Killa Kyleon is a beast. He pens five songs a day, picks the best track for up coming projects, and taunts your favorite rapper, “If you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.” Lyrics and content are everything to the Houston-based rapper, because of this, he’s setting standards that we haven’t seen out of the Lone Star State for quite some time.
He and his squad, Team Run It, mean to do exactly that, as Killa prepares for the release of Natural Born Killa Part 2 later this month, quickly followed by the release of the White Cups, 4oz, and Cigarellos mixtape. Inspired by folks like UGK, Scarface, Jay-Z and Nas, the former Boss Hogg Outlawz member has the perfect formula to win: an intense work ethic, gutter storylines, gruff delivery and stellar wordplay. Fresh off Wiz Khalifa’s Waken and Baken Tour, we had the chance to talk to Killa about everything from Sade to Houston rap.
The Beginning: “I actually started writing raps in like, the sixth grade. I’m an artist as well, I paint, I was doing graffiti, plus I was doing illustrations as well. It was me and my friends; we had a little group in middle school with a group called Criminal Assassins. I used to draw little characters, and write all the raps. That’s how I started rapping. The first time I saw Yo! MTV Raps that was the first time I thought of doing it. I just think it was the all around culture of Hip Hop. I’m a child of Hip Hop, it was just the way they dressed the way they talked, the way they danced. It was just all that was so influential to me. Big Daddy Kane was like my favorite rapper when I was younger; you know what I’m saying? I was a Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, the whole Juice Crew… And [despite me being] from the south, I was inspired by east coast Rap. So you know, it was just all that, Fab Five Freddie and all that, made me… Dr. Dré and Ed Lover, just seeing that made me, just seeing that… I used to videotape every show.”
Life Dictating Art: “It’s a way of life. I’m speaking on my life and I’m speaking on what’s going on in my environment. A lot of times what people don’t understand, is that me and other rappers, we’re authors. So it is entertainment. I feel like I’m a Stephen King. I’m Dean Koontz. I just feel like I’m that. I’m an author. I interpret my life and I interpret the lives of others around me, I’m the voice of all my partners who can’t talk about and can’t talk about it the way I talk about it. I’m their voice as well as mine.”
The Difference Between Killa and Other Houston Rappers: “It’s the way I interpret what I see. My interpretation is a lot different from the interpretations that a lot of other artists got because it’s an art form with me. With rap, coming up in hip hop to me it’s always been about being better than the competition. It’s competitive with me. As well as being able to talk how I talk- talk flashy and talk fly, it’s of a competitive nature with me. So I always felt like I wanted to be better then everybody, so I took my craft as an art form. I took it real serious. I take it more serious than a lot of other rappers. No disrespect to nobody, but I think I take my craft more serious than a lot of other people because I write five or six songs a day. I feel like one of my influences behind making a lot of music that I left out was ‘Pac, because I felt like, if I die tomorrow, this is what I want to leave the world with. So I always put my best material first and I’m not always in competition with other rappers, I’m in competition with myself.”
Method to the Madness: “I think it’s unorthodox [how I rap]. I rap like I get dressed. I feel like I got a mean dress code. I like sneakers, and I feel like I can’t wear the same thing twice. So when I approach a record I always wanna have a different character on each record. You know how you can pin point somebody and be like, ‘Oh, he got that Lil Wayne flow…’ or ‘He got that Jay-Z flow…’ or ‘He got that Nas flow…’ I wanna have ‘Killa Kyleon flow.’ I don’t wanna be compared. I don’t want my art form to be compared. I just wanna be like, where you won’t hear how I’m coming, it’ll be so interesting to hear what I’m finna say next because I approach records so much more different than other people. I don’t try to have the same style ‘cause to me, it gets boring. It’s just like, wearing a uniform, ain’t nothing ‘bout the uniform gonna be different but the sneakers, if you wear different sneakers. When I wear clothes, I’m one of those guys, I don’t give a damn if I’m sitting around the house- I’ma be fly. So I’ma put something fly on and I feel like, I want my raps to be the same way; I want them to be fly everytime. I want those ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ everytime I… So that’s how I approach my raps. I write my records for attention.”
AND1 vs. NBA: “I think people just interpreting the game in their own way. Time don’t do nothing but repeat itself- history. I think it’s back to people going independent because the labels are giving out shitty deals. Independent game killed what the majors was doing. Once the majors seen that you could go independent with what they were doing on a major scale, like the 360 deal, where they get a percentage of everything of everything you do, I feel like, every artist does not have to have a 360 deal. I feel like, you get out here, you create your buzz, you create your own marketing, you already doing shows before you have a major… I think they come and they scout you. The majors to me are like scouts, but they can also get an artist and develop them, because they have artist development deals. You got a lot of cats that are artists, and they’re the A&R, the CEO, the producer and they financially do their own thing. I think it’s just a lot of people seeing now that they don’t need a major. But I think everybody always seen that. It’s just, certain situations work for different people, when you don’t financially have the backing, to do an independent, because an independent takes more money, you spending your own money, and being from where we from, we didn’t have access to no Atlantics, no Universals, there were no Interscopes. All we had was ‘out the trunk.’ And we still made dues. A lot of the buzz is self-made. Like, right now I don’t have no major situation, it’s just me doing what I do and I think the majors will come look at a guy that hustled that hard and they see that he put forth that much effort in himself, I think that’d make a major wanna come deal with that person, because it’s not that much of a headache as it would be developing that artist from scratch. No following, no nothing. So it really works both ways.”
