Kno Speaks On New CunninLynguists Album

Exclusive: Cunnin’s chief beatmaker tells DX about SJV1, and producing for both Killer Mike and J. Lo.

There are only 72 hours left for fans of soulful southern Hip Hop to support one of the genre’s most impressive acts. As of next Monday (March 23rd), advance sales of the Kentucky/Georgia trio CunninLynguists’ latest offering, Strange Journey Volume One, will stop being offered as the group prepares to depart for a European tour beginning April 2nd. 

Hours before the threesome will appear at The Dame in Lexington, Kentucky to celebrate (alongside Killer Mike and others) the advance release of SJV1, HipHopDX spoke with one-third of CL, producer Kno, about his group’s new album, as he drove from his Atlanta home (with Khujo Goodie riding shotgun) to attend tonight’s record release party/performance.

I hate to call it a mixtape – that term has been cheapened,” said Kno of Strange Journey. “And it’s all original stuff… We’re not rappin’ over ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ two years later. It’s not that… I don’t even really pitch to people that don’t wanna listen to our music [why they should buy it], ‘cause they’re gonna download it for free anyway. So I fully invite them to download it for free. Anybody who wants to hear it, I want them to download it. It’s all good. But as far as [a] sales pitch [for] the people who really wanna support CunninLynguists monetarily and the people who enjoy our music, it’s mad cheap and I stand by everything that’s on it. It’s real good music… And I think people when they’re broke, and they’re worried about their job, they need good music to pick ‘em up.” 

Recession-priced at $12 (which includes shipping costs), those that place their advance order by Monday [click here] will receive for their dozen dollars an autographed copy of SJV1, bonus album instrumentals, and have all in hand several weeks before the official retail release of the CD on May 26th. 

Snippets of the album can now be heard [click here]. Produced entirely by Kno, Strange Journey is propelled by the disc’s first single, the hilarious sticky icky anthem, “Never Come Down (The Brownie Song),” which is driven by a psychedelic “Little Wing” sample.

Kno co-directed the song’s video [click to watch], and appears in said clip sporting a mullet and Guns N Roses t-shirt.

I was going for that,” said Kno when jokingly reminded that the proper presentation of a good ole country boy is with mullet and accompanying AC/DC t-shirt, but the high-end boutique that I bought the shirt at just didn’t happen to have it in stock, so I went with the GNR… Looking at the video now, sometimes I look at that part and I’m like, ‘I kinda look like my dad.’

Aforementioned Dungeon Family alums Killer Mike and Khujo Goodie appear on another noteworthy track from SJV1, for the remix of “Georgia” [click to listen] from CL’s last full-length release, 2007’s Dirty Acres [click to read]. 

In a recent YouTube clip documenting the song’s recording [click to watch], Killer Mike notes that he hasn’t heard this kind of soulful Hip Hop since DF in their heyday.

Obviously I take it like the utmost compliment that it is,” Kno replied when asked about Mike’s statement. “I don’t really compare our music necessarily to other peoples - we just kinda do what we do, and how the music comes out is how it comes out… A lot of music, Hip Hop music and [music in general], has kinda lost its soul... I might agree with [Mike’s] statement. I guess I didn’t really think about it too much before he said it, but after hearing it it’s a compliment but at the same time it’s kinda sad.

Two more retooled versions (with new beats and/or new verses) of Dirty tracks, “Dance For Me” and “KKKY,” appear on SJV1, the latter of which now sports cameos from fellow Bluegrass state natives Skinny DeVille and Fishscales of Nappy Roots.

Additional appearances on the album come from the group’s QN5 fam (Tonedeff, Substantial, PackFM), as well as Slug of Atmosphere, who surfaces for the lament on being away from home during long tour trips, “Don’t Leave (When Winter Comes)” [click to listen]. 

Former group member Mr. SOS is also back in the CL mix for Strange Journey.

He recorded a solo track,” Kno noted. “This track [“Die For You”] is entirely him, three verses. I mean, we never really stopped working with SOS. It’s just a matter of him getting material out. He has a lot of stuff just kinda sitting on the shelf waiting to be released.”

Even with SOS’ appearance on SJV1, Kno explained to HipHopDX that CunninLynguists will officially remain a trio for the time being.

Two-thirds of the group, Deacon The Villain and Kno, will also continue working together outside of CL, tag-teaming under the banner A Piece Of Strange for mainstream/major-label artist productions the duo create.

Hip Hop creations for an assortment of artists, including the aforementioned Killer Mike (who Kno revealed is currently in possession of 10-12 Kno/APOS beats), and even dance tracks with Auto-Tuned choruses have been cranked out for industry consumption by Deac and Kno of late.

That actually at the time was supposed to be for J. Lo,” Kno explained of the aforementioned Auto-Tune creation that was posted up to YouTube last summer [click to watch]. “But whoever ends up cutting a check for it is where it ends up. I can’t really foresee us ever using the Auto-Tune on one of our songs, unless we could find like an interesting way to do it because it’s kinda played out at this point… [Auto-Tune] is for people who can’t sing as well, [but] if you’re shopping hooks or you’re trying to write songs it’s got the appeal. So as far as shopping music, we’ll plug it in from time to time.

Although their outside-the-group production plate is apparently always full, Kno and Deacon continue to keep the focus, along with Natti, on CunninLynguists’ music. The trio are already planning to unleash the second installment of Strange Journey in September to coincide with the group’s North American tour.

A grimier counterpart to its predecessor, Strange Journey Volume Two assembles an assortment of underground Hip Hop luminaries, including Sean Price and Poison Pen (who appear on the concept record about how no matter your locale you can get attacked and jacked, “Streets”), J-Zone, Bronze Nazareth, Guilty Simpson, and many more.

And after the two volumes of Strange Journey have reached the satisfied masses, CL will unveil two more offerings for fans of that southern fried soulness.

We’re working on an EP, and we’re working on a new studio album,” Kno revealed of the group’s planned 2010 releases. “We don’t have a title [for either] yet. But both of the records are concept records, and they kinda run into each other…We never stop working. This is a recession, [and] you’re gonna get fired if you stop.

Strange Journey Volume One is due May 26 from Bad Taste Records.

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