Artists around the city are taking their music career seriously by providing new sounds and inspiration for fans to enjoy. With today’s new-age hip-hop joined by bubble gum lyrics that circulate the airways, it is refreshing to come across a rapper who puts thought into the process of making “feel good” rap music.
With his latest debuted album “Winners Worry About Winning” which was released last September, Brooklyn rapper KIU sits down to discuss the importance of going after what you want and creating new sounds that people can relate to.
How old are you KIU, and where are you from?
KIU: I’m 24 years old and I am from Brooklyn, NY., but lived in North Philly for a while.
How would you describe yourself as an artist? How would you describe your music?
KIU: I would describe my music as of now, storytelling/lifestyle-esque, considering that I am writing from a therapeutic place and driven on painting a vivid picture of what I want to conceptualize in the music. I’m growing every day as an artist and learning the sonics and what the fans gravitate to more. I experiment with certain sounds here and there to keep my overall sound diverse.
What is the significance behind your stage name?
KIU: It originally came from an animated show titled Caillou, around my neighborhood when I lived in North Philadelphia, being from out of state I moved there wanting to personally remove myself from the area until I figured out the way things went socially. I would introduce myself as KIU instead of my government name. Once I started making music the name stuck with me, I was already known as KIU around the city, in high school and between my close friends.
What lead you to your style of delivery and beat selection?
KIU: My beat selection is based on the vibe I’m feeling at the moment or a concept I’ve already thought of. I create my music off of inspiration and what’s going on in my life at that particular moment.
What is one of the first things you do when you wake up in the morning? What is the last?
KIU: I check my emails and accomplish what is in the plan for the day or upcoming events.
Who depends on you?
KIU: The youth, my fans and everyone who I can inspire on this journey.
Whom do you depend on?
KIU: My fans. They keep me motivated and driven to continue to inspire them. I never knew how many people in this world related to the concepts I touched on in my music until I started to build a catalog and play at live venues.
What recent creative venture have you taken on? Tell us the concept behind this idea.
KIU: Well actually I’ve been prepping for the release of my second clothing collection. Last year I released the ‘First Collection’ line of t-shirts which sold out in 4 months. The collection to follow, ‘Legendary Collection’, will consist of essentials such as caps, bandanas, t-shirts and limited edition hoodies that will coincide with the second album. I’ve always wanted to expand my creativity beyond the music but I wanted to make sure everything starts and finishes with the music.
How has this opportunity changed your outlook on the way in which you live your life?
KIU: I just look at everything as a learning tool, you can either progress or regress depending on how you utilize it.
Who are some of the influential people that you follow on social media? In what ways has their work inspired you and your music?
KIU: Nipsey Hussle. I think his mindset and vision is needed in Hip Hop. I learn certain things about business from the way he utilized social media and can incorporate it into the overall impact of the music.
How do you think you differ from other artists in your area?
KIU: I just bring a different perspective and I’m willing to soak up the knowledge of how the business works, being 100% independent I’m able to be a creative, the executive and a student.
What advice would you give to others who may be interested in becoming a rapper?
KIU: Work hard, keep learning and give it everything you got.
What kinds of problems do you face on a day to day basis regarding your music? How do you normally handle the problems that come your way?
KIU: I don’t have many problems with regards to the creative aspect of things. I would say building a managerial and production team as dedicated to the vision as I am but that would fall in place when the timing is right.
Dead or alive, who would be your dream collaboration?
KIU: Biggie, Jay Z, and Aaliyah
Who do you think the most influential person in hip-hop is in 2018?
KIU: I would say the Migos. Their style is heavily influential in hip-hop and on a mainstream level they are the lens of the culture right now. I would also say Jay Z, everything he has accomplished with TIDAL, Rocnation and the 4:44 album displays how Legendary our art form is becoming.
Any new music in the works? When can fans expect to hear you next?
KIU: Yes, I’m definitely releasing singles and videos while I wrap up my second project. I’m looking to start the rollout beginning of the summer. I’ve also done a few collaborations that should be surfacing soon, but yea, next full-length album will be released this year.
What advice you would give your younger self?
KIU: Work harder, speak less and listen more.
Where can we find you on social media? What sites are you most active on?
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