shit, give me some street shit, or something that sounds more electro.” I can tell him whatever. I think at this point working with him, us being on the same page makes things so much easier because we can just take an idea and execute.
TWV: I just moved to Chicago a short while ago and there’s a certain direction a lot of the music is going in. You have been able to establish a fan base without really sticking to the same formula a lot of artists are sticking to. How important has been for you two to stay creative and ahead of what every one else is doing?
Double O: I think the fact that we went to an Ivy League school and we’re not doing the same thing a lot of other people are doing is a testament to how we’ve tried to go against the grain. We feel the things we shouldn’t be doing. You see cats winning, and then see copycats of people that are winning. And they’re like “Oh, maybe if I copy that then we’ll be winning too.” So it’s much easier for cats to follow suit than to branch out on their own. I think because we’ve always been Indie we’ve never had to worry about someone coming down and saying, “Yo, you have to make these kind of records.” We’ve always had creative control and that’s made us better artists.
TWV: I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. Would you say that indie should be the route for artists to shoot for as opposed to seeking a deal?
Double O: Definitely. Especially now because you can make real money. You’re not going to be able to make real money as an unknown artist. You have to have some sort of movement and songs already done. You’re going to be an independent artist up until that point so you might as well do it right and be confident in what you’re doing so when that time does come, you don’t have to worry about selling out.
TWV: Naledge, I understand you’re working on your next solo project. How’s that coming along?
Naledge: I’m always making records. At the end of the day all records I make I kind of just put in a pool and certain records fit with what we (Kidz In The All) do and certain records don’t fit with what we do. So once we know what the album is going to be, sometimes I may take some and throw them in the solo pile and eventually I’ll through that pile and put them in a mixtape. But as far as doing a formal album, I’m thinking of doing something on my next birthday and just putting it out. If not, I may go to a label.
TWV: What can fans expect from the new album?
Naledge: It was real easy to make. We just let it flow. We didn’t have a true direction but we had a lot of fun and the records were inspired by the fun we were having and the energy we had at the time. We just made a conscious decision to make our good records. [There are] records that aren’t necessarily positive in terms of the traditional sense of some kind of preachy message but just positive in energy. Sometimes that’s the best way to be positive. We just wanted to take people’s minds off the negativity. Life is an occasion and everyday is an occasion.