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Interview: Got a new cavity with all of this ‘Kandi Cole’

Posted: Friday – July 31, 2009

In a sea of testosterone, old spice, and crotch grabbing. A woman, a lady, a Femcee can get lost in the midst. Well, luckily we found an artist that refused to be a casualty to the male funk and still go at it like a lady. Let’s meet Queen Kandi Cole.

How are you doing today? This week? This month? This year?

I’m good. This day, week, month, year has been amazing so far! I can’t complain at all…
You are from California. Sunshine, mountains, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles on Pico….

Ahhhh delicious. How does your home influence your music?

The influence is MAJOR. I was born and raised here so California is definitely a focal point in a lot that I do as an artist. The city, the beach, the people, the cops…yeah, all of that comes out in one way or another in the rhyme. I heart the West Coast!
In your bio it says, “Her parents knew what they were doing by feeding her food for the soul with sounds of James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic coming through one ear and Miles Davis and Charlie Parker coming through the other.”

Which parent was the funk and which parent was the jazz?

My dad was the funk. My mom, the jazz. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

What qualities do you possess that you think qualify you and others to be an emcee?

I feel that I am a complete artist. By complete I mean I hold all the natural elements of what it means to be an emcee. The love, the skill, the performance, the presence, the style. A lot of artists today may have some but not all of what you need because they lack the genuine love for good music and are focused on the dollar that the music can bring them. I always say that if I did this for the money I would have been done a long time ago. It’s not about that. I think great, powerful, timeless music is priceless. And in the same breath that would then make me priceless. When you start making songs for the radio, that’s when you lose.

Michael Jackson passed away… Tell the readers of Area 84/84 Area your thoughts about his passing and the media circus surrounding his death.

I was a HUGE fan of Michael Jackson. His death really struck a cord in me. I woke up the next morning hoping it was all a bad dream. But it wasn’t, it was real. As a kid I can remember staying up to watch his new video premiere TV or watching the making of Thriller for the umpteenth time. He was truly an icon. The media circus can kiss my ***! MJ broke so many records, eliminated racial barriers, raised money for famine in Africa, was the first black man to cover “mainstream” publications such as Rolling Stone, etc… the media is trying its hardest to erase his legacy and replace it with imperfections in his personal life. But the fact is, he did a lot for people, globally. Which is more than I can say for the people writing about him.

Random: Favorite movie?

Good question. I’m actually a movie buff and can’t narrow that down. There’s something like a 7-way tie for first. How about I throw out 3 of those…
Bamboozled, Goodfellas, City of God.

How did you get your start in Hip Hop?

I was born into this. I think around age 5 I can remember following behind my uncle who taught me to “pop” and what not and just becoming a part of the culture without even knowing. The style of dress, the dance, the graf, all of it. I wrote my first rhyme at 9. I did my first show at 16 and I’ve been grinding ever since. This is why I get so upset when I see whack cats get on just because they know someone but have NO talent whatsoever. Shit, that doesn’t even matter anymore these days…they don’t even need it. Get a ghostwriter and they’re set. It pisses me off. But I digress… J

Tell us about your first performance.

My first performance was my senior talent show in HS. LOL. Half of my friends didn’t even kno I rapped. I wrote a song with one of the homies and decided to rock…in front of the whole school. Yeah great idea, Kandi. This was when I found out what the term “stage fright” meant. I was pacing backstage for about 30 minutes nervous as hell, sweating…the whole nine. It was finally my turn to go up and I think I spit 16 bars in about 10 seconds. HAHAHAHA! It was cool tho. By the time I did my second show someone introduced me to “rehearsal” and taught me how to channel that nervous energy and take it out on the mic. I’ve been going hard ever since.

Tell us about your most recent performance.

My most recent show was last night at the Palmer Room in LA. There were a lot of dope cats on the bill; Nocando, Verbs, Intuition, Chris Phillips, Kail, Raven Sorvino and a few more. Really dope lineup so I know I had to bring my A-game. I rocked that ish tho! if I do say so myself. I dig real Hip-Hop shows out here. As soon as my set is done I turn into a fan. There’s so much talent here on the West Coast.

What is The (SIS)TEM? Tell us about this Femcee “Terror Squad”.

The (SIS)TEM. MY SISTAHS!!!! We’re a collective of female emcees, DJs, vocalists, photographers, journalists…you name it. But the visible part of the (SIS)TEM you will see the spittahs. We’re all solo artists who came together to make good music. Right now there’s about 15-20 emcees affiliated and we came together to show the industry that if you’re not going to listen to one of us, you’re going to definitely hear ALL of us. We support each others individual careers and at the same time push the SISTEM movement. We just want everyone to know that all women in Hip-Hop aren’t hating on each other. In fact, if we work together we can get to that same goal faster. There’s no female emcees really doing a lot in the game right now so there’s room for everyone to eat. Some of us as female emcees take ourselves out of the game before we even get started. The SISTEM was formed to combat that BS and put a woman’s touch back into Hip-Hop. Because we can make some DOPE music…and Hip-Hop needs us. SO MUCH that some of these cats done started singing, looking more and more and more feminine, etc…. just put the females on and you wont need to do all the extras. I’m jus sayin.