300+ Songs. Still a Rookie: “I think it’s because I haven’t put out a solo album yet. I mean in my area… I’ma be real… Yeah! I think you’re only as good as whatever projects you put out. I think that album… You could put out a million mixtapes, but until you put out an album, a solo project, that’s what really symbolizes you, that’s your book of life. I really feel like that really shows what you can really do. I compare it to sports a lot. You got players who play AND1 and you got players that play professional basketball, I feel like when you’re doing mixtapes, those are pickup games. You know what I’m saying? And until you get on the professional level, which is an album, and you do as good of an album as you do a mixtape… ‘Cause a lot people, their mixtapes jam harder than the albums. So that’s why I compare it like that. If I have a lot of good mixtapes, people’ll be like, ‘Where’s the album?’ I feel like, I’ma put the album out when the streets demand it, I don’t feel there’s a demand for it right now.”
On What Makes His Debut Futuristic: “It’s me talking about the culture of where I’m from, ‘cause see I speak on about my surroundings. I’m the voice of where I come from, on a different scale of music from what they’re used to hearing. I talk about everything that’s in our culture because they really try to personify what type of people we are because of what we talk about out here. Candy paint, slab grills, hustling, all that. I speak on the same thing but I bring it towards the art form. I feel like it’s that- what they’re used to hearing- on steroids. It’s actually wordplay, delivery, lyrical content, good concepts… Everything, pretty much, that they wanna hear from a rapper is what I’m giving them on a whole different scale, so it’s H-Town Rap, 10 years from now.”
On the Road: Waken, Baken and Smoking: “I actually knew Wiz [Khalifa] before the Kush & Orange Juice song [“Spotlight”] so to really just see that following… Wiz’s following reminded me of Slim Thug’s following. Exactly like it. And I rapped with Slim for like seven or almost eight years, so it was like déjà vu all over again. To see the fans and how the fans reacted, and how the fans knew who I was. ‘Cause those were actually the first two tours that I’ve ever been on. And the Smokers Club consisted of so many great artists. Me, Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, Shiest Bubz. It was a lot of great artists on that tour, and it just really showed me where music’s come from, where it’s went, and where it’s going. It was a great experience and then it showed me you gotta get out here and get on this road and spread it because a lot of people can see but it’s a difference between looking on the internet and physically touch and feel, see an artist. And the venues weren’t big venues, they were real small and intimate, 300 to 400 people for Smokers Club. Wiz- this dude was in arenas. You know what I’m saying. Sold out crowds. Word for word. And it was even some cities that I went to where they knew my shit word for word. Strictly off of the relationship that I got with him.”
Old Friends. New Beginnings: Slim Thug: “I had a show with Wale at Warehouse Live and uh… I see him a lot out here. Me and dude got a real good relationship. He respected my mind on wanting to get out here and do my own thing ‘cause I’d never been one of the type of guys to just… I wanted to just be my own man. I wanted to just do the same thing he did. Like, he came into Swishahouse and he wanted to go separate and do his own thing, and he was aware that I wanted to do the same thing so he wished me success, gave me his blessing and that’s what it is, but we have a cool relationship. Me and him not tripping with each other or nothing at all.”
Ready For War: “[Natural Born Killa Part 2 is] done. I got like three tapes done. Already complete. That was my thing for coming into 2011: I’ma have all my bullets in the chamber.”
Sleep is the Cousin of Death: “I sleep but I wake right back up. I write 95% of my music is made in the car. ‘cause that’s where it gets listening to. The other 5% is done in the studio, in the mix, ‘cause what it is, is that I’m a machine- I programmed myself to work like this because I got an old saying, ‘If you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.’ That’s pretty much how I got introduced to Slim. I went over there and everytime they put a beat on, I had something for it, and I don’t really write to beats a lot, unless, I’m really just trying to pick it apart and go along with the pattern of the beat. But I’m always writing music it’s like poetry to me. And I just always feel like, if I do five records a day, five days a week, that’s 25 songs right there I got to pick from at the end of the week, and I pick the best five. And I know outta that 25, I know for sure, I’ma have five undeniable ones and the rest, I can just put them on whatever and I just got music that I can just… ‘Cause a lot of the music that I’ve been leaking, just records that I been had done. It’s just having a game plan for people to see that I’m working and to really know that I’m serious about what I’m doing. I think that’s what a lot of people don’t do. I think a lot of people concentrate on a certain type of song, I don’t do that. I just give the streets good music.”