In your career, what were some lessons you learned that you would like to pass on to future femcees and emcees?

Don’t let anyone change who you are. No one. Hold tight to who you are as an artist. We are creative beings and when we are being limited to a box we can never fully grow, and being an artist is all about growth. Oh, and learn the business. Read a book. One book that I think every emcee needs if they are trying to break in the industry is “All You Need to Know About the Music Business” by Donald Passman. This book has helped me so much and I recommend 100%.

Who is you favorite EmCee?

Is top 5 OK? J Bahamadia, Mos Def, Andre 3000, Lauryn Hill, Ice Cube (no particular order)

Random: Who is your musical guilty pleasure?

Jerk Music. Hyphy Music. I mean, the beats bang, son! I love it when you can just wild out on the dancefloor and not give a damn because the beat makes you do it. Its not the most ‘conscious’ of music. Thus the guilty pleasure. But it still goes hard!

Random: Favorite Top 10 Hip Hop Songs.

Damn, this is hard. Let me see what comes to mind first;
1. Cant Knock the Hustle – Jay-Z
2. All About the Benjamins – Puff (guilty pleasure but I’m not ashamed. Its my ISH!)
3. Bring the Pain – Method
4. Umi Says – Mos Def
5. ANYTHING TRIBE – ATCQ
6. If I Ruled the World – Nas & Lauryn
7. They want EFX – Das EFX
8. Play My Funk – Simple E
9. Goodie Bag – GOODIE MOB
10. Outkast – Elevators
11. Ready or Not – Fugees
12.* ANYTHING ICE CUBE
I feel like im on the spot but any of those tracks would make my top 10. with a little research and time I could come with a more accurate list. But those are definitely up there. I KNOW I’m missing A LOT. But roll with it.

What would you be doing now if not music?

I’ve been in Sales/Marketing for quite some time, so probably that. Commission checks put smiles on my face, but working in corporate amerikka can kick rocks.
Name the top 5 artists you think everyone should listen to to better understand hip-hop.
See question #12

Random: Can you pop ‘n lock?
Yup. See #7

If I was a person that could not and would not allow myself to like hip hop because of negative stereotypes seen. After listening to one of your songs before forever turning away from hip hop, what would you want me to leave with?
I’d actually have them listen to my first album “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Kandi Cole!” it shows a wide range of lyrical ability, beat selection, political joints, dance tracks, and positive energy throughout. After they dedicate at least the one hour before they are completely done with Hip-Hop I think this album will be able to convert them. I am a collection of all emcees I’ve admired before me and I give back to the progression of Hip-Hop in each song that I put out. It’s bigger than you and I. It’s bigger than Hip-Hop. This is history…on wax.

Are you planning on coming down to ATL in the near future?

I have a sister that lives in the ATL and ever since she moved from LA I try to visit her at least once a year. I think that time should be coming up soon actually. Maybe in a couple months or so…check me in August or September.

When you are not working what do you like to do in your free time?

Drink. Yeah, I know. Not cool for the kids. But I do enjoy drinking with friends. Hangin out. Having conversations that step outside the normal boundaries of pop culture and what they WANT us to talk about. I try and read a book or two when I have free time. Which [time] is scarce these days, but that’s a good thing. J

What family members, friends, and close ones comprise your foundation?

My mother, my big sis in ATL, Miki Vale, The (SIS)TEM…they all continue to motivate and support me daily on this journey.

Random: Favorite thing to get from the corner store?

Planters salted peanuts. They’re tasty.

What was the first joint you ever wrote?

Damn, you want me to start digging in the crates, eh? Ummm….the first song I ever wrote and recorded in a studio was called Priceless. I had a real rapid fire flow and was HUNGRY on the mic. Im still hungry but I’ve since found MY voice and how I want to put it down on a track. Man, you’re making me want to pull out the old tapes with these questions. Yes, tapes. That’s how long ago I laced that joint. Haha!

Are there any new projects in store for 2010? 2011? 2020?

I’m releasing WORKS WELL WITH OTHERS an all collab mixtape dropping July 17th. FREE DOWNLOAD. COP THAT!!! …and another mixtape, and then a full length album before the year is up. Im on my grind. Im going to continue making good music until they hear me.

Where can we hear more of your music other than just the sampler on your myspace page?

Youtube.Imeem.Facebook.Myspace,www.KANDICOLE.com.Itunes. or just come out a show and say hello.

Any final words to the readers of Area 84/84 Area?

Thank you. Thank you for shining the spotlight on female emcees who steer clear of the mainstream bull and follow their own journey getting to where they want to be. Thank you to everyone who’s ever enjoyed a Kandi Cole track. If you keep listening, I’ll keep pumping out that real Hip-Hop!
Hip-Hop you the love of my life!!!



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